Gender Selection and Sexism

Gender selection, in its broadest sense, refers to anything that a woman or a couple might do in order to either guarantee that they have a baby of a certain gender, or to at least increase the chances that their baby will be a certain gender. Gender selection can be as simple as having intercourse in a certain position, or as complex as actually separating the sperm that will create a boy from the sperm that will create a girl for use in In Vitro Fertilization. However, there are several ethical questions regarding gender selection. One of the biggest issues that critics of gender selection raise is that gender selection may be sexist.

Those who argue against gender selection suggest that gender selection is sexist because, in society as a whole, it will ultimately lead to the oppression of one gender. When a society comes to favor a specific gender, that gender will be selected more often than the other gender. This will create a situation in which the favored gender outnumbers the non-favored gender. Ultimately, it can lead to this more numerous, dominant gender oppressing the gender that is not as numerous.

Gender selection is sexist, opponents say, in that it resembles the horrors of the now-defunct science of eugenics. By genetically manipulating a fetus, whether it is for gender or some other purpose, the genetic pool is forever changed, and not necessarily in a good way.

Gender selection may not be sexist in certain situations, however. If, for example, the aim of gender selection is to avoid a serious genetic problem, such as an inherited same-sex genetic deformity or disease. Those who believe that gender selection is sexist will, however, point out that these situations may eventually lead to situations in which gender selection is made for other, less serious and important reasons.

Finally, some may not view gender selection as sexist when it is done without medical interference. If a couple has a boy and wants a girl, and if they believe that having intercourse in a certain fashion will produce a girl, this may not be nearly as sexist as the couple who asks the fertility clinic for a girl because they don’t want a boy.