Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Not Wanting Children Is Not a Problem; Not Wanting Human Beings Is.

I think Sophie Gilbert's review of Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed shows a worse worldview than the problem she sets out to discuss.

That some women do not want children is not a problem.  That they feel pressured to do so is something of a problem.  But this is worse:

Not having children isn’t selfish. Not having children is a perfectly rational and reasonable response given that humans are essentially parasites on the face of a perfectly lovely and well-balanced planet, ploughing through its natural resources, eradicating its endangered species, and ruining its most wonderful landscapes. This might sound misanthropic, and it is, but it is also true.

I think that most women do want to have children, especially after they have taken care of babies related to them. But most is not all. Those women who do not want to have children are just as natural as those who do.  

The rising percentage of women who do not have children, which Gilbert cites as evidence for her position, is not a good indicator that most of them chose not to, though; for educated women, not having children is more likely a "creeping non-choice" due to finding a husband and economic stability in time.  

The attitude that I quote above, though, is literally anti-human, and a much worse problem than women feeling that they ought to want to have children.


Adriana said...

As child free by choice, I don't see this perspective as anti human. While it may seem so from a population standpoint, there is much more that goes into such a choice than that. In fact, we are pro human, which is why we won't have children. We realize the enormous energy and responsibility of rearing kids, and we choose 1) to not be selfish by having children whose needs we don't feel we can meet, and 2) we prefer to pour our nurturing into careers and causes in education, human services, and rescue animals. Seems pretty pro human to us.

Gruntled said...

Adriana, your approach is not anti-human.

On the other hand, saying that human being are a parasite on the earth, and admitting that this is a misanthropic perspective, is anti-human. And proud of it.

Adriana said...

I agree that the term "parasite" is a little harsh, and appears anti-human. However, now that we live in the southwest - where we're confronted with the visible signs of man-assisted mass drought, and other environmental challenges - I find myself being a little cynical and not seeing much wrong with this perspective. In face, this factors into our decision to not have children (given the high birthrate where we live), and our slow transition into strict vegetarianism. I think raising children to be active protectors of one another and the world is challenging. Not that it can't be done - clearly we've been raised with a bend towards social justice, as have your own children - but I can definitely appreciate the perspective that it's not worth the risk.