Tell me the story…
It was a woman.
You always say that.
There’s always a woman somewhere, child; a princess, a witch, a stepmother, a mermaid, a fairy godmother, or one as wicked as she is beautiful, or as beautiful as she is good.
Is that the complete list?
Then there is the woman you love.
That’s another story.
– Jeanette Winterson
I’ve put together a special music play list for this entry which you will find at the bottom.
Today is Superbowl Sunday and while I don’t watch football, I still recognize the event because of a “fact” that I heard a few years ago: Super Bowl Sunday contains the highest reported domestic violence incidents out of any day of the year. The web has a lot of conflicting data about this “fact.” While some go so far as to call it a “myth” and a “noble lie” (apparently the real days are Christmas and Thanksgiving), others argue that men are more likely to abuse women because of the alcohol, excitement, and stress associated with a day glorifying the testosterone-infatuated violence of professional football. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I do know that regardless of football, every single day women are beaten and killed by the men in their lives. And it’s not okay. Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever.
Right now, I’m very encouraged about the status of women in the world because of a side event I attended this past Thursday at the Commission for Social Development, “Low Fertility and Ageing Society in East Asia.” Organized by The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, Republic of Korea, the event consisted of presentations and then a roundtable discussion. I listened as they solemnly presented graphs and charts detailing the facts about South-east Asia’s declining population and as Mr. Jose Miguel Guzman (UNFPA) and Joo Y Sohn of the Ministry responded to questions.
In short, they are concerned over Korea’s declining population because the rapidly aging demographic will negatively affect the economy. Right now, the current birthrate is around 1.08 (the lowest in the world), and if it continues on the projected rate of decline, Korea will have the oldest population by 2050. While some countries welcome lower fertility and are actively encouraging it through policy planning and family planning programs (China), other countries have reached a point where the growing economic and health care burdens could turn into a crisis.
This low fertility is not a result of chemicals in the water or poor nutrition; it’s directly correlated to the rising number of women attending college and entering the workforce. “You mean if a woman has another option, she might not want to quit her life, put her body through hell, and devote twenty years of her life to cleaning up after her children and husband?” That’s exactly what I mean. As more women wait to get married, they are having less children, and more women are choosing to not marry at all.
Side note: I also learned that men prefer to marry women who are less educated than themselves (and this isn’t surprising, I have just never heard it presented so officially before). Although they were specifically talking about Korea, Japan and China, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true elsewhere.
Second side note: Last week, an anthropologist from Singapore came to COA and talked about how children are seen as a burden and something to fear in many places in South-east Asia. Historically, children have been viewed as potentially evil and dangerous in many cultures and infanticide has been widely practiced in the past. One of the reasons for this is because some cultures don’t believe that a child is a human being until thirty days after birth or until they’ve cried.
Now, I am not an expert on the social status of women. In fact, I am very new to the field of gender studies; I haven’t even taken any classes on it yet. I can only bring the knowledge I’ve collected from reading and my personal experience as a female for the past 21 years. Still, I’ve always known that women’s empowerment is a great thing. Declining population? I wasn’t so certain.
Sure, I’ve heard how the exponential growth of our population could lead to overpopulation (which means we’d have too many people and not enough resources). I’ve even heard people justify extreme poverty as the earth’s natural way to control the population. But in developed countries, negative population growth creates economic uncertainties. With an aging population and less youth, countries lack the workforce to support the economy. When you have old people, you still need young people to support them.
THIS IDEA MAKES ME SO EXCITED I CAN BARELY GET MY THOUGHTS TOGETHER TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU!
Maybe if societies reach a point where we desperately need women to have children, people will gain a new respect for motherhood and childrearing, and women and children overall. As we see childbirth as a precious gift and not just a woman’s duty or what’s expected, maybe the whole patriarchal system will change. And it NEEDS to change.
According to the organization A Safe World for Women,
- Every minute and a half a woman is raped in the USA.
- In the UK, 40% of victims of serious sexual assault tell nobody.
- 1 in 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
- Up to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.
- Around 800,000 people are trafficked across borders annually.
- In 5 years, violence against women on TV in the USA has increased 60 times more than other violence.
- Children witnessing domestic violence are twice as likely to have serious behavioural problems.
- In Northern Uganda, 60% of women encounter some form of sexual violence.
- In India, every 3rd minute a case of violence against a woman is registered.
- In South Africa, a women is raped every 26 seconds.
- A child seeing dad abusing mum is at the highest risk for passing violence to the next generation.
- More than 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
- In Turkey, Four out of 10 women in Turkey are beaten by their husbands. Almost 90 percent of abused women in Turkey do not seek help from any organization.
- In India, every two hours a ‘bride burning’ occurs.
- In Pakistan over 80% of women face some form of sexual harassment.
Whew. I think it’s obvious that there’s still a lot of work to be done to create a safe world for women.
My idea (that women’s empowerment–>population decline–>fewer children–>more respect for children and women) seems so simple and obvious now that I’ve connected the dots and typed it out. I’m sure I’m missing a lot though. Please comment if you have any thoughts.
Oh, and enjoy the music I picked!
[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4b6f142d5ac2051e” width=”400″ height=”300″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]0