Misopedia: the hatred of children.

UPDATE 2: Some childfree morons on LiveJournal (people still use LiveJournal?) have reposted this entry and are spreading the idea that I’m pro-breeder. Never mind all the antinatalist entries I’ve written, but how in the name of Bob can you be so stupid as to read an entry about the rights of children and believe that I’m pro-breeder? This just proves that being childfree does not guarantee a grasp of basic logic.

UPDATE: I first use the word “pedogyny” to talk about the hatred of children, but as someone in the comments pointed out, the correct word is “misopedia.” So I had to correct the entry title as well as uses of the word in the entry. Sorry for the error.

From Project Unbreakable.

For more entries of mine on the subject of childism, please see my childism category.

The hatred of children is so normalized that we don’t even use a term for it. It’s so integrated within our social institutions that daring to question it means to question the very premises of our society. To reject misopedia means to reject the family system, to reject the education system, to reject organized religion, to reject national and racial prejudice, all of these things being way, way outside of the margins of discourse, anywhere (except on a blog or two ran by crazy whackjobs like me).

I have already commented on the strange life children lead. Children are not considered, or treated, as human beings, they are not considered to be endowed with rights, and their exploitation (whether as unpaid workers, targets of abuse, trafficked persons, or anything else) is considered benign unless it’s featured as a Youtube meme (Kony for president, y’all!).

This lack of rights is a natural result of parental ownership of children and government ownership of children, the two forces which are engaged in a perpetual struggle for control over the body and minds of children. But no matter who wins out at any given time, one does not grant rights to an owned object, for that contradicts the whole purpose of ownership. To own is to control, and to grant rights is to relinquish some area of direct control (indirect control, of course, is always available, but requires a great deal of resources or influence).

The culture, religion, habits, and other beliefs of the parents subjugate the children’s values and communicate to the children that their opinions are worthless. Children’s lives and well-being are considered secondary to the parents’ beliefs. This is why it is difficult to differentiate the state of being a child from the state of being an indentured servant, parenting from child-hatred.

I hope everyone understands that misopedia is not new, but is rather a historical phenomenon that has been the dominant worldview on child-raising from the last century to the previous millenia. Like misogyny, it has been a near-universal principle of social organization.

The fact that parents are often nice to their children is not any more a rebuttal of child-hatred than the fact that some black slaves were treated nicely, and that most were paid, proves that they were not slaves (and seeing how badly children are treated on the whole, both by parents and by the State, this objection holds little weight). But even when parents are trying to be kind to their children, they are still cruel and damaging to them (see for instance Arthur Silber’s series on how even seemingly innocent ways of indoctrinating children are cruel and lead to terrible consequences). It is not that all parents are deliberately trying to be cruel, but that the concept of parenting itself is cruel.

In order to justify any system of exploitation, one has to portray the exploited as being somehow deficient and deserving of being exploited. Bigotry and exploitation are always self-reinforcing and mutually necessary.

In the case of children, we have the myth of the gullible, unruly, selfish and violent child1, exemplified by the famous novel Lord of the Flies, published in 1954, where children marooned on a desert island and come to torture and kill each other. It is not a coincidence that the author is British, because that sounds pretty much like any British boarding school in the fifties.

I’m joking, but there is a deeper point here: very often we confuse effects of the environment with human nature.

Yes, there are children who are gullible, but there are some who are not (studies also show that even very young children, down to 16 months old, doubt testimonies that contradict empirical evidence). Yet children are called gullible as a class. Like many other forms of bigotry, it is justified by pseudo-evolution: children are gullible because it’s evolutionarily good for them to learn the essentials of survival from their parents.

The fact is that children are entrapped in a family and basically have no ideological alternative. Up to a certain age, children depend on their parents for their lives, and cannot afford to antagonize them. In fact, because of the constant demands parents put on children, they are often psychologically motivated by the desire to not hurt their parents’ feelings (even in cases such as when a child is raped by some other person); they have to walk on eggshells in the same way that any person is forced to accommodate the feelings of a superior.

If we look at the example of religion, for example, we find that children adopt the religion of their parents (or the former religion of their parents, in the case of the atheist perverts who send their children to Sunday School) because they really have no other choice but to believe as well. They have to believe the “right” religion or risk ostracism from the community they grew up in.

The simple fact is that children believe their parents because they have no other choice. It is also the case that they don’t know any better, especially in terms of alternatives, and that they are not taught critical thinking. But these other factors are dependent on the first. It is the parents who refuse to teach alternatives and who refuse to teach critical thinking, and by extension the schools chosen by the parents to “educate” their children.

Children can root out contradictions at a young age. The mind of the child is often able to cut through bullshit because it reduces artificially complex issues to their real simplicity. Of course I don’t expect every child of any age to master things that actually are complex. But children can often come to conclusions that adults cannot, because they are not prejudiced. Prejudice is pounded into them by their parenting and their schooling. As a study in Science found:

The large majority of 5th graders were strict egalitarians, and, remarkably, there were almost no meritocrats at this grade level. In contrast, meritocratism was the dominant position in late adolescence, and the share of strict egalitarians fell dramatically. The share of libertarians was stable across grade levels.

Children become increasingly integrated within competitive systems, especially at school, so it’s no surprise that they want to succeed and ignore the natural impulse for fairness. As we “mature,” we realize that “fairness is nice but unrealistic” (i.e. it doesn’t fit the rigid conformity imposed by competition). It is a constantly increasing pressure inflicted on children.

A lot of people want to help reform the institutions that oppress children, to make them more child-friendly. But no one asks whether these institutions need to exist. To ask whether the family structure or whether the schooling industry should exist is basically a one-way ticket to Cuckooland.

Like all other forms of bigotry, it is true that misopedia is not as bad as it has been historically. As someone else has pointed out, “[a]t least we no longer bury children alive in the foundations of our buildings for good luck.” But children, even in our privileged societies, are still lied to, mutilated, raped, beaten, physically threatened, psychologically abused and emotionally blackmailed every day (and most of these actions are not considered criminal, even though they would be if committed against an adult). And even the relatively better treatment of children cannot excuse their status as owned objects. The objectification of children even extends to the media and political issues.

Misopedia and natalism go hand-in-hand. This seems to be confusing for some people, who associate “child-hatred” with “people who complain about the Duggars” or “people who complain that children are crying at the grocery store” (here is one example of such muddled thinking). That’s not child-hating, it’s parent-hating. The Duggar children never asked to be born, and children don’t ask to be dragged to the grocery store; the parents did it, and we hate them for it, not the innocent children. Associating antinatalism with child-hatred is just another form of projection.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but from the antinatalist perspective the desire to have children implies hatred for those children. If you love someone, do you voluntarily decide to subject them to an almost infinite number of risks, some of them fatal? And after you decide to do this, do you then assume near-total ownership over them under the pretense that you will be a benevolent owner? Even if you can’t possibly understand the world in any other way but with the family structure in it, you still have to admit that’s a pretty bizarre claim prima facie. Furthermore, the fact that all justifications for having children entail using children as means to an end is a pretty good sign of parents’ bad intent; people who use others as means to an end are not, on the whole, well intentioned, and even when they are, they still perpetuate evil.

1 The myth of child-as-barbarian is sometimes taken quite literally in a racist manner: “Isn’t it cute how these foreign people are just like children?” Africans, workers and sometimes women are associated with prepubescence or adolescence (see The Culture of Conformism p135 for more on this).

45 thoughts on “Misopedia: the hatred of children.

  1. anyasok December 1, 2012 at 00:50

    Pretty much Francois. Its exploitation from birth to death and pure rape by both the parents and the state.

    There really is no excuse to bring anyone here only for the child to be subjected to the selfish mechanism of parental control.

    Not only did the child NOT ask to come here (and would never ask to do that had he known what’s in store for him) and has life, death and their sufferings (pain, disease, responsibilities, etc) imposed on him but he also supposed to be under the hierarchial rules of family which are a branched off version of the same rule set that society will subject them too later on.

    Life is just one big fucking slave machine and a slaughterhouse and it disgusts me to no end!

    • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 01:24

      It is my opinion, and the source of my fights with other antinatalists, that antinatalism (and natalism) can only be fully expressed and explained as part of a larger social context which exploits children and the vigorous perpetuation of the species. Antinatalism, antitheism, anarchism, radical feminism, and all other radical frameworks of explanation are mutually necessary.

      In opposition to this, there are people (including Shadow and Sister Y) who believe that antinatalism is the alpha and the omega of all thinking, and that there’s no point at all in talking about anything else. This, to my mind, is a closed view which can lead to no growth in antinatalism, either in popularity or in theories.

      I mention this because I got a few emails from Shadow on our feud today, and your comment was a good expression of the confluence I am talking about.

      • bj December 1, 2012 at 11:18

        FT said: “It is my opinion, and the source of my fights with other antinatalists, that antinatalism (and natalism) can only be fully expressed and explained as part of a larger social context which exploits children and the vigorous perpetuation of the species. ”

        QFT, there really isn’t much more to say!

        I often find it interesting that the very people who call themselves pro-life are the same who have no qualms about ‘training up’ their children, or sending them off to religious bootcamps where they are often beaten and raped. All in the name of ‘discipline’


        Two of the people who purchased the above book killed their own child, b/c she would not ‘obey’.

        And how often do I hear pro-lifers trot out these reasons for opposing birth control and abortion:

        1) rights of the woman? pfft! we are talking about *generational genocide* here!

        2) but the muslims and coloureds are outbreeding the whites we wlll soon be a minority!!!!!!!!!

        3) who’s gonna pay for social security? we need more baaabies to support us when we get ooold!

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 14:41

          That book is popular with the Quiverfull. What’s one dead child when you have eight, right?

          The trouble with your reasoning is that “pro-life” is actually “anti-abortion” and “anti-women’s rights.” So that’s the resolution of that conundrum. Liberals and conservatives treat women (and everyone else, really) as means to an end of public policy.

          • bj December 1, 2012 at 18:37

            the ‘trouble with *my* reasoning?’

            I am a little bit confused by that, b/c I just meant to say, that these people prefer to think of themselves as pro-life, but what they really are is pro-objectification of woman and children.

            That they seem to think that ‘life’ is really the only right anyone should have, and that, surprise, only fetus’s seem to have that right! (as they dont seem to have a problem with women dying from pregnancy, or born children not getting fed)

            It’s ok to beat your child b/c after all, that child has the gift of life right? So whats wrong with a little beating!

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 18:42

          Oh okay. I thought you really believed they were pro-life. Never mind.

          I dunno if you saw my pro-abortion entries, but I did discuss that whole “conservatives say they believe in rights” aspect:

          • bj December 1, 2012 at 18:49

            I have read some of your pro-abortion entries, but not all

            I still have to go through your archive – I like to set aside time to read your essays, and read them properly! (When I am at the pc, I have to restrain myself from multi-tasking, and obviously that is a problem if I want to read a long essay;P )

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 18:54

          Wow, going through my archives? You sure have a lot of time on your hands. LOL

          • bj December 1, 2012 at 19:08

            I plan to read as much as I can! But it is a matter of finding the time, and controlling the urge to multi-task:P

          • bj December 1, 2012 at 19:13

            Yeah, abortion and anti-natalism are the two topics I am the most interested in atm.

            I really haven’t thought too deeply about the political topics, though I have enjoyed some of your essays on the topic, especially the one about how systems develop? Or something along those lines, sorry, my memory is spotty atm!

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 19:10

          Well, I would say just to concentrate on one or two topics… unless you’re interested in all the topic I write about, which I would say is a first…

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 19:25

          Usually I would be fast in recommending some entry or other, but that one doesn’t ring a bell.

          • bj December 1, 2012 at 19:38

            It was this one, the phrase I was thinking of, but couldn’t quite articulate, was “spontaenous order”


            I have studied a tiny bit of anthropology, and I am a fan of author Marvin Harris, an environmental determinist. I think that he is generally right with his theory that the environment has a huge impact on how humans behave and treat one another.

            People do stupid things and oppress others b/c that is the best way to ‘survive’ in a particular environment.

        • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 19:41

          As far as I can tell, both have a huge impact and are both determinant in different ways. For example, our personality determines what we seek out (e.g. in terms of beliefs), and what’s available to us in society (e.g. the different popular worldviews available to our intellects) determines what we actually end up with.

  2. kvarm December 1, 2012 at 09:37

    Is pedogyny a wrong term though? Logically, it would mean the infantilisation of women(?) as opposed to misopedia (suggested by Google for misopedy, 16700 results and definition covers hatred of one’s own!), pedo-prejudice or pedo-phobia (wrong because the opposite, pedophilia, entails at least romantic attraction to children). Google thinks pedo-prejudice is prejudice against pedobear and the like, egad. Pedoprejudice has 2 results, one of which is on a forum, about prejudice towards a guy publicly announcing (like a slave-owner patriarch?) that his daughters are available for nude modelling. Pedism is a church. Aha, ‘childism’ is also widely-used – 14800 results, books, journals, and so on.

    It’s a common misconception to confound the 2 – friends would joke that I’m misopedic when they joke about my antinatalism which is ironic because I don’t make estimates on children’s IQs and I don’t objectify them (they’re little adults minus responsibility, I don’t find them cute, I can’t adopt one but I possibly respect them more than the average child-lover).

    In my experience, it is also common in some groups who qualify themselves as antinatalist to find misopedia. I moderate one on facebook and get tired of criticising arbitrary criticism of babies and toddlers, it’s prevalent because it seems acceptable in similar groups? It seems to be a projection of prejudice towards the parents’ selfish attitude within broader culture, or systematic favouring of natalism while other groups are oppressed or unsupported. That said I’ve probably been ‘blocked’ by antinatalists over condemning other ‘isms’ and almost none have wanted to discuss privilege over the years. That’s my biggest source of conflict with pretty much everyone.

    • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 14:37

      You are absolutely right, I was in error on that… the correct term should be misopedia. Dammit…

      I am absolutely flabbergasted by how many people think we hate children. I keep telling them, I don’t hate children, I hate PARENTS. Children had no choice but to be brought into this world. How can you hate something that had no choice?
      (well, I don’t believe anyone has any choice, but that’s another topic)

      As for the conflict in antinatalism, I dunno if you read my first comment on this thread but that pretty much summarizes what I think. I’m definitely on the side that believes antinatalism should be an open-ended ideology. Unfortunately, so far I seem to be losing (although it’s hard to tell, since there are so few of us).

      • kvarm December 1, 2012 at 17:11

        I thought it was part of ageism and discovered these terms today, so thank you! I meant to say ‘misopedist’ apparently, I’m still confused with the bizarre fomula. I must add that there is not 1 result in my reknown university library, nor in the anarchist library online.

        I’m more flabbergasted at how many anarchists think the same, and think they can be opposed to antinatalism but love children. I know a few. [How can you hate] someone, not something ;) (I know that’s what you meant though; and yes it is.).

        I agree with your comments here and I know of very few antinatalists who would (out of hundreds I’ve come across), we oppose suffering/oppression broadly but I don’t see how we can fail to do the same once someone is alive, are we then to dismiss it in a that’s-life-deal-with-it manner? Too much irony in that. Part of the reason I don’t have time to write on anti-natalism is I’m in about 8 marginalised groups and having to speak for 2-3 others. Let’s hope there are or will be more who agree.

  3. anyasok December 1, 2012 at 11:56

    “Antinatalism, antitheism, anarchism, radical feminism, and all other radical frameworks of explanation are mutually necessary”
    I agree about the overall message you are broadcasting. However, antinatalism is ultimately the thing that gives rise to all other problems (i.e. a non-existent being is not exploited in any way) so if it succeeds, all other problems will be solved automatically.

    I think a lot of antinatalists/efilists are too despondent of life to look at anything within its context and are thus seeking the ultimate solution.

    You have to agree that for a movement that wants to end existence as such, other things become irrelevant when all is said and done.

    • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 14:46

      I don’t agree that other things become irrelevant at all, but I agree with the rest of what you said. Obviously natalism is the fundamental root of the problem, and we must strike there first. So I will admit that antinatalism gets perhaps priority (whatever you want to call it), but it is not so big as to shadow every other form of radicalism.

      • anyasok December 1, 2012 at 14:50

        Perhaps in the here and now it isn’t, but it is the end goal of everything, right? Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the rest of it by any means which is why I love concepts such as the resource based economy as well as other radical concepts such as anarcho-syndicalism and others.

  4. bj December 1, 2012 at 18:40

    And you know what’s sad? Kids are so screwed up today. All this pressure put on them to be top-notch achievers. And the economy sucks, and they can’t get jobs, and they are depressed and anxious.

    And the very people responsible for the situation that these children are in have resorted to BLAMING THE KIDS.

    Yep, the only reason youth cannot find jobs is b/c they are lazy and have a grandiose sense of entitlement. Society, and parents, have NOTHING to do with it!!

    • Francois Tremblay December 1, 2012 at 18:44

      No, it’s never society’s fault, or anyone else’s fault… you are responsible for everything bad that happens to you. But everything good is because you were “raised right” or live in “the free world.” Shades of religion. :)

  5. Bedelia Bloodyknuckle December 2, 2012 at 10:31

    I am reminded of a poster that says (just a paraphrase) “The previous generation always complain about the next generation when they forget who raised them.”

  6. Bedelia Bloodyknuckle December 2, 2012 at 10:33

    I always get that type of treatment from my mother even in though I am 20 years old. She always treats me like I have no clue what I am saying and seems to forget that I think differently from other people. It’s like she expects me to be her clone!

    • Francois Tremblay December 2, 2012 at 14:50

      What, you mean you’re not entirely devoted to propagating your mother’s methods and beliefs? Geeze! Young people these days! :)

  7. Lord Metroid December 2, 2012 at 16:39

    Rescently I have been thinking of the ethical reason and anti-natalist arguments regarding whether or not to procreate. I do not find the anti-natalist arguments convincing as I do not experience life and living as a pain or harm.

    However, as of lately I have been thinking of wheter passing on ones genes are a good. Specificly, potentially passing on genetic defects. I have been trying to figure out whether or not procreating would be unethical if one knowling posseses a genetic defect which potentially could be inherited. On the other hand, people in general, all have their own flaws in one way or another.

    By the reasoning that no human is perfect, it isn’t any more or less unethical to pass on an uncommon phenotype than any other phenotype. Even if said phenotype be regarded as a defect, disease or dysfunction.

    • Francois Tremblay December 2, 2012 at 16:53

      “Rescently I have been thinking of the ethical reason and anti-natalist arguments regarding whether or not to procreate. I do not find the anti-natalist arguments convincing as I do not experience life and living as a pain or harm.”
      I am not sure why you think this is a reason to not find antinatalist arguments convincing. No one is trying to convince you that you experience your life as a harm. In fact, antinatalists quite explicitly say that we should expect people to experience life as a benefit, for simple evolutionary reasons (such as the optimistic bias).

      “I have been trying to figure out whether or not procreating would be unethical if one knowling posseses a genetic defect which potentially could be inherited. On the other hand, people in general, all have their own flaws in one way or another.”
      And this should lead to the conclusion that antinatalism is correct…

      “By the reasoning that no human is perfect, it isn’t any more or less unethical to pass on an uncommon phenotype than any other phenotype. Even if said phenotype be regarded as a defect, disease or dysfunction.”
      … no, instead you go in the completely opposite direction. So you seriously believe that passing on genes for sickle cell anemia, Tay–Sachs disease, Huntington’s disease, or any other genetic disorder that degrades your faculties and eventually kill you, is not “any less unethical” than passing on healthy genes? What the fuck is wrong with you, LordMetroid? OBVIOUSLY it is wrong to give people terrible degenerative diseases!

      All children have the right to a standard of health that is as high as possible. Why the fuck would you ever think otherwise? Do you hate children? Did you not get what my entry was all about?

      What you’ve just demonstrated is a great example of what I’ve previously called the fallacy of misplaced conclusion. You set up a syllogism where the logical conclusion is X, so you make the conclusion the exact opposite of X. The simplest for of misplaced conclusion applied to natalism is

      (1) Harm is bad.
      (2) Life necessarily entails harm.
      (3) Ergo life is great!

      All misplaced conclusions in natalism are merely elaborations of this initial insanity. As for you, Lordmetroid, I don’t know if you are just being stupid, or insane, or if you’re just trying to comfort your qualms about having children by believing obvious absurdities.

      • bj December 3, 2012 at 09:19

        People who breed, knowing full well that they will pass on debilitating diseases to their children, are downright cruel!

        • Lord Metroid December 3, 2012 at 10:05

          But what if the genetic defect is of a milder form one usually doesn’t suffer from such as color blindness, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, etc.

          • Lord Metroid December 3, 2012 at 10:56

            Strike diabetes, that is an illness one do suffer from.

          • Francois Tremblay December 3, 2012 at 14:29

            “By the reasoning that no human is perfect, it isn’t any more or less unethical to pass on an uncommon phenotype than any other phenotype.”
            According to your own reasoning, passing on color blindedness or diabetes is EXACTLY AS EVIL as passing on sickle cell anemia, Tay–Sachs disease, or Huntington’s disease.

  8. RonnieMund4president December 4, 2012 at 02:03

    Well, if we look at the broader picture beyond humanity antinatalism isn’t a solution. In the absence of humans animal suffering still would perpetuate and the next species in line would evolve into societies of lying warmongering self-loathing abusers.
    As long as a born child exits from its mother’s womb i don’t know it’ll ever be treated with the rights that seem fair. Maybe with scientific knowledge and technology compassionately applied at least some of their lives are starting to become more humane and that’s a start.

    • Francois Tremblay December 4, 2012 at 02:05

      Actually, most forms of antinatalism include the suffering of other species as well.

  9. Krisis December 4, 2012 at 04:51

    Do you have an email address, Francois? I have some questions and concerns regarding antinatalism, but it’s too long for this commentary field, and really not the right place for it.

    Best regards

    • Francois Tremblay December 4, 2012 at 04:54

      Thank you for asking, actually. I sometimes get people who think my comment threads are their own personal essay space. Geeze.

      francoistremblay28 (at) gmail.com

  10. reymohammed January 19, 2013 at 13:03

    I’d take exception to the idea that the desire to have children implies hatred for those children, but narcissistic parenting does involve their objectification. Objectification is bad for any human being, but children’s small size and inexperience does, as Bertrand Russell noted, cause them to be treated with special contempt.

  11. […] support of child abuse is easy to explain by the fact that we hate children. But the erasure of child abuse enacted by the whole society was, until recently, so profound as to […]

  12. […] there is an element of misopedia in this comment (obviously children don’t have rights and their “choices” cannot […]

  13. […] just wanted to point out these clowns on LiveJournal (people still use LiveJournal??) who reposted my entry against the bigotry and stereotypes used against children’s rights, and then… […]

  14. […] Misopedia and carnism, two ideologies which posit a hierarchy where children/other species occupy the bottom […]

  15. Angie November 16, 2014 at 15:44

    mind=blown. This is a great article. Very much enjoyed it.

    • Francois Tremblay November 16, 2014 at 15:54

      Thank you! I’m currently working on a big entry on childism which should also be interesting.

  16. staci December 20, 2014 at 22:39

    Slaves were paid? And you say most of them were too. Girl, bye. As a black woman, I feel like everything you wrote was tainted bye that blatant lie. Smh

    • Francois Tremblay December 21, 2014 at 00:53

      I’ve read dozens of slave narratives. The fact that they got occasionally paid does not make slavery any less abhorrent. As a black woman, you are an ignorant fool. But at least you can stop being a fool, so get started.

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