Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sexism in the New Millennium

Yesterday I read this post by Simcha Fisher on ncregister.com.  It is such a beautiful reflection on the inherent holiness, the beauty, of personal relationships.  Even in its messiness and potential for heartbreak, real human interaction is, in the end, sanctifying and Good.  The kind of Good that Jesus was in this world.  We knit ourselves to His ultimate sacrifice through the simple act of loving one another.  Giving up our selves the sake of another.

I enjoyed it, I shared it on facebook.  I went on with my evening.

And then today I read this article from babble.com.  All about gender selection via sperm sorting followed by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.  Controlling.  Impersonal.  Distant.

My original intent was to post a fun set of pictures about our weekend with our dear friends.  Say some funny stuff.  Tell a little story.  But I couldn't manage to do it.  The irony, the perfect storm of these two ideas careening into each other in my tiny corner of cyberspace, simply refused to be ignored.

The idea of couples spending time and emotional energy and money on these gender selection procedures makes my heart ache.  I can see no Good coming from this.  Perhaps some sort of satisfaction in our ability to further exert our seeming control over the natural world.  But not Good.  Not knit-our-lives-to-the-fabric-of-Christ's-mission Good.  Not unite-with-our-spouse-as-one-flesh Good.  Not Good and therefore ultimately empty and unsatisfying.

First of all, how many times in our lives have we thought we knew what would be best for us and were proven sorely wrong?  How many times has there been "no choice" only for us to realize that was in fact the best choice?  Who among us can say that we have always gotten everything we've always wanted and it has always made us exactly as happy as we expected?  Unless the only thing someone has ever wanted was to rejoice in God's will, I would imagine that no one's hand is raised.  Deciding we know which gender of child is best for our lives and our families is to say that we know exactly what is best for the entire world.  Because that child will be a citizen of the world for far longer than he is a citizen of his parents' home. 

Secondly, the cost of these procedures makes the whole notion seem even less palatable (if you can imagine a level of appeal lower than zero).  $5,000 for the artificial insemination procedure and, because it offers a higher pregnancy success rate, even more for the in vitro fertilization procedure.  How many starving children in third world countries could that money feed?  How many shoes for underprivileged children in our own country could that buy?  Feed the hungry.  Clothe the poor. 

And most disturbingly is this: the fate of the children conceived who are discovered to be the "wrong" gender.  What happens to the couples who don't get what they paid for?  A couple who decides they know exactly what gender they want is also letting the world know exactly what gender they don't want.  The wrong gender would be...unwanted.  Unwanted.  An unwanted child.  Because they wanted one.  Paid for one.  Hoped for one.  And got the other. So what then?  Do they continue with the pregnancy but remind themselves throughout the child's life of how different, better, things would be if only things had turned out right?  Or worst of all, the option that burns behind my eyes to even speak about, do they abort the child of the non-preferred gender?

My friends, this is sexism in the new millennium.  Deeming people unworthy, or less-than, or unwanted based of their gender once they're born is, by most reasonable people, considered unacceptable.  But to decide that one gender is superior to another before they're born?  That...that is still reasonable.  And to then kill a person because he or she is the wrong gender is apparently also acceptable.  Legal.  Discriminating based on gender for hiring purposes is illegal, but discriminating based on gender for the very right to live is not.

"But Dwija!  Wait!" you say.  "What about genetic disorders?  What if a specific gender wouldn't carry a disorder and the other would?"  To that I remind you that these procedures are far, far from 100% successful.  There is still a very high possibility that, despite the cost and the time, the couple will still end up pregnant with the non-preferred gender.  And so I ask you again: what then?

If it is absolutely imperative that a couple not have a child of a specific gender for a life-threatening medical reason, I hope and pray and plead with them to consider adoption.  Want the unwanted.  Give a child who has yet to know the love of a family a place in yours.  If a couple is willing to go through all this expense and take all this time, clearly they want to raise a family.  They want to share their love with a child.  Or children.  They are the perfect candidates to offer a forever home to the child who is waiting for them.

My life has been...tumultuous.  If half the things I wished for in the past had been granted, today would be very different.  It would be terribly bleak.  Truly sad.  Let me assure you that there has been pain and struggle and a whole lot of discomfort, but I feel confident in the Lord and His plans.  The overwhelming sense of purpose and joy that washes over me whenever I am capable of surrendering to His will is so marvelous  that I want everyone else in the world to have a chance to feel it too.

Please, let's help each other fight the temptation to control every aspect of our lives. Let's encourage ourselves and others to do the will of the Lord rather than try to bend nature to our every whim.  Let's value people for their personhood and not for their gender.

Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven


Together we can bring a little piece of heaven to this earth.



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33 comments :

  1. Oh Dweej, this post needs to be circulated widely! It's a difficult topic to write about, as I'm sure so many people have different and conflicting views about it. However, you've made it clear as crystal which side you're on, and I agree with you 100 percent. For reasons that you've put into words so effectively and beautifully. I don't think anybody could put it in a way that's any better than what you've done here.

    As a believer of Christ, I too, feel strongly about gender selection in artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. To put it crudely, it's too close to playing God.

    And who are we, to think that we are wise enough to do something like that? There's a reason why God created males and females. There's a reason why God wants us to procreate and yet keeps some of it a mystery (it's amazing, how God designs it to be one sperm, the fastest, the fittest, to be the one to fertilize a woman's egg. There is nothing in His design that indicates He favors one sex over another!).

    I hope many, many people would read this post and re-think their views on the subject.

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  2. D-
    You are amazing. I am going to share this with the whole entire world. This procedure is mind bendingly shameful.

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  3. Great post! I have 3 boys and I'm dying to have a daughter, and even though my "want" to have one is so strong, I know that God gives me what is best for me at that time. I would never, ever, think of doing something like this.

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  4. This is a topic that I have always found interesting. Not in a good way, in a bad traffic accident way. Don't forget about the folks who want to have a certain eye color for their kids and try to make that happen. I think with kids, you get what you get. Its not right to try to force something else.

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  5. Really, really well expressed. The point that struck me the most was this: A couple who decides they know exactly what gender they want is also letting the world know exactly what gender they don't want.
    I understand the desire to have a certain gender, but I cannot imagine actually going through with such a procedure.

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  6. I agree wholeheartedly. I know you probably will receive lots of criticism b/c of it! but I agree with you. you put it so well and communicated so well. Thank you for taking the courage to post this. All of it is true and great! Thank you!

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  7. Very well written and as usual, you made me cry!

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  8. While i agree with you, i think you may be forgetting just how nutso people can get when they want a baby and can't conceive one naturally. I think the sane ones realize that adoption is a wonderful solution, while the crazies act as crazy people do... Which is to say, crazy.

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  9. Thanks everyone. It was difficult to decide to write this, but it was a topic that I couldn't stop thinking about.

    @Kevin- this is not at all about couples who can't conceive naturally. This is about choosing to pay for an artificial procedure for the sole purpose of ensuring a particular gender.

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  10. Wow. Simply, perfectly written. Who was it that said, "It's only illusion that we have any control at all."? Just from personal experience I know that the more I "let go and let God", it becomes easier to accept the difficult, uncontrollable things that inevitably come into my life. Accepting God's control eventually results in less fear. And, isn't that what control is really all about? Fear?
    Thanks, Dweej!

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  11. It's just wrong. Designer kids. I think it's arrogant and unnatural. But then again, I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum; we didn't even find out what we were having and I skipped the tests for Downs Syndrome and others. I knew that it was all out of my hands and we'd love whoever we made, no matter what.

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  12. I'm with you on this, Dwija and, like Bernie wrote, It is kind of like rubbernecking at a traffic accident. I'm interested (not in a good way) in the people who feel so powerful and important that they take control the sex of their children.

    It's all so SCI-FI, isn't it? Sometimes it is just so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that people are custom ordering babies.

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  13. AMEN!!! Dwija, well-written, well-thought, brilliant! You're my hero for the day.

    Is anyone else getting visions of Gattica?

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  14. I am glad you wrote about this & you wrote about it very well. When I went through the infertility program at Walter Reed Medical Center in 1992 I had a doctor who just didn't understand why I refused in vitro..., it was because I knew even as I was miscarrying & they didn't know why that God had a plan. God did & it has been an incredible plan, My son was adopted in 1995 & 16 yrs forward he is the best thing that has ever happened to me!
    The words you used, 'deeming people unworthy' this is exactly what it is. Let us keep these words in mind also when talking with people about abortion. If my son's birthmother had deemed him unworthy to be born..., I may not have a child.

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  15. Wow Katie- thank you for sharing your story. It is beautiful to hear about people transforming their pain and loss into even more love for another. Lots of love and prayers to you and your son!

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  16. What people don't seem to understand is, it's not as if people could do something to ensure they conceived a child of the sex they want. People have been trying to do THAT for millennia -- eat a certain food, or have sex on a certain day, and get a boy! (Or a girl.) This is making babies and killing the ones you don't want. NOT the same thing at all.

    I read an article somewhere recently about the surprising number of people who abort after IVF. It is higher than you would ever imagine. People just change their minds.

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  17. Oh my goodness! I had no idea people could even do this!?!? Ridiculous! Simply. Well, thanks for opening my eyes.

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  18. WOW _ this is beautiful!!

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  19. GGood post Dwija. Right now, in India, there is a village that is seeing higher and higher numbers of parent changing the gender of their daughters from female to male within the first 5 years of their life because the parents only want males. All of this is very sad but not surprising. Around the world children are seen as a right, not a gift. As something that we all can choose or not choose based on our own design and whim. And so children are treated as such. Until we start seeing children,( born, unborn, test tubes, petri dishes, etc.) as PEOPLE first and not commodities which we can buy or not buy, choose or not choose, then how can we demand that these types of things should be stopped? How can we say this is taking it too far when really all along the way this is exactly what we as a culture have been aiming at...exactly what we want, when and where and how we want it? Prayer. Prayer and hope and not despair...

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  20. As my mama used to say "You git what you git and you don't throw a fit!" I remember sitting with my husband wondering what our child would look like...boy...girl...whatever. The EXCITEMENT of seeing my daughters for the first time...IDK that seems normal...Our family has a history of a fatal genetic disorder. I am a carrier. There is no cure. I did not design a child because I know I am a carrier for a fatal disease. Faith vs Fantasy. Faith wins with me.

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  21. You are right Dweej, God does know better than we do. If I had gotten my choice, I would now be the mother of a single little girl. Instead, God chose to bless me with two messy, loud, stinky and obnoxious little boys whom I wouldn't trade for the world. They are a perfect fit in our family and I am so grateful for them every day.

    This is a well written post about a difficult topic. Thank you for sharing your point of view with the rest of us. You really have a way with words my dear friend.

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  22. Kristina SchoenbergAugust 9, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    As any woman in her 9th month of pregnancy knows, birth is out of your hands. There is nothing you can do to stop what must happen. You are on the roller coaster, and you are climbing ever higher. It takes a lot of courage to just throw your hands into the air and enjoy the ride. People who engage in the behaviors you describe are not only hating the ride, they are missing it. They are busy furiously cleaning the handlebar all the way down. They are Martha, but Martha if she didn't even notice Christ was in her living room because she was that busy. May their eyes be opened.

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  23. I saw a story on gender selection while I was at the gym this morning, shocking and horrible. I can not believe that is happening.

    Loved this post. Everything was perfectly stated and I couldn't agree more, with all of it!

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  24. I've been living in a little bubble I guess. I don't think I realized things like gender selection were actually happening. So sad...so horrible that people are that shallow.

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  25. I love your honesty here. I feel like we are on a slippery, dangerous slope here. When I was pregnant, I was so sure we were having a boy. I called the baby "he." At our ultrasound, we realized it was a girl and let me tell you--everyday I feel blessed by the fact that we have a girl. I thought I wanted a boy, but God knows best. She is exactly what I needed. And I didn't do any of those invasive tests either. We wanted this baby. And a lot of those test results are just wrong too--they're not always 100% accurate.

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  26. It's just so wrong to treat children as some sort of vehicle you can choose which color,interiors, etc it is. It shows how self-entitled we have become and how little we value human life. So sad indeed. I envy the ones who just found out about this practice, I've found out about some horrible things recently... you don't want to know.

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  27. Thanks Dwija. Excellent post.

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  28. And yet these are people who would condemn others for tossing their female babies into the gutters because it's preferable to have a male child... So very sad. And that's an understatement.

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  29. Very well written post. Thank you for the reminder of the spiritual benefits of daily surrender! This gender choice is preposterous, and I feel is just another off shoot of how we view pregnancy and birth in this country. It's all about controlling and knowing more than we should, not being patient and letting a human being grow, and just being ok with the if's the question marks. There is no trust whatsoever in this way of thinking. Beautiful beautiful post.

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  30. very brave new worldy and stomach churning.

    Its all about control. A century ago..women had "no control" over their fertility..and my how that has changed...and we just continue to trudge onward...ensuring that our little babies are down syndrome free, the correct sex...etc. It is sickening how fewer down syndrome babies there are now due to genetic testing.

    Off topic but just as maddening..Simon just learned there is a new fellowship after residency specializing in "family planning" which is probably just a pretty euphemism for (among other things) abortions. SO after 4 years of learning how to deliver babies....there is enough of a need for ob-gyns to elect to go and spend two years to learn how to kill them and continue to do so for the remainder of their careers.

    God help us all.

    ok..I feel like I should put a rainbow and a smiley after this gloomy comment.

    so here: rainbow and :)

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  31. Calling this the new sexism is so well put. Really, I enjoyed your points so thoroughly. People get caught up in the moment of the Want, I think, and can forget about the big picture.

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  32. So much that is happening in this world scares me...and what you speak of here is one of them. We drift further and further from the Light.

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