The turn against motherhood

Long-read

The turn against motherhood

Why it has become fashionable not to have children.

Frank Furedi

There is a difference between an individual deciding not to have children and someone embracing the view that there is something inherently wrong with motherhood and giving birth to children.

Individuals have always made choices about whether or not to have kids and about the size of their families. These were personal decisions rather than statements about the moral significance of bringing new children into the world. Yet today, a significant section of society presents the decision not to have children as a political comment. There is now a misanthropic ideology that promotes hostility towards those who choose to have children, alongside a growing tendency to paint motherhood in a negative light.

This anti-natal ideology is promoted in two separate but often interconnected ways. First, it is claimed that childbirth and childrearing are fundamentally negative experiences that ought to come with a health warning. Secondly, it is argued that having children is irresponsible because newborn babies constitute a threat to the environment. And it seems as if this ideology is having an impact: alarming new figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that the birth rate in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since 1938. In 2018, there were just 11.1 live births per 1,000 people – a record low.

Is motherhood natural?

One way in which the moral status of motherhood is delegitimised today is through the idea that society’s expectation that women should have children is an artificial and coercive imposition. This narrative calls into question what is sometimes described as ‘maternal inevitability’ and asserts that motherhood is not a natural role for women.

Writing about her film, My So-Called Selfish Life, Therese Shechter says she was interested in chronicling ‘the rise of a growing community of women who don’t want children and who reject the message that a woman’s most important – and most natural – role is to be a mother. Shechter’s ‘taboo-busting film’ is directed against ‘maternal inevitability’:

‘The film gives voice to a community challenging our most fundamental ideas about female identity, including a 19-year-old student determined to get her tubes tied, a woman “coming out” about her regret at becoming a mother, the founders of a childfree LGBT seniors’ community, and a repro-rights activist whose unsuccessful fertility treatments lead to a life transformation.’

Shechter says her aim is to challenge a world ‘where femininity is tied to childbearing’. Her film summarises the key points made by anti-natal activists. It suggests that motherhood has little to do with a woman’s identity, and it supports the claim that regret about becoming a mother is widespread. Finally, it hints at the superiority of childfree communities.

The anti-natality narrative seeks to portray motherhood as an undesirable and unpleasant trap. In recent years, numerous commentators have adopted the term ‘maternal regret’ to highlight the idea that many mothers pretend to be happy with their lives, but secretly they regret having had children. One Canadian article, titled ‘I regret having children’, argues that this sentiment is becoming increasingly common. It draws attention to a 9,000-member Facebook group, also called ‘I regret having children’. The author is delighted that ‘parental regret’ is a taboo that is finally being busted. This taboo has recently been brought to public attention by everyone from the BBC (‘100 Women 2016: Parents who regret having children’) to Marie Claire (‘Inside the growing movement of women who wished they never had kids’) to Today’s Parent (‘Regretting motherhood: What have I done to my life?’).

Some observers insist that maternal regret might be even more widespread than we think. They say that large numbers of women suffer from this condition in silence and feel unable to tell anyone about what a big mistake they made. A recent confessional article in the Daily Telegraph, by an anonymous author, was headlined ‘I secretly wish I’d never had children’. It is typical of the trend. The author writes of her disappointment with her predicament and tells of a time when ‘a little voice in my head whispered if I hadn’t had children I’d be living the life I dreamed of’. She added: ‘I feel so alone living with this secret.’

This word ‘secret’ is frequently deployed, no doubt to suggest that maternal regret is far more common than we suspect. It is also intended as a form of encouragement, to get more women sharing their stories. So at the end of the Daily Telegraph confession, the editors inserted the following: ‘Do you regret having children, and would you ever admit it? Join the conversation on the Telegraph Women Facebook group.’

Yet if maternal regret really is a secret, it has become a very open one. Maternal regret is now widely discussed across the world. In 2009, the French psychoanalyst Corinne Maier published her bestseller No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Be a Mother. In 2016, the BBC included Maier in its list of the 100 most inspirational women in the world. Germany has been particularly hospitable to the issue of maternal regret. Sarah Fischer’s book, The Lie of Maternal Happiness, offers a disturbing account of the supposed horrors of motherhood. Alina Bronsky and Denise Wilk’s The Abolishment of the Mother is directed against the traditional idealisation of motherhood in Germany. That the hashtag #RegrettingMotherhood was trending in Germany in 2017 suggests this concern resonates with certain sections of society.

In some cases, critics of the ‘normalisation’ of motherhood don’t only see themselves as exposing a dirty secret – they go a step further and actively try to help mothers to distance themselves from their decisions. Orna Donath, author of the 2015 book Regretting Motherhood, says the aim of her work was to help mothers who ‘wish to undo motherhood’. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that much of the commentary on maternal regret isn’t only describing this phenomenon – it is also seeking to normalise it. From the perspective of these observers, the new normal is not the association of motherhood with positive feelings but the association of motherhood with regret.

Estrangement from parenthood

The normalisation of maternal regret is connected to a wider trend – one that regards childbirth and the raising of children as an onerous burden, best avoided. The very idea of adults assuming responsibility for younger generations is regarded as an outdated custom, at odds with the lifestyles of busy and successful individuals.

The desire to opt out of parenthood is often blamed on financial difficulties. In Spain and Italy, so-called ‘empty cradle syndrome’ is put down to the financial and time commitments that come with having children. But this doesn’t stack up, because in many parts of the world the contemporary estrangement from natality is as pronounced among financially secure individuals as it is among less well-off people.

South Korea, which has the lowest birth rate of the OECD countries in the Asia-Pacific region, also has a vociferous #NoMarriage movement. A new network called EMIF – Elite Without Marriage, I Am Going Forward – reflects this sentiment. Not surprisingly, this year the number of people dying in South Korea is expected to be greater than the number of those being born.

In China, couples who choose to be childfree are often described as DINKs – ‘double income, no kids’. It is reported that couples who believe children would only cramp their lifestyles are on the rise in China. The term carefree has become synonymous with this childfree outlook.

Historically, women were confronted with the expectation that, when they became adults, they would embrace motherhood and give birth to children. This expectation is still widespread. However, it now competes with a negative vision of motherhood that suggests having babies will thwart a woman’s ambitions and diminish her quality of life.

Twenty-first-century society’s estrangement from having children is often said to be driven by women’s aspiration for greater independence. Sometimes the ascendancy of anti-natalist sentiments is linked with the influence of feminism. These things may have contributed to the crystallisation of the anti-natalist climate, but there are other, more powerful forces at work here.

Numerous aspects of human existence have been pathologised. Young people, in particular, have been subjected to a form of socialisation that encourages them to view the problems of existence – pain, disappointment, pressure, anxiety – through the prism of psychology. They have been brought up and educated in a way that tends to insulate them from pressure and from challenging or unsettling experiences. Instead of cultivating children’s capacity for acquiring independence, the current regime of socialisation encourages the young to be ‘aware of their vulnerability’.

In such circumstances, young people often become distracted from the aspiration to grow up, to take on adult roles, to embrace duty and responsibility.

This is one of the reasons why many young women – and men – in their early twenties claim that they don’t want children. Ever. No doubt many of these young people will change their minds at some point and opt to have children. But the assertive and confident manner with which they declare their anti-natal predilections suggests that right now they believe that avoiding the burden of parenthood makes perfect sense.

The anti-humanist movement against childbirth

The estrangement of sections of Western society from motherhood is underwritten by an anti-humanist doctrine – one that regards humanity not as the solution to the problems of the world, but as the cause of them.

In recent decades, much of the environmentalist movement has adopted a radically misanthropic rhetoric. According to some environmentalists, humans are a kind of cancer on the environment. Deep ecologists claim humanity has degraded the planet via our human-centred ideology that treats nature as a utility for people. The denigration of humanity is often vitriolic. There is a tendency to depict humans as parasites, and this is not confined to extreme and marginal individuals. Michael Meacher, a former minister in the New Labour government, referred to humans as a ‘virus’ infecting the Earth’s body. James Lovelock, the well-known originator of the ‘Gaia hypothesis’, says humans ‘behave in some ways like a pathogenic organism, or like the cells of a tumour or neoplasm’. Consequently, we have grown in numbers and ‘the human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady’, says Lovelock. He concludes that ‘Gaia is suffering from Disseminated Primatemaia, a plague of people’.

In the West, the population-control lobby is busy castigating those who have large families, branding them ‘environmentally irresponsible’. Having children, especially lots of children, is treated as an eco-crime. Prince Harry, via the issue of Vogue edited by his wife Meghan Markle, pushed this idea this week, with his promise only to have two children in the name of eco-sustainability.

From this perspective, another human life is just so many extra carbon emissions. Which is why it is preferable, apparently, that these new human lives simply did not exist.. As the Optimum Population Trust – since rebranded Population Matters – once put it, ‘A non-existent person has no environmental footprint; the emission “saving” is instant and total’.

And now there are the climate-change activists who have formed the ‘BirthStrike’ movement. They have decided ‘not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis and the current inaction of governing forces in the face of this existential threat’. BirthStrike’s website features personal statements from individuals who think it is wrong to give birth. Aletha, aged 39, says:

‘The priority of my husband and I is to avoid bringing another child into intolerable future conditions such as heatwaves and drought, considering children are already dying from heatwaves in India and Pakistan this year.’

The idea that giving birth is some kind of crime against the environment is now even endorsed by celebrities. Miley Cyrus says millennials ‘don’t want to reproduce because we know that the Earth can’t handle it’.

The BirthStrike movement is merely the most extreme and depressing manifestation of an anti-humanist culture of pessimism. It is not simply these activists’ deep attachment to the environment, but also their misanthropy that leads them to the conclusion that the world would be a better place if humans stopped having babies. Their view of babies as polluters of the planet seamlessly meshes with a sentiment that treats parenthood as an undesirable and ‘problematic’ goal.

Until recently, babies were seen as a blessing. Now, far too many people argue that not having a baby is a blessing. Ultimately, the reason for this loss of faith in the human spirit is neither economic nor environmental. Rather, the main driver of this anti-natal movement is the difficulty that sections of society have in giving meaning to life today. Recovering our confidence in the human spirit and in age-old human virtues is the best antidote to the turn against giving birth.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

Eric Lauder

26th September 2019 at 10:18 pm

“Statistics show that the birth rate in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since 1938.”

Nope, 1938 birth rate was much higher.
It’s the lowest level EVER recorded.
And the records starts in 1938.

Brandy Cluster

20th August 2019 at 7:07 am

Brandy Cluster

20th August 2019 at 7:05 am

There are some frightening anti-family comments here from the junkyard dogs. Suggest you listen to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gODkBhhzCBI

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:46 am

Yet again a man opining on women and their right to decide not to become pregant.

‘The estrangement of sections of Western society from motherhood is underwritten by an anti-humanist doctrine – one that regards humanity not as the solution to the problems of the world, but as the cause of them.’ LOL What a quaint and disjointed viewpoint, how old are you Frank, 180?
State some ‘problems with the world’ that don’t have a human cause. Humanity as a solution to the problems’ is a new one, can’t offhand think of one natural problem that humans have ever made better. Human fertility was intially useful to counter the massive death rate from: childbirth; sepsis; predators; accidents; climate extremes and all the other threats living in the world posed. Most other species still need massive reproduction strategies simply to keep their numbers stable. Humans on the other hand have conquered the natural world to the extent that disease organisms can mostly be killed off, childbirth is no longer the killer it once was, and few predators now exist which could threaten us. Ergo, we no longer need to reproduce as massively as previously, because an uncontrolled birth rate is a threat to all other species and ultimately our own. A sustainable population is needed, not to satisfy capitalism’s nbeed to constantly expand, but to maintain a viable population and ensure quality of life. Is quality of life enhanced by human explosion in numbers? The crowded streets packed with huamns struggling to get to their 9-5 slavery seems to indicate quality is lost, so too the shrinkage of housing where in some countries [Japan for instance] minimal housing needs are satisfied and coffin-like compartment are rented to people to sleep in. Averags gouse/room size has shrunk and multiple occupancy is common, especially among immigrants. People who welcome mass immigration to keep productivity growing aren’t the ones crammed into three bed houses in huge numbers, sleeping in baths and cellars, sharing space fit for a small family.

David Ashton

4th August 2019 at 8:52 pm

The Observer over the years has always tended to oppose motherhood and embrace abortion.
But it has the answer to the suicide of the white nations it recommends – redistribute the population of Africa and other poor regions with a high birth-rate to England and western countries, and counter anti-immigration politicians – see the Editorial “Population trends” 4 August 2019.

No, neither Renaud Camus nor Douglas Murray wrote this.

cliff resnick

4th August 2019 at 12:41 pm

It’s a little known fact that the extinction of “Neanderthal man” was due to their adoption of the religion of “feminism”

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 12:37 pm

Still man-obsessed? It is neanderthal, a species, that means men and women, And they became modern humans by interbreeding; most European populations have a small percentage of neanderthal dna, and far from the ignorant view of them as backward, brutish and inferior, they were much more placid and peaceful than modern humans who moved from Africa, and had art as recently dicovered cave paintings show. Chances are that they were treated much as early Muslims treated Christians, kill all the males and use the females as sex slaves. Thus the dna in most of us. They were inferior in that they weren’t the psychopathic killer they faced and lost out to.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 10:40 pm

Capitalism – this is the rat race, it is a disgrace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT_HhA5sKo0

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 10:56 pm

My brothers, listen carefully.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFeIivAwCDQ

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 11:11 pm

British State, I will NEVER forget and forgive what has passed between us. The long shot is that you are all gone and I will have the last laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJnGga42btY

Winston Stanley

4th August 2019 at 7:26 am

That was a JOKE BTW

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 9:18 am

I am so sorry about the way l spoke to you.

Andrew Simpson

3rd August 2019 at 9:25 pm

What other purpose do women have if it’s not to have children?

Trouble McTrouble

22nd September 2019 at 10:40 pm

I really didn’t think trolls bothered with Spiked…..I honestly thought I could debate with adults here…..oh well.

Michael Blackburn

3rd August 2019 at 5:54 pm

Hana Jinks: re- ‘decadence’ and Muslim countries.
Have you ever visited or lived in a Gulf Muslim country?
If so, you might have to revise your sweeping declaration that seems to regard them as not being decadent…
Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi can hardly be described as ‘not decadent’.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 6:04 pm

The punch line is that fundamentalist Christians who have jumped on the EDL bandwagon are closer to IS in their attitudes than anyone else. It all comes down to “our religion is the true one”, which is exactly the IS attitude. I am sick of British politics and the ridiculous turns. If a population is on the way out then fair enough but at least have the decency not to subject us to untold excruciating nonsense.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 7:33 pm

Wattie.

You’ve been taking snide little shots for months now, but that pretty much does it beteween me and you.

I’ve been more than gracious, and will continue to be so. But you’ve crossed a pretty serious line now.

You’ve taken the mick once too often.

You’re too rooted in the world to even regret it.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 8:46 pm

Hana, you say the nicest things, which is why we get on so well. That and your sense of humour. You say your thing openly and I say mine and it sort of works out b/c we both understand that approach. I am indeed too firmly rooted in the world to care about the words of men, just as you are too firmly rooted in the “other world” to care about what anyone thinks. We are alike in that sense and I have great hopes for you. Atheism is a sublimation of Christianity rather than just a denial.

Christianity tends to be a passing “phase” these days; it is the honesty and integrity that comes out of it that matters. You are honest, maybe misguided but completely honest and I respect that. At least you get stuck into the great issues of existence with no nonsense. You have trained yourself to “truth” and all that you await now is the truth. You say “Jesus” and I say “no Jesus” but we are on the same page. Anyway, as the Greek, Nietzsche exhorted us, “be true to the earth my brothers and sisters and believe not those who speak to you of other worldly hopes”. Exactly what that means is for us all to decide, collectively and democratically, and for you to tell us in your due time. – “Mick”.

> … Behold, I teach you the Superman! The Superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Superman shall be the meaning of the earth! I ask you my brothers, remain true to the earth and believe not those who speak to you of other-worldly hopes!
They are poisoners, whether they know it or not. They are despisers of life, decaying and self-poisoned men of whom the earth is weary: so, away with them!

Once blasphemy against God was the greatest blasphemy; but God died and so also died the blasphemers. To blaspheme the earth is now the most dreadful offence and to regard the heart of the unfathomable as being higher than the meaning of the earth. Once the soul regarded the body with contempt and this contempt was the highest good— the soul wished the body to be lean, monstrous and famished.

Thus it thought that it could escape from the body and the earth. Oh, that soul was itself lean, monstrous and famished; and cruelty was the delight of that soul! But, tell me my brothers: what does your body say about your soul? Is your soul not poverty and dirt and a wretched ease? Truly, man is a polluted stream. One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream and not become defiled. Behold I teach you the Superman: he is that sea; in him can your great contempt be sunk.

What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of the great contempt. The hour in which even your happiness becomes loathsome to you and so also your reason and virtue. The hour when you say: “What good is my happiness! It is poverty and dirt and a wretched ease. But my happiness should justify existence itself!” The hour when you say: “What good is my reason! Does it long for knowledge as the lion does for his food? It is poverty and dirt and a wretched ease!” The hour when you say: “What good is my virtue! As yet it has not made me mad! How weary I am of my good and my evil! It is all poverty and dirt and a wretched ease!” The hour when you say: “What good is my justice! I do not see that I am fire and hot coals. The just however are fire and hot coals!” The hour when you say: “What good is my pity! Is not pity the cross on which he who loves man is nailed? But my pity is not a crucifixion!” …

Gerard Barry

4th August 2019 at 12:46 pm

Wrong. So-called “fundamentalist” Christians are much closer in their views to moderate – or even liberal – Muslims than they are to IS and the like.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 9:17 am

Winston.

I am extremely embarrassed about some of the things that I’ve said to you on this thread. I hope that you can accept my unreserved apologies.

Also, I’m really appreciative of the time and effort that went into the above post.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 12:35 pm

There is obviously something extremely wrong with me to have regarded you in this way. I’m gonna have to ban myself from commenting if l continue like this.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 1:03 pm

And anyway, don’t you know how inciteful it is to be quoting that maddest-of-all-greeks, against me?

I really am that thick. It’s very difficult actually, to know when strangers are joking, especially online.

Winston Stanley

5th August 2019 at 1:46 pm

Hanah, honestly, no worries. I took liberties and you dressed me down, which was a perfectly reasonable response. Peace?

Cody Bailey

3rd August 2019 at 10:33 am

There is a huge up-side to people all about themselves not having children. This is a self-solving problem.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:16 am

The problem is, is that they also use this as a pretext to justify the need for unlimited importation of the unskilled burdens from the third-world.

One way to keep wages down, l guess.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:21 am

Hegelianism 101, for the greeks out there.

Ameliorate Cant. The only people in the world less morally and intellectually bankrupt than you and your cohort have already been green-vanned.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:24 am

Turn the mods off, you self-righteous losers.

Cody Bailey

3rd August 2019 at 10:12 am

I used to think the global climate crisis warming nonsense was the fault of Margaret Mead and her merry band of Malthusian clowns but I have come to see the truth. Douglas Adams and his anti phone sterilizer agenda is clearly behind it.

Esau Bloggs

3rd August 2019 at 8:32 am

First Eukaryote

2nd August 2019 at 11:06 pm

Well good for Prince Harry. What is missing from this article is the idea of replacement rate fertility. When couples on average have 2 children the population remains stable; neither rising or falling. Want 3 kids? no problem, you are balanced out by the couples who have only 1 kid. Here is a guide: https://www.genolve.com/design/socialmedia/memes?creation=9a3cca7fb6c54e9aa82bb25a6056acd2

Jeffrey Asher

2nd August 2019 at 9:28 pm

Feminism deserves condemnation for its anti-motherhood, anti-marriage, anti-family and hetero-phobic dogmas. Those hatreds have led men to fear and avoid paternity. Men know that the next rage ignited by their wife or partner could result in feminist jurisprudence loss of their home, income and beloved children. If only feminists’ mothers had decided to avoid maternity.

Emotionally prudent and responsible men choose vasectomy. In the five years subsequent to my vasectomy, three women accused me of ‘making’ them pregnant. My life remains fulfilled by my beloved daughter, for whom I was granted residential custody after five years of anguished court battles. .

Immigrant young women will likely rebuild their new homes with their devotion to their families. As for mothers alienated from their children, may they die alone with their cats.

Cody Bailey

3rd August 2019 at 10:26 am

The most important among the long march through the institutions to be destroyed is the family.

Rachel Elba

3rd August 2019 at 3:05 pm

Let’s look at the more realistic flip side. Women today grew up observing the failure of the traditional set up. Dad provided, mom stayed home. When less than terrific men – and they are legion – ruined the set up, moms found themselves with no career. It was a dismal life. That’s the short version.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 12:53 pm

Important point, Rachel.

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 6:31 pm

Saying it’s psychology only makes you look a bigger halfwit. I’d be worrying about green vans at your age. And you really should mention that both yourself and Prince Hewitt are eugenicists.

The only reason Sth Korean women aren’t having kids, and the Japanese for that matter is the one that you obviously don’t know about and so couldn’t mention.

Due to the fact that the men don’t get home till 10pm, it isn’t much of a marriage anyway. But there is also a strong aversion to marrying a first-son. This is because his parents will have to come them once their health starts to deteriorate, and she’ll be the one looking after them. And even once they’re dead it doesn’t end, what with grave visits and other assorted Buddhist ceremonies. Now that they’re able to be educated and to earn a decent income, they’re figuring that it’s not worth the hassle.

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 6:32 pm

*come and live with them

Jeffrey Asher

2nd August 2019 at 9:30 pm

Ms. Jinks: Your feminist misandry is characteristic of the anti-family movement.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 3:05 am

I’m a dude.

What makes you classify me as that?

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:56 pm

Feminism has nothing to do with my choice, I just don’t want to be pregnant and push a child out of my vagina or have a C-section. It’s as simple as that.

James Chilton

4th August 2019 at 6:28 pm

So you’ve decided you don’t want any descendants. So, who cares? You speak only for yourself and not for other women.

Enjoy your old age of second childishness and mere oblivion; Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (including children)

Rod Conrad

2nd August 2019 at 5:20 pm

Let’s really feck up the planet.. there just aren’t enough of us and we need more and more to fight off dems animuls wut attack us on the way to work ..

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 2:41 pm

“Prince Harry, via the issue of Vogue edited by his wife Meghan Markle, pushed this idea this week, with his promise only to have two children in the name of eco-sustainability”
Of course, with only 24 bedrooms and all those staff and security people to house, he’s probably had his hand forced, poor lad.

Jonathan Yonge

2nd August 2019 at 10:35 am

Can anybody on here give a single way in which life is given meaning apart from children ?
Just one. Anybody ?

Gerard Barry

2nd August 2019 at 10:51 am

I’ve observed that many childless people take their work very seriously – far too seriously – so I’d imagine they’d cite their work as an example of something that gives their life meaning. Personally, I find my work rather meaningless but there you go.

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:57 pm

Even if they’re working to cure childhood cancer?

In Negative

2nd August 2019 at 12:19 pm

Beauty.

Beauty is so enormous a concept that it easily encompasses having children. It also encompasses the denial of children.

Nokids Thanks

2nd August 2019 at 1:22 pm

Just one? Here, I’ll give you five.

– Doing what I want, when I want.
– Be able to go anywhere and associate with anyone.
– Having money, comfort, security.
– Being able to pursue my own hobbies, career, and personal development.
– Not having my entire life’s course decided by children.

Now go ahead and move the goalposts like I know you will.

Colin Mcdonald

2nd August 2019 at 6:34 pm

Your mother must be very proud of you.

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 11:13 pm

Some people just can’t see outside of the LifeScript.

Cody Bailey

3rd August 2019 at 10:30 am

How nice for you.

Self-absorb much?

Nokids Thanks

2nd August 2019 at 1:40 pm

Also, your life doesn’t have more meaning just because you chose to pop out kids. You’re probably just adding more stupid people and assholes to the world anyway.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 12:46 pm

That’s why I and my wife had four kids, we owed it to the world to produce more intelligent children! Now, only the thick, relying on child benefits, have more than the average numbers, so that sci-fi book I read decades ago about an idiot population incapable of anything, were organised and cared for by a small elite of intelligent people. That was back in the day when sci-fi was a means of commenting on the world and not a way opf feeding fantasies of humans going into space and populating the galaxy. Can’t imagine a worse scenario than the one imagined and portrayed in today’s sci-fi efforts, no matter how CGI’d they are.

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 2:44 pm

“Can anybody on here give a single way in which life is given meaning apart from children ?”

That one must be related to ‘What did the Romans ever do for us?’

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:43 pm

If having kids is the only thing that gives your life meaning then you didn’t have much of a life to begin with.

In Negative

2nd August 2019 at 10:24 am

1) We live in a world that is terrified of death and pain. Our nervous systems, now prophelacticised from common pains and the receding physical world may be profoundly more sensitive to pain. The millennial is of an air-conditioned, centrally-heated generation. Having children hurts you and can kill you and it makes women different to the contemporary ideal, which is masculine, male and must be put to work.

2) The individual is all about consumerism and leisure: “The life I dreamed of,” whatever the hell that is (I dread to think). The benefits of Motherhood are based on sacrifice, not acquisition. Motherhood is anti-rational; anti-self-interest. It is anathema to techno-progressive, rationalised free-market thinking.

3) The imperative today is to speak everything. This is the imperative of production. Define everything, model everything, make everything transparent, including one’s shame, especially one’s shame, for shame is private and therefore against the moral order of the visible. In other words: “bust the taboos!”

And yet, as Foucault had it, confession is ‘the deployment of,’ it is not ‘freedom from the repression of’. To confess your horror at having children is the beginning of an identity that values the horror of child birth. The process is not one of taboo-busting liberation, it is one of deploying a new way of thinking which has a life, a trajectory and an ever-growing intensity of detail. It projects an emotional future and a world of new conceptual/emotional objects.

There is an aspect of feminism that wants to destroy the woman in order to gain parity with the male. ‘Motherhood’ is definitive of female difference, it purports the values of sacrifice and burden. The ideal mother is not productive or selfish, but nurturing and altruistic. The female is a genuine threat to the values of productive economies in that she denies and subverts their absolute truths.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 10:34 am

Not sure about your fourth paragraph (because I don’t understand it) but otherwise I think you are dead right.

In Negative

2nd August 2019 at 12:14 pm

“Not sure about your fourth paragraph (because I don’t understand it)”

Since Freud, we’ve been under this idea that society represses certain drives, thoughts, feelings etc.; that it’s healthy and liberating to express oneself and not repress oneself (to paraphrase Madonna). Hence, there is this taboo on women saying they hate their children (yoou listening Lionel Shriver 😉 ) or that they regret having them.

So the thinking goes then, women, in not being permitted or able to say these things, are being repressed. Finally now however, they can bust the taboos and are encouraged to speak ‘freely.’

For Foucault, this repression hypothesis of Freud’s was the wrong way around. For him, sexuality was deployed, not liberated. There was never any repression of sexuality, rather the church, through making sex a sin and having people ‘confess’ their sexual thoughts, they created a system by which sexuality was deployed. So through confessions, people were encouraged to think sexuallly and to catalogue repetitively the variations in their sexual appetites. This would later transmogrophise into psychoanalysis where sexual confessions became the road to health.

Applying a similar interpretation to the birth strike, you can see this taboo-busting horror at childbirth as a process of deployment. The emergence of a new female identity.

And thanks for your comment – I’m always uncomfortable when I try to speak for women, particularly when I’m putting them on the side of anti-production and self-sacrifice. It’s reassuring when it strikes a chord with someone.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for the explanation and I recognise it, I think it is part of the idea of eroticising the people which some on the Left imagined. It looks as if it has come about to some extent. Quite where it will end I don’t know.

Nevertheless, I am surrounded by people who continue to live and behave the way humans always have. Kenneth Clarke, the historian not the politician, said that when history happens, ordinary people witness and suffer on the sidelines but ultimately they survive and carry on just the same.

In Negative

2nd August 2019 at 2:08 pm

I think I agree with you (and Kenneth) that ordinary people just get on with stuff as they always have regardless. Popping on my own nihilist’s cap for the moment though, leave the world to ordinary people and literally nothing interesting will ever happen. It’ll all be shopping, having babies and competing for the best school places. A misanthropic birth-strike gives the world a bit of colour and gives me something to think about.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 2:38 pm

In Negative,

Mmm, that sounds a bit intellectually snobbish to me. Extraordinary people are usually the children of ordinary people; Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, the Bronte sisters, Martin Luther King, George Orwell, Thatcher; just a handful, all very ordinary at birth. I’m not sure, when it comes down to individuals, whether we are not all extraordinary to some extent.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 3:26 pm

I was going to include Stalin to balance out Thatcher but that seemed a bit mean, though probably not to the miners.

In Negative

2nd August 2019 at 5:28 pm

@Claire
I don’t think I was trying to be intellectuallly snobbish, though I wouldn’t put it past me 😉

I feel like I was being more self-defensive – you only need to make a cursive sweep of this comments section to see that certain kinds of thought would happily wipe out other kinds of thought in the name of its own survival. Ordinary thought detests extraordinary thought as much as extraordinary thought can detest ordinary thought.

“The goal of the society where you live is to destroy you. You have the same goal with regard to society.” – Michel Houellebecq

Claire D

3rd August 2019 at 9:33 am

In Negative,

I would reply to Monsieur Houellebecq :
” The Soul selects her own society – Then – shuts the Door – ” (Charles Dickens), which seems like a wise course under the circumstances.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 1:40 pm

There is no such thing as ‘motherhood’. There are just women who become mothers. There is nothing particularly noble or romantic about it. It is simply a choice that some women make. It is not better or worse than many other choices that women might pursue.

Trying to make out that it is something over and above other options comes from a need to convince oneself that it is a better choice. There is no need to rationalise it as a better choice unless you are trying to justify your own or someone else’s decision to become a mother.

There is no need to justify the choice of becoming a mother so why is there a need to exalt it above other options?

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:47 pm

Great comment

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 10:17 am

Interesting article. For starters though I cannot agree with Feminism being marginal in the effect it has had on the body politic.
I think Winston’s analysis is relevant bearing in mind that Feminism, contraception, abortion and divorce have all developed as a result of the Industrial Revolution, since when it has been in the interests of the state to ‘ free ‘ women from their biology in order to work and pay taxes.

I think Furedi’s pathology of human existence and ecological anti-humanist arguments are symptoms of a genuine discomfort of being in the world we have created, they are nihilistic.

Put two dozen healthy unattached men and women on a temperate island with abundant wildlife but no mod cons at all and see how quickly the anti-motherhood and anti- birth tendency reverses. That’s not an answer to the problem, there are no such islands left unfortunately, it’s just to illustrate my argument.

I think Eris may be right, as a ‘ clucky ‘ female, I’m hoping evolution may favour us.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 10:28 am

‘. . . . will favour us.’ I should have said.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 1:47 pm

“Put two dozen healthy unattached men and women on a temperate island with abundant wildlife but no mod cons at all and see how quickly the anti-motherhood and anti- birth tendency reverses.”

So children are just a substitute for mod cons? That is a very selfish reason to bring a child into the world.

Claire D

2nd August 2019 at 3:06 pm

Tim,
‘ mod cons ‘ include contraceptives, hence copulation will very quickly result in conception, pregnancy, childbirth and extended periods of breastfeeding.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 11:31 pm

“‘ mod cons ‘ include contraceptives, hence copulation will very quickly result in conception, pregnancy, childbirth and extended periods of breastfeeding.”

Why would that necessarily be a good thing? Taking away people’s freedom to choose so that they will only do what you want them to do is totalitarian.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 2:34 pm

Thank you, Claire, you put it so well.

It is at root the material base, and the ideational and social superstructure built on that, that makes the difference. Material development and changes in the economy have changed the lifestyle for men and women, and it has withdrawn constraints, and the available technology has made it all easy to do. People are simply responding to the contemporary material, technological, social and legal environment. As you say, people would abruptly act differently in wholly different material and social circumstances. It is not people, their personal ideology or their “moral character” that makes the difference to the birth rate, it is the material (and social) circumstances that makes the difference.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 7:57 pm

Others are gonna call it trolling, but l wouldn’t call it that.

I’ve already tested you, and you’ve been found to be greek. This is not good.

Lol…I’m never, ever gonna troll you like l do Jerry Oven-Kraut.

I don’t think for one second that you are a nazi like he is, ….

Plus you are very helpful with all kinds of info for everyone…

Are you and Jerry Oven-Kraut sleeping with each other.?

Because that’s the only thing that makes sense at this stage.

( l love you, and this won’t change. This applies to you to, Jerry. )

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 2:36 pm

“Kinder, Küche, Kirche”, as favoured by the Nazis, occurred some time after the Industrial Revolution. (They may, of course have bee an exception that proves the rule.)

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 4:55 pm

*been*, not bee…

Gerard Barry

2nd August 2019 at 9:13 am

Having children is the most natural thing in the world. The fact that birth rates are so low in the West shows how sick, misanthropic and selfish our societies have become. Nowhere is this selfishness more evident than when it comes to abortion. Millions of unborn children are aborted worldwide every year and those of us who find it morally repugnant feel obliged to shut about it lest we be accused of being “misogynistic”. Western societies are so decadent I could cry. The main reason people don’t want children is because they are too bloody selfish to look after them. I think this change in attitude has been more pronouced among women rather than men. I recently heard a female colleague at work talking about how she gets more satisfaction from working in her part-time job than she does from being with her children. From what I could tell (the conversation was in German so it’s hard to convey the meaning in English), the reason for her preference is that her children don’t always do what she wants them to do, whereas at work everyone cooperates with each other to achieve the desired outcome. The sheer lack of understanding she showed for her children (or for children in general) really jarred with me. Only for the fact that I have to work with her, I would have explained to her that children are human beings with their own free will and personalities and that, as a mother, she has to accept that rather than expecting them to fall in line with her wishes all the time. Coming as I do from a background of large families (I’m Irish), the modern-day negative attitude towards bringing children into the world and rearing them appals me.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 2:20 pm

“Only for the fact that I have to work with her, I would have explained to her that children are human beings with their own free will and personalities and that, as a mother, she has to accept that rather than expecting them to fall in line with her wishes all the time.”

That is true enough, but it is also true of adults. They are what they are and there is no point crying about it. As when at work, we have to accept people for who they are. We can either take them or leave them personally but it not our place to try to change them. Work is like that, you have to put up with people, and they with you. It is quite funny really.

Gerard Barry

2nd August 2019 at 4:24 pm

I’m not sure what kind of workplaces you’ve worked in during your lifetime, but in any job I’ve had everything has been highly structured and ordered, which is the exact opposite of children’s behaviour. Perhaps this is why “career women” find motherhood so challenging – they can’t cope with not being in control of the behaviour of those around them.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 5:16 pm

There is always chit chat in offices these days, the attitudes and interests of other workers may not chime with ours but one adapts. Their attitudes and interests are their own affair and it is good to get on with people. I am amused by the way that some men go on about other workers’ chats and gossip, especially some of the women, like it is some soap opera. Work has its funny side.

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 4:45 pm

“The sheer lack of understanding she showed for her children…”
I’m guessing you’ve never met her kids. Perhaps they’re all clones of Damien from The Omen.

Gerard Barry

3rd August 2019 at 3:43 pm

For women or men used to getting their own way all the time (before they have kids), even the best-behaved children will be a challenge.

Ven Oods

2nd August 2019 at 4:52 pm

“Western societies are so decadent I could cry.”

You could, of course, always move to one where gays and adulterers are stoned to death, where girls are genitally-mutilated, or where ‘honour killings’ are all the rage. That’d be more dangerous, but less decadent.

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 6:48 pm

Not to say that l agree with their punishment methods, but islamic countries have been decrying western decadence for decades, and they have point.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:41 am

Check out how gay Melbourne is, and how gay msm is in Australia.

https://youtu.be/R7OWBy6ej8w

Gerard Barry

3rd August 2019 at 3:45 pm

Funny you mention that because people from those cultures are moving to the West in large numbers nowadays and we tolerate it. Why? Because we’re decadent and don’t believe in our own culture(s) anymore.

Gareth Hart

2nd August 2019 at 9:08 am

If the comments I have seen online is anything to go by with the right wing, the backlash against not having children (whether by personal choice or by ideology) or (primarily against men) not having a partner is growing in both numbers and fury.

If history tells us anything, the way that declining birth rates were dealt with was through a bachelor tax. As the rhetoric against the unmarried, unpartnered and childless ratchets up on the right, I suspect state intervention will come about. Particularly with the recent incel moral panic and changing demographics affecting tax income in western countries affecting things like social care for the elderly.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 2:09 pm

I agree, it is constraints and the absence of them that makes the difference.

The British state would never intervene against childlessness. It is against its liberal ideology and besides it has no interest in doing so. The state is just as happy to get migrants as to have a higher birth rate. In fact migrant workers are cheaper than locals, it costs hundreds of thousand to raise each kid.

The productivity of migrant workers is as high as locals and they pay the same rates of tax. Far fewer of them are economically inactive. Around 20% of white British of working age are inactive, and that is after all of the austerity. The proportion is far lower for migrant workers. They are a tax boon.

Also it is worth remembering that the birth rate has been around 1.7 since the mid 1970s. It goes slightly up or down. The present birth rate has been normal for 50 years, far lower than before contraception was easy to come by. The state has seen no problem in that and it does not now. If people want to use contraception and abortion, to get divorced or never get married, then that is their look out.

Frank Furedi lives in Hungary where the government is anti-immigration, and it wants to raise the local birth rate to avoid having immigration. They are anti-Muslim. It is ideological. Maybe that is why Frank is making an issue of the birth rate now, he quite likes those policies. He is using BirthStrike as just a front or an anti Muslim immigration agenda.

Colin Mcdonald

2nd August 2019 at 6:52 pm

Perhaps the British State should stop intervening to promote childlessness? Specifically we rely on the state to fund our old age. I’m talking pensions whose contributions don’t cover their cost, tax advantages for non state pensions, unfunded pension liabilities, old age health care… The list goes. A withdrawal of the State from these areas might concentrate minds and reignite the long suppressed biological urge to procreate.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 8:04 pm

I understand your point, the old constraint has been removed, of the need to rely on kids for care in old age. But the BS is not intervening with the intention to lower the birth rate, the state could not care less about demographics so long as it has a big enough workforce to maintain the economy. They are happy to draw in migrant workers to do that.

The BS approaches pensions as a subject with its own considerations. People want pension support so they get it. People want contraception, so they get it. No party is ever going to stand on a platform to reduce pension support to boost the birth rate, let win an election. No party is ever going to ban contraception, that really would be a different planet.

The situation is what it is, there is no point people getting worked up about the birth rate. Likely Frank is just doing an article with his opinions, which is fair enough. I think that it would be a mistake to think that some moral crusade is going to affect the birth rate. It would be totally against the spirit of the age, and it would come across as a bit silly.

Same with the BirthStrike people, a few thousand may say that they are abstaining from kids for the sake of the planet, but no one cares, certainly not the state. It would make zero difference to the birth rate anyway, so everyone is happy to let them get on with it. It is their lives and their choice.

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:53 pm

The Handmaid’s Tale is almost like a documentary about the future now.

Colin Mcdonald

3rd August 2019 at 9:34 am

It wasn’t when it was written, and it’s prognostications look even more witless now. If you want more prescient fiction rather than woke propaganda try reading “The Children of Men” by PD James.

Stephen J

2nd August 2019 at 8:40 am

Women and men are NOT equal and never can be,

They are however, complimentary. We need each other to do almost everything that is good for humanity.

The “joy of sex” is that the two sexes are not binary in nature, they are a lovely analogue mix. So some women are more male than female and vice versa. This is where homosexuality and trans things are rooted… sex. If we went to bed and subdivided like amœba and we came out all the same, there would be 100% equality and a really boring world, devoted mainly to infestation.

We should learn to unlearn the bollocks that cultural marxism has brought us, and try to remember that the aim is not to all look the same and be the same. We really will be better off, knowing our biological place and being happy with it.

Of course the problem with that is that there are as many people in the world who would say that we do indeed live in a binary world, and we should avoid each other like the plague, until we become extinct.

They are called lefties.

Pat Davers

2nd August 2019 at 8:18 am

Somebody (maybe Mark Steyn) one said “The future belongs to those who show up”. Based on my own cursory observations, this means conservative Christians, orthodox Jews and devout Muslims. It would seem that liberalism is, quite literally, an evolutionary dead end.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 6:00 am

“the main driver of this anti-natal movement is the difficulty that sections of society have in giving meaning to life”

This a very patronising attitude to take. Are parents the only ones capable of giving a meaning to their life? Meaning to life is a very subjective call and those who do not have children are just as capable as anyone else of having a ‘meaningful’ life.

If the author was so secure in his views that having children was a good thing he would not have to resort to denigrating others who make a different choice. The whole tone of the article is to try and depict childless people as either selfish or misguided. Why not simply accept that parenting is one option among many that human beings can choose without having to laud one way as better than another? Who is he trying to convince? Perhaps he has regrets that he has not come to terms with and deals with them by deriding the choices of those who did not do what he did.

Jonathan Yonge

2nd August 2019 at 10:31 am

Please tell me just one thing which gives life meaning apart from having chikdren.
Just one.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 10:58 am

So everyone who does not have children has wasted their life? That is a very dark view of human existence.

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:49 pm

Do you think Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother found meaning having him? Or Hitler’s mother?

If having kids is the only thing that gives your life meaning then you didn’t have much of a life to begin with.

Pru C

2nd August 2019 at 6:54 pm

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘meaning’ as: “Importance or value”. It pretty much defines ‘value’ in the same way: “importance, worth and benefit”.

So by all means, if having babies makes you feel more important, of more worth and more valuable – meaningful – then knock yourself out. Each to their own, is my motto.

If you’re defining meaning as “reason to get up in the morning”, then that’s just fine. The only meaning is whatever you decide is meaningful to you. It’s not however, a device to judge others by or for decreeing how others should live.

In the scheme of things, we’re all meaningless specks in the blink of the Universe’s eye.

Rebecca Lind

2nd August 2019 at 5:51 pm

Great comment

Eris McEncroe

2nd August 2019 at 5:11 am

A society that cannot or will not reproduce itself is sick and will eventually collapse.

The article highlights some of the sick values that contribute to the disease. I would add the elevation of selfishness to the status of a virtue by the rights movement in general and feminism in particular and, importantly, the failure of social values to adapt to the changes in reproductive technology that have decoupled sex and reproduction.

We do not live in a post evolutionary world. Neither human societies nor the human species can escape the forces of evolution. The future may well belong to those societies that value and promote childbearing and to clucky, family focused women.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 6:06 am

Why can’t a society make a conscious decision to ‘collapse’? Given the free will to either continue or cease to exist why is it so wrong to choose not to exist? If some think it is better for society to not continue then it is very reasonable for them to not contribute to the continuance of society by refusing to be parents.

Eris McEncroe

2nd August 2019 at 6:24 am

I suppose a society could choose to disappear and such a society probably would. I doubt if anyone could describe such a society as either sane or healthy.

In any case, such a society would be replaced by one with a healthier attitude to life and reproduction. Evolution produces abundant life and circumvents forces that oppose that.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 6:25 am

I sympathise with the free will point. I came across this infamous and funny quote from David Hume the other night. You can imagine how this went down with the pious “rationalist” ethicists and the decent readers of the 18th century. His argument is that the will is not moved to any motive by reason but the will just uses reason to see how to secure its purposes. No motive is any more or less “reasonable” than any other, it all depends on our sentiments.

‘Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 6:35 am

Why would such a decision to just quietly die out not be healthy or sane? Why is your attitude to reproduction better than someone who chooses not to reproduce? If enough individuals freely and reasonably choose not to reproduce then isn’t that a healthy and sane outcome for that society? Sanity is marked by being reasonable and you have not given any reasons why the choice to not reproduce is less reasonable.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 6:39 am

Of course this society would not collapse because some choose not to have kids. The state simply draws in migrant workers to make up any shortfall. In that sense, the choice not to have kids for the sake of the environment is not a meaningful choice in terms of any effect on the carbon or whatever produced by this society. In that sense, it could be interpreted as ill-considered, pointless, or harshly as a vain posture. I am sceptical of the idea that moralistic gestures make any difference to the course of history and it seems a bit vain or even ridiculous if they think that not having kids will make any difference.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 7:04 am

The best “hope”, for those who believe in, and prioritise, environmental catastrophe, is something like peak oil, global financial collapse or the spread of ebola, or some virulent and resistant strain, to take down civilization and to reduce the human population. I could picture them praying in their black hoods for ebola to spread. In the cause of “good” obviously. It is not “unreasonable”, it depends on their sentiments and what they think that the situation calls for.

It is a bit bizarre though. I doubt that environmental catastrophism does anyone much good psychologically, and it is pretty pointless, anyway. It could lead to some pretty absurd conclusions and dispositions. IS is in the Congo, I hope that no one is hoping that IS will do something nasty with ebola. Environmentalism taken to extremes could lead to some pretty ugly sentiments.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 7:20 am

Not having kids for environmental reasons is only one of the subjects addressed in the article. What about not having kids for other reasons like preference of lifestyle and the desire to be free of certain types of responsibility? These are valid reasons and if enough people come to make them then society might well die out because of the valid choices of it individuals.

Eris McEncroe

2nd August 2019 at 10:01 am

You ask “Why would such a decision to just quietly die out not be healthy or sane? ”

Do you really need to ask? Healthy things promote life, whether of the individual or of society. Unhealthy things, sickness, leads to death or annihilation. Sanity means health of the mind. Suicidal ideation is a sickness and is treated as such.

Any philosophy that could welcome the destruction of the human species or large segments of it is a mental disease not a rational set of values.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 10:56 am

Who is talking about anything other than life? You can live a perfectly healthy and worthwhile life and still choose not to procreate. If everyone in a society chooses not to procreate then they are by default choosing not to continue the species. How is such a choice unhealthy? Health of the mind means acting according to good reason and there are many good reasons why individuals might choose not to procreate. It is not suicide it is the natural order and consequence of individuals having the power of choice. They are not killing themselves – they are simply refusing the option to procreate.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 1:51 pm

Eris, the tendencies (telos) that you speak of (health) are natural, they are not “rational”. Tim is proposing other telos as better or sufficient ends. His main concern is possibly the telos of other species, and of the ecosystem generally. He thinks of it as “reasonable” too, but it is a value judgement (as they all are), based on sentiment and not reason. Reason tells us what things are, it does not tell us how to feel about them, that is sentiment. The choice of telos is made by the will, not by reason. You are correct that it is “healthy” for a species to procreate but it is not healthy to trash the environment and humans are more complicated than that, they can often prefer some other “good” than their own.

Tim Hare

2nd August 2019 at 11:26 pm

“You are correct that it is “healthy” for a species to procreate”

Is it healthy for a woman to put herself through the pain of childbirth and the discomfort of pregnancy when she does not have to do so? A healthy person does what is necessary to avoid pain. Someone who deliberately chooses pain when they have a choice not to has a very suspect attitude to their own body.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 3:37 am

Tim, so do not have kids, no one is forcing you.

Tim Hare

3rd August 2019 at 7:56 am

You didn’t answer the question.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:56 am

Timmy Threadbare.

Knock it off, Timmy. Seriously.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 1:38 pm

Of course procreation is healthy, it is a natural function of the species and a part of natural human flourishment. It is a good to which we naturally tend.

If reproduction of the species is not a good thing then why give a damn whether a rain forest reproduces? You cannot have it both ways.

Value and meaning are human concepts, the environment and other species have value and meaning only for us and as we think fit. Without our value judgement it is all just a load of atoms stuck together in the void. Take away humans and nothing matters.

Tim Hare

3rd August 2019 at 2:44 pm

Just because something occurs in nature, such as the ability to procreate does not mean that we as human beings should just accept it as healthy. Earthquakes, fire and floods also occur in nature but that does not mean we should no try and avoid those things. Humans have the capacity to make life better and it is healthy and reasonable to be always trying to avoid pain and hardship where we can.

We don’t naturally tend toward procreation. Quite obviously we have a choice. It is natural to make choices when they are available to us. Many people choose not to procreate – this not an unnatural choice.

My question to you was about the pain of childbirth and whether or not you considered it healthy to choose obvious pain when it is not necessary to do so.

Winston Stanley

3rd August 2019 at 4:33 pm

Of course we naturally tend toward procreation or we would have died out long ago. We have heard you and most of us disagree with you, so get over it and mind your own business. If you have no kids then that is your look out but do not try to treat us as your substitute kids. In real life you be told exactly what to do. You will end up some lonely old moralistic weirdo who made all the wrong life choices and tried to dress it up as concern for trees reproducing. Find some PC sect to join b/c you will soon find out that couples tend to mix with couples, families with families and most of us have important others around us and we have better things to do than to waste our time listening to some weirdo and his silly nonsense.

Tim Hare

4th August 2019 at 12:22 am

You still haven’t answered the simple question that I asked and now you have resorted to personal insults. It’s obvious you are not capable of genuine debate on this issue.

Trouble McTrouble

23rd September 2019 at 3:15 pm

If I may interject here as a woman who has had a child……the pain you feel is pretty serious, but it is transitory. Are you saying if you saw someone dying, but to rescue them would cause you pain and suffering but it was transitory, you would allow that person to perish, just to save yourself the brief pain? It’s the same for childbirth. We choose to have children, therefore we choose to suffer for the brief period to enjoy the love for and from our children. My daughter hangs the stars for me, as my husband hangs the moon. Having them both in my life has made my life the happiest, in fact my daughter actually saved my life twice. So I say again, as someone who has gone through the pain of pushing a human being out of my own body, that it was worth it. I cannot explain to how worth it because I sadly doubt you would understand. If YOU choose not to have children, or indeed a life partner – that is YOUR CHOICE. MY CHOICE was to have them. I respect your choice and would defend it to my last breath. Why can’t you not afford me the same respect?

Emmett Elvin

2nd August 2019 at 4:20 am

A reasonable precis of the article would seem to be that the nutbars are removing themselves from the gene pool. Nature works in mysterious ways, indeed.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 11:57 am

Nut.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 5:54 pm

Absolutely love your comments, and have missed them.

I really had been thinking about you.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 12:47 pm

It’s more the ignorant are breeding the human species towards idiocy and narcissism.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 3:09 am

I am sceptical of Frank’s existential analysis of the fall in the birth rate. Those would be largely secondary phenomena. The fall in the birth rate is historically linked, in UK and elsewhere, mainly with the easy availability of contraception and with abortion and divorce.

Contraception was made available on the NHS in December 1961, abortion was legalised in April 1968 and divorce in January 1971. The birth rate collapsed steadily downward from a peak of just under three kids per women in 1964 to around 1.7 by the mid 1970s, around which level it has remained ever since.

Changes since have been slight up or down. As elsewhere, the collapse in the birth rate correlates with easy contraception and with the legalisation of abortion and of divorce. Other, cultural and economic factors have slight impact either way. Migrant mothers boosted the UK birth rate slightly upward since 2000 but that has begun to decline.

The same happened in Spain a decade later. The Spanish birth rate was stable at just under 3 kids per woman from the 1950s through 1975 when Franco died. Contraception and abortion were made available and the birth rate immediately collapsed downward all the way to around 1.3 by the 90s, at which level it has remained ever since, wavering slightly up or down and migrant mothers boosting it slightly. Other factors have had minimal if any impact.

The same has happened elsewhere.

The correlation is clear, easy contraception and legal abortion and divorce mean low birth rates, and other factors – cultural, economic or psychological – are of minimal influence.

Notably the UK birth rate was at an historical low in 2018, while the abortion figure was at a record high.

The consequence is simply mass immigration to make up the demographic shortfall. UK has an 85% replacement level at 1.7 kids per woman, which means that 15% of the next generation would be made up from abroad, each generation, in order to sustain numbers and the workforce. That rises to 28% over two generations, 39% over three and 48% over four generations, just to make up the shortfall and without further expansion.

A concern is that UK couples are increasingly having kids later in life. The average age of parents has increased from the 25-30 year old band to the 30-35s, and fathers tend to be a few years older than mothers. DNA mutations in seed quadruple per year as men get older and the upshot is that the gene pool will increasingly become littered with deleterious mutations that lead to an increase in obscure and hard to treat genetic diseases, which is likely to have a long term impact on the physical and mental health of future generations.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 3:39 am

Edits:

* The average age of FIRST TIME parents has increased from the 25-30 year old band to the 30-35s

* Spain: downward all the way to around 1.3 by the EARLY 90s

* The first two sentences were a distraction from what would have been a punchy and direct start

(bring back the edit function?)

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 6:52 pm

Christianity is an alien religion? What species are you?

And of course God can change people.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 8:27 pm

Hana, what I mean is that it is religion from long ago and from a very different kind of society from ours. People adapt to the present kind of society as they think best, and it would make little sense to take moral prescriptions from a society thousands of years ago that had a very different economic base and lifestyle to us. They had their own concerns, situations and attitudes and we have ours. No doubt they would think that our attitudes are bonkers if they heard back then that they should think like we do.

To be fair on ancient civilizations, Jesus was pretty “out there” with his opinions even for his time. He comes across as a hippy, “look at the flowers, do they toil, do not store up wealth, give it all away, love everyone.” That stuff is OK for those who can afford the hippy lifestyle but it would not make much sense for most of us. I understand that you are devout and that you disagree with my assessment and that is fair enough, each to their own opinion. For you, Jesus is for everyone, for a lot of us he is not. That is how it goes.

Hana Jinks

2nd August 2019 at 9:21 pm

Wattie plants the seeds, nature grows the seeds, but it’s God that provides the increase. It isn’t so much that l disagree with your assessment. It’s just that you’ve got some things wrong.

“Give” is the economy of Heaven, and if we give, then God gives us more to give, and this applies to any period in history and has nothing to do with moral prescriptions.

God wants us to trust Him whether we are in a field or an office. Heaven exists as well, and the cares of the world needn’t distract us.

Gerard Barry

2nd August 2019 at 9:16 am

“I am sceptical of Frank’s existential analysis of the fall in the birth rate. Those would be largely secondary phenomena. The fall in the birth rate is historically linked, in UK and elsewhere, mainly with the easy availability of contraception and with abortion and divorce.”

Don’t you think there’s a connection between abortion and divorce (but in particular abortion) and the selfish, misanthropic trends described by Frank in the above article? To me, it’s pretty obvious that there is.

Winston Stanley

2nd August 2019 at 1:37 pm

The point is that the easy availability of contraception, and the legality of abortion and divorce, were all that it took to collapse the British birth rate. Other trends have had minimal, if any influence, since the 1960s.

I see no reason to assume that the British (or any other nation, all of whom have the same collapse) were ever not a “selfish, misanthropic” people, if you want to use those terms, or ever will not be. I did not and I will not make such judgements. All it took was the removal of constraints and that is all that it would ever have taken. There was never a time that the British were ever “better” or more “moral” than today. People are what they are and that does not change.

Religion gives people the myth that people change, they do not. Christianity is an alien religion, to which the British are totally unsuited by character (and vice versa), many were just simple enough in the old days to believe the stuff above souls, grace and conversion. I dare say that religion never changed a single person in their character and it never will. It certainly never changed the character of a people. One only has to know actual Christians to realise that.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 12:05 pm

Your wrong, Wattie.

Sorry, but I’m not really able to make my point now. I’ll return later.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 7:44 pm

Phew…glad l don’t have to waste my time explaining this one.

You’ve read all those greek books that you so revere, and yet ur still way out of your depth with me, Wattie.

It’s not meant to be an insult.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 9:45 am

Sorry, Wattie. I talk utter shite, sometimes.

Hana Jinks

5th August 2019 at 12:46 pm

I’m pretty thick, and so it’s sometimes gonna be difficult for me to understand when you is taking the mick. I’m really sorry about the things that I’ve said to you on this thread. I just hope that l haven’t said or done anything that would prevent you from doing this.

Even if I’m too thick to get it at the time, ….l say that l love you, and it’s about time l trusted you.

Jonnie Henly

2nd August 2019 at 2:00 am

People choosing not to have children has nothing to do with any ideology, no matter how much culture warriors try to spin it as such.

Hana Jinks

3rd August 2019 at 12:09 pm

Hi Jon.

I’ve been here for a while now, and don’t think that we’ve ever agreed on much.

That’s ok, and I’m really happy to say that l agree 100% with you on your point.

We’ll no doubt disagree a lot more again, but l hope that we be respectful of each other, and this obviously starts with me.

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