Monday, February 15, 2010

Not Another Boy

I was going to write about something else but it will just have to wait.

I've just been watching a programme which I recorded a couple of weeks ago: Eight Boys and Wanting a Girl.

It was about various sets of parents - - crucially, the mothers - - who had given birth to several children, all boys, and who now obsessively wanted a girl and were trying all sorts of methods to get one.

Some of them were trying all sorts of dubious remedies found on the internet. A few, who had lots and lots of money, were trying something called PGD which stands for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. It's a bit like in vitro fertilisation - - you take some eggs from the woman, fertilise them with the husband's sperm, wait a bit to see if any of them are the required gender, and then put the ones of the correct gender in the woman's womb and hope that they turn into babies.

It's banned in this country, though legal in the USA, apparently, and in other European countries too.

The programme was one of those very "surface" documentaries which never thought to ask - - why is it banned in Britain?

Anyway, we saw a woman called Very Rich and Extremely Stupid - - okay, perhaps that wasn't her name but it's what I'm calling her - - who had had four boys, but who refused to marry her partner until he had given her a girl: it's the sperm that determines the gender, of course.

For some reason, instead of saying the sensible thing, which would have been "Goodbye, you stupid selfish cow" he went along with her wishes. She went to Spain to have PGD and then gave birth to twin girls, identically dressed in frills and flounces and spending much of their time clothes shopping with their mother. Heaven help them if they'd have fancied playing with a bit of Meccano. Once she'd had the girls, she married the partner and described her life as "perfect".

Not, of course, that I'm objecting to girls liking traditional "girl" things or vice versa with boys. It's just that some girls don't, and the pressure on these twins to be all things girly was intense.

There was another woman who had four boys and was pregnant and became really depressed when she found out it was another boy. How horrible for the four existing boys, who must surely have picked up the vibe that they were somehow second-best.

True, most of the women featured in this programme said they felt guilty about their obsessive desire for a girl. "And so you should!" I shouted at the screen.

Firstly, why is PGD banned in Britain? Because, if you ask me, it's a slippery slope. Look what's happened in China, where male was the preferred gender and families were limited to one child. Mysteriously, in spite of the odds being roughly fifty-fifty, a huge number of families seemed to have only boy babies. What happened to all the girls? - - - Exactly.

Perhaps there's a case for being able to choose the gender if the family is prone to a horrific disease that only affects one gender. That's the only reason I think it should happen. But the disease would have to be pretty horrific, because I know perfectly well that some people - if they could choose - would say they only wanted embryos implanting that had, for example, blonde hair.

I've had to think more about gender than most parents, perhaps. My first child, a boy, was born prematurely and died after three weeks. My second child was assigned female at birth, brought up as a girl, but then concluded that he is male. And yes, I have found it hard to adjust, though I'm getting there - - but that was because I had believed that he was female, it wasn't because I "wanted a girl".

D'you know what, I was just grateful to have a child, and will always be so. I would love that child no matter what gender that child was, and would never have had a preference. So many people - male and female - want children and never have them.

So when people who have several healthy children are obsessively miserable because they want one of a different gender - -- well, it makes me angry. I know they can't, perhaps, help their feelings but they CAN help what they do about it - - - and telling a television documentary all about it, so their wrong-gender children can see it all, is just bad.

I know I watched it. And I shouldn't have.


Anonymous Writeous Indignation said...

Absolutely! to everything you say!
There's far too much of this picking bits of life you like and ingoring the rest, for my liking. A quest for perfection instead of respect for the quest, a focus on a goal isntead of appreciating the effort that went into achieving it.

The idea of 'picking' your child for any reason other than, as you say, preventing a life of abject misery for the child and all concerned due to a disease or abnormality, is abhorrent.
I'm glad I didn't watch it. I would have been throwing things at the TV!

10:10 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

That woman should have counted her blessings for having 4 healthy boys rather than being consumed with anger and regret that she hadn't had a daughter. Awful. Hate stories like that.

10:47 pm  
Anonymous mumof4 said...

OMG, those poor kids are going to grow up with such issues. I never found out the sex with any of my kids which FLABBERGASTED some of the Americans here!!

What channel was it on btw?

11:53 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

It's a pity that Woolworths have shut down. They could have developed an advance form of Pick N Mix where would be parents could pick the exact type of child they were after. I'd have picked a coconutty one with a liquorice middle.

1:24 am  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

How ungrateful some people can be. I know loads of woment who would just love to have baby never mind what sex it was.

8:18 am  
Anonymous ruth said...

(Fortunately) Not having come across this C4 documentary about 'Gender Disappointment' before, I googled it and came across an interview with a woman who I can only assume is Very Rich and Extremely Stupid to use your name for her.

The thing that came across more than anything else was her extreme selfishness. It didn't take long for this to show itself. She repeatedly said things like 'I decided, we decided...' That self correcting of 'I' to 'we' kind of said it all to me.

She said: 'It's quite a private thing these feelings...' I immediately asked my laptop 'then why chose to be in a documentary and justify this with the self sacrificing reason it was to try to raise people's awareness?'

I'm so glad I didn't watch the tv programme and won't do so.

PS Hooray for Yorkshire Pudding!

11:59 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Thank you for watching this documentary so that I didn't have to. I agree with everything, EVERYTHING, you said.

What happened to a lot of the girls in China is they were adopted by Very Rich and Hopefully Not Stupid Americans.

I did not know this practice was legal in this country (etats-unis d'amerique, in Olympic parlance). I hope you are wrong.

5:57 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Writeous Indignation - I WAS throwing things at the TV!
Milo - too right, totally agree.
Mumof4 - I felt sorry mostly for the sons, but also for the daughters. It was on Channel 4 (though had the feel of one of those "The Boy with Half a Head" kind of documentaries that you get on Channel 5).
WendyCarole - yes, I totally agree.
Ruth - yes, I found her the most infuriating of them all!
Bob - glad you agree! The programme did say it WAS legal in America and I think that must be the case.
YP - - yes, that's what I would have picked, too. Grand idea.

6:34 pm  

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