Search results for primogeniture

Word of the Day: Primogeniture!

mjQDhjII don’t understand the American obsession with British royalty. I mean, Princess Kate gets pregnant and we go gaga on this side of the pond. Sending American news anchors to report live from Buckingham Palace on the status of the princess’ morning sickness? Really?

After all, once upon a time didn’t we fight a war to rid ourselves of the British monarchy?!?

But I digress…

It’s not often that we read about male privilege being codified, but that’s been the reality over the centuries in Great Britain and in other countries as well. Denmark? Yep. Japan? Yep. Spain. Sure.

It’s called primogeniture, the right of inheritance according to birth order.  Historically, the law of primogeniture has demanded that female heirs are excluded (or bypassed) from inheritance in favor or their younger brothers. Primogeniture has been the law of the Commonwealth in Britain for generations, and women, like Elizabeth, would ascend to the crown only in the absence of a male heir.

Now, finally, it appears that English primogeniture has run its course. As that tiny baby (Or is it twins? News at eleven!) begins to grow, British Parliament is working to officially change the law so that whether it’s a boy or a girl this future heir will one day become king OR queen.

It’s about time.

And yet here’s the thing: lots of people think that boy babies are more important than girl babies.

This is certainly true globally. This heartbreaking article, “It’s a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World,” chronicles the global “gendercide” underway in many countries in the world. Here’s an excerpt:

“The statistics are sickening. The UN reports approximately 200 million girls in the world today are ‘missing’. India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year. Lianyungang in China has the worst infant gender ratio on record with 163 boys born for every 100 girls. Taiwan, South Korea and Pakistan are also countries in which unwanted female babies are aborted, killed or abandoned.”

It’s a tragedy, but it’s one thing to see this brand of male privilege  in far-flung places. What about closer to home?

Here it’s subtler of course, expressed more in how soon-to-be parents talk about their preference for a boy, or maybe in the slight sigh of relief when the doctor announces their new son. In fact, according to this Gallup poll, if they can only have one child, 40% of Americans say they would want a boy while only 28% would want a girl.

Why do you think this is?

Could it be that because in general our social convention preserves the family/last name though the husband the birth of a male child is seen as a guarantee that a name will perpetuate into the next generation?

Could it be because there’s a word on the street that tells young parents that boys are easier to parent than girls?

Could it be that because of the reality that we live in a society that favors men, we know that our boy children will have it just a bit easier than our girls?

And/or could it just be that as a culture we fundamentally have this internal bias that says that boys intrinsically have more value?

In the Dixon house, our son Josh is our firstborn, and over the years we’ve given him three little sisters. Our girls are perhaps a bit too empowered and I can’t remember the last time Josh got his way.

Come to think of it, maybe Josh should move to England?

What about you? How have you seen some version of primogeniture in our world?  In your world?

Welcome Charlotte!

mjqdhjiAll of the hubbub over Her Royal Highness Charlotte’s arrival last week reminded me of the run-up to her brother George’s arrival more than 2 years ago, and Great Britain’s messed up history with the (mercifully) now defunct rule of primogeniture.

I don’t understand the American obsession with British royalty. I mean, Princess Kate gets pregnant and we go gaga on this side of the pond. Sending American news anchors to report live from Buckingham Palace on the status of the princess’ morning sickness? Really?

After all, once upon a time didn’t we fight a war to rid ourselves of the British monarchy?!?

But I digress…

It’s not often that we read about male privilege being codified, but that’s been the reality over the centuries in Great Britain and in other countries as well. Denmark? Yep. Japan? Yep. Spain. Sure.

It’s called primogeniture, the right of inheritance according to birth order.  Historically, the law of primogeniture has demanded that female heirs are excluded (or bypassed) from inheritance in favor or their younger brothers. Primogeniture has been the law of the Commonwealth in Britain for generations, and women, like Elizabeth, would ascend to the crown only in the absence of a male heir.

Now, finally, it appears that English primogeniture has run its course. As that tiny baby (Or is it twins? News at eleven!) begins to grow, British Parliament is working to officially change the law so that whether it’s a boy or a girl this future heir will one day become king OR queen.

It’s about time.

And yet here’s the thing: lots of people think that boy babies are more important than girl babies.

This is certainly true globally. This heartbreaking article“It’s a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World,” chronicles the global “gendercide” underway in many countries in the world. Here’s an excerpt:

“The statistics are sickening. The UN reports approximately 200 million girls in the world today are ‘missing’. India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year. Lianyungang in China has the worst infant gender ratio on record with 163 boys born for every 100 girls. Taiwan, South Korea and Pakistan are also countries in which unwanted female babies are aborted, killed or abandoned.”

It’s a tragedy, but it’s one thing to see this brand of male privilege  in far-flung places. What about closer to home?

Here it’s subtler of course, expressed more in how soon-to-be parents talk about their preference for a boy, or maybe in the slight sigh of relief when the doctor announces their new son. In fact, according to this Gallup poll, if they can only have one child, 40% of Americans say they would want a boy while only 28% would want a girl.

Why do you think this is?

Could it be that because in general our social convention preserves the family/last name though the husband the birth of a male child is seen as a guarantee that a name will perpetuate into the next generation?

Could it be because there’s a word on the street that tells young parents that boys are easier to parent than girls?

Could it be that because of the reality that we live in a society that favors men, we know that our boy children will have it just a bit easier than our girls?

And/or could it just be that as a culture we fundamentally have this internal bias that says that boys intrinsically have more value?

In the Dixon house, our son Josh is our firstborn, and over the years we’ve given him three little sisters. Our girls are perhaps a bit too empowered and I can’t remember the last time Josh got his way.

Come to think of it, maybe Josh should move to England?

This Quote Royally Stinks

nxZBkYYOK, first, the obligatory best wishes:

Amy and I would like to congratulate Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, on the arrival of Prince George Alexander Louis, third in the line to the British throne. We wish the happy family nothing but the best as they enjoy their newborn and each of his royal poops.

Seriously–and I know I’ve blogged about this before–I don’t get the American obsession with the British monarchy. After all, long ago we dumped the English on their royal arses, didn’t we?!?

And so I’ve scratched my head this week at the overwhelming coverage of the royal birth. Unless you’ve been in a cave for the week, you’ve seen the coverage on the morning shows, the evening news, on the web and everywhere in between. It’s royal baby mania.

And then I about scratched my head off completely when I read the following quote from CNN royal commentator Victoria Arbiter:

“I can’t believe we finally, after all this waiting, know that we have a boy,” she said shortly after the birth was announced. “My first thought, I have to say, was this is how brilliant a royal Kate is. There are women throughout British royal family history that have panicked over not being able to deliver a boy. And here we are — Kate did it first time.”

Now, there are asinine quotes, and then there’s this one.

For one thing, I have no idea how having a boy was in any way Kate’s decision. I mean, the quote reads as if she willed it and it was so. And, by contrast, other royals have not had that same super-power and hence they’ve panicked. Last time I checked, outside of some serious science, there’s not a whole lot a mom-to-be can do to pick a baby’s gender, old wive’s tales by damned.

Secondly, and most vexing, is the quote’s juxtaposition of “brilliant” with “able to deliver a boy.”

As I reported when Kate announced her pregnancy, the British law of primogeniture (male heirs accede to the throne, even in the presence of older sisters) was happily expunged by Parliament in the run-up to this royal birth. Still, the perception persists, at least on the part of Ms. Arbiter, that because the baby was born with a y chromosome, it’s better for the baby, for Kate and for the nation.

If she’s “brilliant” for bearing a boy, what would she be if she had born a girl?

In the end, it’s a ridiculous quote, one that’s easy to dismiss out of hand. In this article on slate, one writer gives this comment “the award for worst royal baby commentary ever.”

Indeed that’s so. But it’s also more than that.

It also wins the Tertullian Award for most egregious male privilege quote of the year.