Procreation for female serfs.

The Thinking Housewife (?) posted an entry called Procreation in Liberaldom. It is basically a list of four arguments as to why contraception, and by extension the refusal to procreate, is “a form of subjugation.”

This is a bizarre statement since, as I’ve pointed out before, procreation is pretty much a pure form of subjugation, because it consists solely of using other persons (the new lives) as means to an end. So to call the refusal to procreation “a form of subjugation” is a projection meant for breeders to feel better about what they’ve done. We’re the tyrants, you see, not them…

Anyway, this entry provides us with an answer to the following question: what is it that female serfs (housewives with children) are being indoctrinated to believe is the purpose of procreation? Laura Wood, the Thinking Housewife (?), gives us four points.

One, it deprives life to those who could be cared for and survive. The unborn are potential inhabitants of this world. In effect, this potential is a form of existence in a community that extends through time.

I have to admit I don’t really understand the relevance of this point at all. Wood provides no argument as to why existence is a good thing, and we already know thanks to Benatar’s asymmetry that non-existence is inherently a better state than existence. Furthermore, how does this potential undo the very concrete harm of procreation to the woman?

Non-existence is completely involuntary for those who are deemed unfit to exist because they do not fit into the modern selective breeding scheme.

How can that which does not exist be subject to anything? We can make sense of such arguments for existing human lives because we suffer from being coerced. We rightly abhor the fact that people are exterminated for being thought unfit to exist, and this is a source of unthinkable suffering. But that which does not exist cannot suffer or be deprived from anything, including life. So what does it matter if non-existence is “involuntary”? One might as well bemoan that which does not exist cannot eat ice cream.

Two, it deprives succeeding generations of human capital. Even the mentally unfit or unexceptional provide labor.

The language of capital is the language of exploitation, of objectification. “Human capital” is a human being reduced to a number, to a production apparatus, a means to an end, which one must bend to the demands of the (non-human, non-humanist) profit motive. It seems that to Wood, the worth of a human being to future generations is reduced to the fact that ey can produce labor to the capitalist machine. I may be reading too much into this, but whether I am right or not, her argument is still callous and wrong.

Now, to address the argument directly: no one is personally obligated to provide labor for society. Furthermore, no one’s livelihood depends on there being, say, ten billion people instead of seven billion people, so the fact that some people use contraception does not deprive any future generation of anything.

Three, it deprives those who do not fully understand what parenthood is the opportunity to approach the possibility of procreation without the negative prejudices created by contraception and sexual freedom… The sexual revolution has resulted in a widely reported increase in involuntary childlessness. A significant minority of women use contraception for many years and then when they wish to have children discover they are infertile. This is one of the wages of acceptance of artificial contraception and the economic autonomy of women.

[Christine] Overall argues that the highest purpose of parenthood is to create “supportive, life-enhancing and close relationships.” But if this is true, then don’t couples have an ethical obligation to provide these relationships to those who are infertile? She contends that we do not owe the unborn existence. But she also apparently believes we don’t owe the living kindness and compassion. Viewed even from within [Christine] Overall’s narrow and sterile ethical framework, it would be wrong for women not to suffer the minor inconvenience of pregnancy to help potential adoptive parents.

I can’t really think of an argument for procreation that is more hateful of women. Does Wood seriously believe that women should be forced to risk their health to carry children that would go to adoptive parents?

There are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to start. First, there are plenty of children available for adoption in the world, so no need to create more. Second, how does Wood derive this “ethical obligation”? For an ethical obligation to provide children to be demonstrated, it would be first necessary (but not sufficient) to prove that people have a right to children, but this is not the case (if only because it is a contradiction in terms to have a right which, in itself, harms other people). So this is all just coming out of left field.

Third, it is rather strange to state that the purpose of parenthood is to bring about “supportive, life-enhancing and close relationships.” You’d think that if that was the case, it would take a rather different form than the current one which is based on claims of ownership. But this is a relatively minor point compared to the extremely bizarre claim that some women have a duty to produce children for other women’s sake.

Finally, and most importantly, the mass acceptance of artificial contraception deprives our successors of the chance to live in a world in which human life is viewed as intrinsically beautiful, mysterious and good – no matter what circumstances or hardships are involved. This is in effect a deprivation of vitality, a depletion of hope and confidence. The effects must be profound and extend over the course of many generations.

Ah yes, because I’m sure that the world before contraception- a world where a third of women or more died in childbirth and children themselves dropped like flies- led to people viewing life as “beautiful, mysterious and good.” Just look at the, er, slight obsession with death in Victorian times.

I can only interpret this “argument” as a bit of overdramatic poetic license. I don’t think Wood has any empirical evidence or logical deduction whatsoever backing up the proposition that the absence of contraception leads to people viewing life as “beautiful, mysterious and good.”

Wood’s arguments seem to be, for the most part, irrelevant. She seems to be coming from an entirely alien, irrational worldview. Her conclusions are horrifying and bizarre. Pretty standard Christian fundamentalism, I guess.

6 thoughts on “Procreation for female serfs.

  1. Brian Will July 1, 2012 at 03:05

    I am in complete agreement with your basic premise that we have a moral obligation to prevent harm but no obligation to provide pleasure.

    I was wondering how I might argue back against someone who might say, “Well if you have an obligation to prevent harm, doesn’t that mean you have to intervene to stop every crime, stop someone from committing suicide, stop an abortion, etc.”

    What’s a good response I can use against an argument like this?

    • Francois Tremblay July 1, 2012 at 03:14

      “I am in complete agreement with your basic premise that we have a moral obligation to prevent harm but no obligation to provide pleasure.”
      Well, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue otherwise… although of course people will defend pretty much anything.

      “I was wondering how I might argue back against someone who might say, “Well if you have an obligation to prevent harm, doesn’t that mean you have to intervene to stop every crime, stop someone from committing suicide, stop an abortion, etc.””
      Well, given my stances on suicide and abortion, your last two examples are rather misdirected… LOL.
      Seriously though, I have already addressed this issue in other entries. Basically, my answer is that while we have the right to expect someone to intervene, we don’t have a right to conscript anyone we want. For example, if your house is on fire, you have the right to expect firemen to come and fight the fire, but you can’t coerce some random passerby to fight the fire at the risk of eir life. There are obvious reasons why any advanced society may want divisions of labor (to what extent these divisions are valid is another matter: e.g. see participatory economics).

      “What’s a good response I can use against an argument like this?”
      I personally have an obligation to not commit harm against you (or anyone), but I do not personally have an obligation to relieve you of harm. My obligation to relieve you of harm is as a social agent, to the extent that I influence policy (which in the case of a capital-democratic society is near-zero or plain zero).

    • Francois Tremblay July 1, 2012 at 03:21

      PS just to elucidate a bit, were you confused by this sentence:
      “It would only make sense to say that we have an ethical obligation to provide children if people had a right to children”
      What I meant more specifically is that an ethical obligation to provide children makes no sense without a right to children. I did not mean to say that a right to children was sufficient to prove an ethical obligation to provide children. It would only be the first step.
      I will clarify this in the entry.

  2. Brian Will July 1, 2012 at 03:07

    And hey I may not comment as often as I should; but I support every blog entry you post. Keep up the good work; I read your new entries as soon as they’re written.

    • Francois Tremblay July 1, 2012 at 03:16

      Thanks! Glad you like and follow the blog. So I guess you like the new topics as well (antinatalism, radfem)? I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback from regulars on this. I am guessing those who don’t like the new topics have just left. :)

      I still get as many hits as I used to, so it doesn’t seem to be hurting me very much… not nearly as much as I expected it to.

  3. sbt42 July 2, 2012 at 07:20

    The Thinking Housewife blows my mind. And I think it’s particularly telling that comments are closed for the article.

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