A fabulous piece of writing from The Federalist recently hit home with me. “Fecundophobia: The Growing Fear of Children and Fertile Women” is more than the title of the article; it’s also the theme of the first 20-something years of my life.
I am here to tell you that fecundophobia is pervasive. I have witnessed and participated in it for most of my life.
Here’s the thing: I wanted kids from the time I was pretty young. But I wouldn’t admit it – certainly not to others, and almost not even to myself.
Having kids was synonymous with giving up, conforming, being dumb, not having any initiative, fleeing from an interesting life, becoming part of the problem, and not having anything better to do. None of my close female friends admitted to wanting kids. It was tacitly understood that if we ever got pregnant, it would be by accident, and we’d have to decide whether to have an abortion or not.
A couple years ago I wrote a piece for Live Action about the anti-humanist bent of abortion advocates. It is my contention that people support abortion not so much because they don’t believe the fetus is a human being, but because they do believe the fetus is a human being, and they don’t particularly like human beings.
Do they really, though? you’re asking. Do they really dislike human beings?
Yeah. Yeah, they do.
Don’t get me wrong. Many of them dig human beings – certain human beings – as a concept, for a cause. The repressed women of inner-city Chicago, the underfed children of Sudan, the homosexuals of Russia – all these people are “good” because they serve a purpose. They can be used to make you do stuff, not do stuff, and vote certain ways.
But other people’s children? What good are they?
Other people’s children are resource-suckers, consuming gross fossil fuels and high-fructose corn syrup, furthering the existence of Monsanto and General Mills, learning their parents’ bourgeois opinions, growing up to watch NASCAR and vote Republican, and getting our nation’s waiting room magazines all grody.
Children are just the worst.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some children are cool, in theory. Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale? They’re allowed to breed because they have gorgeous genes and know how to fashionably outfit their spawn. When Li’l Wayne has four (is it still just four?) children with four different women, this too is okay, because it is “baller.”
But when some regular guy has four kids with his regular wife…ew. That is…ew.
I used to express this, back in my fecundophobic days. “Guys, I saw [some girl from high school] at the grocery store. She had, like, three kids.” The responses would range from a shake of the head to cries of “Shut down the factory!” We would all sadly acknowledge that [some girl from high school] had elected not to do anything worthwhile with her life, and continue doing what we were doing, which was probably smoking pot. (The irony went blissfully unnoticed. Because pot.)
I repressed my desire to have children, most of the time. Occasionally, usually while drinking, it would bubble up, and I would tell someone. Once, after a bottle of red wine, I tried to convince one of my best friends to sign a contract, written on a napkin, that he would provide me with a child and I would raise it, no strings attached. He refused, because he was sober and not an idiot. I will be forever thankful for that.
It wasn’t until I was 28 and became Catholic that I started down the road to admitting out loud that I wanted to have kids. And then it took until I was 33 to find and marry the right dude, and now, one year and one miscarriage later, I still ain’t got no babies. But at least I have the ovaries to admit to my (totally natural and not at all shameful) desire to procreate.
Because it is natural. And it is okay. The Bible calls children a blessing, and even if you’re not into the Bible, it’s a fact that a decline in fertility rates is actually not a very good thing for us a society or a species.
Truth is, the fecundophobes in charge want us to believe children spell disaster – overpopulation, overcrowding, famine, help!, argh! – because it helps them advance their agenda, which is to say get more votes, which is to say get more money and power.
Riddle me this, Batman: do you think Planned Parenthood would do such booming business – with the help of your tax dollars – if everyone believed that children are a blessing and that a healthy fertility rate is good for us, as people and as a culture?
That’s what I thought.
It’s time we got over the irrational fear and loathing of babies and their mothers. It’s time we stopped looking down on people who choose to have large families, and remember that once upon a time, we were wise enough to consider such families fortunate.
What can you personally do to combat widespread fecundophobia? Be countercultural: have babies.