Modern human mothers can now choose the sex of their children, without surgery or procedures. For every pregnancy, the sex of the fetus must be chosen. In a culture that has a strong preference for male children, such as China or India, how will that culture adapt to the ability to produce only male children?

  • $\begingroup$ Your culture will need to have a much more liberal approach to sex and partnerships, Especially towards female fidelity in a partnership. A strong acceptance for homosexuality, especially among men, would also be requred, lest you get situations like in india, where a lot of men become sexually frustrated, and a significant portion resorts to sexual violence, for the sheer lack of women. $\endgroup$ – Burki Aug 19 '15 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if a situation like this would be sufficient push to change from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal one. If there are too many men then the women become incredibly valuable /powerful. Matriarchal societies also tend to be less restrictive about sexuality in general. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 19 '15 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ In such a situation (again: see modern-day India) it is by no means guaranteed that women become powerful. Every single woman still needs to make sure she can fend off assaults by men. It might also result in most women hiding away / being hidden (by their husbands), and thus effectively loosing all progress that was made in the direction of equal rights. $\endgroup$ – Burki Aug 19 '15 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki, can we move this to WorldBuilding general chat? I have some questions that aren't appropriate for comments. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 19 '15 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Burki this only makes sense in a liberal society. People adapt. In some societies where there is almost no law, some men rape and kill to spread their gene. In some societies where there is a lot of homosexuality some men become homosexuals. In some societies where there are a lot of monks, some men become monks. In some societies where asexualism and anti-androgen drugs are popular they might go for these. People adapt. The problem is to adapt without being harmful. So if you still have law and order and it is not easy to rape and kill, people will adapt in a harmless way. $\endgroup$ – Ying Zhou Aug 19 '15 at 14:01

So let's say this new ability is discovered, and immediately all the expectant mothers turn their fetuses male. Fast forward twenty years, and you now have an entire generation of men, ready to enter the workforce and change the world, yet unable to find a spouse (except the gay men, they've lucked out in this scenario). It's very likely these men have lived their lives with virtually no women their age. The vast majority of them are probably virgins, and many of them will not be happy about this. Building a family is one of the highest priorities of a lot of people, especially in male-centric cultures; these men are not going to like the idea of their names dying out.

So what will happen? I imagine a lot of wars. The armies of these countries can simply say "Join the army, meet some women", and enlistment will skyrocket. These armies will attempt to expand the borders of their nations, and take the women of the bordering nations hostage. It may seem silly to think that men will kill to get laid, but it is an instinctual urge; it's not as crazy to think that someone would kill to feed their family, but these men need to kill to have a family.

As for women, things are going to get very bad for them. You may think that they'll have more power since they have a valuable commodity, but you forget the thousands of years of history which prove you wrong. Women have always been a valuable commodity, and as a result men have treated them like slaves, taking away their basic human rights and selling them like property. If there are less women, the ones who are left are going to be treated even less like humans and even more like baby-making machines.

Put these two things together and you have armies of millions of sex-crazed misogynists. I imagine many other nations would band together to stop these armies, take over these countries, and free the enslaved women. Or maybe they'll just impose embargoes, it really depends on how bad this gets, and how quickly. The main problem is that it will get bad. Cultures that value male babies over female babies aren't going to value anyone who decides having a girl is a good idea when you have the choice. The only way they're going to adapt is when someone forces them to; whether that's by the UN after the country's government is toppled or by the all-male government so they can rape a new generation of girls, I can't say.

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  • $\begingroup$ While I don't disagree, it could easily go the opposite direction with women gaining formidable power and men offering more money and power if they're chosen as her partner. It wouldn't go overboard though, since as soon as you see a generation of males, you'd see it immediately followed by a generation of females. $\endgroup$ – Neil Aug 19 '15 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully, it would be followed by a mixed generation as people realize that you need both....though a swing towards females is possible, especially if females become dominantly powerful. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 19 '15 at 13:54

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