A cross-cultural showdown between Western science and Chinese folk knowledge over how to properly produce babies of a desired sex.
My wife and a female Chinese coworker were having a conversation about babies. It wasn’t the type of talk that I would generally find very interesting, and I sat near them typing up some article, their words little more than background static. Until:
“If you want to have a boy baby you should only eat only vegetables and no meat and your husband should eat only meat, and if you want a girl you should eat only meat and your husband should eat only vegetables ” the educated young Chinese women spoke.
I looked up to gauged the seriousness of the statement. She was serious. The Chinese woman spoke as if it was a matter of fact: of course, meat for boys, vegetables for girls, yang and yin, duh.
“I don’t think that’s how it works,” my wife expressed her doubt with a polite smile.
“No, it is true,” the Chinese woman countered, “I have a friend in Taiwan who has five kids. They go boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, and this is what she did. It’s true.” She was now laughing at my wife, as though she was too ignorant to get this seemingly simply concept.
“According to modern science,” my wife began, “to increase the chances of having a boy baby you should have sex on the day that you ovulate, if you want a girl you should have sex the day before you ovulate, because male sperm swim faster than female.”
The Chinese woman burst out laughing and scrunched up her face, as though my wife said something outrageously ridiculous. Ha, yeah, faster swimming sperm, where’d ya hear that one!?!
Both women were now giving each other the same awkward diagonal smile and upturned eyes, as though neither could believe the that the other could possibly be so gullible, that neither could believe the other’s culture could be so stupid. It was a cross-cultural standoff: Western old wives tales vs. Eastern folk knowledge. Eating only meat or fast swimming sperm, the things that cultures tell themselves and take for granted are ironclad. Worlds may come together, but worldviews seldom shift.