I couldn’t agree more. Ditto on the urge to violence, the urge to get pissed, the urge to insult the toff who’s taking up so much space by the sliding door on the tube. All this is true – which is why we have to get a grip. Especially when it comes to kids. I am surrounded by friends and family who believe they have a right to have children. Not just one or two, but three or four . . . or five.
It’s an awfully democratic desire, the child-rearing thing, I’ll give it that. You can be as rich as hell, an aristocratic breeder if you like, or living in a shell of a council flat hardly surviving off income support, and the desires to reproduce for a whole host of reasons (“I had four brothers and sisters and it didn’t hurt me”, “They can all look after each other”, “I’m contributing to the economy – this is the future workforce – what are you doing?”) or excuses, depending on which way you want to look at it, slink nicely across the class divide.
And yet . . .
A hell of a lot of people these days also believe it is their right to own a car. Whether it is good for them or the environment at large doesn’t seem to enter into the equation. It’s the same with kids. And yes, IT, there are so many other children who need looking after. Were I the dictator of the land (as I plan to be soon), I would make a ruling of one child per couple only (and one cat per acre while we’re on the topic but that’s for another day). If you’re a single mother, then one child for you. If you’re a man who sleeps about, one for you too unless a childless woman begs you for semen and can prove that you really are the only man in town. One each for crying out loud. And adopt or foster others if you want more.
The world is overpopulated and we should take reproduction as seriously as climate change. Here in the West, parents often insist that there isn’t a problem of overpopulation here. “It’s in the developing world that there’s a population problem,” they cry. Well actually that’s not quite the case. In total, the average American consumes five times more energy than the average global citizen, 10 times more than the average Chinese, and nearly 20 times more than the average Indian. Hell knows what the average global citizen is supposed to be, but you get my point. Each child produced here swallows up buckets of oil in the form of central heating, fancy lighting devices for their bedroom, better food, transport networks (daddy’s Volvo?), hot water, television etc etc etc..
Being the female of the species, I think I do understand the various statements about why you (think you) just have to have a baby. I’ve also been pregnant and miscarried. I think I understand the difficulties around loss, the strangeness of the hormonal thang as it kicks in and you suddenly become ‘mother’ and strange men start to treat you with respect in a way you’ve not witnessed before. But I’ve also felt the desire to kill someone and the desire to attack, and I’ve felt the desire to drown all sorrows in buckets of class As and alcohol and possibly a bullet. What I detest is the way so many pro-kid, pro-life, pro-parent people go hurtling back to the state of nature arguments when it comes to childbirth despite being well aware that we live in an increasingly unnatural world. ‘Levi jeans,’ as someone said to me recently, ‘are already three layers away from what you might call real.’
Indeed. Which is why bringing children into the world should cease to be understood as a ‘right’ of all women.
(And apparently it doesn’t even make you happy!)