Interview with Nina Paley

This article was supposed to appear in the newest issue of Antinatalism Magazine, but unfortunately the magazine is no longer being published due to issues with a debate which was also supposed to appear. So I’ve decided to put the interview here.
Nina Paley is an antinatalist and radical feminist movie director and animator from Illinois. You can check out her blog here.


You are most well-known as an animated filmmaker, and your first feature film Sita Sings the Blues received a huge response. That must have been an amazing experience. You are also a prominent figure in the movement against intellectual property and copyright. What convinced you to take up that cause? What arguments do you find most convincing?

What surprises me is that anybody finds arguments for copyright convincing. I don’t even think that they find the arguments convincing, I think that we’ve all been indoctrinated into this copyright regime that makes no sense at all. Culture is just not property and we’ve all been sort of mesmerized to think that it is: that’s the bizarre thing to me. Coming to see it differently was like waking up from a weird dream.

I’ve talked a lot about this regarding Sita Sings the Blues. Going through the process of making it legal to share that film was just absurd, given that all the music I was using should be in the public domain. What people often get wrong about me and copyright is they think that I didn’t know that the music was under copyright: I did. When I started working on Sita Sings the Blues, I went to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which put me in touch with an intellectual property law clinic and the students there found the provenance of all the music that I used. When it came time to actually release the film, because the distribution industry had changed, it fell on me to clear all this stuff, so I got a front row seat to how all that worked, and I was appalled. I spoke on that in detail, blogged on it, and it’s a horrific thing.

You made many antinatalism-based shorts, including The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer (2002) and Thank You for Not Breeding (2002), which I think a lot of readers have seen on Youtube (and if they haven’t, they should!). How did you become an antinatalist and what inspired you to make these shorts?

Thank You For Not Breeding is actually the collection of those shorts, including The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer, The Stork, and some others. I of course was antinatalist before I knew there was a word “antinatalist.”

I had just always been this way ever since I was a little child, growing up in the 70s (I was born in 1968). There was popular awareness of environmental degradation in the 70s. There was also popular awareness of human overpopulation back then. And it was striking to me how that popular awareness just ended. In the 70s people could talk about overpopulation issues, but then suddenly you couldn’t any more and everybody was just pretending it didn’t exist. It certainly stayed with me, and it just seemed impossible for me not to comprehend that all of these environmental problems were a direct result of human activity.

Growing up in the 70s, there was also awareness of cigarette smoking as bad for you. My grandparents smoked cigarettes and they were addicted to it, at least my grandfather was, and when I was growing up they said “don’t smoke cigarettes, they’re addictive, I only smoke these because we didn’t know.”

So when I hit my twenties, of course I was really surprised that the idiots my age were smoking. Clearly you’re not doing it because you don’t know. But also they were breeding! We know what this does, we know this is a problem, so what are you doing?

And I still have no answers to this, but I really thought that knowing what’s what would keep people from doing stupid things, and clearly that’s not the case. I was a very angry young woman and I just could not believe that, once my generation came of age, they were super pro-natalist and simultaneously talking about how important saving the environment is, and not making this connection. I was also aware that my thoughts were forbidden, even though it was so obvious to me, yet talking about it really upset people. And I was aware that I was supposed to find babies so overwhelmingly attractive, that they were the most important thing, and clearly I wasn’t like that.

So how did I get into it for real? I was 23, 24, doing my Nina’s Adventures comics, and I finally did some comics about it. I made comics for alternative weekly newspapers back then. It was a big risk to do these, but I guess I felt I had nothing to lose because the pain of knowing something is true and sitting silently while the world fills with bullshit and lies is painful, so finally that pain became too much and I just had to say something.

A consequence of publishing these comics is that I got a letter from Les U. Knight, of VHEMT, and I got another letter from Chris Korda, of the Church of Euthanasia, and that was the first time I learned that I was not the only person in the world that thought that way.

What kind of reception did you get from publishing those comics? Did you get any hate mail?

I did get some hate mail, but I wasn’t literally burned at the stake, so I lived to see another day. Again, hearing from Les and Chris was the most energizing, exciting thing, and I ended up working with both of them. I ended up going to Portland and doing stuff for VHEMTN with Les. Famously, I did that Jerry Springer show with the Church of Euthanasia: the 1997 “I want to join a suicide cult” episode of the Jerry Springer show. That was a COE action. I’m much more in the VHEMT camp than the COE camp: COE was very edgy and punk and Dada and aggressive, while VHEMT is more rational and compassionate and gentle.

VHEMT is considered fringe, even to many antinatalists. What is your opinion about it? Do you consider yourself primarily an ecological antinatalist? Your Cancer short seems to be more of the misanthropic antinatalist kind.

Deep down, I’d say I’m an ecological antinatalist, but these two things are related. I’ve been in a constant state of grief my entire life witnessing the human assault on the planet, and being aware of these mass extinctions, it’s just heartbreaking to live in this world and just watch more and more pavement getting put down, more and more habitats being lost to more and more of us, more and more of our garbage going everywhere, more and more pollution, and so on. It breaks my heart.

When I was younger, I was just devastated by this. I can’t really understate how much this affected me. People don’t believe it, because I guess most people pay lip service to these issues, they don’t really feel it, but I did. In fact, I intentionally cultivated denial just so I would continue living, because the pain of awareness is too much, it’s too sad what humans are doing to the biosphere. So I purposefully began trying to not think about it, so that I could live. And I must confess, I am happier, but I still know intellectually that these things are going on.

When you are aware of that, it’s hard to not be misanthropic, right? We’re the species that’s doing this. So I guess I’m both, but it stems from the ecological aspect of it.

You talked about “coming out” with the cartoons. Do you have any misgivings about being “out” as an antinatalist?

I don’t have any misgivings about it, but it was a big step. I was aware that it would be very upsetting to people, especially as a woman. My fertile years were just a nightmare in that respect. The expectations of women being baby-oriented are very high. And people are aghast at women that are not into babies and consider them a threat and a real perversion.

I made my peace with this long ago. It was really stressful when I was younger. Also it was really hard for my relationships, because young men didn’t want to start a relationship with a woman who didn’t want kids. In my essay My Sex-Positive Memoirs, I talk a bit about that.

Amongst young women, men have this reputation that they don’t wanna commit, that they don’t want to have families, that it’s the young women who want to have families and want commitment from a man and the man just wants to play around, but that’s not true. Men want to have families, but mostly they want to be in control. The reason that young women think that men don’t want families is because, if the woman wants a family, the man is not going to agree because they’re engaged in a control struggle. They did not like being with a woman who had made this decision, because that meant no control for them.

I understand that you wanted to make a feature length version of Thank You for Not Breeding, but that it didn’t work out. What was the story behind that?

I was making animated shorts, but couldn’t conceive of making an animated feature. I was toying with the idea of a documentary, partly because I lived in San Francisco and everyone was making documentaries at the time. I have hours of interviews with Les Knight and other people on this subject, but I just wasn’t sufficiently driven to make a whole feature-length documentary. I was very discouraged because I would show the work in progress to documentarians that I met and they were like “are you kidding? is this a joke?” because of the subject matter.

What advice do you have for antinatalists who want to produce and show antinatalist art, and perhaps want to make it more “mainstream”?

You can’t make something more mainstream, you can just make something that’s good. My advice is to hone your production skills, focus on making quality work that people will want to look at. When I was making those controversial animation shorts, I thought of it as sugar-coating a difficult pill as much as I could. The Stork was a good example of that. I knew people didn’t want to talk or think about this, so I had to make it as appetizing as possible with the art and the timing and the production values and all of that. So I think it’s very important to make high-quality work.

As an environmentalist, what do you think about environmentalists who have children in the name of raising a “better” generation?

That’s just ridiculous. I feel that VHEMT has done a very good job of addressing that. It makes no sense. Good people poop and pollute just as much as bad people, good people’s car exhaust shoots just as much carbon dioxide as bad people’s.

And the number one best measure to help the environment is to not have children. It’s been proven so many times.

I know. It’s just absurd and Bill McKibben’s book Maybe One was an intellectual train-wreck. I’m sure it’s popular because people are natalists, but I was just aghast when I read that book. It was just a jaw-dropping intellectual failure.

So is the argument there that if you raise a child to be an environmentalist, that it’s better overall for the Earth?

His argument was just “oh well, before I said don’t have any, but it’s good to want to raise and nurture a child, and only a horrible person wouldn’t understand that.”

You are also an outspoken feminist. How compatible do you think feminism and antinatalism are? After all, big natalist pushes in the culture always end up eroding women’s rights.

I think antinatalism and radical feminism are extremely compatible, and also extremely incompatible. There seems to be a fault line amongst feminist women because some women derive identity from reproducing. What radical feminism has clarified for me is that whether you really want to have children, or you absolutely don’t want to have children, women are the ones that have children and our entire lives are shaped by this fact. In my case, it was, until I got my tubal ligation, this constant terror of getting pregnant. For other women, it’s this joy of getting pregnant. But either way, it shapes your life.

There is an increasing number of antinatalist feminists, I am quite happy when I read, for example, the Gender Critical subreddit. Antinatalist women there are not willing to be completely shut down. We’re used to people saying that antinatalism is anti-woman, and it’s not, so women there make a point of arguing that. Natalist women try to shut them down and they never quite win.

So there is this fault line, but I feel there is more mutual respect between natalist and antinatalist radical feminists than I’ve found outside of radical feminism. I know many amazing radical feminist women who are mothers, and they have been quite respectful of my antinatalism. I’m not going to give them a hard time, because I really respect them and their work. As feminists, we don’t tackle every single issue in the entire world. We are on the same side of many many issues, and we fight together, and respect each other.

There are many antinatalists who believe that women bear the guilt for procreation, and that women should be vilified for it. There are also many feminists who believe that procreation is the biological role of women, and that we need to glorify it instead of suppress it. What do you say to these people?

What about the men? [laughs] Who is impregnating these women? Every unwanted pregnancy is the fault of men, every single one. One of the things we materialist, radical feminists point out is that sexual reproduction requires two sexes, male and female. Human eggs don’t do parthenogenesis well, they need sperm to fertilize them, and sperm needs eggs. it’s incredibly naive and misogynist to say that women are responsible for having babies: men are responsible.

As for the biological roles, it’s the biological role of men too, because they are the ones fertilizing those eggs. As I was saying before, women’s lives are shaped by biology, as are men’s. I think Andrea Dworkin and other radical feminists talked about this: women are very different from men in that we are profoundly vulnerable to the consequences of intercourse, an act that is no big deal for a man but has enormous consequences on our lives, pregnancy being the really obvious one. We are also more vulnerable to disease and physical injury, which doesn’t even take a lot of roughness or violence.

Pregnancy is the obvious one and it’s just not something men live with. Maybe, if a man tries really hard, he can sort of imagine it, but I don’t think it’s possible to imagine what it’s like to live with this vulnerability every day, and the threat of these massive consequences all the time.

Is it women’s reproductive role? Certainly, if reproduction is going to happen, the woman is going to be carrying out the role of being pregnant and giving birth, but it’s also not women’s role in life, because I and many other women have never done that, and thank God I’ve made it all the way to menopause without doing it. The nightmare is over, for me.

Isn’t it, in a way, a more modern way of saying “biology is destiny”? That our biology dictates our lives? Because it’s not really true, we’re able to decide, like you did with your tubal litigation, that’s not a biological imperative, but you had it done. But I think this idea that your biology determines your life is still very common.

It does determine our life: even though I had a tubal ligation, my female biology still has shaped my life. It’s not like I had to get pregnant, but even while not getting pregnant, being female has given me a very different life than a male would have. Is it destiny? Just because you can get pregnant doesn’t mean it’s your destiny to get pregnant, and doesn’t mean you should get pregnant. Another thing is, I’m a human, I can operate a gun. It doesn’t mean I should. Humans can do all kinds of things, but it doesn’t mean that we should, or have to.

I think there’s a lot of people who just think that just because having children is part of the blueprint of life, and because you’re able to do it, that therefore there’s nothing to think about there.

Actually, that’s an interesting philosophical thing. It is true that life replicates. Thinking about biological reproduction, you can go with “I’m a living thing and this is what living things do.” But humans are apparently unique animals in that so much of what we are is culture, rather than pure biology.

I believe that I actually have done plenty of reproduction and replication, culturally. And if that is in fact the meaning of life, then I’ve had an extremely meaningful life, by producing culture. And this is also related to my copyright abolition, because I view culture as a living thing that you cannot own, just as you cannot, or certainly should not, own life. And so I reproduce memetically, or culturally, rather than biologically. No human being that can talk, that has enough language to articulate why they think breeding is a good idea, is purely biological: we’re mostly cultural. So there’s plenty of meaning to be found in cultural reproduction.

And cultural reproduction is parallel to biological reproduction in that, when people go on this ego trip of “oh look what I made,” it’s like, no you didn’t, you didn’t design that DNA, you’re just part of an enormous process that’s much much bigger than you. The same is true culturally, in spite of the “genius” theory, where we believe that geniuses originate their creative work, but that’s not true either: your language comes from elsewhere, ideas come from elsewhere, you do a little bit and move them along, but that’s it. It’s much bigger than you.

My novel is out!

I know that probably no one still comes to this blog, but I wanted to announce that my novel is finally out. You can check it out here:

I have posted some quotes from it on my author Twitter:

This blog is pretty much dead yo

As you may have noticed, this blog is pretty much dead. It had a good run. If you want to follow me on social media, my Spinster account is and my Facebook is here. There’s also the “TERF” chat I posted on the right, although it pretty much has no traffic. Hope to see you all around!

Mondo Diablo podcast being put on Youtube

My wife Alison Randall (Hellbound Alleee) has passed away recently. I have decided to work at putting her music podcast, Mondo Diablo, on Youtube so more people can enjoy it. There are about 360 available episodes, so I’ve got a ways to go. If you like strange and interesting music, come by her channel and check it out. I’ve also made a playlist where episodes will be added periodically.

Quotes from The Book of the Subgenius

“The idea that America (or any country) values individuality as the highest ideal is a cheap myth. Everybody’s an individualist, but they don’t like individuals. Perhaps in simpler times it was true, but no modern industrial deathkulture can really afford a population of unpredictables”

“Well, you can fight City Hall, and even win. But you can’t get ultimate Slack. You mus face that. But this doesn’t mean you should let the Con make you accept things you don’t NEED and resist what you CAN USE. Don’t get our idea of Slack mixed up with Their false quest for ‘tranquility.’ Their idea of tranquility for you is the narcosis of sitting alone in a tiny condobox exhausted from work and nerve drugs, watching TV in a kind of eternal limbo. For some Subgeniuses, such mindlessness is Slack, the difference is that the Con wants everybody to have the same idea of Slack.

To many Subgenii, Slack is simply being allowed to do the kind of work they love. False Work, done only for money, without fun, is a SIN against YOU ALMIGHTY (unless it’s a LOT of money). Unrepressed greed is natural. But the way They’ve got it set up, it’s poison, as evidenced by the diseases peculiar to the rich.”

“Slack is not simply ‘Not Giving a Shit.’ It is more like ‘Giving a Shit Freely.’

Holy men have called Slack, ‘SEEING.’ Not looking, but seeing. ‘Bob” teaches men to truly see. A poor man can have true Slack. An idiot trapped in a condominium and a bad job can have true Slack. All that it takes is to stop sucking the finger and go where it POINTS!

Man’s word says, ‘seeing is believing.’ This is perversion. ‘Bob’s’ word says, ‘Believing is seeing.’ If you believe in something first, you will then see it. But you must really believe.

To be a complete and religious Subgenius, you don’t have to believe in the dogma. You don’t have to believe in yourself. You don’t have to believe in ANYTHING, but merely be CAPABLE of BELIEVING.”

Quotes from Pornography, by Andrea Dworkin

“With a disgust common to all feminists who have tried to be participants in the so-called humanism of men, only to discover through bitter experience that the culture of males does not allow honest female participation, Virginia Woolf wrote: “I detest the masculine point of view. I am bored by his heroism, virtue, and honour. I think the best these men can do is not to talk about themselves anymore.” Men have claimed the human point of view; they author it; they own it. Men are humanists, humans, humanism. Men are rapists, batterers, plunderers, killers; these same men are religious prophets, poets, heroes, figures of romance, adventure, accomplishment, figures ennobled by tragedy and defeat. Men have claimed the earth, called it Her. Men ruin Her. Men have airplanes, guns, bombs, poisonous gases, weapons so perverse and deadly that they defy any authentically human imagination. Men battle each other and Her; women battle to be let into the category “human” in imagination and reality. Men battle to keep the category “human” narrow, circumscribed by their own values and activities; women battle to change the meaning that men have given the word, to transform its meaning by suffusing it with female experience.”

“Men will advocate some forms of violence and not others. Some men will renounce violence in theory, and practice it in secrecy against women and children. Some men will become icons in male culture, able to discipline and focus their commitment to violence by learning a violent skill: boxing, shooting, hunting, hockey, football, soldiering, policing. Some men will use language as violence, or money as violence, or religion as violence, or science as violence, or influence over others as violence. Some men will commit violence against the minds of others and some against the bodies of others. Most men, in their life histories, have done both. In the area of sexuality, this fact was acknowledged with no recognition of its significance by the scholars of the Institute for Sex Research (the Kinsey Institute) who studied sex offenders:

‘If we labeled all punishable sexual behavior as a sex offense, we would find ourselves in the ridiculous situation of having all of our male histories consist almost wholly of sex offenders, the remaining few being not only nonoffenders but nonconformists. The man who kisses a girl [sic] in defiance of her expressed wishes is committing a forced sexual relationship and is liable to an assault charge, but to solemnly label him a sex offender would be to reduce our study to a ludicrous level.’

Rather than “reduce [their] study to a ludicrous level,” which would be unthinkable, the honorable scientists chose to sanction as normative the male commitment to the use of force documented by their study.”

“Pornography reveals that male pleasure is inextricably tied to victimizing, hurting, exploiting; that sexual fun and sexual passion in the privacy of the male imagination are inseparable from the brutality of male history. The private world of sexual dominance that men demand as their right and their freedom is the mirror image of the public world of sadism and atrocity that men consistently and self-righteously deplore. It is in the male experience of pleasure that one finds the meaning of male history.”

“Sade’s biographers attempt to justify, trivialize, or deny (even though records confirming the facts exist) every assault Sade ever committed against women and girls. Especially, tireless efforts are made to discount the kidnapping and torture of Rose Keller, Sade’s first nonprostitute victim of record.

Violence against prostitutes, regardless of its ferocity, is nothing less than an acceptable fact of life. W ho, the biographers ask with mock wonderment, can deny that these “girls” are there to be used? The man’s right to sexual pleasure on his own terms is the given, the natural right. Sexual pleasure includes by definition or intrinsically justifies the use of force, trickery, or violence. The cost to the prostitute’s health or well-being means nothing. Her own will
has no value and no claim to value. The use of force against
prostitutes means less than nothing. Freedom, that hallowed word, is valued only when used in reference to male desire. For women, freedom means only that men are free to use them.”

“Coleridge’s ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ operates more consistently in the viewing of pornography than it ever has in the reading of literature. The willing suspension of disbelief is crucial. Without it, one might remember that this rendition of women in private is not women in private at all, but women in makeup and costumes under hot lights in uncomfortable positions posed before a camera behind which is a photographer behind whom is a publisher behind whom is a multibillion-dollar industry behind which are rich lawyers claiming that the photographs are constitutionally protected speech essential to human freedom behind whom are intellectuals who find all of this revolutionary behind all of whom—except the models—are women who launder their underwear and clean their toilets. Indeed, to be a consumer of pornography one must be adept at suspending disbelief. Should disbelief prove stubborn and not easy to suspend, the knowledge that the models posed for money provides confirmation that they are whores and then the photographs are a simple expression of a general truth. For the viewer who remembers that the photographs are artificial constructs, the photographs prove what the photographs show: that women are whores, dumb and evil whores at that; that women like to whore; that women choose to whore.”

“Film critic Molly Haskell, at the end of a decade of vigorous feminism in the United States, expressed the weary anger and astonishment of women who keep knocking their heads against this particular brick wall:

‘If we think talking it all out has brought us [men and women] closer together in the last few years, we have only to broach the subject of rape. Men seem incapable of understanding what rape means to a woman—the sense of total violation, or the mere threat of rape as a lifelong shadow over her freedom of movement…

The central division is between the sense of rape as an act of
hostility and aggression, as women see and know and experience it, and rape as an erotic act, as fantasized by men.'”

“The valuation of women’s sexuality in pornography is objective and real because women are so regarded and so valued. The force depicted in pornography is objective and real because force is so used against women. The debasing of women depicted in pornography and intrinsic to it is
objective and real in that women are so debased. The uses of
women depicted in pornography are objective and real because women are so used. The women used in pornography are used in pornography. The definition of women articulated systematically and consistently in pornography is objective and real in that real women exist within and must live with constant reference to the boundaries of this definition. The fact that pornography is widely believed to be “sexual representations” or “depictions of sex” emphasizes only that the valuation of women as low whores is
widespread and that the sexuality of women is perceived as low and whorish in and of itself. The fact that pornography is widely believed to be “depictions of the erotic” means only that the debasing of women is held to be the real pleasure of sex.”

“On the Left, the sexually liberated woman is the woman of
pornography. Free male sexuality wants, has a right to, produces, and consumes pornography because pornography is pleasure. Leftist sensibility promotes and protects pornography because pornography is freedom. The pornography glut is bread and roses for the masses. Freedom is the mass-marketing of woman as whore. Free sexuality for the woman is in being massively consumed, denied an individual nature, denied any sexual sensibility other than that which serves the male. Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is the whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question, organized crime syndicates, sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man’s pleasure; poverty is not wicked or cruel when it is the poverty of dispossessed women who have only themselves to sell; violence by the powerful against the powerless is not wicked or cruel when it is called sex; slavery is not wicked or cruel when it is sexual slavery; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women, whores, cunts. The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.”

Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women

Women getting paid less than men persist even when women become dominant in an area

>A new study from researchers at Cornell University found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. In fact, another study shows, when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before…

A striking example is to be found in the field of recreation — working in parks or leading camps — which went from predominantly male to female from 1950 to 2000. Median hourly wages in this field declined 57 percentage points, accounting for the change in the value of the dollar, according to a complex formula used by Professor Levanon. The job of ticket agent also went from mainly male to female during this period, and wages dropped 43 percentage points.

The same thing happened when women in large numbers became designers (wages fell 34 percentage points), housekeepers (wages fell 21 percentage points) and biologists (wages fell 18 percentage points). The reverse was true when a job attracted more men. Computer programming, for instance, used to be a relatively menial role done by women. But when male programmers began to outnumber female ones, the job began paying more and gained prestige.

Clickhole satire about pedophiles in office

A Second Chance: This Amazing Organization Helps Disgraced Pedophiles Rebuild Their Lives By Getting Them Elected To Political Office

For many pedophiles, it’s impossible to make ends meet. These sex criminals are often shunned both socially and professionally, making it extremely difficult for them to find any sort of gainful employment. But now a group called the GOP is trying to change all that: This amazing organization helps disgraced pedophiles rebuild their lives by getting them elected to political office.

If that doesn’t lift your spirits, we don’t know what will.