The Polish village where only girls are born

Fire power: The mayor says the situation has become “a little crazy and out of hand”. © Getty

If Earth was populated entirely by women, would it be a better place? After no boys are born for nearly 10 years, the Polish village of Miejsce Odrzanskie is providing a unique case study.

The mayor has offered a reward for anyone who has a male baby. Scientists want to investigate. And television crews have come searching for answers about a small Polish village and its increasingly strange population anomaly.

No boy has been born in Miejsce Odrzańskie for almost a decade.

Residents are baffled by the phenomenon.

Theories are endlessly swapped in the village hall about the drinking water and chemicals in the soil, but experts think it is just a coincidence, like a run of flipped coins turning up heads.

With a dwindling population, the local authorities are trying to encourage couples to have more children in the hope that some boys will be born.

But many parents in the village who have two daughters already don’t want to risk having a third.

“Girls rule in our village,” says Adrianna Pieruszka, a volunteer firefighter.

Could the world ever be populated entirely by women?

When it comes to human reproduction, the feminist author and academic Germaine Greer believes that men are pointless: “A society can survive with only one man — no society will survive a shortage of women,” she says.

Biology professor Greg Hampikian agrees. “We can expect to see more women choose to reproduce without men entirely. If all the men on earth died tonight, the species could continue on frozen sperm. If the women disappear, it’s extinction.”

US anthropology professor Melvyn Konner sees it coming. “The great transformation of the past two centuries — the slow, but relentless decline of male supremacy — can be attributed in part to the rise of enlightenment ideas generally. The liberation of women has advanced alongside the gradual emancipation of serfs, slaves, working people and minorities of every sort.

“But the most important factor has been technology, which has made men’s physical strength and martial prowess increasingly obsolete. Male muscle has been replaced to a large extent by machines and robots. Today, women operate fighter jets and attack helicopters, deploying more lethal force than any Roman gladiator or Shogun warrior could.”

So, would a world without men be an improvement?

Ovary and out?

“Of course, it would,” say thinkers such as Greg Hampikian in The New York Times. “Women live longer, are healthier and are far less likely to commit a violent offence. If men were cars, who would buy the model that doesn’t last as long, is given to lethal incidents and ends up impounded more often?”

“Be careful what you wish for,” say others. Most of the great music has been made by men; most of the great mathematics; most of the great physics; most exploration, and a fair share of the literature. Maybe this has nothing to do with gender differences. But would you want to risk it?

You Decide

  1. Do women make better leaders than men?
  2. Do you think a world led by women would be kinder than a world led by men?

Activities

  1. Take it in turns to list characteristics that you associate with women (these could be stereotypes you have heard, or your own thoughts). Then, discuss as a class: do these words also suggest good leadership?
  2. Choose a female world leader, who is currently in power, and write a short profile about her life and achievements so far.

Some People Say...

“The whole female sex seems to agree that men are becoming a nuisance.”

E. Jean Carroll, US journalist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Scientists are making steady progress towards creating human eggs and sperm artificially in petri dishes. The idea is to make them from the ordinary “somatic” cells of the body, such as skin.
What do we not know?
How deep and radical is the need for diversity in the human species? Is this the real reason why we need men — just as we need people of all ages, religions, sexual orientation and ethnic groups in our communities and workplaces?

Word Watch

Anomaly
An oddity. Something that varies from the norm.
Miejsce Odrzańskie
A village in southwest Poland.
Dwindling
Gradually getting smaller.
Anthropology
The study of humans and human behaviour in societies past and present.
Enlightenment
The Enlightenment was a period in the 18th century when European scientists and philosophers examined the world through reasoning rather than religion.
Emancipation
Freedom
Serfs
Unlike slaves, serfs could own property.
Prowess
Skills or expertise.
Obsolete
No longer used, or out of date.

Subjects

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