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Feb 20 2006

Baby Gap


I won’t be eating this repulsive thing

I don’t often skim Qatar newspapers for updates on fertility rates in the UK, but this morning I just couldn’t stop myself.

There’s a “baby gap” in England, and I’m not talking about a store that sells 40-dollar onesies made by slave labor in the Northern Mariana Islands. UK women are either delaying pregnancy until “too late in life” or forgoing altogether the great fulfillment of their womanly destinies, resulting in a smaller overall output of baby flesh than a capitalist country with an aging population likes to see.

Why are women declining to touch babies with a ten-foot pole? According to some report or other, if a woman has her first kid at 24, she loses out on £564,000 over her lifetime, but if she waits until she’s 28, she only forfeits £165,000. Not to mention that the 24-year-old who returns to work after doing her patriotic reproductive duty almost universally gets stuck at a crappier, lower-paying job.

So women have been hipped to the bogosity of young motherhood, and now there’s now a baby shortfall of about 92,000 a year. Women’s failure to deliver the goods at the customary rate, said some public policy guy, “would make it harder to earn our way in the world and to pay for valued public services.” In other words, the whole British infrastructure is apparently based on young women selflessly devoting themselves to years of unpaid domestic drudgery producing a race of young’uns to take care of all the old people.

Nice.

Because fertility is the exclusive purview of women, there’s no word on the financial hit men take as a result of early childbirth, but if it’s more than, say, zero, I’ll eat a Sizzling Chicken & Cheese® at TGI Friday’s®.

[see also Daily Mail]

52 comments

1 ping

  1. doggerelblogger

    I am really glad you posted about this today – it’s a huge and surprising topic, encompassing not only long-term economic issues (for almost all the G8 nations) but the expected roles of women and what we’re supposed to view as “important”. I had a child at 30, and recently (at 34) decided to have no more because I like running my business and I don’t feel like being responsible for feeding, etc. any more human beings. In other words, I like working more than I like being a mom. Apparently, however, it’s not culturally appropriate for me to choose more work, money and travel over another child (though apparently it’s ok to have another kid when you’re fairly certain it will make you unhappy). I was amazed to run into this reaction. I’ve decided it’s easier to say nothing on the matter than try to explain to someone why I came to this decision, and watch their face twist into an expression that tells me clearly they think I’m a selfish idiot with upside-down values. But I’m not – it’s simply that I know myself, and have chosen accordingly.

  2. Sunya Harjis

    My favorite Feminsm Or Die rhetorical jutsu is baby-making: whenever women doubt me about the patriarchy, or say “surely it can’t be as bad as you say”, I can always ask “let’s pretend that all the women in the world agree together that women’s rights are so important that until there is a 20% drop across the board, in all countries, in the rates of violence against women, all women everywhere refuse to have babies. Just imagine that for a moment with me.”

    “But that would – never – ” Comes the slow halting answer, inexorable as death. We both know that the problem isn’t with the conceit that all women everywhere could act in unison.

    Of course that isn’t the real problem with my fairy tale. The real problem is that men would impose themselves upon us and force us to have children if any such pronouncement was made.

    Japan and Italy face similar baby gap problems, by the way.

  3. ginmar

    Wasn’t there a story recently that found that at least 20% of British companies were in clear violation of labor laws that demanded they pay men and women the same salaries for the same jobs?

    I don’t suppose the Brits or the Japanese would ever consider, you know, making women’s lives better. They demand we do this service for the culture, and then they bash us for it and make it as difficult and lonely as possible. Gee, what a great idea! I love it when the patriarchy shoots itself in the foot.

  4. Asilon

    I know my partner has taken a financial hit – he could be doing a more highly-paid job right now, but he’s chosen not to pursue those paths for a few years at least, because with an increase in salary comes a corresponding increase in hours. His childless boss works at least 10 more hours a week than he does. He can’t be the only father that feels this way, I’m sure!

    Is the British baby gap worse or better than the USA’s? I know our maternity and parental leave policies are better than American ones. This govt is keen for as many mothers as possible to get back to work – is this ‘back-firing’ and producing the baby gap because parents both work and then realise they can’t afford childcare for another baby? Or they wait until the first child is at school so they only have to pay one lot of childcare and by the time they have a 5 year old the thought of having another baby isn’t quite so appealing ;-)

    There’s a long and strong tradition of immigration to Britain though, I’m sure we can fill the baby gap somehow …

    And btw, please, for the sake of your blood pressure and/or sanity, don’t ever also see the fucking shitty Daily Mail!

  5. Stitch

    On the issue of British companies paying women less than men for the same level of work, I though you might like to check this one out, Twisty – http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/story/0,,1711137,00.html

    Doesn’t it give you the warm fuzzies when the goverment (a Labour government, no less) and the unions are colluding with each other to *not* pay women the very least they are worth.

    And people try to tell me that *I* am delusional. Sheesh!

  6. will

    There have also been several stories about how Muslim countries are reproducing at a far greater rate than “we” are and how “red” states are reproducing faster than “blue” states.

    Ladies, do it for your country! Ladies, do it for God! Ladies, do it for Bush!

    If you havent had three babies by the time you are 24, then you must want the terrorists to win!

    Don’t worry Twisty. You have an important role too. We need spinster aunts to take care of the newborns while we fertilize the women again.

  7. RP

    Oh Lord, I hate the “baby gap” articles. The folks behind them propose huge amounts of social engineering (except dismantling the patriarchy, of course) in order to keep us wimminfolk popping out babies, but never even consider the rather smaller change of updating the economy so it doesn’t depend on continual population growth. Oh no, it’s more babies, more babies, more babies so the human population of the earth grows unchecked like a tumor. Forget that there’s a finite amount of clean water, forget that there’s a finite amount of arable land, don’t even mention that we might want to have a little wilderness around us…no, the big crisis is that the human-designed economy is currently set up for unending population growth and we just could *not* consider changing that.

    Humph. This auntie needs a new cup of tea and a Sheri Tepper novel so she can mellow the heck out.

  8. Galloise Blonde

    I live in France and the ‘Baby Gap’ replacement rate is about 1.9, I think I remember reading, which is pretty much what it should be. France also has subsidised creches, early school starting, and even subsidised day-care for non-working parasites like myself. I think there may just be a connection.

  9. Dianne

    “Is the British baby gap worse or better than the USA’s? I know our maternity and parental leave policies are better than American ones.”

    Yes, due to the human paradox (humans are the only animals that breed less when they have more resources available.) There are more women in the US with no other options, without so much as the idea that they can do something other than breed until they die. They live, mostly, as Will pointed out, in red states.

    Maternity and paternity leave in the US sucks. There’s no way around that. And there is very little affordable child care that is of high enough quality such that one can leave their child there and expect it to be alive in the evening. I have one child, a 2 1/2 year old. Her preschool costs more than my medical school did. Technically, I (or my partner) could stay home with babylein until she’s old enough for school, but that would change the experience of raising baby from one that is fun and fulfilling, if sometimes frustrating, to one that is boring, depressing, and nearly always frustrating. I can hardly think that that would be good for the kid. So, one it is, for economic reasons.

    Also see here for another reason why a sensible woman might want to delay or forgo childbearing.

  10. Ms Kate

    I don’t recall the source, so I can’t link, but I seem to remember a report that Scandanavian countries are cranking out two or three or more per couple. Why? Because there is less penalty for young women bearing kids and working and adequate social support for kids, from daycare to healthcare to college.

    The US would have a similar problem if immigration of families with kids and first-generation immigrant birth patterns weren’t filling in. At the 2000 US census, fully 40% of kids under five were nonwhite.

    Moral: if you want women to stay home and have kids, they will stay home, have one kid, and then work like mad to pay for health care, day care, and schooling. If you want more kids and think it is important, make adequately supportive policy decisions. Can’t have it both ways.

  11. Ms Kate

    BTW, what’s with the Placenta Helper photo?

  12. CafeSiren

    Everybody’s ignoring the real issue here: the idea of deep-fired chicken covered with melted cheese is a crime against all good food everywhere. Thanks for keeping us on our guard against such abominations, Twisty.

  13. doggerelblogger

    Re: Scandanavian countries & higher birthrates, is (was) a downside to some of these policies, particularly in Finland. A number of years ago, I worked for a television station that had sold a franchise in Finland. Our counterparts came to Canada to see how we did things. Mine was a woman in her late 20′s, and during our days together, she told us that in Finland, maternity leave works out to about 2 years (which seems ideal, really). HOWEVER, employers were not crazy about this policy, and during the course of her application for that job, she was subjected to screening that aimed to determine whether or not she would be popping out the offspring anytime soon. The discrimination was real and present – so obviously liberal parental leave legislation must be accompanied by strong laws to protect discrimination during the job application process or else it’s useless.

  14. Sin Monkey

    Ms Kate:
    “I don’t recall the source, so I can’t link, but I seem to remember a report that Scandanavian countries are cranking out two or three or more per couple. Why? Because there is less penalty for young women bearing kids and working and adequate social support for kids, from daycare to healthcare to college.”

    Check your sources. The total fertility rate for Denmark, Norway and Sweden are all below 1.8. For a population to remain stable, the TFR needs to be 2.1.
    So, in spite of all these amenities, the Scandinavians still have to import muslims.

  15. B

    Actually scandinavian women also tend to wait before we decide to start a family. I believe the average age for having your first child is somewhere around 29-30 for swedish women. There is some concern over this, last week I read a debate article where a male expert of some sort wanted to give mothers higher salaries to compensate for what they loose by having children. However, since twenty percent of the swedish people are first generation immigrants we hardly need to worry.

  16. bitchphd

    Pro-natalist feminist right behind you on this one 100%, Twisty. If (white, educated) women stop having kids at the rates needed to maintain the dominance of the Patriarchy, then either they’ll outlaw abortion (which of course is the plan here) or they’ll start reluctantly establishing pro-natalist policies (e.g., Sweden).

    Notice that neither reaction actually challenges the dominance of the Patriarchy: I’ll join you at TGIF’s if we see a situation in which *men’s* parental responsibilities and committments get equal emphasis with women’s, thereby freeing women up to have babies without taking on years of unpaid labor, or if we see the Patriarchy actually recognizing that there is no goddamn baby gap–there’s just a bunch of (white, educated) women who have made their compromise with the Patriarchy by deciding that we’d rather be honorary men while our poorer, browner sisters pick up our slack.

  17. Les

    Please forgive my whataboutthemensittude, but I think it’s problematic to say that men don’t face some economic loss because of childbirth. “Good” men who contribute to raising kids lose some income, since they have to work fewer hours in order to contribute to the household. Bad men still lose income, however, because married people tend to pool their resources. Money lost by breeding women is money lost to the household is money lost to the man. This is compounded because kids are fucking expensive. It takes a lot of resources to generate one ton of diaper trash per year (true statistic).

    Immigration is the answer. There are too many damn people already and kids in the west use up huge amounts of resources with disposable everything.

    However, don’t eat whatever that is. It looks gross.

  18. Joida

    “So, in spite of all these amenities, the Scandinavians still have to import muslims.”

    Yes, what a bloody shame. In Canada, we too, unfortunately, must resort to the importing of Muslims despite potential worrying consequences. In my opinion, the only things that are worth importing are off-season fruits and vegetables. [end angry sarcasm]

  19. Charles

    I once ate a Sizzlin’ Chicken thingie. My excuse for being in the TGI Friday’s to begin with is that I was hungry in an airport and felt forced to take drastic measures. I have no excuse for ordering that. Words are inadequate to describe just how bad it was, but here are few that approximate the experience: Rubbery. Tasteless. Overcooked. Salty.

  20. firefly

    Ignoring the fact that the planet is overpopulated in terms of resources, and the complaint about low birth rate is really about the white patriarchy not losing ground to the brown patriarchy (forget about the yellow patriarchy not having enough females to go around). For SciFi Fans this subject is the new plotline on Battlestar Gallactica.

  21. greymatters

    TGIFs? No. Say it ain’t/won’t be so … any fate other than that. Well, maybe Bennigans is up there, but …

    :-)

    I’m not sure what — if any — correlation there may be to this, but it seems articles and commentaries of that ilk have increased lately, perhaps as a result of Mark Steyn’s … seminal observations on the matter.

    http://tinyurl.com/78a6x

  22. Liz

    I really wanted to squint hard and pretend that sizzlin’ appariton was some kind of wonderful crab cake and oyster etouffee dish. But no go. Mondays just suck like a Hoover in overdrive.

  23. Hattie

    We all need to spawn like that mother of twelve, still crankin’em out at age 62. We can commandeer the eggs of young white women and implant them into breeders like her to keep up the supply of blonde blue eyed Aryans!!!
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/02/17/state/n223845S03.DTL

  24. MzNicky

    Twisty:

    Huh. See, I thought that repulsive thing you won’t be eating was chicken-fried steak or something. O, you wacky meat-eaters! Somehow, these dishes all look the same to me.

    I’ll go back to lurking now.

  25. Josef K

    It’s kind of a chicken-and-unfertilised-egg situation in Sweden. It’s less shitty to be a woman there – the earnings gap is smaller and a big chunk of the population is liberal and middle-class. So they had a declining birth rate, on account of how when you give women a genuine choice not to have kids, many of them choose not to have kids. So they brought in measures to stop the declining birth rate, which – shock horror – made it less of a burden on women to have kids (spending 2% of GDP on public childcare, for example). Which makes it even less shitty to be a woman. Which means there are even more uppity middle-class empowered chicks. Which means the birth rate didn’t suddenly start climbing again, despite the free subscriptions to Tumble Tots.

    Of course, in most countries, the patriarchy worries more about keeping women in their place than it does about the birth rate. Mostly, the side-effect of making a country less shitty for women would be enough of a drawback to get a policy shelved. Certainly in the UK, anyway.

  26. PseudoAdrienne

    [...]or if we see the Patriarchy actually recognizing that there is no goddamn baby gap–there’s just a bunch of (white, educated) women who have made their compromise with the Patriarchy by deciding that we’d rather be honorary men while our poorer, browner sisters pick up our slack.

    Thank you, BitchPhD! Whenever I read these “baby-gap” articles almost immediately I notice how the racist and classist agenda behind it. For fuck sakes these people need to be honest and just title these articles as “the white-baby-from-a-well-off-and-educated-family-gap and the White Patriarchy is pissed at its lazy Handmaidens.” (yes I am also well aware of the Asian Patriarchal system such as that in Japan, where the gov’t is screaming bloody murder over their womenfolk not being constant sperm-incubators). These people are afraid of “mudbloods” (sorry JK Rowling) like *me* breeding– but don’t worry, I want to die a spinster-childfree attorney.

    And perish the thought that the governments of nations who are sooo desperate to have their native women breed might want to improve the socioeconomic lives of women– especially mothers– and make childcare programs more affordable for all women. But nooo, let’s just guilt-trip (and seduce, and manipulate, or outright force) these uppity, smarty-pants bitches back to the maternity wards and kitchens, right? Hell’s bells…

  27. Twisty

    Thanks, Firefly and BPhD & PsuedoA, for bringing up a point I wanted to add to the post, but didn’t think of it until they were sticking the needle in me at chemo this morning. Sometimes these things take a while to gel in my toxic brain!

  28. Asilon

    Oh, just remembered – the French govt are indeed chucking some money at the situation – http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,11882,1575401,00.html – by increasing the parental leave pay when a family have 3 or more children. These larger families already get other benefits too.

    I have really mixed feelings about this sort of thing though – although I’m sure I’d love the practicalities of it if it were to happen here (I have 4 children), if I had 2/1/0 children, it would piss me off massively! I kind of think that if one has that many children one should be prepared to pay for them. Effectively bribing women to have babies just for the sake of the birthrate seems … well, unpleasant somehow.

  29. Katie

    I think I deserve continuing education credits for reading your blog.

  30. LMYC

    Effectively bribing women to have babies just for the sake of the birthrate seems … well, unpleasant somehow.

    There’s another word for the practice of paying a woman to let a dick gets shoved up her.

  31. Lady Ms. Esq.

    there’s just a bunch of (white, educated) women who have made their compromise with the Patriarchy by deciding that we’d rather be honorary men while our poorer, browner sisters pick up our slack.

    I’m not sure that I get what you mean by “honorary men.” Are you calling childfree women “honorary men” or are you reserving this title for women who pay other (poorer) women to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to raising their kids? Or both?

    I’m not sure that I necessarily think that any kind of compromise with the Patriarrchy must be made in order to decide *not* to have kids. I don’t have any kids and most likely will not. If anything, I’ve gotten a lot of shit from traditional religious types, conservatives, suburban soccer moms and other representatives of the patriarchy for that decision. I think that I’m representative of many childfree or childless women aged 30 plus in saying that I have a good life that I’ve chosen for myself, defined for myself and live on my own terms. I’ve been able to get the education that I want and I make a decent living doing work that I’ve chosen. Of course, I know plenty of mothers who can say these same things. However, I know more mothers than childfree women who can’t say that, who have lives that have been foisted upon them and defined for them by forces outside of their control.

    Maybe childfree women are “honorary men,” in that traditionally only men have been able to define the terms under which they live and not having children makes it a lot easier for a woman to live like that too. I, obviously, see it as a bad thing that women don’t have the same options to create their own lives as men do. However, in living like a “honorary man” I definitely don’t feel that I’ve mad a compromise with the patriarchy. If anything, I feel that the patriarchy would be much happier with me if I got knocked up, quit paid work and became economically dependent on my husband.

  32. antelope

    When is the last time you saw ANY product in ANY shopping mall that was something a person actually needed? How many celebrities & pseudo-celebrities do we really need to keep us reasonably entertained? How much middle management to businesses really need? How much staff would politicians & gov’t agencies need if the higher ups did more actual work & actual thinking instead of spending all their time at cocktail parties & on junkets with lobbyists? For that matter, how many lobbyists do we need? How many T.G.I. Fridays?

    The countries that are having low birth rate issues are mostly countries that could get by just fine with 70% or so of our current population level. It might even create a situation where everybody who wants a job can in fact get at least a mediocre job. (Right now I’d say everyone who wants a job can get one, in most neighborhoods, but a lot of them are piss-poor jobs.) We might have to find ways to make education more accessible so that a higher percentage of folks are qualified for the good to excellent jobs. We might have to stop throwing people in jail for phony crimes that don’t really hurt anyone. We might have to step up the pace on getting over various prejudices because there’s no longer any way of arguing that hiring “those people” is optional & unnecessary. The prices for real estate & a host of other things might have to go down.

    I’m having a very hard time finding any downside whatsoever to this.

  33. Don't Let's Start

    I have a bit of trouble believing that in a world of 6.5 billion people women choosing not to make a few more is actually a problem. Heck, if you want more people in Western nations I think you’ll find there’s no shortage of people who’d like to immigrate from poorer nations.

    Of course they probably wont be white, so that solution is automaticaly unacceptable. Got to shame and/or bribe women into having more nice white babies instead.

  34. Kate

    As a woman in my early 40′s who was guilt ridden and abused in childhood and then followed into a horrid marriage to a patriarchical assbag, I had to fight hard to deny the stereotype foisted upon me by my white middle-class sisters that I have some kind of deficiency of cerebral material.

    That being said, I didn’t want to have children, I knew I wanted to be more than that and also have more for myself, but I did not have the upbringing of complete empowerment to keep me from being entrapped by a domineering, controlling breeder.

    Educated, ‘enlightened’ feminst women need to get away from their class prejudice if they wish to do anything toward developing full women’s progress, at least in the US. Conservative states no doubt harbor more breeding women as well as the lower economic strata of all the states.

    To play superior and assume that all women can make the same choices or have the same opportunities as middle class white women smacks of bigotry and classism of the highest order. It is a social problem that wrankles me and causes me to sometimes get so depressed that I go and spend my hard earned precious cash on some gastronomical obliteration such as shown in the photo. How will I ever fit in with the dominant class if I keep eating such crap!?

    Anyway, baby-gap articles compliment articles that lament the passing of the age of white dominance like tarragon compliments chicken; they belong together.

    Among all lower economic demographics you will find that women are most entrapped, relegated to being dominated by outdated and rigid social customs that frankly, fit well with the greater position of their families and social structure being dominated by the ruling white class of the more educated, better placed and thus more empowered, whether of European descent or whatever.

    The godbags support and promote classism by promising the here-after to those who feel powerless and shit on but sit quietly and take it. They have an entire industry set up to keep the powerless from rising up or taking action.

    It as found that in the last elections (if any truths can be assumed from that) that a rising number of people of Mexican and Latino identity voted Republican, along with the traditional ranks of low income whites. Any wonder?

  35. thebewilderness

    Gornick loves Stanton’s uncompromising radicalism, her inextinguishable and rather joyous sense of outrage

    This is from a review in the Nation on Gornicks book about Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

    This is the very thing I love about Twisty.
    Stay strong, be well.

  36. Christopher

    Okay, leaving aside the fact that the baby gap is slightly less important then the “Mexican Restaurant” gap, why the hell is it that the people who complain about it all want to use the stick, and never the carrot?

    It’s always about restricting a woman’s choice of jobs rather then fucking paying her for something that apparantly keeps all of fucking society from collapsing.

    Fucking patriarchy.

  37. falimako

    Long-time reader, first time commenter!

    I am 24 and have two children, and I haven’t suffered for it. Oh… hang on, it has taken me six years to complete one degree, and I have another two years before I will finish my post-graduate study. Eight years of study for something that could have taken five years.
    I can understand why people wait until they are older. Having said that, I wouldn’t change when I had children, but I can still see the old patriarchy at play in my life. When my son was born, the “plan” was that I would finish uni, and my husband would work nights and stay home. When I was finished, he could go and study and I would work.

    But then he was offered an opportunity “too good to be missed” which means that he now works full-time while I have studied part-time plus taken care of two kids and a house and for two years while husband was studying nights, took care of him too. And yet, to everyone, he is the one who has worked so hard, I am the one lagging behind. People ask how he is, what he is up to, and when it comes to me, they ask how the kids are.

    I hate the fucking patriarchy.

    And yes, I know a lot of this is my fault, but it was only in my first year at uni that I even realised that the patriarchy even existed, and only recently have I applied the thinking to my everyday life. Hence why I have decided to go to uni full-time this year, and put the kids into care for a couple of days a week.

  38. Kate

    Might I also add before I go to bed that when I was doing my work against Welfare Deform, that many, many people (especially godbags) had no problem bantying around the idea that ‘those women’ (code word for poor women) that have children they don’t want can just put them up for adoption.

    What a splendid idea! While those who have the money and wherewithall (and I guess the ingrained intelligence given to all white middle class folks) to pursue college and career, the ‘less fortunate’ can be their incubators.

    I would leave this as just another scheme of the godbag patriarchy if it wasn’t something that I found many professed ‘feminists’ not having a problem with.

  39. mythago

    The real problem is that men would impose themselves upon us and force us to have children if any such pronouncement was made.

    No, the real problem is that women are not going to give up children they want to have based on the dream that men will sensibly stop hitting them if only they agree to make babies.

    Of course fathers also take a financial hit (kids cost money), but it’s not generally as much of a hit because they don’t have the opportunity costs. Few dads drop out of the workforce for years to care for children, cut back to part-time hours to deal with childcare, or shift from a demanding to a more “family-friendly” job–all of which reduce pay, benefits and future earning ability.

  40. jezebella

    There is always, always, a racist subtext to these baby gap alarmist articles. I know Operation Rescue (remember them?), when they were in La. and Miss., were in bed with the Klan and you would see the same people going into David Duke rallies that you saw going into Operation Rescue rallies. Once, Klan members actually showed up in Jackson when we were doing clinic defense and we put all the choicers of color in the back line so it would be harder to target them when the antis tried to break through. It was more tense than usual that day.

    It’s always about wanting white women to produce more white babies. The godbags that want us white girls to breed have no objection to the forced sterilization of the poorer and the darker, nor to higher infant mortality rates among tthat same population, and so on.

  41. Cari

    “Because fertility is the exclusive purview of women, there’s no word on the financial hit men take as a result of early childbirth, but if it’s more than, say, zero, I’ll eat a Sizzling Chicken & Cheese® at TGI Friday’s®.”

    I’ve seen numbers saying it’s in fact less than zero, that men with children tend to earn more than childless men of equal age and experience. Of course, that could be partly due to reasons other than workplace descrimination in favor of men with children. But I doubt demonstrating your virility hurts.

  42. Kerlyssa

    Or men with children are more likely to have wives, who take care of them (the men).

  43. Stella

    I just returned to the US after living in the UK for three years with my unmarried partner. I lived there from just after my 22nd birthday to just before my 26th.

    The reason more British women aren’t having babies is because they CAN’T AFFORD TO. With the Blairite government encouraging 50% of people to go to college, the astronomically overpriced housing market, and the ever-rising council tax (along with other stealth tax increases), there is a huge swathe of British twentysomething society (men and women) who are unable to find ‘graduate’ level jobs and are forced to either move back in with mum and dad or live with an unmarried partner just to make the rent. Over half of the 20-30somethings I knew over there were living with unmarried partners, most with no engagement or wedding or other ceremonial plans (including myself).

    Most of the women I knew wanted to have kids, but, like owning a home, viewed this as, largely, a pipe dream.

  44. Sharoni

    Falimako – good for you! I have a friend who works two jobs, has two children (one 17, one 7), is going to school to get her PhD, AND has a husband who is about as much use as the kids. HE works ONE job (low-paying retail type job) and comes home and complains that he’s tired! While she does most of the cooking (she’s vegetarian, he eats meat); all of the cleaning, holds down a full-time job at Los Alamos National Lab and another weekend job for a soils analyzing type concern and just got her masters in chemical engineering. I am awestruck. I don’t have the brains or the inclination to go back to school for anything, but I’d have at the very least kicked that husband of hers so far out of the house he’d still be rubbing his tail. And he had the gall the other day to make some derogatory comment about who “wore the pants” in the family! This guy makes the men in the SCUM manifesto look like feminists. The patriarchy plainly needs blaming NOW.

  45. BetaCandy

    I’m amazed every time I mention how the US government encourages us to have kids, and people act like I just suggested Elvis shot Kennedy. There is enormous propaganda here about making babies, and we get tax breaks and other financial incentives for doing it. To me, it seems obvious: we’re a capitalist nation, and our big fat businesses can never have enough consumers.

    Of course, it’s all in danger of falling apart now, because the consumers were also the workers, and those damned uppity workers wanted too much money. So now the workers are folks in China, but the people of the US are still supposed to buy shit they don’t need in order to support the system. Only, we don’t have the income to buy everything they’re throwing at us, because the jobs are getting outsourced. But the whole problem would go away if we would just make more little consumers.

    Patriarchy never exactly had brain power on its side, did it?

  46. Catharine

    Oh, my Jesus gay, I’ve been screaming about this for YEARS. Because I took three years off to have and raise one child, I will be looking at about $1000 less per month in retirement. Not only did I lose out on an income for three years, but when I returned to work, I had to start on the bottom wrung of the ladder and work my way up all over again.

    And people ask me why I only had one child? I’d have been eating CAT FOOD in my golden years if I’d had more.

    Oddly, my ex-husband became a parent on exactly the same day, at exactly the same time as I did, and his retirement and SS benefits remain, as yet, unaffected.

    Patriarchy much?

    ~C~

  47. Reginleif

    To Cow Ph.D.: So because I don’t want to spawn, I’m an “honorary man”?!

    You fucking ignorant breedercunt. I have no “slack” for my “browner sisters” to pick up. Know why? BECAUSE IT AIN’T MY FUCKIN’ JOB TO SQUIRT OUT RUGRATS, ASSHOLE!!!!

    Oh, and I wonder what the non-white women in the childfree fora I frequent would have to say about your RATFUCKING STUPID idea that it’s only lily-white women who don’t want to whelp?

    Fucking asshole Mooooooooooo. Thanks a HELL of a lot for turning the feminist mooooovement into a goddamned cow pasture. No wonder your in-laws say you’re “detached from reality.”

  48. H

    Dear Ms PhD:

    Did it ever occur to your ‘pro-natalist feminist’ self that some women do not wish to have children not because of some great patriachal plot, but because they SIMPLY DO NOT WISH TO HAVE CHILDREN?

    Can you comprehend that some women think having children is a bad choice for them not because they can’t afford them or want some high-powered career, but because they do not wish to parent offspring/do not like children/find the thought of pregnancy and birth repulsive and would frankly, rather self-adminster abortion with a blunt spoon and a sharpened ballpoint pen?

    Does it occur to you that despite maternity leave, and encouragement out the ying-yang for breeding, most women take a look at the delights the modern world has to offer and say ‘mmmmm, I’d like to have a life full of fun and adventure’ and that years spent wiping bottoms, cleaning play-doh off the rug and enduring hour upon hour of toddler-chatter just doesn’t appeal to the more adventurous woman these days? No, really, I know it’s hard to believe, but please try to understand that many women nowadays see childbirth as purely optional and choose NOT to exercise that option.

    You suggest I breed for your cause. I suggest you mind your own narrow business and keep chugging down the medication, chickie, if you think that YOU promoting breeding for your little cause is any different than Dubya, Randall Terry or the current leader of the Catholic Church telling me to squelch one, two, three or four out for the greater glory of god or the Republican party. If the great propoganda machines of this planet can’t persuade me to drop one out my snatch, a mildly psychotic, pseudo-intellectual net-twerp such as yourself stands no chance at all.

    Love,

    An ‘Honourary Man’

  49. tigtog

    Dear Reginleif,

    if only BitchPhD were actually advocating the patriarchy’s message of breedership instead of describing it evocatively so that it can be properly blamed, your rant would be more apposite.

  50. Reginleif

    Baloney, Tigtog. She’s a self-described “pro-natalist feminist,” and she’s explicitly laying the guilt trip on childfree women because she thinks we have some sort of duty to outbreed the fundies — just as the fundies think we have some sort of duty to access Jeeeeezus and outbreed the liberals. She’s not their opposite; she’s their exact mirror image.

    Then again, I’ve found that hard leftists really aren’t all that much different from the wingnuts, in terms of their desire to harness everyone else, willing or otherwise to their own ideological wagons. It’s one reason I’ve stopped primarily identifying as a feminist and started primarily identifying as a libertarian.

    The others are the modern “feminist” dogmata that woman = mother, and that the game is no longer about equality but about entitlement.

  51. tigtog

    We seem to read her very differently, Reginleif. But I’m sure she can clarify her position for herself should she wish to engage you.

    I’m glad you put the rest of your strawfeminists in scarequotes, because just because Phyllis Schafly and Ann Coulter say something doesn’t make it a genuine feminist position.

  52. hedonist

    That does it. I’m talking to my gyn about getting my toobies tied at my 9am appointment today. I’ve had it.

  1. Feministe » Mind the (Baby) Gap

    [...] Jill touched on this in the Daily Outrage post, but I wanted to expand on it further. Via the inimitable Twisty, an article from a newspaper in Qatar(!) about the handwringing going on in Britain because the young wimmins aren’t pumping out the babies fast enough. [...]

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