Monday, April 30, 2007

The Truth About the Pay Gap
What we know from an array of evidence, including this report, is that most if not all of the discrepancy can be traced to factors other than sexism. When it comes to pay equity, we really have come a long way.

On its face, the evidence in the AAUW study looks damning. "One year out of college," it says, "women working full-time earn only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn."

But read more, and you learn things that don't get much notice on Equal Pay Day. As the report acknowledges, women with college degrees tend to go into fields like education, psychology and the humanities, which typically pay less than the sectors preferred by men, such as engineering, math and business. They are also more likely than men to work for nonprofit groups and local governments, which do not offer salaries that Alex Rodriguez would envy.

As they get older, many women elect to work less so they can spend time with their children. A decade after graduation, 39 percent of women are out of the work force or working part time -- compared with only 3 percent of men. When these mothers return to full-time jobs, they naturally earn less than they would have if they had never left.
. . .
Buried in the report is a startling admission: "After accounting for all factors known to affect wages, about one-quarter of the gap remains unexplained and may be attributed to discrimination" (my emphasis). Another way to put it is that three-quarters of the gap clearly has innocent causes -- and that we actually don't know whether discrimination accounts for the rest.

I asked Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if there is sufficient evidence to conclude that women experience systematic pay discrimination. "No," she replied. There are certainly instances of discrimination, she says, but most of the gap is the result of different choices. Other hard-to-measure factors, Goldin thinks, largely account for the remaining gap -- "probably not all, but most of it."
I'm glad to see this come to light. Perhaps someone has the statistic (can't go hunting for it with exams around the corner) for childless women - but the gap is minuscule! It could easily be explained by the different career paths noted above, such as going into teaching and the arts. I also attribute it partially to women's aversion to salary negotiations, a difference that has been documented and needs addressing by colleges and women's groups. We could overcome this aversion with a little work.

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Mother Launches Campaign to Close Child-Unfriendly Restaurant.

Highchairs lead to high drama
Yvette Nishikawa has no problem with restaurants that don't cater to children, and she understands youngsters can be a pain at fine-dining establishments, but a January dining experience she had at Baltazar's restaurant in Bend pushed her to confront the issue of family-friendly eateries.
. . .
In January, Nishikawa dined at Baltazar's - a Mexican restaurant with dinner entrees ranging from $10 to $60 on Southwest Knoll Avenue off Century Drive - with her husband, her newborn and two other couples, having left her two older children at home with a baby sitter. Nishikawa asked for a highchair for her baby but was told the restaurant offers no highchairs because Baltazar's doesn't "specialize in children."

She said servers made insulting and embarrassing comments to her about bringing her baby. At the end of the night, her group of six spent around $300 on the meal, she added.

Months passed and a couple weeks ago, Nishikawa's friends prompted her to write a letter to Baltazar's, describing the incident and what she said was "outrageously rude treatment." Chavez called her back and told her that he would not offer highchairs because he wants to discourage patrons from bringing children.
. . .
"My intention was not to put Baltazar's out of business," Nishikawa said of spreading the story. "I wanted to suggest to Baltazar that he consider getting a highchair or post a sign (saying children are not allowed)."
. . .
"The issue is whether his policy is known and the way he handled it," she said. "If it's your policy, advertise it. Don't waste my time."

Chavez, a Bend father of three and grandfather of one, says he doesn't intend to post a "no children allowed" sign, hoping his lack of highchairs and printed children's menu do the trick.
. . .
Chavez said he is not anti-children, but he doesn't necessarily want them at his restaurant. He wants to make his restaurant different from other Mexican eateries by creating an intimate and high-end setting. . . .He says children create noise and mess and bother other patrons.

"You think I'm going to let infants come and trash my restaurant?" Baltazar said. "Children are welcome, but I do not have highchairs so people will understand that this is a more intimate restaurant."
. . .
Business owners can refuse to serve anyone as long as they don't discriminate against protected classes, such as ethnic or religious groups, said Elizabeth Peters, director of communications for the Oregon Restaurant Association.

If the restaurateur, in general, wants to say "no children," he can, Peters said.
It does sound like a big part of the issue here is rudeness on both sides (see article) which I hope is the real impetus behind her campaign to shut this restaurant down. And at least she acknowledges that restaurants do not have to allow children.

Should a restaurant be forced to post signs? One would hope that the not-so-subtle clues mentioned in the article would be enough to tip off patrons. After all, most restaurants with a dress code rely on ambiance and cloth tablecloths to send that message. And how much would a sign have helped here? One would assume that the request for a highchair (and thus the response that the restaurant is not child-friendly) came fairly early in the meal. Unless she had to wait for a table, a sign would not have put her on alert that much sooner.

And if she did have to wait for a table? A sign would have made it easier. However, it would make the owner far more vulnerable to attack than just the subtle clues that were used. It is women like this who would raise a stink upon seeing the sign, and force owners into more covert means. I think the real issue is that the Dines-With-Babies set needs to create a consistent policy.

And how much do you love it when parents (like the owner here) agree that an adults-only atmosphere is preferable in some cases?

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Educated Women in UK Less Likely to Be Mothers. They Ask Why . . .

Motherhood On Hold: Where have all the babies gone?

A recent study has shown that women in the UK with graduate degrees (am I misconstruing the term 'graduate women'?) are far less likely to have children.

When information like this comes out, it often goes one of two ways. Either people make a Hewlett-style assumption that of course we all yearn for motherhood, so society must be standing in our way. Sometimes people are more rational, and realize that childless-by-choice accounts for at least part of the phenomenon.
The author Lionel Shriver, 49, chose not to become a mother. "For me, establishing myself as a writer was so important, and took so long, that it consumed my entire reproductive lifetime ... I didn't feel I could afford the distraction and emotional energy that it would have taken to try and raise a family at the same time."

Shriver, who won the Orange Prize in 2005, believes that had she become more successful earlier in her career, she would have been more likely to have had children. But she is at peace with her decision. "I think that's because I've never had the experience and so I don't know what I'm missing. There is an element of ignorance being bliss. It does mean that in terms of my emotional support system, it's rather narrow. If anything happens to my husband, who is older than I am and smokes, I'm really by myself. So the chances are very good that I end up living the last 20 years by myself."
This article thus deals with a third category whom I will call the 'postponers' - those for whom the timing was never right. Although people tend to treat these women as victims of a child-hating workaholic society, I think this attitude does a disservice to women. We are just as capable as men of making life choices. I would instead categorize these women as semi-childfree; people who did not have the same conviction that they did not want to be mothers, but for whom it was not a top priority.

I was happy to see here that the article referred to her circumstance as a choice.
Others, meanwhile, are more concerned about Britain's low birth rate. David Willetts, the Tory education spokesman, is one who suspects that not everyone is as content with their childlessness as Shriver. "I think high house prices are a very powerful contraceptive," he says. "I think one thing that's going wrong with our country is negotiating the stages of the cycle of a life course. Leaving the parental home to create a new parental home, which a generation ago happened without thinking for many young people, has become much harder.
I have seen people blame the workforce, lack of childcare, lack of spousal support, and paucity of government handouts. This is the first time I have seen people blame the real estate market.

Still, my husband and I bought when we were 26. While most in NY don't have kids at this age anyway, it was nice being able to buy a one bedroom without having to worry about needing a bigger place later. (Well, wanting perhaps, but that is different . . )
According to many women, a principal reason for not having children, often overlooked by academics, policy wonks and politicians, is that they do not find someone they are content to settle down with.
This might be true, but I like the recognition of this cause for one other reason. It mitigates against putting the blame on government, and thus lessens the justification for handouts to encourage procreation.

Like real estate, this may be another way in which being childfree just makes life easier. It is no fun to hunt for a mate (among those of us who choose to) but it is much less fun when you have a deadline. A friend of mine finally met her husband at age 39. If she had not been childfree, it would have been bittersweet. As it is . . it was just sweet.
It is not always the case, however, that lack of money, or lack of a man, prevents women having children. Some say they simply lack the maternal instinct. Actress Dame Helen Mirren, 61, said: "It's just not something that interests me. An awful lot of women don't want children, but have them because there is such pressure to do so. They think there's something wrong with them if they don't want kids. It's not right."
I think I have a new heroine. Dame Helen, take your place alongside Felicity Huffman, Steve Martin, and Salma Hayek. I know Hollywood, is not quite important in the larger scheme of things, but it can serve as a useful barometer of changing attitudes.

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And you thought America was tough.

Women in Iran seeing crackdown on rights

If a man dies childless in Iran, the totality of the inheritance goes to his parents, not his wife.

Obviously the rights of childfree women in Iran don't place high on the radar - there are much bigger issues at stake. I thought it was worth noting when this turned up, though. It is just further evidence on the sliding scale across cultures, how women are more valued when they have produced children.

Thank goodness here in America that notion is cultural and not legal, and it is disappearing to boot. The progress here may be subtle, but it is there. Indeed insinuations that having children makes a person less valuable (whether tongue in cheek or taken out of context) have received a great deal of derision in the last year. (see the gay rights movement's Washington amendment, or the comments to Condi Rice)

Perhaps when women across the world have received full rights as we have, this trend will be seen globally as well.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Woman Sits in Middle of Aisle in Party Store to Breastfeed, Cries Discrimination When Booted.

Mother upset after being kicked out of store for breast-feeding her baby
Melissa Tracy was shopping at iParty on Pleasant Valley Road in Weymouth with her husband and her 8-week old son, when her infant became hungry and fussy. Instead of leaving the store, Tracy, 40, sat down in the middle of the aisle and discreetly breast-fed him.
. . .
After being asked to leave the store, Tracy called the corporate office, which apologized and offered her a gift certificate. Tracy refused however, saying that what they want is for companies to provide areas for breast-feeding if it is a problem.
Umm.. does anyone have the right to sit down in the middle of an aisle in a store, for any reason? If not, do we need to carve out a right for women to do so if they are breastfeeding? This pushes the limits of how far this politically-correct rampage can go.

A related incident just happened in Florida, which has a law mandating restaurants allow breastfeeding.

Mother Asked To Leave Houston's Restaurant For Breastfeeding In Public
"I want all women to be aware of it," she said. "We do have rights and there is nothing wrong with nursing your baby in public."

According to a Florida law, women have an unconditional right to breast-feed anywhere, public or private, covered or uncovered.

"This is the most natural thing we could do for our babies and I just wanted to be heard that we have nothing to hide," Bertucci said. "We really don't."

While the law states that women have an unconditional right to breast-feed anywhere, personal opinions are still vary about public breast-feeding.
I'm a bit ambivalent on the law in general (although a cogent argument can be made for letting market forces settle this; unlike racism, this does not reach a compelling enough level to strip property rights)

However, there is a big flaw in the Florida law in that it does not distinguish between the act of breastfeeding to feed a child and the act of ostentatious breastfeeding to make a political statement. There is a difference, and many women who cry necessity are purposefully eschewing discretion to make their political point.

This is going too far. Why should women have such a right, not only to use their babies and their breasts to make a political statement, but to do it on private property?

An argument could be made that this is a Constitutional violation. The Supreme Court has held that a California law forcing shopping centers to allow political speech is not such an interference, but that was based on the nature of shopping centers as the modern town square. Without that law, there would be few places for people to speak, ergo the allowance was necessary to make the First Amendment meaningful.

We have no such mandate here. The right to 'political breastfeeding' in a restaurant is not necessary to free speech. Restaurants are not mandated to accommodate any political speech. I do not have the right to wear a 'fuck the war' tee shirt in an Arbys, a "meat is murder" tee shirt in a steakhouse. They have the right to kick me out, and I have the right to protest outside.

The law is problematic even if you do not term it as political 'speech'. The law is designed to promote breastfeeding, and to allow women to feed their infants wherever they want. But the law goes further than is necessary to accomplish this aim by including uncovered breastfeeding. The baby gets just as fed when a woman uses a blanket. Therefore, by including the ostentatious type of breastfeeding, the law infringes further on the property rights of the restaurant owner than is needed. The Florida legislature did not do a good job of balancing the interests here.

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"When are you going to have children?" It's not just the childfree who are getting annoyed.

Leave us alone
Sometimes being childless is painful, in more ways than one.

WE HAVE been married for five years, have decent jobs and a beautiful home and, most importantly, we love each other. Sounds perfect?

Yet, there is a little flaw in our marriage. For some reason, dear God has decided not to bless us with a child yet. Is that a blessing or a curse? We will never know the answer but we believe that God knows what is best for us and whatever decision he makes is for our good.

While I clearly understand this, something is still bothering me. Each time I meet people at a gathering, I get asked again and again, “So, any good news?”

How I wish I could say to them, “Are you blind? If I’m pregnant, you will be able to see that for yourself, moron!”
. . .
All I am asking for is just to be treated normally or, at least, to be left alone. After all, I do not ask you about your debt to Ah Long, or your husband whom you are living with just for the sake of your children. Just leave me alone. I want to be happy with what I have. My husband and I have accepted our lives this way and we are happy. Let us be. Leave us alone.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Outlets help couples handle the pressure from family members who expect children.

Playdates, Podcasts Ready for Child-Free Couples
This disconnect often isolates childless couples from their childbearing friends. As a remedy, many couples who have proudly adopted the term "child free" are joining a growing community of like-minded people. One such couple in the San Francisco Bay Area has started an Internet podcast devoted to child-free issues. Many couples say these outlets help them handle the pressure from family members who expect children and the loss of friends who have gone off to start families of their own.

This perception that childless-by-choice couples are rare persists despite the fact their ranks are growing. In 2002, 6.2 percent of women age 15 to 44 said they were voluntarily childless, up from 4.9 percent in 1982, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Christine Fisher started the Adult Space Childfree Podcast in March 2006 to reach out to this growing community. Fisher, known as "The Fixed Kitty" to her listeners, says she's known since the third grade that she didn't want to be a mother.
. . .
"If every fertile female would make a great mom, we would not have any screwed up kids," she said. "Obviously some people don't make great moms."
. . .
The most difficult part, childless couples say, is the strain that often occurs in their relationships with friends who have become parents.

"You become more and more marginalized by your own friends," Sellers said. "Essentially you're shunted off in the corner."
. . .
"Maybe a couple years ago we were certainly experiencing anxiety when we would go home to a family holiday just wondering what questions we'd get," Andeel said. Now, she says, she has learned tips from a large online community of like-minded couples. "I just try and listen to them and acknowledge that they're allowed to have their feelings," she said, "and that I understand."
. . .
Before joining an online social network for childless couples a year ago, she and Mark knew only one other child-free couple. Now, as a member of No Kidding (, she can communicate with 10,000 other members who are childless by choice. The group, which has 79 chapters in six countries, including the United States and Canada, has helped Andeel come to terms with her decision.
. . .
Jerry Steinberg, who calls himself the "founding non-father" of No Kidding, . . . has seen the organization grow steadily over the past 24 years. In early April, new chapters were about to open in Manning, S.C., Huntsville, Ala., and Las Vegas. The individual chapters run their own monthly social events and meet at an annual national convention.

Steinberg is adamant that No Kidding remain purely social and not become a political advocacy group. But the Fixed Kitty has no such qualms: She closes each of her shows by urging listeners to "keep from breeding."
This article stands out a bit by focusing on the childfree community. An occasional challenge launched against us is why we have a community in the first place. Since those launching this criticism usually have no problem with an individual choosing not to have children, the contention apparently is that we should live our childless existence in isolation from others who have made the same uncommon decision.

It is often phrased incredulously - "Why do you need a community for what you don't have? Shall we launch a website for people without cats?" Which is perhaps evidence that the commenter on the last post was correct - there is often little point in arguing with those who do not have a very good grasp of logic. There is a difference between just lacking something, and lacking something the majority of people have. Do these same folks launch attacks on atheists for gathering (as in last weekend's incredible Humanist convention) and talking about not believing in god? Criticize the nudist community for gathering to not wear clothes?

The more common something is in our society, the more need for those who eschew it to form a community. Perhaps it will be one of support, perhaps it will be a purely social one, like No Kidding! New Humanism is creating a world of literature, music and art, fostering the creative atmosphere that many get in churches. So too can childfree people gather to provide for each other what opting out of parenthood excludes them from. When your circle of friends uses the playgroup as their new means of socializing, when tension with your biological family deprives you of that circle as well, it makes sense to turn to others who are likewise excluded.

Or, as in my case, it can be an addendum - a way to meet engineers, astronomers, wine connoisseurs, punk rock geeks, opera singers, and jazz musicians, all with a common thread that provides in spades seemingly unrelated qualities of wit, intelligence, and adventure. And, not quite so unrelated, it is a way to meet others who don't accept society's defaults. Those who question the seeming mandate to procreate, but also what we eat, how we worship, what a marriage looks like.

Or both. Whatever the cause, there is no need to question a community. If you ask me, the problem is never that we have too many, but perhaps that we don't have enough.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Parenting may be natural. It could also kill the planet.

Don't Have Children. Save the World
In a society that holds up childbirth and parenting as the moral gold standard, the idea that procreation might be an irresponsible environmental choice is not a popular one -- even among environmentalists.

Indeed, the issue of global population control and reproductive rights remains a taboo talking point in debates about sustainability. While most people are quite happy to talk about organic hemp baby clothing and the joys of compost, few are willing to contemplate the idea that our children are killing the planet.
I'm sorry I cannot print more of the article, but I am trying to stay well within the bounds of fair use for the G&M copyright. I have focused on the parts of the article most favorable to the childfree side - the article is not quite as strong as the above might make it seem. But in the spirit of fair use, I am using this blog to make a point, so I'll consider that an editorial decision.
Vincent Ciaccio and his wife, Laura -- both 29 -- grew up passively assuming that they would have children one day. However, after the couple met in college and embarked on a life together, they realized they did not want to become parents, a decision informed in large part by environmental concerns.

While the Ciaccios would not describe themselves as hard-core environmentalists, they are both ethical vegetarians who eat locally grown food, drive a compact car and regulate their energy consumption.

"There are a lot of reasons to be vegetarian and a lot of those translate into reasons to be child-free -- choices like not supporting clear-cutting the rain forests to raise cattle," says Mr. Ciaccio, who currently lives in Boston, where his wife is at law school. "Being child-free means we don't run the risk of having children who won't be vegetarians and undo all the good choices we've made."

To that end, Mr. Ciaccio underwent a vasectomy at the age of 23. His wife is now considering getting a tubal ligation at the age of 29 -- which they describe as "a belt and suspenders measure."

And they are not the only ones. Mr. Ciaccio conducted a study of "child freedom" (or the choice to remain childless) for his master's thesis in psychology at Iona College, N.Y., a couple of years ago. He found that 12 per cent of the child-free people he surveyed named overpopulation and concern for the environment as the biggest motivators for skipping parenthood.

Still, Mr. Ciaccio has endured a lot of guff for his choice to be sterilized at such a young age. He points out that his decision was just as informed and irreversible as the decision to have children -- one that is rarely questioned. But he says, "There is this societal idea that normal people have kids and that if you don't want kids, there must be something wrong with you."

This is rich, Mr. Ciaccio says, since, in his view, parents who threaten the sustainability of the planet have their own choices to answer for. "It's funny all those environmentalists with two or three children," he says. "I have an issue with the dishonesty of it, this situation in which people claim to be environmentally conscious but put the environment at risk in another way, but one that is socially acceptable."

The same goes for Third World adoption, the current fad among celebrities trying to improve their humanitarian image. While it may change an individual child's life for the better, there is an environmental trade-off. One cringes to think of the small metropolis of footprints Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have created with their well-publicized orphan-hoarding campaign.
. . .
From an environmental perspective, Mr. Rees says, the decision not to procreate has obvious merit. "The current rate of resource consumption and waste creation exceeds the capacity of our living system's ability to replace what we consume and assimilate what we produce," he says. "Is adding more people to the planet going to help this situation? Probably not."

Still, you could be shaking your head: When it comes to something as essential and natural as the human urge to reproduce, resource accounting is a fallacious approach. It doesn't take into account the kindness and love children bring to the world, nor the potential for future conservation and change.
Kindness and love won't repair the ozone layer. Indeed, for the children we do have, it is an act of kindness and love to them to curb population growth. In this sense, the childfree are giving your children a gift of a sustainable future. At least we are trying to. If people were more careful about birth control (preventing only unwanted children) and restrained themselves to one or two children, that future would be possible.

Not to mention the fact that this notion is romantic and myopic.
Anyone who thinks that children are all innocence, kindness, and love does not remember fourth grade, namely the other children. Children are human beings, with all the flaws and complications that entails. They could grow up to be good people, they could grow up to be Hummer-driving jackasses. Our approach does not ignore the 'love', it is just more honest about it. It is one possible result, not a necessary effect. In that context, having children is, love-wise, much closer to neutral. The offset of environmental harm may well bring that act all the way back to neutral.
"I've been involved in social justice issues since I was very young and the biggest tool I had was the fact that people love their kids," she says in a phone interview from her home in Victoria. "I've met so many people who say, 'I wouldn't recycle if it weren't for my kid.' "
And yet so many childfree people are dedicated environmentalists. One does not need children to care about the future of the planet. Perhaps some unscrupulous people who don't give a damn until they have a personal stake. Yet how much are people this selfish really turning their lives around? It does not matter. No amount of recycling and Priuses can compensate for the damage that was done to get them there. The cost is higher than the payout.
Ms. Cullis-Suzuki's dad certainly seems in favour of human reproduction. Canada's father of environmentalism is also the father of five children -- a number his daughter admits is high (consider him the mayor of a small town in Bangladesh).

"Growing up, we'd often tease him and say, 'Hey, Dad is overpopulating the world!' " she says. "But the truth is we're all human and we all have our hypocrisies. I'm not interested in judgment."

In fact, Ms. Cullis-Suzuki hopes to have children of her own one day. As she explains: "Our consumption habits are really the problem. But the point is, we have choices, so we can make a difference far more than someone who grows up in the developing world."

If our consumption habits are the problem, how is adding more people to the world not an environmentally irresponsible act? More people equals more people with those consumer habits. Let's be realistic - we are never going to roll back the clock on humanity's lifestyle. Unless and until we have revolutionary developments in science, each human is still going to have a huge impact on the planet. If we keep growing the population in the meantime, without any consciousness of its effect, it may well be too late when and if we made those developments. In fifty years we might find a ways to offset the lifestyle of six billion people, especially if they have developed better habits. But by then the population may well be twice, four times, what it is now. There is a good chance that if we don't change, science will never catch up. Even if we could, the major problems impending, including water shortages, may reach us first. People could die of thirst while we are waiting. Unfortunately, that is looking like the more likely solution to the population problem.

The article is correct that this is a touchy subject. Indeed, this is the crux of the problem. We don't need everyone simultaneously to declare their childfreedom, but an important first step is realizing the connection between parenting and environmentalism. Until we start talking about it, we cannot find solutions.
"Let's be really clear. The main reason for decline in birth rates in the Western world is people choosing not to have children because of the impact on their lifestyle. The choice they are making is materialism over motherhood. But you could equally have children and reduce your demands on the planet by reducing your footprint."
So because it is only a partial motivation - what, it somehow undermines the great benefit? I'm not sure it is even worth engaging his point. Clothing all childfree as materialistic is such a desperate ploy, it belies the fact that someone has been backed into a wall by his own hypocrisy.
In other words, people are not just an environmental problem, we are also the only ones who can provide the solution. As Mr. Wackernagel asserts, "We need to have six billion heroes, because without that we won't find a solution."

And what proud parent doesn't like to think their child will be a part of that solution?

Jerry Steinberg, it goes without saying, doesn't share your unconditional love. "Everybody thinks that my child will cure cancer or end global warming, but guess what? The planet's overloaded and it hasn't happened yet."
I'm glad Jerry got the last word. And with that, I don't need to - he has said it well enough.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

'I chose career over kids and have no regrets'

'I chose career over kids and have no regrets'
"I decided not to have children because I knew I would not be able to devote time and energy to my career. I knew my work would suffer."

To previous generations, the determination of a well-off, educated woman like Mrs Ambrose to reject motherhood would have seemed extraordinary. But today it is becoming ever more common.
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Married Without Children Could Soon Become Norm in New Zealand

No-child families becoming more common

At last year's census, couples with children numbered 447,894, or 42 per cent of all families, a runny nose ahead of the 425,973 couples without children (40 per cent). Another 193,635, or 18 per cent, consisted of one parent with a child or children.

Statistics New Zealand defines a family as a couple, with or without children, or a sole parent with offspring, who usually live together. . .
Maybe the Telegraph should borrow their dictionary.

These statistics do include empty-nesters, but the rise of the childless-by-choice is behind the impending parity.
But New Zealand's levels of childlessness pales against Germany's, where it's predicted 30 per cent of women will not have kids.
Shorter working hours and more childfree? If it was not for the government's perception that this was a crisis (apparently maintaining the pyramid-scheme social security system is the only relevant government expense) and the requisite pronatalist policies, I would be taking German lessons right now.

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Interviews With Childless Women: No Regrets

To bear or not to bear? Childless by choice ...And their lives are far from empty.
No. I really love my life and enjoy what it's brought. I love to teach and find that extremely rewarding. I'm working with people all the time. I have absolutely no regrets. This has been my life and I've followed my dreams. I haven't had to make hard choices about living in other countries or being in this profession, like I might have if I'd had children. I put myself into this 1,000 percent, otherwise I wouldn't have been successful. I was one of the lucky ones that it worked out right for me. It's not right for everyone, but I followed it through and it gave me a good career and enabled me to be financially secure.

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One Third of Educated British Women WIll Never Parent.

Third of graduate women will be childless
The number of highly educated women who are starting families has plummeted in the past decade, according to findings that provide the most detailed insight yet into education and fertility.

While some women are making a conscious decision not to have children, others are simply leaving it too late after taking years to build their careers, buy a home and find the right partner.
. . .
The findings come from a ground-breaking study into more than 5,000 women born in 1970 and tracked throughout their lives by researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at the Institute of Education in London.

It revealed that 40 per cent of the graduate women were childless at age 35. The researchers forecast that by the time they reach the likely end of their child-bearing years at 45, about 30 per cent will still be childless.
. . .
Overall population decline is only being prevented by immigration and a higher birth rate among non-graduate women.
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lawyer Blames Modern Childrearing For Rise in Mass Murder


Plato described a balance of reason, spirit, and desire. . .
That balance is increasingly difficult to achieve in a culture of steroid-induced narcissism, where every kid gets an A+, every player is a winner, and everyone not only has the right to dream but is entitled to have that dream come true: to be the American Idol, the YouTube phenom, a bright star in a world of dimly-lit pseudo-celebrities (if Paris Hilton can be a celebrity then why not I?). Who needs reason when the only thing that stands in the way of success is the desire to achieve and the spirit to shamelessly self-promote?
I am certainly not going to take a position on whether modern parenting is causing the rise in incidents of this type. I will say that many of these incidents appear to be caused by serious mental illness, or even physiological defects (such as brain tumors) and that violence is not a new phenomenon.

Still, considering how these aspects of modern parenting is a frequent topic among childfree people, I thought this was worth posting here. Forgive the plug to my school paper!

The assumption that focusing on 'self esteem' helps kids does need questioning. It doesn't seem to be based on solid psychological ground. Whether or not the outcome is as dire as the author states, it could very well have negative consequences when children face rejection in the real world.

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Salma Hayek Interview

Salma Hayek: Hot Mama!

Salma is pregnant. Fortunately, that is not the end of the story . . .
MC: You turned 40 this year. Has your family been pressuring you to have kids?

SH: No, no. They learned long ago how to shut up and leave me alone. I think it's terrible women are put in that position. Motherhood is not for everyone — it is for me, but there's no reason women should feel rushed to have a child. I don't know if you've noticed, but society thinks if you don't have children, you've failed as a woman, even if you are CEO of a company. You've got to be beautiful, smart, skinny, tall, rich, successful at your job, married to the right guy — and have genius children.
Reminds me of Felicity Huffman quotes. Is this the next trend in celebrity mothers? I sure hope so.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

More and more women are finding it difficult to decide whether to have children. Can a ‘baby coach’ help?

Ready, mummy? Maybe, baby
Nina’s next decision was, perhaps, a surprising one. She went to see a life coach; one who specialises in coaching women who cannot decide whether or not to have children. Beth Follini . . .set up her business,, a year ago. She soon realised that she’d hit a nerve with many modern women, for whom starting a family is anything but straightforward. The result of this agonising is that unprecedented numbers of women are not having children. According to the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, one woman in five now remains childless, with nearly one in three degree-educated woman never becoming a mother.
. . .
“We live in a kidult culture,” she says. “Some of my clients are in relationships with 35-year-old men who think that they are too young to become fathers. . . . Having children challenges their view of themselves as eternal adolescents. Women are not the irresponsible ones refusing to have children, but in many cases men are making it difficult and challenging for them.”
. . .
“I don’t bring my feelings about parenthood to the session. What I am trying to do is to discover how my clients feel, to find out what they want. They probably do have confidants, but that’s not what coaching is about. I feel that people should be able to find someone to talk to who isn’t pushing their own agenda.”
. . .
In the case of a client who enjoys being child-free but would like to have children in her life, Follini might explore options such as mentoring children. “I have sometimes discovered that a woman who says she is undecided actually doesn’t want children, but is worried about how she will be perceived. A man of 47 with no children is often admired, but a woman may well be pitied or thought of as hard and unfulfilled.”
It is hopeful that her first link is to Kidding Aside, but I can't help but notice a bias in at least the article. It seems to feel that women having children is somehow a problem brought on by indecision. isn't it just as likely that these numbers are offset by women who default instead to parenthood - especially in light of social pressures? It is just as likely that a much-needed approach to this dilemma - the serious consideration that coaching exemplifies - will not change the statistics, just how women are distributed into the two camps. It is also possible that fewer women will have children once a more considered approach is taken.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

UK Courts won't force man to become father with ex-wife

No, you can't have my baby. Not yours.

Ms Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001, but six of the couple's fertilised embryos were frozen and stored prior to her treatment.

But she and Mr Johnston, who lives in Gloucester, split up in 2002 and he wrote to the clinic asking for the embryos to be destroyed.
. . .
She has argued he had already consented to their creation, storage and use, and should not be allowed to change his mind.

Current UK laws require both the man and woman to give consent, and allows either party to withdraw that consent up to the point where the embryos are implanted.

This is pretty big line in the sand. In some ways, ruling against the guy would have almost been like saying once you're married, you no longer have rights to your sperm. If parenthood is such a serious thing, such an important thing, you have to allow for the fact that both parents should want to become parents. Otherwise, this guy would have been paying child support for a kid he didn't want with a woman he no longer wants to have a child with.

A woman's right to be a mother doesn't supersede a man's right not to be a father in situations like this.

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Potential parents opt to put the planet before procreation

Earth's crowded enough, some say
“Most people would rather focus on the symptoms — pollution, sprawl, species loss,” says Albert Kaufman, founder of the Portland chapter of Population Connection. “If we don’t bring the number of people down, these are just stop-gap measures.”
. . .
Seeing population at the core of environmental issues, Kaufman decided 10 years ago to forgo having children.

“We can put up all the windmills we want,” he says. “If we can’t stop reproducing at 70 million a year, nothing’s going to prevent us from overwhelming the planet.”
. . .

Within a developed society, it is not uncommon for some people to remain childless, while others have large families. It’s a matter of striking a balance that keeps the population from growing even larger.

“If you look at all of the developed countries where women have opportunity, have choice, have access to contraception, the average birthrate is at replacement level of two children or fewer (per family),” Rex says.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

NBC Nightly News Feature

Married, But No Kids
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"Red-staters are breeding like drunken ferrets. "

Warning: arm your pop-up blockers for this site.

When Liberals Rule The World
According to another set of data, for the past 30 years or so, conservatives -- particularly those of the right-wing red-state Christian strain -- have been out-breeding liberals by a margin of at least 20 percent, if not far more.

It's true. The reason? Why, God loves babies, of course. White American babies, most especially. Also: issues of space, religion, sexual orientation and, of course, conscience. Or, you know, lack thereof.

One theory goes like this: Libs are generally more socially conscious and hence tend to actually give a modicum of thought to what it means to pop out a brood of children in this modern overstuffed age. Also, many other liberal bohos are (admittedly) happy selfish suckwads who want all the modern booty for themselves and won't want to give up the Ducati and the plasma and the biannual trip to Cinque Terre for the sake of a pod of rug rats and 15 grand a year (each) for private kindergarten. Translation: Libs just aren't procreating like they could/should be.

Conservative Christians, of course, have no such conscience. Among the right-wing God-lovin' set, there is often little real awareness of planetary health or resource abuse or the notion that birth control is actually a very, very good idea indeed, and therefore it's completely natural to worship at the altar of minivans and SUVs and megachurches and massive all-American entitlement and have little qualm about popping out six, seven, 19 gloopy tots to populate the world with frat boys and Ford F-150 buyers and food court managers.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

Keroack Resigns - Whoopee!

Abstinence-only Bush appointee resigns
As you might have come to expect, though, it's not like the Bush administration finally realized the absurdity of appointing someone who called birth control "demeaning" to oversee the distribution of birth control to poor women and forced his resignation.

No, it's far more simple: Massachusetts' Office of Medicaid has taken actions against his private medical practice within the state as a result of "misunderstandings," Keroack says. (Feministing has a theory on the specifics of the "misunderstandings.") While he's sure the "action will be reversed," Keroack says the appeal process will "present a significant distraction to my ability to remain focused on my duties." He offered his resignation and his superiors accepted it.

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Women Go To Great Lengths to Have Babies.

Baby Lust
I sometimes wonder whether, if I lived in a culture that fetishized motherhood less — one that didn’t expect celebrity moms to coo that motherhood is the “best thing I’ve ever done,” that didn’t use babies to sell everything from toilet paper to automobiles — I would have felt as compelled to go to such extremes to attain it (which I eventually did, no thanks to the fertility docs). It’s impossible to say, though Marsh and Ronner found that even in the 1960s and ’70s, involuntarily childless women submitted to operations, high doses of infertility drugs and risky experiments with I.V.F. in order to conceive. Apparently even then there was a world of difference between declaring you might not want a baby and being told you couldn’t have one.

I spent £20,000 on a new face to find a husband
And Shahnaz came to the rather drastic, and sad, conclusion that unless she radically changed her looks, the type of relationship she yearned for would elude her.

"I didn’t just want to marry anyone," she says.

"There were men that fancied me but I didn’t like them. I went on a few dates, but there was never anyone serious.

"My looks didn’t attract the sort of wealthy, intelligent men like Michael. Instead, they were seedy or unintelligent men who thought, mistakenly, that I would be the right woman for them."
. . .
Even though they have yet to go on a date, let alone start a physical relationship, Shahnaz is now pinning all her dreams on Michael, even going as far as to hope he will want to give her the children she so desperately longs for.

She refuses even to consider the notion that she may end up without the imagined family that spurred her along the path of cosmetic surgery in the first place.

"I always knew I’d be an older mother," she says confidently, denying that as a woman now in her 40s she may have left motherhood too late.

"I don’t feel my fertility is on the wane. In fact, I feel much younger than my real age.

"Everything is still in working order and I’m sure I won’t have any problems conceiving."

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