From Cyanide and Happiness.
Radical feminism and antinatalism are two topics I’ve written a great deal about. While there are some obvious connections between them, I haven’t written a great deal about them except for PIV. Yet there is more there to talk about, I think.
I’ve discussed before why I think natalism ultimately equates to woman-hating, both in its lower-class extreme version (the Quiverfull cults) and in its higher-class pseudo-intellectual version (the Bryan Caplan types). While there is no inconsistency between antinatalism and woman-hating (and yes, I’ve talked to a few woman-hating antinatalists), a consistent natalist must be woman-hating explicitly or implicitly.
In a sense, though, this is only a result of the fact that natalism inherently supports the status quo, because our institutions depend on population growth for their health and survival. Think about the global arguments for natalism: procreation drives the economy, procreation drives innovation, procreation helps fund other people’s retirements. Obviously an economy is an economy of some country, innovation supports some country’s economy, retirements are paid by some country. Ultimately procreation is nothing more or less than an extension of nationalism.
I didn’t mention the individualist argument that people are happy, therefore we should make more of them, although I’ve already addressed the general form of this argument. I will merely note that the argument loses a lot of its credibility by ignoring the objectively measured loss of happiness by the parents.
Natalism is also part and parcel of other status quo ideologies. White racists, for example, preach procreation by white couples to prevent the world from getting taken over by the “inferior races” (or as they like to say now, other races are not inferior, white people are just better). Democratic votes are decided on sheer numbers, which can only be raised by procreation or immigration. And of course the State can only get more money by raising taxes or expanding its tax base.
So you get what I call the Axis of Woman-Hating: natalism, anti-feminism and traditional genderism. All these issues are directly related to each other. Traditional genderism states that it is part of the woman’s role to give birth and raise children for her man/society. Anti-feminism argues that women rebelling against their gender role as mothers causes the degeneration of society. Natalism assumes that the role of women is to breed, and that women’s values are irrelevant.
Within the confines of decency and morality Women are rightly sexual objects to Men. Nature designed us that way and the survival of the species demands it.
I am using this quote not as a typical example of reasoning, but as an illustration, int that the three elements in bold here illustrate the connection I’m talking about: anti-feminism (women are sex objects) -> genderism (nature designed us that way) -> natalism (survival of the species).
The connection presents itself to us in the larger historical concept as well. According to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner, the source of woman-hatred is actually the need for equal sex ratios in horticultural societies, coupled with the higher death rate of women because of the hardship of childbirth. This led to wars for women and their reproductive capacities, to women being treated as a resource, and then a progressively lower and lower status for women as they become enslaved to patriarchs and then State interests. Lerner proposes that slavery itself was made possible by the prior experience that men had of grouping women as an inferior class.
So you’ve got here a direct connection: procreation is the historical cause of traditional genderism. Anti-feminism, as a reaction to feminism and its attacks against traditional genderism, obviously started much more recently, but the periodic anti-feminist backlash has defined feminism almost as much as feminist causes.
I can well imagine someone arguing, so what? What does it matter if they are connected in origin? Why should we care about what happened four thousand years ago? Because the male desire to own and control female sexuality was at the root of male domination and continues to be at the root of male domination today. Men as a class dictated and dictate to women as a class how they should behave as sexual beings. The main difference is the main form of power behind that domination: no longer condign power (outright force) but rather compensatory power (money, insofar as women make far less than men) and conditioned power (fear of “being a bitch” or “being a whore/slut”, pornography and prostitution, propaganda about women’s bodies and how to present as a woman).
[I]t is not women who are reified and commodified, it is women’s sexuality and reproductive capacity which is so treated. The distinction is important. women never became “things,” nor were they so perceived. Women, no matter how exploited and abused, retained their power to act and to choose to the same, often very limited extent, as men of their group. But women always and to this day lived in a relatively greater state of un-freedom than did men. Since their sexuality, an aspect of their body, was controlled by others, women weer not only actually disadvantaged but psychologically restrained in a very special way.
The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner, p213-214
This control of female sexuality drives what we call gender roles. Women are indoctrinated to be submissive and sexually desirable to men, to not spread their sexuality around and ideally remain virgins for their husbands, to think and feel in a way favorable to mothering and unfavorable to independent existence, and to internalize their inherent inferiority no matter what they do. Man puts woman on a pedestal so he can more easily throw her down when she breaks the gender rules.
A panoply of gynocidal practices such as the legal inferiority of women (including the criminalization of contraception and abortion), forced childbirth, prostitution and pornography, rape as strategy in warfare, suttee, foot-binding, neck rings, the burning of witches, honor killings, female genital mutilation, anorexia, and cosmetic mandates, amongst others, have served either as guarantee of women assuming their role or punishment for refusal to take the role.
By linking radfem and antinatalism through procreation as the ultimate female role, I am not claiming that ending procreation would end the Patriarchy or that ending the Patriarchy would end procreation. But I am arguing that both have common historical roots, a common goal and a common enemy. I also don’t expect radfems reading this to become antinatalists or antinatalists reading this to become radfems. There is a need to keep the two ideologies separate, as their arguments and lines of reasoning are completely different, but they ultimately support each other and I see no reason why antinatalists who are not woman-hating and radfems who are not admirers of motherhood should not cooperate ideologically. I consider myself to be both (a radfem ally, of course, not an actual radfem) and I see no discord between the two.