Sunday, August 31, 2008

Births Up -- No, Down!: Stats and the Politics of Fertility Anxiety

The Huffington Post
Presumably the rise in the number of childless 40-to-44 year olds is due to a combination of some women and their partners choosing against kids altogether, others hoping for kids but out-waiting their fertility, and still others planning to start soon. Exactly what proportions are unknown. But infertility was the inference made by the reporter who called me asking if the story wasn't evidence that working women were waiting "too late" to start their families.

The hyped-up infertility consciousness (repeated by the media ad infinitum) and the big emphasis on babies and on women's "secret desire" to stay at home with kids long term, in spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary, is a sign of another, underlying anxiety among some of us over how many women really don't want to just stay home.

That anxiety helps shape the environment that's putting pressure on women of all ages to have babies NOW, at whatever age--along with the recent highly politicized decreases in access to birth control, especially for younger women. Will it block the exits from the ways of yore? For many, sadly, it may.

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