A recent New York Times article profiled boom town Williston, North Dakota. There, because of geological finds, American men are flocking for well-paid jobs in the oil industry, some paying six-figure incomes. It’s the class gold-rush scenario, though this time with a requirement of more skills than desperation.
But Williston existed as a town before the shale beneath it became an object of desire. And the people moving in are almost exclusively male.
What does that mean for women in Williston? Complications. Risk. Fear.
According to the Times: “Many said they felt unsafe. Several said they could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store. Girls’ night out usually becomes an exercise in fending off obnoxious, overzealous suitors who often flaunt their newfound wealth. ‘So many people look at you like you’re a piece of meat,’ said Megan Dye, 28, a nearly lifelong Williston resident. ‘It’s disgusting. It’s gross.’
Prosecutors and the police note an increase in crimes against women, including domestic and sexual assaults.”
The article is replete with language that equates women to products, as well. An example: “‘It’s bad, dude,’ said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December. ‘I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.’”
The italics are mine, the sentiments Mr. Kenworthy’s.
Williston police and local prosecutors are disturbed by an uptick in crimes against women, including sexual assaults.
Williston is an unusual case here in the US, where for the past decades newborns have maintained the natural ratio of 100 girls/106 boys.
But in Asian countries such as China and India, where for many years the natural ratio has been skewed and wrested abruptly male (due to preference for sons, sex-selective abortion of female fetuses, plus China’s one-child policy), and continues to be artificially skewed (the practice of sex-selective abortion is spreading throughout Asia, and is worryingly strong in Western Asian, Muslim-majority former SSRs), Williston’s experience will be repeated over and over in the coming decades.
Where women are rare, unlike flatscreen TVs they are not regarded as more precious and worthy of care and tenderness. In a skewed-male environment, they are instead hounded, persecuted, regarded as potentially available by married men as well as single ones. Men who feel entitled to hetero sex – and equally entitled to take it – demean and degrade women.
That’s a huge pain footprint.
Given that a change in perspective might take hundreds of years, China and India need to plan for the future. When female citizens there are in the minority, how will their safety – and thus the future of the nation – be addressed? What will be the penalties for abusing girls and women? In villages, towns and cities that, like Williston, will feel akin to male prisons or the army, women face a future certain to contain enormous risk and pain.
That’s why wealthy Asians are looking to English-speaking countries (Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK) for investment and secondary residence. They’re prepping safety nets for their families, because they recognize the harm to come. The increase in wealthy Asians looking for visas and citizenship in the above-mentioned four nations is skewing way, way up. Note that these people are wealthy – which doesn’t mean they are ethically intelligent and would make good potential citizens, just that they’re able to play the immigration game by investments.
Chinese girls and women may at least look to a centralized government for protection from a plethora of men. In India, with its high proportion of governmental sluggishness and corruption, who will help girls and women avoid abduction, rape, murder? Delhi is currently wracked by protests, its officials urged to finally prosecute brutal rapes. In an increasingly-male world, women may find themselves back in the days of seclusion. Instead of predatory men’s movement being restricted by law – which makes most sense – there’s a likelihood that women will be forced to stay at home, just like their great-grandmothers in the 19th century.
Which is, of course, backward.
In Williston, one woman’s family “hardly ever lets her go out on her own — not even for walks down the gravel road at the housing camp where they live. ‘Will I stay for very long? Probably not,’ she said. ‘To me, there’s no money in the world worth not even being able to take a walk.’
In America, it’s one town. In Asia, it will increasingly be whole nations.