Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Women and Careers and Children and Overpopulation

One of the standard memes of the feminist movement is the marginalization of childbearing. Educated evolved women are so much better than barefoot and pregnant: they can have careers; they can be, as with Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, "independent women."

It is without doubt a wonderful thing in our age that well-born women have choices. They are not, as they used to be, mere chattels in some "household." They are not, as they used to be, mere partners in some bourgeois household. But then we get to this, in The Atlantic's review of a collection of essays, Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision not to have Kids.
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.
Well, yes. If you have decided that humans are parasites, etc., then who would want to have children?

But I contest the "rational and reasonable" line. All religious and ideological notions are really rationalizations of a world view. They are not science; they are attempts to understand the mystery and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. That is why in The Faith Instinct Nicholas Wade writes that no human society we know of has ever done without religion. I would include in the notion of "religion" our modern secular religions from rationalism to socialism to feminism to environmentalism.

That's where that stuff about "parasites on the face of a perfectly lovely and well-balanced planet" comes from. It comes from the adaptation of the Christian doctrine of sin and salvation for the purposes of the salvific secular religion of environmentalism. The "rational and reasonable" line comes after you have made the religious leap of faith into the need to save the planet from its evil human "parasites." And from that it's just a small step for woman to decide that having children is a terrible thing to do.

Look, I believe in freedom. I believe that people should be allowed to make mistakes without government stepping in with law enforcement officials and their court orders or SJWs stepping in with their naming and shaming.

But to me this notion of educated women being too good for bearing and raising children is self-serving rubbish. Quite simply, if you are not having children then you are voting you and yours off the planet. How smart and educated is that?

For sure, it may be that we humans are parasites. It may be that our activities may destroy some life on the planet. Maybe. What is almost certain is that, give a couple of million years or so, humans will go the way of all other species since time began: to extinction. That is what the theory of natural selection means.

Oh and by the way: the great extinctions in the past have not extinguished all life on the planet. Some life has always survived. When we talk about saving the planet we are really talking about saving it for ourselves.

Meanwhile we are left wondering about the meaning of life and the mystery of the universe.

But back to religion. One thing that is striking about religions, prior to the modern secular religions, was how pro-natal they were. Go forth and multiply; prohibition of homosexuality. What could be going on?

How about this. Any world view or religion that does not direct humans, male and female, towards procreation may not be long for this world. One thinks immediately about the Shakers. Fabuloso religion and all that. But the Shakers died out, because they preached celibacy. says Wiki:
Shakers were celibate; procreation was forbidden after they joined the society (except for women who were already pregnant at admission).
The result, of course, is that there aren't any Shakers around these days, not so you'd notice. The Mormons, on the other hand, are strongly pro-natal, and they are growing all around the world.

Could it be that all the non-natal religions that flourished down the ages are now, so to speak, extinct? And may that happen to liberalism, environmentalism, feminism, etc.?

Let me just close with the words of liberal Christian Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. He says you gotta have both. Not just breeding, not just noble thoughts, but both. Here is how I put it in An American Manifesto.
First, we recognize the importance of ordinary human flourishing: forming families, owning property, doing it for the children. Second, we recognize that we all search for something higher and fuller.
The problem with Ayn Rand's "virtue of selfishness" is that it misses out on the higher and fuller. The problem with what Rodney Stark calls "upper-class asceticism" is that it misses out on ordinary human flourishing. You gotta have both or you are not long for this world.

The feminists at The Atlantic think that the only thing that matters is the higher and fuller bit. It's higher and fuller, on their account, to rise above mere reproduction and have a career, or do something creative, or be an activist fighting for Anita Sarkeesian's "collective liberation for all women."

And as for overpopulation, the bane of the early 20th century eugenicists and right-on liberals ever since, there is this little problem. Right now in Russia, in China, in Europe, in Japan, women are having less than 2.1 children per lifetime. That is the road to social and cultural extinction, and I, for one, want none of it.

So don't say I didn't warn you.

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