Categories
childfree eugenics misanthropy racism white babies white genocide

Conservatives fret after the US birth rate plummets; anti-natalists are thrilled, for all the wrong reasons

Not how any of this works

Back when the pandemic started, there were those who thought that it would lead to a new baby boom as the tedium of lockdowns would send couples to the bedroom to do one of the few remaining entertaining things you can do without a mask on.

Well, they were completely wrong. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control reveals that the birthrate in the United States plunged by 4 percent to the lowest its’ been in roughly 50 years; the decline was a full ten percent if you only include the babies conceived after the start of the lockdowns. Now the rate in the US is only 1.6 children per couple, lower than the replacement rate of 2.1.

While the news was generally reported as a bit of a bummer, conservative commenters were especially rattled. They’ve been worrying about the “birth dearth” of (white) babies for decades now and don’t want the country to admit the (usually darker hued) immigrants who could keep the country going.

According to right-wing commentator Bethany Mandel, writing in the Deseret News, this is “the worst fertility news we’ve ever seen in this country” and a threat to civilization itself.

“We are not a civilization confident in its own continuity,” Mandel wrote.

which is why more and more Americans are choosing not to bring more children into it. This slow dying can be attributed to countless signs of ill health, our faltering faith and our increasingly atomized families and communities, the latter only made worse by a pandemic that forced us all online and away from each other in person.

Nonetheless, noting that some people plan to make up for lost time (in bed) once the pandemic eases, Mandel is worried that any rebound in the birth rate will somehow also be a bad thing because people having sex for sex’s sake aren’t

ready to implement meaningful life changes based on deep reflection about the meaning of life [or] ready to take on the responsibility and meaning that childbearing brings. …

Other commentators on the right offered similarly bleak assessments, with the Daily Wire describing the baby bust as “alarming” and conservative columnist Josh Hammer lamenting our “bleak demographic reality” in Newsweek.

But not everyone is booing the bust. In Reddit’s ChildFree and antinatalist subreddits, the regulars are cheering the plunge in birth rates.

In r/childfree someone called lockworkEyelash writes,

Personally I love and care about children so much that I’m devastated for every single one born into this burning world with no future ahead, and like another commenter responded, it’s great seeing people embrace choices in life and deciding what’s best for themselves, so that’s why I find lower birth rates exciting.

Revolutionary-Swim28 is not quite as positive about children:

I’m glad. In a world that is slowly progressing but somehow getting worse, there is no sense birthing little demons who will sometimes grow up to be serial killers or criminals. Plus everything is so expensive so why the Hell would you think to do that?

Gaiamanuscript seconded that emotion: 

Well I think women don’t want to ruin their bodies for a disgraceful person. Only a few children are blissful to have through every stage of their lives. And women do most of the child rearing but also get the blame when the children are unruly. Second, Most children put strains on marriage, friendships, careers ect if you want to be a good mother. Raising children costs the government nothing but you as a mother will cost you everything you hold dear.

Other commenters, like Zomg_A_Chicken, would prefer a less crowded world — or at least a less chaotic shopping experience.

This means shorter lines at Costco

Kairain, meanwhile, has some complaints about Walmart, or at least their customers.

The only thought that could occur to me while I was at Walmart was that I almost said to someone you and your child are the greatest form of birth control that ever need be presented. But I didn’t because I felt that was unnecessarily antagonistic and was not a good representation of the child-free community.

But by golly she was completely ignoring her daughter screaming so loud you could hear her throughout the entire store while she continued looking at whatever she was looking to purchase and did nothing to stop the assault on everyone’s ears…

Others focused on the effect on nature and managed to sound a good deal less like a mad eugenicist. As GorpQuest put it

I hate the concern that there won’t be enough babies to replace the current generations. How the fuck is this bad news? This is excellent! The world is already severely overpopulated and drained of its natural resources. A decline will be a quality over quantity in terms of living conditions, and the earth might finally get a chance to heal.

Others gave their interpretation of the baby bust a feminist twist. As yourbitchofanexwife wrote,

The women choosing not to have children have more options than ever before. We have careers, our own homes, credit, we travel, we enjoy our lives, we live independent of the demand to be housewives and mothers.

It’s fucking amazing.

Over in the nearby antinatalism subreddit, the regulars were if anything a bit blunter about their opinions and happier about the news. (These comments are from a thread about the birth dearth from about a week ago.)

Wrote Altiscissor408:

Come on guys we can make it, let’s extinguish human kind

Millennium-popsicle had a similar thought:

Finally some good news! A small step towards extinction. Very dapper if I say so myself!

HotPhilly was feeling pretty chipper:

This is so good to see. And i have hope that younger generations having access to information like never before, this trend will continue.

It will boil down to only breeders breeding, but they will inherit the stupid, dead world they deserve.

Claire_lovely offered two cheers to the pandemic itself: 

I’ve been wanting the pandemic to end but I realized that the longer it goes on the lower the birthrates will be. So while I’d like there to be a day where I don’t need to wear a mask outside or be under so many restrictions, I’m not as worried about it lasting longer anymore.

Really. Really?

Seriously, if your politics lead you to cheer on a deadly pandemic as it sweeps through the human population killing millions, maybe you should take a step back and reflect a little on your life and your choices.

I mean, I’m technically “child free” and quite devoted to never having children of my own. And I think the sinking birth rate to be, basically, a good thing. But I would never call myself “childfree” or “antinatal” because I don’t want to have any connection whatsoever with all this — from the nastiness towards literal babies to the eugenics-lite of cheering on a disease.

While it incorporates some tropes from actually liberating politics like feminism, the childfree movement isn’t a progressive movement; rather, it echoes some of the worst characteristics of the most reactionary politics of the last century. The politics of cultural despair, to borrow a phrase from historian Fritz Stern, can get pretty dark pretty fast.

Follow me on Twitter.

Send tips to dfutrelle at gmail dot com.

We Hunted the Mammoth relies entirely on readers like you for its survival. If you appreciate our work, please send a few bucks our way! Thanks!

48 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Allandrel
Allandrel
1 year ago

I am child-free (got snipped* a while ago). I do not like children, I am in fact afraid of children (little walking petri dishes), and not only do I not want children, I think that I am someone who should not be a parent.

And I can’t STAND the child-free movement for all the reasons people have outlined above.

*By “snipped,” I mean “had a surgeon take a frikkin’ LASER BEAM to my vas deferens. Metal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allandrel
Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

@Anonymous

If they’re so enthusiastic about the idea of human extinction, why don’t they follow that ideology to its natural conclusion and commit suicide themselves?

I’ve seen this type of response a number of times, but I’ve never understood how it was supposed to make sense. That’s like calling someone who committed murder-suicide hypocritical for not doing suicide-murder instead. If the people who are most into human extinction take themselves out first, then that’s pretty counterproductive to their own ideology, isn’t it? Also, most of them only want to end births, not kill people, so that would make it doubly counterproductive.

Not defending the ideology – I would maybe support moving most or all humans off Earth and letting nature take over if it were feasible to do so, but that’s as close as it gets – but this type of “gotcha” just sounds dumb and trollish, even though people present it in all sincerity.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 year ago

The amount of pressure and outright abuse I’ve gotten throughout my life for not having children is immeasurable. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I’d lived in a red state. I couldn’t even get my tubes tied without my husband also signing the consent form! Since we live in a community property state, apparently that means he gets one of my tubes if we ever divorce? He, of course, could have gotten a vasectomy without me knowing about it because patriarchy.

The sheer volume of BS from people who got angry at me for not having or adopting children is probably equal to the amount of sexual harassment I’ve put up with, and less subtle.

I literally can’t count how many people have said “but you have to have BAYBEEEEZ!” despite a) everything else in my life b) not wanting to inflict a combo of mine and hubby’s genes on anyone and c) coming from women I constantly hear whine and complain about how hard it is to raise kids, constantly yell at their children, their children yell back, etc. And very little talk about how fun it is to raise small humans and watch them discover the world. (I mean, there’s not much cuter than a baby experiencing a new fun thing. My friend’s baby’s first taste of marinara sauce delighted all of us. He’s 25 now and I still remember it.)

It’s NEVER been the people who have well-behaved adorable children who I find delightful to tickle and buy toys for who have pressured me to have kids. It’s ALWAYS the miserable ones. Or total strangers.

We do need decent maternity and paternity leave and childcare. That would mean a lot more women who want children could have them, or have more. But since that’s “soshulizm!” the conservatives won’t allow that, even though it would lead immediately to a higher birth rate, particularly among their precious white women. And everyone in America needs more days off.

@epitome: Exactly. Who wants to spend a lot of time in medical settings this past year? How do you know another person in the waiting room, or your provider aren’t carrying the virus, and how doubly horrific would it be to get it if you’re pregnant or have a newborn! Or maybe you or your spouse has lost their job, so that having a baby would be financially impossible, or someone in the family is an essential worker and thus exposed to the virus-laden hordes.

@rusalka

 unless you understand conservatism as figuratively sticking your nose into women’s crotches

Bingo! Women are only supposed to use those parts for procreation. If a woman is using them for recreation, or doesn’t reproduce, this gets conservatives all angried up.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

I couldn’t even get my tubes tied without my husband also signing the consent form!

That’s appalling. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that!

He, of course, could have gotten a vasectomy without me knowing about it because patriarchy.

And that makes the previous part even worse. It’s so clearly, at base, not even “butbutbut HAVE BAAAABIIIIEEES!” but rather “as a woman, your body is not your own, and any autonomy you think you have you enjoy only at the whim of the patriarchy.”

rusalka
rusalka
1 year ago

@ Mao Lmao:

Basically, its the same old line of they need to be controlled, but we need to be saved. 

Oh my god yes… it’s so freaking creepy and the reason why any talk about “overpopulation” immediately has me on the edge of my seat ready to go “Well, actually…” which I find sad because overpopulation really is a worrisome subject in the face of climate change. But as you’ve said: there’s too many people who are more interested in controlling brown people – particularly brown women (or if I take it further: just women in general. Because what I hear is the not so silent wish to force the “right” women to have babies, while making the wrong ones stop having “so many”)

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 year ago

The funny thing here is, the solution to overpopulation is to be had in empowering women and girls. Educate girls; give women the ability to thrive (be a participant in society and avoid poverty) independently of men and marriage to them; and make contraceptives readily available and sufficiently cheap; and birthrates tend to drop in an area. No “controlling” needed — quite the opposite.

Mog
Mog
1 year ago

@contrapangloss. None of those terms bother me, if meant with affection! We call our kid the Imp.
In the childfree forums they usually combine it with some deliberately gross reference to the woman’s body though. R/childfree has a glossary that has an entry for “vagina turd” as a synonym for child.
The whole point seems to be that women’s bodies are apparently disgusting if used for anything but male sexual pleasure.

Allandrel
Allandrel
1 year ago

As someone who has had a vasectomy, I can tell you that it was EXACTLY as easy as you’re saying. The only “hoop” that I had to jump through was a ten-minute talk with the surgeon where he explained the process, the likely results, and the prospects for potential future reversal.

It wasn’t even something I had to work to set up. I was scheduled for implantation of a peritoneal dialysis catheter, and asked if they could “toss in” a vasectomy while they were down there, and the response was “Oh yeah, we do that all the time.”

The stories by AFAB people who have sought to get sterilized are horrifying and enraging.

bumblebug
bumblebug
1 year ago

@Mog

Endless discussion about how <insert various disgusting wordplay to describe having children here> ruins a woman’s body for instance. Well, my body definitely looks different than it did before having kids, but so what, it’s not a sex toy for incels

I understand that you don’t think pregnancy and childbirth ruined your body and that having your child(ren) was worth any changes. That is not the case for all women.

It is particularly insulting that you imply that I think pregnancy and childbirth would ruin my body because I view myself as a sex toy. I have my own wants for my body that do not involve looking sexy. My body would absolutely be ruined by the process of gestating and birthing a child that I do not want and would regret. Any changes to my body would be reminders that I went through a process I find deeply troubling, terrifying, and frankly disgusting.

I honestly don’t care what other people do with their bodies. But I am so tired of my personal phobias and desires for my body being treated as a judgement on others. My feelings on this matter are not about you or others, they are entirely about me and my body.

Robert Baden
Robert Baden
1 year ago

It’s easy to get a vasectomy as long as you aren’t in a Catholic health care system.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

Bumblebug, honest question, did I miss something? I read over the thread and I think that you’re addressing this comment of Mog’s:

I’m a woman who didn’t have a child until her 40’s, and until very late didn’t plan on having a child, so I was technically child free, but a lot of the online childfree rhetoric seemed very misogynistic to me, even when it came from women. Endless discussion about how ruins a woman’s body for instance. Well, my body definitely looks different than it did before having kids, but so what, it’s not a sex toy for incels. Also, a lot of terms childfree people use for children use women’s body parts as an insult – crotchgoblins, wombdroppings etc. It’s gross.

(Sorry for the long quote; I wanted to be sure I hadn’t overlooked something.)

I’m not sure, maybe you and Mog have had a separate conversation on another thread, but I think here, she’s not saying that you, or anyone, would

think pregnancy and childbirth would ruin [your] bod[ies] because [you] view [your]self as a sex toy.

I think she’s just pointing out that words such as “vagina turd” or “wombdroppings” are not just cruel about children, but also disparaging towards the bodies that gestate and birth those children. Of course it’s absolutely your right not to want to subject yourself to the physical effects of pregnancy and birth, and your desires for your own body are the only ones that should be taken into account. It’s also the case that there is a lot of misogynist incel rhetoric about how women’s bodies are only good for sexual purposes, and only if said bodies are physically “perfect”, in the sense of forever-young, gravity-defying, wrinkle- and stretchmark-free, and so on. I think that’s what Mog is objecting to, rather than objecting to some women not wanting to subject their bodies to pregnancy and birth.

Tl;dr: your body is of course yours and you do not need to answer to anyone for your wishes for it, and I don’t think Mog was trying to say that here (?), but at the same time, incels are misogynist creeps who see women only as sex-toys at best.

bumblebug
bumblebug
1 year ago

@Bookworm
I may have misread, but to me it seems that Mog is implying that the changes to their body due to pregnancy are not “ruining” it because they are not a sex toy.

The argument presented for a person’s body not being ruined by childbearing is that they are not a sex toy. That paints an equivalence between thinking that pregancy ruins a body and being a sex toy.

This is what I object to. It may not have been intended, but it minimizes the mental struggle that some people (particularly those with tokophobia) have with the idea of pregnancy and childbirth.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

@Snowberry
It’s the best way I can put it into words. It just makes no sense that instead of trying to make humanity better, they’d take the coward’s way out and declare that humanity just has to go extinct, as if that would retroactively fix everything (and that the survival instinct would just magically disappear). The hypocritical part, for what it’s worth, comes from my perception that they hate humans but still seem to exempt themselves from that hatred for no discernible reason. Hell, I’d bet that most of the ones who rage about how wasteful humans are don’t even bother to reduce their own waste.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
1 year ago

@Anonymous

Hell, I’d bet that most of the ones who rage about how wasteful humans are don’t even bother to reduce their own waste.

I disagree with your main point on subtle philosophical grounds I don’t care enough to argue about, but this one I deffo think you’ve hit a nail on the head. Although I will have to say our society is absolutely geared towards waste, it’s unreasonably hard to reduce it unless you have the time/space to grow your own food or money to pay for more expensive local things from people who did. Almost nothing is recyclable. I had to do a load of research to find out what really helps re. clothing, food, etc. and I would only say it resulted in moderate waste reduction so far.

Gatecrasher
Gatecrasher
1 year ago

I have handled my infertility by embracing a life without children. It’s actually going quite well, and I’m healing. I’m now pretty sure that me and Mr Gatecrasher will have a good time, and a good life! I tell you, in the middle of an existential life crisis I have been nominated to the Best mentor-prize at my work (a big work place) – twice! (Sorry, I just had to brag)

However, having people (some of them your own friends and family but also complete strangers) telling you subtly or straight to your face that a life without children is meaningless and love-less and that you are bad or outright evil for not realizing how miserable you are… well it doesn’t help you know?*

And when you get this all the time there’s of course a risk that you start to think that maybe all these people are correct. Maybe you actually have to have children, to save yourself from the emptiness of life that will otherwise await you. To survive. Have a child out of fear, what a good idea! /s

On my “journey” I have looked on the internet for support and run into these groups. Some of them are actually good, but many of them are full of hate towards parents and/or children. I think this is not only mean and unnecessary, but it also doesn’t address the actual issue.

Because at the bottom of all the shit you can see that the root problem actually affects everyone. Not only the childfree/childless/no-children-people, but parents and children as well.

To me, the real issue is that people, particularly women, are thought of as having no valid life, no worth, other than as a parent. Your life has to be justified by your children, who are the only hope, the only future.

To the childless-by-choice this is outright insulting. To the infertile it is hurtful, demoralizing, and fuels panic and desperation.

And to parents, it tells them they have no value in themselves, encouraging especially mothers to self-erasing sacrifice, making mothers feel guilty for the slightest imperfection. This is of course a really stressful environment to be a parent in. So many mothers are suffering from so much guilt and shame, even as they push themselves to the limit. There’s little room for Mom to be a human being.

And with all the pressure, I would not be surprised if there are parents who actually had the children because they thought they had to. This would mean that for these parents, the choice to have children…was not truly a choice at all.

Lastly, it also puts a lot of pressure on the children. As their parents’ only meaning of life, this can make them feel they are responsible for their parents’ happiness. My mother is pressuring me to hurry to the lab before I’m out of eggs, because she has to have grandchildren, and I am the asshole for denying her them. Wow, I could probably write an essay about that alone…

I would like to see more constructive discussions. Let’s create a culture where people have a value for simply being who they are!

*Yes, you get this crap even if you tell people you’re infertile, because they start to pressure you about treatments and adoption, even if they know nothing about what these things would mean in practice.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 year ago

Waste reduction.

Well, the most obvious thing is: get less stuff. Especially buying new. The less you buy new, the less waste you can eventually be responsible for generating through the market demand signals you sent.

Use clothes, shoes, etc. until they wear out. Repair machines as long as it’s remotely cost-effective to do so (forty bucks to get something that originally cost $800 to work for a few more months or years is worth it) before replacing.

If you’re wealthy enough to own rather than rent, get the place weatherized and energy efficient to heat and cool. If you can get heat-pump or underground cooling loop installed, and can afford it, that can make heating and cooling even more efficient.

Even if not, replace bulbs as they burn out with LED ones.

Food and other consumables: avoid spoilage by limiting how much short-shelf-life stuff you keep on hand at once. If something spoilage-prone is good for 9 days, only get it if you’re sure you’ll use it all in at most 9 days. Everything else get in bulk as much as possible. It will usually save money and will always reduce packaging waste, since packaging tends to scale as the 2/3 power of the amount of food in the box/bag/thingy. So if you can get little boxes of 4 granola bars or big boxes of 32, get the latter, as there will be half as much box material per granola bar.

If able-bodied in the needed ways, walk or bike as much as you can and spare the motor vehicles. If you own one, whenever it is replaced get the most energy efficient that’s practical to use in your area and practical for your budget. If possible, carpool to work or use transit, and where possible use transit for trips where you can’t just walk or bike. In the COVID/post-COVID world, telecommute if your job will let you, and attend other things virtually as well where possible. Stream, download, etc. entertainment in preference to traveling to cinemas and sports fields, where the latter are not local and reachable on foot.

Avoid bitcoin; it is very energy inefficient.

The tradeoff you might see the most is between not buying new, and letting things wear out, vs. buying energy-efficient. Given the situation vis-a-vis climate change, if the energy efficiency is a big jump (e.g. trading in a clunker car that often barfs out blue smoke for a Nissan Leaf) go ahead and do it now. There might also be a tradeoff among avoiding traveling for entertainment, waiting for official streaming/download options (and navigating a spoiler minefield in the interim), and copyright infringing downloads. At least, once the pandemic has been dealt with. Until then, wild horses could not drag me to a cinema to sit cheek by jowl with 499 random other people for two solid hours indoors, masks or no masks.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

@ Bumblebug,

but to me it seems that Mog is implying that the changes to their body due to pregnancy are not “ruining” it because they are not a sex toy.

Ah, ok. I had read that part as “incels and misogynists would think my body is ruined due to pregnancy and birth, but I don’t care because my body is not a sex-toy for incels and misogynists“, rather than something like “anyone who doesn’t want/has a phobia of pregnancy and birth only feels that way because they personally see their body as a sex toy “. I didn’t see it as intended as an attack on any women’s choices, but if you read it as a dismissal of your experiences, of course you’d be upset. I hope it wasn’t meant that way, and I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with people intruding in your choices.

There are lots of good reasons to not want to have kids, and lots of good reasons to be concerned about the physical changes of pregnancy and birth. I feel so bad for any of the people on here who’ve had to deal with intrusive prying into their personal lives! My husband and I have had the opposite (maybe not as obnoxious, but still annoying) issue; we had our first child when we were pretty young, and we dealt with a lot of people, including but not limited to the nurse running our prenatal class, who assumed we got pregnant by accident, or that we were ignorant about birth control, or planning to quickly have a dozen more kids. Compounded by not believing us when we said we’d planned it, knew how to not conceive, and didn’t want more than 2 kids.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 year ago

What @Gatecrasher said.

There are plenty of people out there who have had children because “it’s what you do, right?” Not really their choice.

And even worse, those who come right out and say it’s to have someone to look after them in their old age. Yeah. Tell that to all the people in nursing homes who never see their children, probably because their children are sick and tired of being told that they existed only as appendages/support systems for their parents.

And for people like @Gatecrasher, I can’t imagine how hard it is for some rando to say “Why don’t you have chiiiiiildren?” when they’d love to but can’t. And no, adoption isn’t a matter of just popping down to the baby store; it’s long, hard, and expensive to do.

Everyone needs to stay outta everyone else’s crotch business.

We own (for values of “we” including the bank) a house, and we have triple-pane windows, extra insulation, and solar panels. We have one car, and it’s a hybrid, so it gets ridiculously great gas mileage as we putter around town. We wear clothes till they can’t be worn no more, a bunch of them are from Goodwill, and a few passed down. We recycle everything we possibly can (food waste, paper, plastic with numbers on, metal). I haven’t been on an airplane since 2012. The Mr. is very handy with minor repairs; we got a Dyson vacuum cast-off that only needed to be taken apart, cleaned out, and a new belt put on. We have computers that were surplused or given to us that still run just fine. (Seriously. I have a hand me down Win XP laptop in working order.) We’re as low-waste as suburban Americans can be, probably, save for the fact we and the cat all like meat. The cat is the last of his line as well, after several years of stray kittens on the block.

Bookworm in hijab
Bookworm in hijab
1 year ago

Everyone needs to stay outta everyone else’s crotch business.

This, on a tshirt, please!

Mostly_Lurking
Mostly_Lurking
1 year ago

Please don’t lump all childfree people in with these asshats.

Sincerely, a happily childfree person.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

@Big Titty Demon
All true, but those people don’t even attempt to try in many cases. They just jump to the most drastic measure they can think of, one which I find repulsive even in my most misanthropic moods.

Claire Lovely
Claire Lovely
1 year ago

Hi, I saw that my comment was posted here.

I actually disagree with all of the lockdown mandates on the principle of freedom, but the decrease in children being born is definitely a very big positive. This will mean far better prosperity for everyone in the future and more focus on quality of life over quantity.

Missing the Mammoth
Missing the Mammoth
1 year ago

Alternative headline: “David Futrelle Doesn’t Do His Research and Completely Mixes Up Anti-Natalism with Being ‘Childfree’, Angering a Lot of Innocent People Who Were Just Living Their Lives By Accusing Them of Supporting Eugenics and Demonstrating His Total Lack of Understanding of the Community.”

@David, might want to read this: https://www.reddit.com/r/childfree/comments/nddsxy/david_futrelle_accuses_this_subreddit_of_cheering/

You might actually want to browse the childfree subreddit on a normal day and see how utterly incorrect your bold assertions of eugenics and other nonsense were. Formerly, I used to respect your take on actual toxic communities, but this is honestly a massive embarrassing misfire.

%d bloggers like this: