Sunday, January 11, 2015

America's declining fertility rate: It is not up to the female reproductive system to save America.

"To save America, women, especially those aforementioned pesky middle-class, white women, are going to have to start having more babies at a younger age, the argument goes. That this demand means that women will end up curtailing their ambitions and moving into the support-staff role is simply a coincidence, of course. Nothing to see here.
. . .
What really galls me about Last's piece (and most like it) is the underlying assumption that human beings exist to serve society and not the other way around... The reader is left with the feeling that the only solution to save capitalism is to clip the wings of half of the population so they can spend more time laying eggs.

I'd argue instead that if the system is set up so that it fails if women don't start popping out more kids, then it's a broken system and should be reworked to account for the reality of America today. If women don't want to have more children, then instead of abandoning women's equality as a goal, we should rework our economic system so it doesn't rely on a steadily growing population to function. After all, the point of society is to serve the people in it, not to reduce us to cogs in a machine that serves no one at all."
I've heard this argument lobbed against the childfree a lot, and this is a particularly good response. I don't think it necessarily a liberal/conservative thing: some conservatives who worship a non-existent version of the 1950s do indeed want us to go back to the kitchen and have babies, but by no means all. And plenty of liberals worry about a coming demographic winter, even if they tend to think of different solutions for it.

I think childfree people and our allies of any political persuasion can get behind this conclusion, though. Don't insist we pop out babies to fix a broken system. Fix the system. It won't be easy, but it can be and must be done, especially since many of our financial structures rely not on replacement rates but growth. If we insist on continuing the pyramid scheme, that only fobs off the problem on the next generation, then the next, and eventually something has to give.

The liberals may propose fixes that stem from immigration, and conservatives may want to end government programs. But if we work together and agree that whatever the solution is, it isn't in my uterus, I think we'll all be better off. A generation of children raised by parents who didn't want a(nother) child is less likely to be an economic boon than it is a set of problems even bigger than the ones we're trying to fix.
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1 comment:

so said...

Sexism at its worst...