Headline of the Day

Guy Benson
Posted: Sep 01, 2011 1:26 PM

I hereby nominate this jaw-dropper as a finalist for for the coveted Orwellian Headline Of The Year award:

Once you've picked yourself up off the floor, give the accompanying piece a quick read.  Associated Press reporter Alexa Olesen breezily introduces readers to young Mia Wang, who -- unlike many Chinese women of previous generations -- has been afforded the opportunity to blossom into an expert calligraphist, musician, recreational sports afficiando, and college student.  What's her secret?  China's one-child policy, the story explains:

Tsinghua University freshman Mia Wang has confidence to spare. Asked what her home city of Benxi in China's far northeastern tip is famous for, she flashes a cool smile and says: "Producing excellence. Like me."  A Communist Youth League member at one of China's top science universities, she boasts enviable skills in calligraphy, piano, flute and ping pong. 

Such gifted young women are increasingly common in China's cities and make up the most educated generation of women in Chinese history. Never have so many been in college or graduate school, and never has their ratio to male students been more balanced. To thank for this, experts say, is three decades of steady Chinese economic growth, heavy government spending on education and a third, surprising, factor: the one-child policy.

If a casual readers merely noted the headline and skimmed the first few grafs of the piece, he or she could be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that China has floruished into a veritable paradise for women.  It's not until the fifteenth paragraph of the story that the seedy underbelly of China's brutal one-child policy is even mentioned:

Crediting the one-child policy with improving the lives of women is jarring, given its history and how it's harmed women in other ways. Facing pressure to stay under population quotas, overzealous family planning officials have resorted to forced sterilizations and late-term abortions, sometimes within weeks of delivery, although such practices are illegal.  The birth limits are also often criticized for encouraging sex-selective abortions in a son-favoring society. Chinese traditionally prefer boys because they carry on the family name and are considered better earners.

With the arrival of sonogram technology in the 1980's, some families no longer merely hoped for a boy, they were able to engineer a male heir by terminating pregnancies when the fetus was a girl.  "It is gendercide," said Therese Hesketh, a University College London professor who has studied China's skewed sex ratio. "I don't understand why China doesn't just really penalize people who've had sex-selective abortions and the people who do them. The law exists but nobody enforces it."

Remember, the headline of this AP story startlingly casts the Communist Chinese government's policy of mass sterilizations, forced abortions, and de facto gendercide as a "surprising boon" to women.  And I suppose that's true -- but only for the females who are fortunate enough to survive the treacherous precincts of the womb, who elude abandonment at birth, and who don't have their right to procreate ripped away by government officials later in life.  Aside from all of that, however, the story's headline is perfect.  Vice President Biden, call your office.