Jesurgislac’s Journal

June 18, 2008

Why do people get so panicky about falling birthrates?

There are two short answers to that: racism and sexism.

The sexism part is fairly obvious: the anti-choicers (who hate the idea of women getting to decide whether we have children, how many children, and when to have children) see in a “falling birthrate” that a significant proportion of women in a country who have become uppity. (Anti-choice women seem to have achieved the far-from-unusual hypocrisy of thinking that all other women have become too uppity to have all the children they should want to have. (As David P. Barash (via Pandagon)points out in the LA Times op-ed pages recently, humans are evolutionarily inclined to eat when we feel hungry, drink when we feel thirsty, and have sex when we feel horny. We are also inclined to take care of and feel protective of babies when they arrive, but this is a separate bit of programming from wanting to have sex.)

The racism part ought to be just as obvious. The human species is in no danger of becoming extinct. None at all. There are over 6 billion humans worldwide: while it’s possible that a human-created catastrophe could end up wiping out our entire species, in plain fact, a species with as large a breeding pool as ours and as a wide range, is not in any danger of extinction short of a human-created catastrophe such as a nuclear war.

What several people have argued (most recently, I had this argument on Family Scholars Blog [before I was banned] but it’s a standard right-wing anti-choice Thing) is that there’s a problem with demographics – that countries where women are both educated and independent enough to be able to decide for ourselves how many children we want to have and when (and which are usually countries with a good enough health care system that all the children a woman decides to have will most likely survive to adulthood – this is not coincidental) are countries with an aging population, where “soon” there will be too many people too old to work and too few younger people to support them.

One may then – logically enough – point out that immigration generally solves that problem. It’s not as if there’s a real shortage of human beings: if there’s any country in the world which really is having trouble because there’s too many old people and not enough young people, it’s because that country has managed to block off most legal and all illegal immigration. (Needless to say, I do not believe there is such a country, nor ever will be.)

Then your average racist Christian right-winger (I mean that as a compound: Christians who are neither right-wing nor racist, and right-wingers who are not Christian nor racist, should not feel included, but FSB’s right-wingers are both Christian and racist and homophobic and sexist… you can see why they banned me….) frothing gently at the mouth, will say that they want their culture to stay their culture, and it won’t if there’s mass immigration from other countries that don’t share their culture. Right now, this fear is usually ostensibly anti-Muslim. A century ago it would have been anti-Eastern European/anti-Jewish/anti-Irish, and fifty years ago it would have been anti-West Indies. It is the same racist fear, and it is unfounded every time, as one can see by looking back at previous examples.

What this fear of falling birth rates ultimately comes down to is: we want our women to have more and more of our babies. What that means to your average right-wing Christian racist is: white women should have white babies, and a white woman shouldn’t under any circumstances be allowed to abort just because she can’t afford to take care of a child: she should hand the baby over to a white (and heterosexual, and married) couple. (Egg-donation and sperm donation, however, are bad, because anything that lets a woman feel in control of reproduction is fundamentally bad: women who are in control of reproduction have fewer children.)

I got banned from FSB because the moderators objected to having homophobia identified as bigotry, or indeed identified at all: the preference of your average right-wing Christian homophobe is for their feelings about LGBT people to be regarded as normal, not as homophobia – still less to have homophobes called out as bigots. But in a sense, their homophobia is a side-effect: the real motivation behind all this twisted nonsense is a knotted-up combination of racism and sexism. Hard to pick out which comes first, which is more important to them: a riddle as unsolvable as the chicken and the egg.

But it all ties together: these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Lovely. Let’s cut it down, burn it up, and party on the ashes.

=====

This post was first published on my greatestjournal, on 13th May 2006.

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11 Comments »

  1. […] republished from GJ that opposing same-sex marriage is in general tied in with racism and sexism (Why do people get so panicky about falling birthrates?), so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Maggie Gallagher is dismissive of Mildred Loving […]

    Pingback by Maggie Gallagher redefines marriage « Jesurgislac’s Journal — June 18, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  2. So how does the sexism displayed by aborting females in eastern countries like China, India, and Pakistan (and by Asians in this country) fit into your paradigm? The gender imbalance is creating havoc – and further sexism – by sex trafficking, etc.

    Further, more males in the world than females means more patriarchy in the world.

    According to you, abortion is fixing sexism?

    Comment by Jill Stanek — June 18, 2008 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  3. So how does the sexism displayed by aborting females in eastern countries like China, India, and Pakistan (and by Asians in this country) fit into your paradigm? The gender imbalance is creating havoc – and further sexism – by sex trafficking, etc.

    Agreed. Forced abortion is exactly as bad as forced pregnancy. It is directly caused by the same kind of people who are “pro-lifers”: men who believe women don’t own our own bodies and don’t have the right to decide how many children to have and when. Cultural forces that make a woman have an abortion because the fetus is female are exactly as sexist and as evil as cultural forces that that make a woman endure an unwanted pregnancy and unwelcome labour to produce a baby no one – including the baby’s mother – wants.

    According to you, abortion is fixing sexism?

    No, Jill. Please re-read the post more carefully. A woman’s right to decide how many children she has, and when, naturally includes her right to decide when/if to have sex, her right to access contraception without “pro-life” pharmacists or politicians standing in her way, and her right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    Forced abortion, like forced pregnancy, is a symptom of sexism. Empowering women to make choices for themselves is the fix.

    Comment by jesurgislac — June 18, 2008 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  4. No, these aren’t forced abortions. These are choices. These are “pro-choice” decisions. There are reasons women want male heirs.

    And what do you say about the fact that abortions typically abort females 50% of the time anyway? How is that nonsexist? Equal opportunity killing?

    And what’s wrong with aborted female fetuses to begin with?

    Sexism is the oldest -ism. Abortion is only exacerbating it. Abortion is causing many cultures to become even more male dominated. China right now has millions and millions of leftover men who will never marry. What will they do with their time?

    Comment by Jill Stanek — June 18, 2008 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  5. Jill: No, these aren’t forced abortions. These are choices. These are “pro-choice” decisions. There are reasons women want male heirs.

    I suggest you study more about the position of women in these cultures: you betray your utter ignorance with this comment. This book would be a good place to start for India; this article would give you at least an idea of the human rights situation in China.

    And what do you say about the fact that abortions typically abort females 50% of the time anyway?

    I don’t see how that’s relevant.

    And what’s wrong with aborted female fetuses to begin with?

    If a woman chooses to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, there’s nothing wrong with that: the operative word, Jill, is choice.

    Sexism is the oldest -ism. Abortion is only exacerbating it.

    Again, Jill, the operative word is choice. The notion that it’s somehow not sexist to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will is frankly absurd. To be feminist is to be pro-choice – both opposing forced pregnancy and forced abortion.

    Abortion is causing many cultures to become even more male dominated.

    Jill, before abortion, unwanted girl babies were routinely exposed in infancy. This was the case in China, India, and many other cultures round the world – including the US, of course. The main difference between then and now is that now a woman burdened with an unwanted pregnancy can abort safely: then a woman forced to give birth to an unwanted baby would be compelled to experience the awful loss of a child.

    Comment by jesurgislac — June 18, 2008 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  6. I’d love to hear more details about your getting thrown out of FSB. I don’t know a thing about them, I’m just an incurable gossip, and am familiar with the phenom of being ousted for political reasons.

    Comment by marcys — June 18, 2008 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  7. This was over two years ago. I barely remember the details myself.

    And I think they’re closed to all commenters now anyway…

    Comment by jesurgislac — June 18, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  8. Regardless of whether it’s racist/sexist or not, it’s just silly. The world is overpopulated as it is (not in terms of sheer land and space, but in terms of other resources). Falling birthrates are good.

    Comment by ubuntucat — June 18, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  9. Jill Stanek believes and teaches that Chinese people eat babies, btw. (This goes along with the old, unsourced slander from the 1970s, that French people make their cosmetics out of groundup fetuses, something which is to this day unhesitatingly regurgitated by the movement – I tracked down a few years ago to a single article in a single radical rightwing French outfit’s magazine, kind of like the John Birchers, and taken for gospel because it validates so much of their pride and morbidity.

    I wouldn’t pay much attention to anything she says about the rest of the world outside the US (or inside, for that matter!)

    Comment by bellatrys — June 19, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  10. Oh… *blinks* Good God, I know I said that racism, sexism, and homophobia are all intractably tied together, but a pro-lifer promoting a racist myth like that is one hell of an example.

    Yuk.

    Comment by jesurgislac — June 19, 2008 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  11. […] at least of their respective countries. This works for the anti-marriage movement because for them (as I wrote two years ago): these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a […]

    Pingback by Humans are not an endangered species « Jesurgislac’s Journal — December 6, 2008 @ 10:50 pm | Reply


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