The title of this entry may seem a bit overblown, but it’s hard to interpret the reformulation of Maslow’s pyramid of needs as anything but a conscious attack against childfreedom. At the top of the pyramid lies no more “self-actualization,” but rather “mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting.”
Yes, you read that right. It’s now been “discovered” by a group of horny white men that the highest and most sophisticated need that human beings have is finding someone to fuck and having children with them! And yes, they do make it clear that they are talking about propagating one’s own genes, so adoption is right out.
So this means that anyone who rejects “mate acquisition,” “mate retention” or “parenting” (propagating one’s genes by fucking) are not actually human, since they are missing a “biologically fundamental” need. There is something fundamentally wrong with them. They don’t outright say this, but it’s a natural conclusion from the nature of the pyramid of needs (it describes biological human needs and their order of fulfillment) and the new addition at the top of it.
This of course is a kind of rhetoric we’re already used to. Victims of the Conspiracy are always told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them, that they’re broken. Sometimes this is “confirmed” by the academia, as in the case of gay people, women or black people. There is no more self-righteous victimization than that which proceeds from scientific discourse (e.g. the “science” of economics justifying neo-liberalist genocides).
It is possible that this modification of psychology’s best-known icon is a prelude to a political attack against childfreedom in the United States. I certainly hope this is not the case, for all our sakes. Such an attack would only convince more women to have children, some of whom would go through a living hell because of it, not to mention the harm that the children will incur during their lives.
Most alarmingly, their arguments are based on the same “evolutionary psychology” quackery that has traditionally supported the oppression of non-white races and women:
Instead, many of the activities that Maslow labeled as self-actualizing (artistic creativity, for example) reflect more biologically basic drives to gain status, which in turn serves the goal of attracting mates.
“Among human aspirations that are most biologically fundamental are those that ultimately facilitate reproduction of our genes in our children’s children,” Kenrick explained. “For that reason, parenting is paramount.”
The researchers are not saying that artists or poets are consciously thinking about increasing their reproductive success when they feel the inspiration to paint or write.
We constantly have to face the claim that evolution has tasked us with procreation, that it creates in humans the purpose of procreation, and that anyone who refuses to procreate is aberrant. I have debunked such claims. But this time the argument is different: these psychs are not claiming that we must reproduce, but rather that reproduction is a fundamental motivation of our actions, whether we know it or not.
Like all evopsych quacks, they do not quantify their beliefs because then they could not defend such beliefs. Ultimately, anything can be reduced to “reproductive success” as long as you stay in the realm of purely abstract causation.
Sure, we can conclude that in some way, somehow, being a artist can lead one to have better “reproductive success.” But how much is a writer or artist’s “reproductive success” raised compared to the effort of being a writer or artist? Once we start quantifying, we realize that the argument is nonsense. Surely the exercise of one’s creativity is the main motivation for artistic endeavors, not wanting to fuck people and have children (actually, no kind of talent is required to fuck; anyone can do it, as the intelligence of many parents attests).
But, Kenrick adds, for humans reproduction is not just about sex and producing children. It’s also about raising those children to the age at which they can reproduce as well.
Well it’s nice that it’s acknowledged that you’re still responsible for the children after they’re born, too, but I fail to see why a human need for having children would come with an age requirement. That seems oddly specific and meant more as a disclaimer than anything else (yea we said for you to have children, but you have to take care of them too!).
The whole process seems very self-conscious, which is part of the reason why I think this change may be on purpose. We are rather far away from the naive “value-neutral” scientist who thinks his biology or culture is a universal fact. These people know what they’re doing.
The correct response in this case, I think, should not differ from the correct response in other cases of abuse of science: we must point out the reality of the situation and the bias of the “researchers.” Parenting is not a biological human need. People who refuse to have children are not incomplete or broken humans. People who refuse to have sexual relationships are not incomplete or broken humans.
To say any different is to demonize the childfree. And not only is such demonization plainly false, but it is the first step to hatred. We can’t let them get away with it.