Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Children Of Women

We may have scoffed at Theo Paphitis's apparent lack of understanding of human biology when he complained that women 'get themselves bloody pregnant', but this story in today's Guardian suggests that he may actually have been on to something.

According to the article, new US census data reveals that fewer children are being born in the States, a problem that's also contributing to ageing populations across Western Europe. The reason for the decline? It seems that fewer women are choosing to get themselves bloody pregnant. As a result, family sizes are declining:

'The findings also highlight the shrinking of the average American family. In 1976, women on average had 3.1 children, but that figure had fallen by 2006 to 1.9 children. That is below the level of fertility needed to ensure a stable population - 2.1 children per woman is known in demographic jargon as "replacement-level fertility".'

Is it just me, or does anyone else spot anything strange about this? Either we've moved into some kind of futuristic women-only society without my noticing, or the Guardian is suggesting that the decision to have children and raise a family is the responsibility of women and women alone. There's not a single mention of fathers anywhere in the whole article. It's almost as if men were entirely irrelevant to the whole process of creating and nurturing new life.

Which raises the question: what are men actually for? A question perhaps best answered by this comment from the BBC's Have Your Say site, preserved for posterity by the chaps at Speak You're Branes:

Mothers are far better at dealing with housework & crying babies & screaming kids…& all at the same time as well.

Fathers, & males in general, are IMO more likely to crack under the pressure and/or more likely abuse babies & children left in their care in one way or another…and that includes verbal abuse & also sex abuse.

Generally speaking, nowadays I wouldn’t trust men to discipline small young child unchecked, while considering that many men are now on or dealing in drugs.

magicalways54, Romford

So there you go - women are for having babies, while men are for bringing home the crack at the end of a hard day's drug dealing.



Anonymous said...

*resists temptation to make disparaging remark about Romford*

John Cowan said...

Demographically, it's quite correct to ignore men, as they are not the rate-limiting factor. There's enough spermatozoa in each ejaculation to impregnate every woman on Earth. Obviously, we aren't going there; nevertheless, the number of children per man simply doesn't affect population growth.

Anonymous said...

just as I suspected.

Anonymous said...

It's all about luggage carrying. It's only ever been about that.

LC said...

Awesome, I get to sit around smoking crack while somebody else does all the parenting? I like the sound of this (although I suspect those nazis at the CSA might have something to say about it).

Boz said...

I won't have time to deal any drugs when I'm busy having to care for all my ageing and demented* relatives. Unless it's prescription arthritis drugs.

There's a piece in the Daily Mail today about women being too shy to break the glass ceiling..

*To be fair, it could be argued quite convincingly that they are already in this state.

Marsha Klein said...

So women are to blame for declining populations in the western world? Makes sense, really. After all, women (or, more specifically, mothers) are solely responsible for things like feeding children, reading them stories and instilling discipline in the very young and therefore, by logical(?!) extension, responsible for ALL "social ills", such as childhood obesity, youth crime and the rise in behavioural problems.

Honestly, when you see what a mess we're making of things, is it any wonder that an increasing number of us are choosing not to get ourselves pregnant?

extemporanea said...

Is it just me being misanthropic that I find myself thinking "Declining populations? oh, good, we're getting something right, then." We're kinda running out of world.

The fact that the "problem" is women's "fault" is obviously insane, and I blame the Victorians - women! motherhood! beams of heavenly light! yaddayadda - as much as I blame the kind of misogynist thinking which says that if there's a problem women probably dunnit. On the flip side, it does possibly reflect the fact that women in a lot of western societies have more control over their own bodies than ever before?

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

*Doesn't resist the temptation to make disparaging remarks about Romford*

I wonder, was that commenter called 'magic always 54', or 'magical ways 54'? Anyway, whichever it was meant to be, it's still a username that looks almost heart-breakingly bathetic next to the word Romford...

Or it would do if you hadn't read the stuff above it - "Generally speaking..."? "Romfordly speaking" would be more like it.

patroclus said...

Ooh, hello all. Yes, from a purely statistical point of view, women tend to know how many kids they've had, whereas men don't, necessarily.

But that doesn't mean that it's always women who *decide* when and whether to have kids, or how many to have. I would have thought that in the majority of cases, those things are a joint decision between a woman and a man, and only in a minority of cases it's either purely the woman's decision or (grimly) purely the man's decision.

Extemporanea: Agreed - it's only a 'problem' in that there are fewer people to care for an increasingly elderly population - and by 'care for' I mean either provide care directly or contribute economically to enabling care, or both.

I'm just very aware of a weird reactionary trend in the media at the moment that suggests that women belong in the home and are solely responsible for childcare. And that, in turn, will contribute to a growing feeling among men that they have no role to play in the whole thing and are therefore unnecessary. And the Tories haven't even got in yet!

As for Romford, well I only know it as the home of Five Star, and that line in Underworld's 'Dirty Epic'. Although I am sure there are ways that both could be blamed for the imminent fall of Western civilisation.

Annie said...

This reminds me of when I was a kid, shortly after having learned the facts of life, I read in the paper something about how some women were able to have babies 'on their own'. I asked my mum about it, she answered at total cross purposes, 'Well, some women are very strong. Chinese women sometimes have babies by themselves in a field...'

I was left very confused for a while over these women who were SO STRONG they had no need of men and their bits to make babies.

Dave said...

I feel so useless.

*goes out to look for some crack*

John Cowan said...

these women who were SO STRONG they had no need of men and their bits to make babies


Which reminds me of the following transatlantic dialogue:

American woman: Do you have many children?

British woman: Oh no, only one a year.