All-Men Societies? The End of Humanity…

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
2013, Lebanon

Will there be a sex war in the upcoming years of the 21st century? Has it already started?

When parents are able to choose the sex of their child using in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination (AI), and world statistics show that boys are preferred, especially in conservative and highly patriarchal societies – such as most Middle Eastern -, what would be the outcome? Keep in mind that Mother Nature has already tipped the odds a bit in favor of boys in the sex-selection game.

Enormously complicated ethical issues are raised. Allowing parents to determine the sex of their children will inevitably reinforce gender discrimination in society and, if practiced widely, upset the natural balance between men and women in the population and lead to all-men societies!

This is not a science-fiction movie script, nor Leila Abdel-Latif’s vision of the future. When I ask women and men in Lebanon about sex-selection, even young university students, many are amazed such techniques are available, and their first – and often only reactions – are: “At last, we will be able to have boys without trying our grand-mothers’ techniques”; “If only these new techniques were available when my father had three girls and only one boy. Poor guy, he kept on trying hard for years!”; “Boys would ensure our family’s honor and sustainability”; “You have a girl? God will bless you with a boy who will surely ‘complete her’”…

The belief in the power of the masculine versus the feminine isn’t new, neither ‘organic’ sex-selection like girls infanticide. However, Amin Maalouf, famous Lebanese novelist, brilliantly shows in “The First Century after Beatrice” what happens when modern science is placed in the service of ancient prejudices. Never has the Egyptian prayer “May your name live forever and a son be born to you” sounded so chilling – elegantly transformed into a modern parable by Maalouf.

“We are somewhere in the not-too-distant future in the company of a world renowned entomologist. On a visit to Cairo he discovers an unusual use for a certain scarab beetle. When consumed as a powder, the insect enhances virility and guarantees the birth of a son. Initial skepticism about the ‘scarab powder’ turns into suspicion of something deeper when his partner, a high-flying journalist, discovers that it is being sold in India, all over Africa and much of the Third World. Suspicion turns into at obsession when the couple discovers a sharp decline in the birth of girls all over the South. The narrator himself has a strong desire for a daughter. And his young wife eventually rewards him with one: his beloved Beatrice. The couple spends all their time, during the decade after the birth of Beatrice, examining the trends they have accidentally discovered and seeking answers to the frightening questions they pose. Is there real power in the ‘scarab powder’ to immunize women against the birth of girls? Is gender bias the sole preserve of the ‘underdeveloped people of the world’? Is there a conspiracy to depopulate the world?” (Independent.co.uk)

Maalouf’s novel raises several critical issues concerning the nature of modern science and technology and their relations to society’s customs and beliefs; corruption of science and how it perpetuates and confirms ancient prejudices in many cases; the dangers of unbalanced populations; the impossibility of the industrialized North to keep its prosperity and insanity intact while the South plunges into deeper poverty; etc.

The birth of a male is still so important in Middle-Eastern mindset (and even elsewhere), that our future colonization of planets searching for ways to survive will not be able to change gender bias dreadful consequences when paired with efficient technology.

Clearly, sex-selection isn’t a solution to overpopulation and food shortages. And all-men societies will definitely mean the end of humanity. Maalouf’s tale may seem unbelievable, but something of this nature could easily come about…

Will we be able to reverse it?

And will we be able to deconstruct “From one man he made all the nations…” (Acts 17,26)?

Join the Conversation

No comments

  1. Thank you Dr. for reminding us of important and crucial issues we tend to forget or we don’t take into consideration. “Eugenism” is one of them, and especially when it comes to sex-selection. Feels like neo-nazism techniques…

  2. Je ne voudrais en aucun cas vivre dans une société qui n’est pas diversifiée… que ce serait-ce une société d’hommes?

  3. There were studies about the disappearance of the Y chromosome, but i guess that won’t happen soon… 😉

    1. It is agreed that the Y was once genetically identical to its partner and that the present-day human sex chromosomes retain only traces of their shared ancestry. Y is nowadays ‘smaller’ than X. The big question however is whether this degradation will continue or whether it has reached a point of equilibrium. There are researchers who state that Y will degrade inexorably and disappear. Other say that Y has not disappeared yet and it has been around for hundreds of millions of years.

  4. You should listen to what my parents say, and their friends, about having girls as firstborn children!! Drama!!
    Unfortunately, it isn’t an old generational issue. It seems to be trans-generational. I agree that even many young individuals – men and women – prefer having boys.

  5. Well you did not consider that there should be someone to carry the last name of the family and produce future generation offspring. Instinctively it is logical to prefer a male than a female gender as it ensures the continuation of a family name and origin. On the other hand, I do disagree with the criticism one has to endure because of giving birth to a female.

    1. Family last names could be carried by women too (matrilineal). Refer to the example of Brazil; and most tribes in North America (Indian); in Southern-Eastern Asia etc. Or it could be both – men and women.

      1. Which is totally absent in Lebanese culture in particular. I am not arguing who is right or wrong between us but actually how to change and enlighten people to think differently in our society; this, in my opinion, is the key issue here

  6. Thank you Dr. Inspiring as usual ! 🙂
    Did you read ‘The White Plague’ by Frank Herbert?
    “It begins in Ireland, but soon spreads throughout the entire world: a virulent new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half of the human race dies off at a frightening pace and life on Earth faces extinction, panicked people and governments struggle to cope with the global crisis. Infected areas are quarantined or burned to the ground. The few surviving women are locked away in hidden reserves, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a cure. Anarchy and violence consume the planet.”

  7. Thank you Aida!
    Herbert’s novel depicts some kind of “Androtopia”, as many other novelists: Jack London in ‘The Strange Experience of a Misogynist’ (without women, men would lack the motivation to achieve); Raccoona Sheldon in “The Screwfly Solution” (Aliens who wish to claim Earth for themselves kill all the women with a plague and subsequently wait for the men to die off); etc…

  8. I would gladly choose the sex of my child. If I already have a boy, i would like a girl. And if I have a girl, a boy would be the most welcome!

  9. Je suis tout à fait contre les manipulations génétiques, surtout que l’être humain n’a pas de limites. Tous ces comités en bioéthique ne pourront arrêter les grands laboratoires de recherche et les industries militaires.

  10. I highly appreciate your posts/articles Dr. and your blog. Keep up your good work. We do need education at all levels and a sense of criticism in Lebanon and the Arab world.
    As for this subject, i believe it would have been the same if the world would be only one of women…
    Diversity is a must indeed. Or else, i guess that humanity would have disappeared a long time ago.

  11. Bravo Docteure pour votre courage et vos travaux et votre lutte continelle pour les droits de l’humain et en particulier les droits de la femme dans cette région des plus catastrophiques!
    Face aux mouvements fanatiques, extrémistes, conservateurs, qui nous empoisonnent l’existence et minent notre avenir, au moins vous agissez. Votre arme est l’écriture et tant mieux!

    1. Merci Mr. Habib pour votre support 🙂
      Nous faisons de notre mieux avec les outils que nous avons et les principes auxquels nous croyons. C’est vrai que nous ne pouvons lutter sur tous les fronts.
      Les objectifs de ces plateformes en ligne – blog et page Facebook – sont particuliers et leurs publics sont spécifiques.
      Contrairement à ce que l’on croit, l’ignorance est de rigueur dans les milieux ‘favorisés’ au Liban… Qui dit fanatisme et extrémisme, ne dit pas nécessairement pauvreté et misère. Même chose pour les préjugés, le racisme, le sexisme, etc.
      Bien d’intellectuels, d’académiciens, de journalistes, d’étudiants universitaires et du secondaire, sont ‘ignorants’ de ce qui se passe autour d’eux, ignorent les mécanismes du système socio-politique libanais, l’histoire du Liban et de la région, etc. Nombreux sont ceux qui n’ont pas idée de ce que sont les droits humains, dont les droits des femmes. Et nombreux sont ceux qui ne sont pas ‘engagés’!
      Nous avons beaucoup de pain sur la planche 🙂 et nous invitons tous/tes ceux/celles qui voudraient contribuer à notre lutte de le faire! Bienvenue!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply to Habib Ch. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *