I’m too broke to be decadent—but if I had the money. . . ?
Well, I’m probably too boring to be decadent: couldn’t be trendy if I tried.
I’ll leave the Douthat-slaps (similar to a dope-slap, but administered with sacred sorrow) to Katha Pollitt (among the many, many, others), and be glad that others have waded through his muck so that I don’t have to.
Do allow me, however, this one obvious point: The reason some of us don’t have children is that some of us don’t want children. At all.
Not: don’t-want-children-because-want-something-else-more, but: don’t want.
The usual disclaimers: I like kids. I’m glad other people want to have kids, and I think our environmental problems have more to do with too much consumption than with too many people (although consumption and people are not, of course, unrelated).
So, yeah: Babies!
Just not for me.
That I can choose not to have babies for the mere reason that I don’t want them is, for any number of fertility-mongerers the real decadence. That is, it’s not that I want to live the Euro-trash life, but that I can choose, and because I can choose, I can choose wrongly.
In other words, it’s a mere hop, skip, & jump from choice to civilizational collapse.
There’s nothing particularly new about this equation—this is a standard reactionary-conservatism trope—but just because it’s old doesn’t make it any more correct or less irritating. I’ll skip the rant on why it’s irritating (it’s late and I’m erasing 10 words for every 5 I write, so, y’know), and, oh hell, I’m just going to bring this back around to me.
I chose not to have kids, but to focus on the choice is to miss the real point, which is that I never wanted kids. The choice depends on the desire, and it was never my desire to have children. I didn’t choose not to have children I wanted; in some sense, I didn’t choose at all, but merely recognized that I lacked what it took to be a good mother—namely, the desire to be a mother at all.
Taking away my choice on that matter would not have changed the desire, nor would incentives have made a difference. Sure, some women forced into motherhood may come to love it, and more social support might make a difference in the number of children one might have, but that still leaves some of us to say Nope, no thanks.
I take motherhood—parenthood—very seriously, and believe that if you’re going to have kids, you oughtta do it right.
Tough to see how you can do it right if you don’t want to do it at all.