When I was pregnant I wanted a girl. Boys are endemic in my husband’s family and so everyone assured me that I would have a boy. The thought terrified me. I grew up with four sisters, spent half of my life wearing dress up dresses and the other half devouring feminist literature. What would I do with a boy?
The rest of the world, it seems, isn’t so predisposed to girls. According to “The Case for Girls” published in an recent issue of Fast Company, there is a worldwide preference for boys. It appears despite the gains women have made in education, suffrage and business; they still haven’t won the hearts and minds of prospective parents. In developing nations, this preference is pragmatic, men earn more, they have more rights, and carry the family name.
54% of couples would prefer to have a boy over a girl. Are they right in choosing one over the other?
But in America, where 54% of couples would prefer a male child over a female one, the preference has nothing to do with pragmatism. In fact, most of the practical reasons for having a boy are no longer supported by data. According to the author, Anya Kamenetz, herself pregnant with a girl, “In the 21st century, there’s a compelling case for girls as the equal—and in some cases, optimal—gender for roles in leadership, innovation, and economic growth.
Women excel in education, the most crucial factor in tomorrow’s workforce; we are 56% of undergraduates in the U.S. and approaching parity in China and India. Our socialization is geared toward the right stuff for the changing requirements of success in the 21st century: Women are likely to have a more balanced, empathetic leadership style, better communication skills, a knack for fostering innovation through collaboration.”
So, why are people still anti-girl? In response to the article, Jezebel blogger, Erin Gloria Ryan suggests that it has nothing to do with practicalities and more to do with fear. “Maybe more Americans would be convinced to prefer daughters when they’re convinced that the world that waits for them isn’t sort of awful.”
But I’m not convinced. I know all too well the dangerous realities that face women even in America. Sexual exploitation, violence and wage discrimination are realities I’ve had to face through my own experience and the experience of those close to me, but I’m still so proud to bring a girl into this world. To raise a woman, who is loved, smart and knows her worth that is something I can do. But to raise a man who is smart, loved confident and has to daily live with the realities of what other men do to women? That’s the territory that scares me.
I had my daughter and yes, I am scared for her. But no more than I would be scared for any child. The world is a rough place for everyone. But right now, while she’s little, I can make it wonderful.