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中国的重男轻女思想有多严重?

2014-07-30    来源:中国网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

How serious is son preference in China?

Why are female foetuses aborted in China? Does an increase in the number of abortions of female foetuses reflect an increase in son preference? Sociologist Lisa Eklund from Lund University in Sweden has studied why families in China have a preference for sons.

At the time of the census in 2005, almost 121 boys were born for every 100 girls. Last year's census showed that sex ratio at birth (SRB) had improved somewhat. But it is still too early to celebrate, in Eklund's view: the narrowing of the gap does not necessarily mean that girls are valued more highly.

Because of the high SRB, there has been a tendency to picture China as a country where son preference is strong and possibly increasing since the 1980s. However, Eklund argues in her PhD thesis that using SRB as a proxy indicator for son preference is problematic. She has therefore developed a model to estimate what she calls "son compulsion," where data on SRB and total fertility rate are used to estimate the proportion of couples who wants to give birth to at least one son and who take action to achieve that goal. When looking at variation in son compulsion over time and between regions, Eklund finds that new patterns emerge that do not surface when using SRB as a proxy indicator. Contrary to popular belief, son compulsion remained steady in rural China (at around 10 percent) while it increased in urban China in the 1990s (from 2.8 percent to 4.5 percent).

"This doubling concurred in time with cuts in the state welfare system in the cities, which meant that adult sons were given a more important role in providing for the social and financial security of the elderly," she says. Her findings call into question the assumption that son preference is essentially a rural issue. They also have implications for comparative perspectives and her findings suggest that son compulsion may be higher in other countries even though they expose lower SRB.

When it emerged that far more boys than girls were being born in China, the Chinese government launched the Care for Girls Campaign to improve the value of the girl child and to prevent sex-selective abortion. Nonetheless, the imbalance between the sexes continued to increase. Eklund's findings suggest that the campaign may actually have done more harm than good. Families receive extra support if they have girls and in rural areas exceptions are made from the one-child policy if the first child is a girl.

"By compensating parents of girls in various ways, the government reinforces the idea that girls are not as valuable as boys," says Eklund.
Eklund further challenges the notion that families in rural areas want sons because sons are expected to take over the farming.

"That is a weak argument," says Eklund. "Young people, both men and women, are moving away from rural areas. Of those who stay, women provide just as much help as men. In fact, it is the elderly who end up taking greater responsibility for the agriculture."

However, there are also other reasons why sons are seen as more important for families. Traditionally, a girl moves in with her husband's family when she gets married and she thus cannot look after her own parents when they grow old. Boys also play an important role in ancestor worship, and they ensure that the family name lives on.


Eklund further finds that there is a stubbornness in both popular and official discourses to view son preference as a matter of parents and grandparents without looking at structural factors that help underpin the institution of son preference.

相关内容

中国家庭为什么不想要女婴?越来越高的女婴堕胎率是否反映出重男轻女的趋势呢?为了弄清楚中国的家庭为什么重男轻女,来自瑞典隆德大学(Lund University )的社会学教授丽莎•埃克隆德(Lisa Eklund) 进行了一项研究。

在2005年的人口普查中,男女出生性别比例大约是1.21比1。去年的人口普查显示,不平衡的男女比例有所改善。但在埃克隆德看来,现在高兴为时过早,男女出生率差距的减小并不意味着不再重男轻女。

男女出生比率悬殊,这一现象显示出中国是个重男轻女的国家,而且这一趋势大约从20世纪80年代开始愈演愈烈。然而,埃克隆德在她的博士论文中指出,用新生儿性别比例来判断是否重男轻女是不合理的。因此她开发了一个模型分析中国人对儿子的执念。有的夫妻希望起码生一个儿子,并且愿意为此采取行动。埃克隆德通过初生婴儿性别比例数据和整体出生率估计类似夫妻在中国所占的比例。在跨时段、跨地区的分析之后,埃克蒙德发现了新的规律。而这一规律在新生儿性别比例的干扰下不会显现出来。90年代,农村地区一直稳定地偏爱男孩(约为10%),而城市里比率却在增加(从2.8%上升到4.5%),这一现象与普遍观念是相悖的。

她说:“这一现象是伴随着城市养老保障福利萎缩而产生的,因为这样意味着长大成人的儿子是老年人养老保障的重要来源。”她的这一发现动摇了人们对重男轻女主要在农村存在的观念。他们也透漏出相对的观点,而且她的发现表明,一些国家即使新生儿性别比例较合理,但在这些国家“养儿防老”观念可能更重。

觉察到男孩出生率高于女孩,中国政府发起“关爱女孩”的活动以增加对女孩的重视,防止选择性别的堕胎行为。然而,性别比例的不平衡现象仍在加剧。埃克隆德的研究表明这样的活动实际上可能起到的更多是负作用。

“生了女孩的家庭能得到额外补助,还有农村的计划生育政策有所放宽,如果头胎是女孩的话,还可以再生一胎。通过这些形形色色补偿女孩的父母的方式,政府实际上加强了女孩不如男孩重要的观念,”埃克隆德说。

农村家庭想要男孩,因为男孩能挑起农活重担。埃克隆德进一步挑战了这一观念。

“这是站不住脚的,”埃克隆德说,不论男女,年轻人正逐渐从农村迁出,那些留下来的,女人能干男人干的活儿。实际上,最终是年纪大的人承担了更多农活的重担。

然而,男孩在家里更受重视还有其他原因。通常来说,女孩要嫁到丈夫家那边去,就不能再照顾自己日渐年迈的父母了。男孩还在祭祖传统中占有重要地位,要由他们传宗接代,确保本姓氏源远流长。

埃克隆德进一步发现,民间和官方都有一个固有观念,认为重男轻女是父辈和祖辈的问题,而没从结构因素来看其深层原因。


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