“I’d rather have a good book than a child.” – Montaigne
Contrary to the mass hysteria over child sex abuse, the most shameful problem facing modern Western culture today is not excessive love for children, but its opposite: fear, indifference or dislike of children – a condition that medical texts used to call pedophobia. This post describes some of the published evidence that pedophobia is actually so widespread it is now considered normative and even socially acceptable to joke about it.
In 2007 French author Corinne Maier wrote a book called “No Kid: 40 Reasons to Not Have Children” (1). Ignoring the occasional newborn discarded in a trash bin, the book was primarily intended for humor, and its publication and favorable reception by critics throughout Europe are evidence that pedophobia is far from politically incorrect. Such discourse would be called bigotry if it were directed against Jews, Blacks, Gays or any other group of human beings. In an era when racial lynching occasionally occurred, imagine someone joking about racism. In Western culture today admitting you don’t like children is just considered good entertainment.
The author begins by reporting that France has the highest birth rate in Europe, while Italy has the lowest, which supposedly shows that the French are very confused but Italians know what they’re doing. That would be hilarious except that the average birth rate in France is only slightly more than two children per woman (less than 2.1), which is hardly high, while in Italy and most other European countries the birth rate is slightly less than two children per woman (1.4 to 1.9). The important thing is the punch line: the fewer kids you have, the more intelligent you are.
Although birth rates have recently declined significantly in most Western countries, statistics on average birth rates are not the whole story. Individuals who choose to have children today are understandably planning reproduction carefully (smaller families and not too soon), but what is revealing is that the number of adults who choose to not have any children at all has doubled in recent years.
Why? Corinne Maier tells us women shouldn’t have a baby because childbirth hurts, so let immigrants repopulate the country. Children impose predictable daily schedules on parents so adults can no longer be “spontaneous.” Children are ungrateful for the sacrifices parents make – those brats – and kids need basic education – how boring. The author even uses the term: deadly boredom. Kids interfere with a parent’s sex life because they are jealous. Why don’t kids just enjoy being deprived of sex education and prohibited from experiencing sex play with each other?
After claiming that breastfeeding is unpleasant and more trouble than it is worth (she doesn’t bother to mention the significant health benefits and practical advantages of breast milk), the author complains about the trouble and expense of the equipment you need for bottle-feeding. She seems unaware that breastfeeding is a pleasure for women who take the time to learn how to do it right. The author doesn’t even imagine allowing a baby to share the parents’ bed, and instead complains about the expense of buying a crib and eventually other special furniture for the child, not to mention a car safety seat and stroller, and even a bigger car to carry all the stuff, as well as a bigger home to keep the kid out of the parents’ bedroom. Hard-earned money thrown away and time wasted.
On trains there used to be Smoking Cars where some adults could go to avoid children, but since Smoking Cars no longer exist, the author suggests creating “No Children Cars,” even if passengers have to pay extra for the privilege. The French government contributes more money for childcare than many other countries, but in a book review on Amazon, another mother described her negative experiences of parenting in “high birth-rate” France: “…the pediatrician made me feel inappropriate, and I had a dreadful experience in giving birth in a French public hospital. Plus children are unwelcome wherever you go!”
Much attention is devoted to the stress of deciding who the real “parent” is in cases where there has been an ovum or sperm donated, or when a surrogate womb was involved. I beg your pardon? Ideally, it doesn’t matter to a healthy adult who a child “belongs” to; we should love children because they are children, not because they “belong” to us. But if you’re a pedophobe, paternity (ownership) is the most relevant and most important factor, if not the only thing that matters.
The author also complains that when kids get older they become hopeless conformists to their peer group or media heroes in order to avoid criticism from their companions if they dare to be different. Now I wonder what models kids learn that kind of behavior from? The world is not overpopulated, the author claims, just some parts. Our governments should provide economic incentives for couples to NOT have any children, and people in India and Asia should move to North America to balance population density.
Statistics show that successful men tend to have many children, while successful (career) women tend to have few if any children. Hence, the author concludes, children contribute to men’s success, but are an obstacle to women’s success in a career. Is that very sloppy logic supposed to be funny? In reality, there may be many other reasons why successful men tend to have many children, and other reasons why career women tend to have few or no kids. We need to know how many career women choose to have few or no kids because they are indifferent, afraid, or simply dislike children before they decide on a “more interesting” career.
To her credit the author does have the courage to attack the mass hysteria over child sex abuse, which in France (like the U.S. and other countries) has led to false accusations and the mistaken arrests/prosecutions of innocent people – including at least one suicide. This is despite the fact that according to French law making a false accusation renders you eligible for the same punishment that the falsely accused risked suffering.
Nobody can deny the author’s observation that many people become parents for the wrong reasons: fear of exclusion if you don’t become a parent, and the base desire to be somebody’s boss. Many adults become parents by accident. Few adults become parents because they actually love children. The author is also right when she criticizes traditional schools for still following the ancient belief that all kids are the same, so everybody has to learn the same things, at the same time, and through the same instructional methods. But what is the explanation for the widespread lack of interest in updating the outdated curriculum and one-size-fits-all timetable and teaching methods? Might it be that most people really don’t care about kids?
In her book “Perfect Madness,” author Judith Warner explains that in the distant past parents believed how a child turns out depends on destiny, or later: genetic heredity, so a lot of attention from adults wasn’t necessary. During World War II there was even growing concern that many mothers were too focused on their kids and creating too many “mama’s boys” who would be too weak to defend their country. So many mothers became afraid of giving kids too much attention.
One woman is quoted as saying she remembers her mother spent hours on the telephone with friends instead of focusing attention on her daughter. One day the child held up a sheet of paper and asked “Do you like my artwork?” The mother replied “Yes, it’s lovely.” But it was a blank sheet of paper. The mother didn’t even look at it. Some “modern” experts advised mothers not to spend too much time playing with their child because they would be doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than because they enjoy it.
After the 1960s a belief in the importance of the family environment spread, so if a child doesn’t turn out successfully then it’s the parents’ fault, and especially the mother’s fault. So more recently mothers have become anxious to avoid blame by devoting more attention to children’s schoolwork and after-school activities, at the same time that mothers were being encouraged by feminists to work at jobs outside the home. Hence, the unhappy modern mother, and the occasional infanticide, despite progress in women’s freedom and the modern technology of automated household appliances, etc. (2).
The contemporary mother’s desire to avoid blame is consistent with my repeated criticism that many parents are overprotective primarily for the parent’s benefit rather than the child’s benefit. Warner provides many examples of women justifying their concern about child abuse and neglect by saying “I feel bad…” rather than “My child suffers.” The constant “I, I, I…” in women’s narratives reveals that pedophobia often exists even when parents are overprotective.
The historical analysis in “Perfect Madness” is valuable but the author claims the modern mother’s lack of “productive” fulfillment is a major source of stress, as if spending time with children is hardly productive. Previous feminist tracts with titles like “The Baby Trap” also took for granted that childcare is a sacrifice rather than a joy. In describing the heyday of “productive” feminist dreams in the 1980s, Warner lets slip this revelation: “…the chance that children wouldn’t quite fit into this picture – never even entered our minds.”
The author also laments that women who want to pursue careers outside the home are “forced to abdicate the dreams of a lifetime” if they become a mother. Exactly my point: spending as much time as possible with children is not the dream of a lifetime for most adults. Warner’s solution is to create more government sponsored Baby Parking to free up some time for mothers to get away from children, since governments are well-known for their competence in administering public education?
Like many feminist tracts before it, “Perfect Madness” largely ignores that two-thirds of women today are sexually dysfunctional, not just mothers, but the author claims modern motherhood is the culprit. The flimsy excuse offered is: the “passion” mothers give their kids “empties” a mother of sexual energy. According to such logic, mothers should be less sexually functional than career women, and more sexually functional before parenthood. But are they? Warner doesn’t seem to be aware that widespread feminine frustration from sexual dysfunction is a problem that predates motherhood and commonly exists even in adolescent girls (3).
Why are most women with or without children unable to experience clitoral erections or have orgasms without the aid of a mechanical device? Although female sexual dysfunction is probably a multi-factorial problem, feminists refuse to confront the glaring fact of widespread clitoral erectile dysfunction and its likely cause: mental castration in childhood. Instead of attempting to prevent that tragedy from occurring again and again in future generations of growing girls, feminists now devote most of their energies attempting to demonize pornography and other forms of sex work, or protecting a woman’s legal right to kill the children she doesn’t want to have, and doesn’t want anybody to adopt either.
I humbly doubt that widespread sexual dysfunction in adolescent girls and women today is because mothers are stressed out after helping kids with their homework and driving to and from soccer practice. The sexual revolution focused on people’s (including women’s) right to enjoy sex. That was a good thing, but by now women should notice that lack of sexual desire and the difficulty women have in reaching orgasm is due to how little girls are still mentally castrated long before they grow up. Many feminists themselves have focused on “protecting” women from becoming sexually functional by spreading the mass hysteria over child sex abuse Even Ms. magazine once published an article claiming that satanic cult abuse really does exist.
Typical of expressions of pedophobia is the tendency to deny children’s humanity, i.e. by creating a separate category for them, like “lower” animals, incompetent to consent and otherwise undeserving of autonomy. Hence the popular attempt to infantilize older children and even teenagers – ironically just as women are traditionally infantilized. In reality children possess and exhibit most if not all of the qualities of “mature” human beings, including some of the best qualities of humanity. The pedophobic mental castration of children is possibly a twisted form of vengeance. If women today are sexually dysfunctional, they damn sure don’t want the next generation of girls to become sexually functional.
Attempts to start “childfree” political movements in the U.S., Britain and Australia have appealed to many adults. The lack of interest (let alone love) for children expressed by adults who choose to be “childfree” is clearly bizarre and evidence of pedophobia. Such attitudes indicate a tendency toward misanthropy, and are similar to some ancient religious sects that advocated physical castration and viewed all physical life as evil, as well as some radical environmental groups today that advocate voluntary human extinction.
I think the spread of pedophobia is directly related to the mass hysteria over pedophilia. Although violent sex crimes against children are attributed to “pedophiles,” such gruesome crimes are committed by psychopaths not people who love children. Likewise, the would-be heroes eager to start witch hunts for suspected pedophiles and join lynch mobs to achieve “justice” are usually people who otherwise couldn’t care less about children’s health and safety.
In my personal experience the individuals most hysterical about relatively rare and innocuous “excessive love for children” tend to be not parents, teachers, or childcare workers, but rather individuals who have absolutely no interest in children and want nothing to do with children in their daily lives. People who are involved with children on a daily basis tend to be more concerned about becoming the unjust victims of witch hunts, a danger that pedophobes (conveniently far away from any source of suspicion) have no reason to be concerned about.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Marina B. for buying me the book “No Kid…”
1. Maier, Corinne. “No Kid: Quarante raisons de ne pas avoir d’enfant.” (Editions Michalon, 2007).
2. Warner, Judith. “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.” (Vermilion, 2005).
3. Tolman, Deborah L. “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality.” (Harvard Univ. Press, 2005). See my review: Sexual Equality