China’s “Bride Shortage”: That’s What Happens When Society Devalues Its Women

What a mess: the one-child policy instituted in China in the 1980s to control the population has caused a total lopsidedness in the dating pool. A recent study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found that in 10 years there will be a serious “bride shortage,” as 24 million Chinese men will have no partner of marrying age. And you thought you had trouble getting married …A little background on Chinese history: generally speaking, male children are more favored than female children and, sadly, since parents can have one child only, they favor baby boys. (Families are allowed more than one child in some instances.) Because so many families want a male heir, mothers often have sex-selective abortions when they learn they are carrying a girl. I’m pro-choice, but misogyny is not what abortion is intended for, people! Other families give up their baby girls for adoption.

But it irks me that the “bride shortage” is the cause of concern here, as if brides are the only thing Chinese women would have become. What about the cultural implications of having a mostly male population? What about focusing on what contributions Chinese women could have made to China’s advancements in arts, medicine, and the economy? Where are the lamentations for that? The “problem” here is not that men don’t have anyone to marry, but that women and girls are so culturally devalued.

A Chinese governmental official told China Daily that the one-child policy might be adjusted in the future. But the current population of China is 1.3 billion and who knows how the Earth’s resources will fare in decades to come if it is changed? One hopes that at some point in “the future,” favoring baby boys over baby girls will be a thing of the past. [CNN]