Scott Brown, Ladies Against Feminism, and Eugenics

Ladies against Feminism recently reposted a short article from Scott Brown’s blog. The article consists of a paragraph of introduction and a quotation from Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, the idea of having lots of children is looked upon with disdain, as if you hate the planet or have become one of those parasites of nature that needs to be restrained. Here is a blast from the past from a speech Teddy Roosevelt gave on motherhood in 1905:

There are many good people who are denied the supreme blessing of children, and for these we have the respect and sympathy always due to those who, from no fault of their own, are denied any of the other great blessings of life.

But the man or woman who deliberately foregoes these blessings, whether from viciousness, coldness, shallow-heartedness, self-indulgence, or mere failure to appreciate aright the difference between the all-important and the unimportant–why such a creature merits contempt as hearty as any visited upon the soldier who runs away in battle, or upon the man who refuses to work for the support of those dependent upon him, and who though able-bodied is yet content to eat in idleness the bread which others provide. (Quoted in What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, 174-75)

Theodore Roosevelt, “On American Motherhood,” National Congress of Mothers, Washington, 17 July 2013, Speech.

I feel like Scott Brown and Ladies against Feminism posted this before taking the time to learn what Teddy actually believed, in total, about parenting and childbearing—namely, about who should do it and who should not. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t want just anyone to have children, he wanted the right sort of people to have children—and he was quite worried that the right sort of people were going to be outbred by the wrong sort of people. Here’s a quote from a letter Teddy wrote six months before giving the speech quoted from above:

Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind. It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding. Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum. Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celebates or have no children or only one or two. Some day we will realize that the prime duty – the inescapable duty – of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.

In introducing his Teddy quote (the one at the beginning of this article), Scott Brown says that “today, the idea of having lots of children is looked upon with disdain, as if you hate the planet or have become one of those parasites of nature that needs to be restrained,” but what he is missing here is that Teddy Roosevelt actually felt just this way about the poor and those he considered “unfit”—that they were parasites of nature and needed to be restrained. In fact, he was in favor of preventing those he considered undesirables from having children altogether.

I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding ; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized, and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them. But as yet there is no way possible to devise which could prevent all undesirable people from breeding. The emphasis should be laid on getting desirable people to breed. This is no question of having enormous families for which the man and woman are unable to provide. I do not believe in or advocate such families. I am not encouraging shiftless people, unfit to marry, who have huge families. I am speaking of the ordinary every-day Americans, the decent men and women who do make good fathers and mothers, and who ought to have good-sized families.

Teddy Roosevelt’s paean to parenting—the one quoted by Scott Brown and Ladies against Feminism—must be understood within its classist and racist context. Roosevelt very much wanted to deny “the supreme blessing of children” for those whom he considered unfit, and his efforts to encourage “the right sort of people” to have children were based in his fear that “if among the men and women who make up a people there is a selective elimination of the most fit, as a result of those men and women failing to marry and have children, the result must necessarily be race deterioration.”

If Scott Brown and Ladies against Feminism want a quotation about the universal importance and blessing of child bearing and parenting, I suggest they find someone else to quote—someone who didn’t ground the importance of having children in a racist desire to outbreed undesirables. Unless, of course, Scott Brown and Ladies against Feminism actually mean that Good Christians (TM) should be producing large broods of children so as to outproduce their spiritual inferiors—and if that’s what they actually mean, they might try being more honest about it. 

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Gail

    It’s amazing how many people believed in eugenics before WWII. My guess is that if they respond to this at all, they will somehow try to connect it to Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger and argue that the left is worse than they are.

    I’ll never understand the women against feminism thing. A few weeks ago on 10 O’Clock Live (a comedy news show in the UK), there was a panel of women discussing feminism, and it included an anti-feminist woman (Angela Epstein). The first thing she did was joke that if we have feminism, we need masculinism, and she laughed and laughed at this (I don’t think she realized how she sounded–to me it would be kind of like someone joking that if we have the NAACP, we need a national association to protect white people’s rights as well. Not funny.) Then she argued that feminists make the idea of having children seem off-putting, so fewer women are having children. Personally, I don’t think that’s true. I think that feminists have just made women realize that they are more than incubators and can make their own choices. It’s not as though the world is suffering from depopulation anyway.

    • Jayn

      I’m not surprised. On one level it does sound rational, even if there’s no way to enforce such a thing without violating people’s rights. What depresses me is how long after WWII eugenics programs continued to operate.

    • Stev84

      The Nazis actually took their early inspirations for their eugenics programs from the US. They said “Why are you complaining? Everyone did it!”. And mass killings aside, they weren’t entirely wrong about that. Some American scientists even bragged that the Nazis implemented their ideas much better. That was in the mid 30s. Once the scope of the Nazi program became known, they tried to distance themselves from it.

      But the US continued to sterilize people until the 1970s. And if you think racial and ethnic minorities were disproportionally affected you’d be right.

      • Conuly

        I am shocked, totally shocked by your last sentence. Shocked, I tell you!

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        And the mentally ill of all races, sadly. It was one of the few ways white woman and women of color were treated the same.

      • Trollface McGee

        It’s still going on. Of course, it’s “voluntary” but the reasoning is the same, stopping “undesirables” from reproducing.
        http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/13/3497643/forced-sterilizations-still-victimize.html

        Eugenics was the norm, just like uterus used to wander around in our lady bodies and cause us to become hysterical and heroin was an effective treatment for alcoholism, and a bottle of herbs and 50% proof alcohol was a cure for everything. The only shocking part is that LaF(LaF? Really?) would condemn Margaret Sanger for holding a mainstream point of view and then champion someone who supported the same damn thing. On the other hand, that’s no so shocking either.

      • stacey

        Don’t read the comments on that link, it will make you cry for our country.

      • Leigha7

        “Once the scope of the Nazi program became known, they tried to distance themselves from it”

        …while continuing to do things like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment (which was already in progress, but they certainly didn’t end it).

    • Conuly

      “Then she argued that feminists make the idea of having children seem off-putting, so fewer women are having children.”

      Historically speaking, in most societies, people with more resources and more money have always had fewer children. Bitching about the upper crust refusing to reproduce has been going on literally millennia.

      Well, now we are all more prosperous. Is it that surprising that we have fewer children?

      (On that note, people with the ability to outsource their parenting, at least in the early years, have pretty much always done that as well. The sad truth is that nobody really does like the diaper changing that much.)

      • Alice

        That is a good point. There is a long history of lower-class women being hired to breastfeed upper-class babies and of rich children being raised by servants (or boarding schools) and rarely seeing their parents at all. People forget this when they act like daycare is a newfangled abomination out to destroy the timeless tradition of SAHMs.
        Children need plenty of quality time with their parents, but nowadays many of them still get it even though they are in daycare.

      • KristinMuH

        Yeah, there are loads of statistics showing that parents make much greater investments of time (and money) in their children than ever before. Even if you’re working 40-50 hours/week you’ve got a lot more time for your kids than people who work 12-16 hour days in factories or mines, or who run subsistence farms.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      The irony is, it’s quite likely that Margaret Sanger came out in support of eugenics in order to try and make birth control more acceptable to conservatives like Teddy Roosevelt! Her embrace of eugenics came later in her life and work and “birth control can help us stop the Wrong People from having too many kids” was quite a bit more palatable to conservative white people freaked out by immigrants etc. than “Women should have the right to control their reproduction.” She sold out to appease them. I always think of that every time the anti-birth control crowd starts going “Ooga booga Planned Parenthood=eugenics! GOTCHA!”

    • John Alexander Harman

      They’re not really “against feminism” as feminism actually exists in the world; they’re against a caricature of the most extreme, fringe elements of feminism that bears little resemblance to what even those fringe elements, let alone the great majority of people who identify as feminists, actually believe.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        New around here? Because the ladies featured in the post really are against feminism in all forms.

      • Alex Harman

        Yes, but they deny the existence of all its forms except their caricature of radical feminism; instead of actually engaging with and arguing against real feminist arguments, they spend all their time and effort battling straw women.

    • Leigha7

      The Planned Parenthood/Margaret Sanger thing has always pissed me off. “The founder believed in eugenics! Eugenics is bad! That means Planned Parenthood is evil and everything they do is bad, and everyone who supports them is evil and believes in eugenics!”

      What the hell kind of logic is that? Wait, I can do it too: “The Founding Fathers believed in (or at least tolerated) slavery! Slavery is bad! That means America is evil and everything they do is bad, and everyone who supports America is evil and believes in slavery!”

  • Space Blizzard

    To address the point that “Ladies Against Feminism” (really?) thought that the quote was making: I’ve ever liked views which push having children as the norm. Not everyone wants kids, which is fine, and more importantly not everyone would do a good job of raising them. I think a lot of adults have children because it’s expected of them, realize they made a mistake when it’s too late and then just end up feeling bitter and resentful toward them, which doesn’t work out well for anyone.

    It’s so ingrained as the “normal” path in life that it doesn’t seem to occur to many people to ask if it’s what they actually want.

    • MissMikey

      I find that childfree people, such as myself, tend to put way more thought into not having children than the average parent put into having kids. Mostly because having kids is assumed to be the norm.

      I personally believe that it is more selfish to have a kid if you’re not into and are doing it just because of societal expectations, than it is to not have kids after carefully thinking the matter over and realizing that you would not be a good parent.

      • Gillianren

        A friend of mine would kind of like kids, but her husband adamantly (and rightly for him!) doesn’t. My friend has been called selfish for agreeing not to have kids. Some people have a weird idea of what “selfish” looks like.

      • persephone

        I consider that attitude as misery loves company

      • Whirlwitch

        There’s a poser for these “Ladies”, Debi Pearl and their ilk. Obey God by submitting to husband, or obey God by breeding? Such a conundrum. I wonder if Debi would argue that if you submit hard enough, your husband will suddenly want babies.

      • Gillianren

        Yeah, I’d like to see Debi argue that to my friend’s husband.

        No, I mean that. It’d be really funny.

      • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

        For a while, I was happily childfree. I put a lot of thought into the reasons I was childfree, and so when I decided to have a child, I had well thought through what that would mean and why I was having a baby. But I know I’m a rarity among a lot of my friends who have (as you say) had kids because its whats expected of them / whats normal.
        Doesn’t mean I dont regret it sometimes, but thats normal at this stage, I’m sure!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        “Doesn’t mean I dont regret it sometimes, but thats normal at this stage, I’m sure!”

        Yup. :)

      • Trollface McGee

        I’ve never understood the “selfish” argument. It’s selfish to not have kids? Seriously that makes absolutely no sense.
        To me, it’s selfish to pop out more than you can support so that they intentionally grow up in poverty, lacking adequate education, parental attention and in some cases lacking basic nutrition. It’s selfish to force girls to assume motherhood roles in their tweens (and being appalled by the horribleness of teen motherhood at the same time). It’s selfish carrying a child to term that you know will die an agonising death or have a lifetime of pain and suffering because you want to prove how “pro-life” you are. It’s selfish to beat your kids because you don’t like the fact that kids are born with free will and a tendency to not have the obedience levels of a trained soldier. It’s selfish to have a child who isn’t wanted as an individual but as a thing to prove how religious you are and prepare for some (hopefully metaphorical) holy war.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        And, heck, wanting kids can be selfish too! I want to make babies one day (sooner rather than later *gulp*), and I want them to be a combination of mine and my husband’s DNA. I could probably do more objective good by fostering or adopting, but that’s not what I want to do. I’m not going to apologize for being selfish and wanting to procreate, but I recognize the impulse as selfish nonetheless.

      • Mogg

        Same same. In fact I have the opposite problem of some people – I have a bunch of willingly child-free friends pushing me to *not* have children and telling me I’m stupid for wanting to procreate. I recognise that there are lots of needy children and other worthy, humanitarian causes out there, but I would like a child that has my and my partner’s DNA, if possible. Is that selfish? Sure. It’s not like our DNA is not already represented in the children of our siblings and cousins, or that our DNA is spectacularly better than anyone else’s and needs spreading around for the good of humanity. It’s just something I’d like.

      • Leigha7

        A lot of the rhetoric used to discuss childfree people is very similar to that used to describe atheists. In both cases, if having kids/believing in God wasn’t assumed to be the norm, it wouldn’t even require much thought to not do it, but as it is, it requires way more thought than it really ought to to *not* do something.

        But both get a lot of the same commentary. “You’re just being selfish!” “You just want to be free to do whatever you want!” (that one might be partially true as a reason for not having kids, but I fail to see why it’s a bad thing) “Why do you hate kids/God?” “You feel that way now, but you never know what could happen down the line.”

  • Mel

    I think they are well aware of the connection to eugenics. A very common refrain among conservative Christians is that more Christian children need to be born to outpace the rapidly growing Muslim population that is destroying western civilization. These same groups have, until very recently, frowned on adoption due to the taint of the original parents’ sins.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Thing is, most evangelicals, including conservative ones, may be apt to listen to some things these groups say, but would never buy into the anti-adoption sort of stuff. In other words, I think they themselves might think quoting Teddy was okay even with what he says being rooted in eugenics, but the people they’d like to reach would be horrified by knowing the wider picture on a quote like that. Which is part of why talking about it is important.

      • Interrobang

        I hate to correct you on your own turf, Libby Anne, but speaking as an adoptee, the anti-adoption meme is doing *just fine* out there in the world.

        I also grew up around fundamentalist Christians (but not one of them) who weren’t quite as rigid as your people, in that they didn’t homeschool, but I also got the distinct impression that adoptees are “factory seconds” in that world.

        Just recently I collected a quote from a right-winger saying that adoption is the “second-best” way to form a family. They think of it as a hierarchy, at least.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Interesting. I think the evangelicals I grew up among were in general fairly progressive in some areas, including both this and race (at least inasmuch as they claimed to be “colorblind”), and I have to remember that there’s a great deal of variation among both evangelicals and fundamentalists. If you’d like to write a guest post about your experiences and thoughts, I’d be interested in posting it. :)

      • Leigha7

        I’ve seen that, but there are also large groups who all but say every Christian should adopt. The church I attended had a magazine/newsletter thing they received (I don’t remember from whom) and had available for the congregation to read that regularly ran stories about adoption and families who’d adopted 15 kids, of various races, or who had adopted 5 special needs kids, or who had fostered 50 kids, and so on. There was a strong implication that anyone who wasn’t fostering and/or adopting wasn’t doing their Christian duty. (As a side note, there was NO emphasis on large families at my church, so the fact that so many of these articles were about families of 10+ was noteworthy to me.)

        In retrospect, the emphasis on adopting from various races is potentially problematic as well, because it at times seemed like, “Look how multicultural we are, with our Chinese daughter and our Nigerian son!” It’s a little strange, treating them almost like types of Pokemon (you know, “Gotta catch ‘em all”).

        ETA: That said, anti-adoption ideas are certainly more common than extremely pro-adoption ones outside of the church, so the group that made that magazine (however large they may be) isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      It seems to me like they believe this stuff but they don’t realize that that is eugenics.

    • Michael W Busch

      A very common refrain among conservative Christians is that more Christian children need to be born to outpace the rapidly growing Muslim population that is destroying western civilization.

      Which conveniently ignores that the fraction of the world population that is Muslim and the fraction that is Christian haven’t changed that much relative to each other in the last 50 years (the Muslim population may be growing slightly faster than the non-Muslim population, but both rates of growth and the difference between them is falling). As well as that “western civilization” isn’t being destroyed.

    • stacey

      The irony here is that if they really wanted to stop there from being “too many” Muslims because of “overbreeding” (I feel gross just saying it), the best way to do this is to support FEMINISM, and economic development that helps women equally. Why? This is the only way women are able to have fewer children.
      Instead, they support fundamentalist religion, patriarchy, and the military interventions supported by those two factions, which is exactly what keep women powerless! Powerless women have no say in their family size, and little to no say in their faith either.

      • Trollface McGee

        The difference between the Islamic fundamentalists and the Christian ones is mainly what they call their God.
        Empowering women (feminism! gasp!) birth control, condoms, access to abortion would not only help with “overbreeding” it would also reduce poverty, increase economic growth and be generally good for the planet – which is why we have to oppose it at all costs.

  • Stev84

    It’s important to understand that they weren’t just worried about people passing on mental or physical defects to their children. Stuff that’s actually heritable in some cases. They thought that immorality or criminality were heritable and that the children of people who were deemed immoral (which could cover a very wide range of things) would share that “affliction” and thus drag down society as a whole. It’s called degeneration or degeneracy theory. It became popular again with Darwin’s theory of evolution, but shows a decidedly Lamarckian understanding of the process.

    • http://mandassassin.blogspot.com mandassassin

      Not that it would have been acceptable if they had only been trying to sterilize disabled people. *ahem* People with heritable disorders also have the right to have children if that’s what they want. I’m sure you weren’t meaning to imply otherwise, but I felt in the context of your comment it needed to be said. And yes, heritability of “immorality” was some bs.

      • Anat

        People with heritable disorders have the right to become parents. And it is a good idea to offer them many ways to become parents. I do have a problem with people with an identified, testable, serious heritable disorder who go on to have biological children without taking available means to avoid having seriously disabled children. I once read the postings of a young man who died from CF. He did not forgive his parents for having him and subjecting him to a life of suffering. His parents knew they were carriers and had several children with CF. However, I don’t know how to approach this problem without infringing on anyone’s rights.

      • tsara

        I’d say provide free counselling to discuss all of the options, and maybe subsidize adoption and other means of becoming non-genetic parents for those people. Putting alternative means of becoming parents within their reach actually expands their options, rather than infringing. It’d have to be done well, though, for obvious reasons.

      • Michael W Busch

        Precedent is that when people are educated about preventing and have the means to prevent passing serious heritable genetic disorders to their children, almost all do so. The rate of Tay-Sachs has fallen by ~90% since genetic screening became available.

        And I recently saw a CDC recommendation that genetic consuling to identify carriers of a number of other different disorders be covered by insurance as preventative medical procedures. In particular, cystic fibrosis screening was recommended to be covered for anyone with ancestors in the higher-risk cohorts. e.g. there is a priori a 1:25 chance each that my wife and I are carriers, so we should both get screened.

        This is also a good strategy for health insurance providers (be they private or government). Genetic screening for carriers of common disorders might cost a couple hundred dollars. Cost per prevented case of cystic fibrosis: $100k-$200k. Good investment.

      • Anat

        This is very good, but it angers me that some people ignore the information and end up forcing misery on their children.

    • minuteye

      For “immorality” read “poverty”.

      • Kate Monster

        And “insufficient WASPiness”

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! “Eugenics” has got to be among the top five on the “You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means” list. What else can one conclude when the same people who are howling about abortion as a means of “eugenics” are also quoting Teddy Roosevelt?

    Eugenics is not a particular practice, it is a philosophy predicated on engineering the population to “improve” it and can involve many different practices. There is “negative eugenics”, which involves discouraging, disincentivizing, or outright preventing reproduction among unreliable people but there is also “positive eugenics,” which involves the encouraging and incentivizing or outright forcing reproduction among the “desirable people.” TR supported both (although he stopped just short of actually forcing “desirables” to breed, although he certainly engaged in enough shaming of middle-class-and-above anglo-American women who were increasingly having the audacity to pursue higher education and careers over early marriage and advocated policies to make their lives difficult). And it seems that many QF and fundamentalist leaders support one, with all their scare-mongering about “demographic winter.”

    Sorry, folks. A woman or couple making an individual decision to abort a disabled fetus because they do not have the emotional or financial resources to care for it properly is not “eugenics.” If, on the other hand, you advocate practices and policies that have the end goal of “taking back” your society for fundamentalist Christian white people, you, sir or ma’am, are a eugenicist.

    • Michael W Busch

      A woman or couple making an individual decision to abort a disabled
      fetus because they do not have the emotional or financial resources to
      care for it properly is not “eugenics.”

      That’s the fundamental distinction here, isn’t it? Choice.

      It happens that when people know they are carriers of a genetic disorder that will cause serious problems and have the means to avoid passing it to any children they have, or when a woman knows that her pregnancy will not lead to a healthy neonate and has the means to terminate it, they usually do so. e.g. rates of Tay-Sachs have fallen by ~90%. But that’s all done by individuals, without coercion.

    • teglet

      I’m interested in the extremes of positive eugenics you mentioned here–Teddy Roosevelt didn’t go to the “forcing reproduction” level, but were there people who either actually did it or strongly advocated for it/offered plans to do it? I’d like to know and I’m not sure where to begin searching on my own.

      • Kevin R. Cross

        Check out the history of the American Eugenics Society and John Kellogg (Yes, that Kellogg, founder of the company). They were mostly reasonable, but had their share of extremists.

      • smrnda

        Didn’t Kellogg also develop bland breakfast cereals as a means of fighting masturbation? Or is that an urban legend?

      • Kevin R. Cross

        Urban legend. Kellogg was a bit of a nut, but seems to honestly have believed in his product as a good breakfast. Oh, and I got his name wrong above – It was Will, not John.

      • Whirlwitch

        There were two brothers, Will and John. John was the health and anti-sex nut, Will was the businessman who wanted the cereal to actually taste good, and founded the company that became Kellogg’s. Triggered a bitter feud. John did indeed believe that a limited and bland diet would reduce sexual urges, and he fought for the cereal to stay bland, so yeah, it’s not much of a stretch to say he hoped it would cut down on the sexy stuff.

      • Saraquill

        I’m 75% certain that he created it as an anti-aphrodisiac. Victorian logic dictated that bland food suppressed the sex drive and bad morality. I can confidently say (it was in my college textbook) that cornflakes were also created to be a meat substitute.

        I’m also sure that Rev. Graham created graham crackers as a mood killer.

      • Gail

        I’ve heard the same thing about the graham crackers, but I think his recipe for them was basically just graham flour and water, so they probably tasted so awful they were a mood killer. Luckily, graham crackers now usually have butter and spices and salt for flavor.

      • Leigha7

        Oooh. I always wondered why the story was that they were supposed to be bland and boring, when I always thought they were pretty tasty. I feel kind of dumb now for never realizing they probably changed the recipe.

      • smrnda

        Cornflakes as a meat substitute… I don’t think corn flakes contain all the necessary proteins for complete protein synthesis, so some substitute…. though someone correct me if I’m wrong on that one.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Well, this is the same era where heroin was used to treat alcoholism. Victorians were very… interesting in their theories about life.

      • Mogg

        The leader of the conservative party of Australian federal politics has proposed a paid maternity leave program which would pay women earning up to $150K 100% of their wage for 6 months. He is quoted as saying that this is to encourage “women of calibre” to have more children.

      • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

        Roman Emperor Augustine encouraged senators to marry and make little senators, and finally penalized them for not marrying. He gave a pension for life to any Roman woman who gave birth to 5 children.

      • Whirlwitch

        The Oneida Perfectionists, for one.

  • smrnda

    I don’t think feminists are against motherhood at all. They tend to support things like protection for pregnant workers, living wages so that working moms (and dads) can support families, extension of programs like FMLA so that moms can both work and take care of their families. I’ve never heard a feminist say ‘well, if you choose to have kids, that’s your choice, don’t expect any help’ but that’s kind of what a lot of anti-feminists say.

    And yeah, any opposition to birth control seems tied up with the idea that the ‘wrong sort of people’ are having kids and the ‘right sort of people’ need to step up and prevent demographic change.

    I also don’t think these people understand ‘choice.’ Nobody as far as I can tell has advocated a limit on family size or anything like that, and these anti-feminists confuse a personal choice to have fewer or no kids with a belief that *nobody should have lots of kids.* Part of this is that I don’t think they get the idea that a person can be okay with people making different choices – there has to be One Right Way (TM.)

    • Kate Monster

      Well, OBVIOUSLY if you in any way balk at people having as many children as possible, regardless of their personal wishes, then you’re against all motherhood. Duh.

    • ZeldasCrown

      Exactly. I’m not sure what about choice is so difficult to understand. Want 10 kids? Great. Want none? Great too. As long as it is what that particular partnership wanted without coercion.

      I feel as though sometimes these folk wrongly apply their rigid logic to the “other side’s” argument. If they believe that every pregnant woman should give birth, regardless of circumstance, then the pro-choice side must believe in birth control and abortion purely to make sure that no one ever gives birth.

    • Leigha7

      “Nobody as far as I can tell has advocated a limit on family size or anything like that”

      There are people who think overpopulation is a huge concern and anyone who has more than 1-2 children (and, in some bizarre cases, anyone who has ANY children) is a terrible, disgusting, selfish person who’s ruining the planet. Most would probably gladly pass laws limiting family size, though I haven’t heard it suggested very often.

      I’m still not sure how the people who think no one should ever have any kids think that would work.

  • Rilian Sharp

    I want to have kids. via adoption. I wonder if that “counts” to them.

    Pregnancy and childbirth are a violation and a risk to your health and life. And people demand this of others … *puke face*

    (It’s not a violation if you choose it.)

    • smrnda

      I’m sure there are 10 kids would would appreciate your choice a great deal. I’ve known a few people who both wanted kids but were terrified of being pregnant, regrettably I’m not in touch with any of them now so I don’t know how it turned out.

      It’s kind of how I don’t mind working with kids and I’ve so as a volunteer, but I’d never want my own kids.

    • Interrobang

      Everybody hates adoption. If you don’t believe me, cruise around the internet for a month keeping an eye out for jokes where the punchline is “you’re adopted!” (Or, if you really want to lose faith in humanity quickly, do a Google Image search of that punchline.)
      Most of them are of the opinion that adopting is the “second-best” (actual quote) way to form a family, but you get the sense they’re being charitable by saying it that way. I’ve seen Catholic priests quoted who believe people and their adopted kids aren’t “real families.”
      Sorry, I’m an adoptee and I notice these things.

      • Rilian Sharp

        I googled it and it’s terrible, and I’ve seen it on tv shows. But u think what causes the problem is trying to hide it. I have six adopted cousins and they all have always known and it’s not a shameful thing. Most of them were adopted when they were old enough to know anyway. But one was adopted as a newborn. Another one has regular phonecalls and visits with her birth family, another one used to but I’m not sure if she still does.

      • Leigha7

        I don’t think the “you’re adopted” punchline is entirely about adoption being bad. I think it’s partly just that it implies that you’re adopted *and don’t know it.* Certainly, finding out as a teenager or adult that you’re adopted would suck, no matter how good/bad/neutral adoption otherwise is.

        That doesn’t make it any easier to hear as someone who really was adopted, of course, but I think it’s worth noting. Oh, and a lot of people on the internet just like to say terrible things to make people feel bad on purpose, so it’s not necessarily the best example of what people actually think.

  • Trollface McGee

    “Unless, of course, Scott Brown and Ladies against Feminism actually mean that Good Christians (TM) should be producing large broods of children so as to outproduce their spiritual inferiors—and if that’s what they actually mean, they might try being more honest about it. ”

    But teh mooslims! Teh mooslims, they’re all over Europe having babies and all white European women are aborting theirs so Europe is going to be moooslim and we’re soon going to be Mexican Mooslim unless we start churning out white Christian babies for the cause… yeah, I think they and Teddy are right in agreement.

  • Kate Monster

    Anytime I see the word “breed” associated with humans, it grosses me the hell out. Oi.

  • http://exploringthejungle.wordpress.com/ Kat

    In addition to all the wrongness of eugenics and trying to outbreed the “wrong” people (not that I’m trying to minimize the horribleness of that in any way, mind you), I also question the idea of assuming that people who constitute “good breeding stock” or whatever (I just threw up in my mouth a little typing that) should automatically be having huge families.

    I mean, I honestly think I’d make a pretty good mom to one or two kids. (I could be entirely wrong. I’ll get back to you once I’ve tested that hypothesis.) Even assuming I’m the type who “should” be breeding (not likely, since I’m about as far from Christian Republican as you can get), just because I might do a good job raising one or two kids does not mean I’d do a good job raising, say, ten. Money, time, patience, etc. are all finite resources, after all. The same people who could afford to meet a couple of kids’ needs, be actively involved with them, and give them great educational opportunities may well end up being poor and neglectful parents if they’re forced to treat uteri like clown cars. So even on a cold, logical, completely devoid of empathy level, the argument still fails.

    I realize that is probably the least wrong part of the entire thought process being espoused by these people, but I have an eye for irrelevant detail. Surprisingly enough, this is not my most useless skill.

    EDIT: Then again, upon reflection, I’m probably putting more stock in the “nature” aspect of “nature vs. nurture” than they would. Anyone who thinks religion or morality is genetic would probably wave my concerns aside anyway, and thus not consider that a valid criticism. So yeah, I think I’m basically arguing with myself here. Never mind.

    • smrnda

      I can’t see how anybody handles 10 kids – I worked in childcare for a while and by law, it was a 3 kids per 1 adult ratio. But I also see your point that if you have too many kids, it’s impossible to do a good job the way that overloading on anything is a bad idea.

      • http://noadi.etsy.com/ Sheryl Westleigh

        Simply put, most don’t have that many living at home at once (there are exceptions, I believe the Duggars had 17 living at home when their show started but that’s not typical). Unless you have a situation where someone has a large multiple birth, sextuplets for example, most large families have the kids spread out some. My grandparents had 15 kids (not religiously motivated, it was just more common back then among rural farm families to have lots of kids) which sounds like their house must have been packed full of kids all the time but it wasn’t. There’s a 30 year age difference between the oldest and the youngest, I have cousins who are older than my youngest two aunts and uncle. It’s not a choice I would make, in fact I don’t want children at all, but it isn’t as bad as most people think.

      • Trollface McGee

        Yeah it’s funny – one of the justifications for homeschooling is “too many kids per teacher, surely that teacher can’t give them the individual attention they need.” Having more kids than you can support/raise/give individual attention to? Meh, God will take care of it.

    • Sally

      I thought you made an excellent point. Yes, just because someone can raise a few children well doesn’t mean they can raise many children well. So offensive eugenics issue aside, the basic argument itself doesn’t even make sense.

  • Karen

    Some of us know we wouldn’t be good parents; why inflict that on children? Being an only child (and adopted at that), I got harassed by my mother through most of my breeding years: when were we going to give her grandkids? This lasted until I was about 40, when she started in again and I gave her a look that has been known to frighten junior engineers and make managers gulp. She finally shut up on the subject.

  • Christine

    While LAF might not be intending to push the “we need to have more babies than *those* people” agenda , it doesn’t surprise me at all that they’d feel that a “supreme blessing” isn’t necessarily something that everyone deserves (even if everyone should want it). I’m sure that their philosophy overlaps both the “men should be paid enough to support their families” and the “if you don’t like what Walmart pays, don’t work there, minimum wage is bad” philosophies.


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