To fix gender imbalance, you must first fix the culture
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
When China enforced the one-child policy in the late ’70s, few foresaw the gender imbalance that resulted from it. In Chinese culture, the male gender was preferred. The male gender had privileges. It is a sexist ideal that is slowly but surely fading, but it is not without consequences. The result is a high number of men without mates. This is more than a crisis of dudes not getting laid; it’s a problem of humanity. Humans are creatures that function naturally as couples, and with the disruption of nature, these men will live, grow old, and die single—unhealthily.
Today, we are on the precipice of making the same mistake in a number of ways. A recent report from The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cited that 58 per cent of refugees from the Middle East into Europe are men; 17 per cent are women. It has been considered dangerous for women to migrate alone. Oftentimes, they wait for a male counterpart, such as a husband, brother, or father, to arrive in the new country first and then send for them afterward. What we need to do now is better understand the process of migrating for women. What is the procedure of entry? What is being implemented in order to protect them? I’m sure there is little being done.
Closer to home, we are not without gender imbalance of our own. Many high-level occupations are still considered boys’ clubs, creating a classic glass ceiling. While it may seem like an easy barrier to break, it isn’t; it takes generations and it begins while women are young. Empowerment is not a phase. It’s not something someone grows into. It’s a way of living. When girls and boys are brought up to have aspirations of running a company and to value collaborating with the opposite sex instead of against them, we can be assured that those lessons will follow them even after they grow out of adolescence.
However, those same lessons are changing the conventional values of men and women. Women who aspire to start a company and be more selective with mates are less likely to get married young and are less likely to have children. But this is, again, more than a problem of dudes not getting laid.
While we may believe our population will be on a constant rise, that isn’t true. It is believed that the human population will plateau at around 9 billion—from there, whether it holds steady or decreases is up to the push of the next generation. But for so many years men have treated women as nothing but birthing mechanisms. I can only hope that the population will decrease for that case, so that that cultural ideal can die.
The one-child policy was not a bad idea. It was the culture that failed it. If China valued women the same as men, would such gender imbalance happen? In Europe and the Middle East, gender-imbalance for refugees didn’t happen because women were meek, but because the culture targeted women as sexual objects. In the western world, women weren’t CEOs because they weren’t smart and savvy; it was because they were told they had to raise a family. They don’t.
This cultural shift will mean that people on Earth, male or female, will have more resources. And those same men and women will be empowered to make the most of their existence. As people, we need to do more than multiply.