missing girls

I spent the weekend reading and writing, all battened down and hermit-like. I have learned that in order to be productive over long stretches of time when I am alone, I must leave the apartment. So, for the past three days I have done a little work in the morning at home, then headed out to a coffee shop for a few hours of writing. I am much more productive in cafes than I am at home. The difference is the Internet, or lack thereof. The Internet, while a technological advance that I would have a hard time at this point doing without, is also my greatest distraction. I read blogs, headlines, news stories. I check what movies are playing (though I have no plans to see any), I check what’s on TV, I play games, I download music. Luckily for me, my computer is starting to become obsolete at a mere 3.5 years of age, so it does not have wireless capabilities. Someday, when I get a new laptop, Starbucks and its happy wireless offerings will be off limits.

Until then, I visit Starbucks (two different branches!) and another local cafe whose name I always forget (but whose cookies I do not: yum!). And I get a lot of work done. I have –amazingly — been sticking to my daily two page minimum, and the result is I have basically written a chapter in six days. Whoohoo! I am pretty excited about this chapter, too, since it covers a topic that I feel strongly about. The chapter centers around one of my female adult students in Korea, who had a difficult life, mostly because of her gender. Then there is a section about “missing girls” in Korea, the practice of sex-selective abortions that is common, though illegal.  (the sex-selection part, not the abortions. It’s illegal to find out the sex of your unborn child in Korea. Which seems weird, since here in the U.S. it’s pretty hard to get away with not finding out the sex of your baby.) Anyway, this sex-selection was happening so much, particularly in the early 90s, that there’s a society-wide gender imbalance that is resulting in there not being enough women of marriageable age for Korean men. Which, as you can imagine, causes problems for the sustainability of a society. Korea has been a very Confucian country, which means a strong preference for boys. Men are responsible for taking care of their parents in old age, running family ceremonies, and, until recently, providing for their families. Daughters serve few functions, comparatively.
The question that has always plagued me about this is, How, as a woman, can you stomach being complicit in a practice that serves to erase your own kind? How much do you have to hate yourself and your existence to believe that a boy deserves to live more than a girl? This isn’t, by the way, a screed against abortion; I am very pro-choice. But not letting girls be born is something else entirely.

Anyway, enough about that. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read my book. : )


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