Lots of men are getting in on the action of pushing women to have more kids, from the Serbian military which recently vowed that it will “participate in raising the birth rate,” to ball-brained bloggers who decry the impact lower fertility is having on youth sports, to politicians urging women to ignore their futures and hurry up and breed the next generation of taxpayers, consumers, and workers.
Best of all, Donald Trump is doing everything he can to prevent women from not having kids, by pushing back years of progress on access to family planning, and role modeling an unsustainably large and consumptive family.
Our species has, for most of its history, accepted the cultural push for larger families and higher birthrates because it benefited us, as a species. The caveman and patriarchal systems approach to family planning, “just have more,” had some merit. That all changed in roughly the Twentieth Century, when world leaders realized that population growth itself posed a grave threat to our species, and launched family planning interventions that cut worldwide fertility rates in half. Yes, that happened.
There was just one problem – these efforts were based on incomplete information. World leaders in the Twentieth Century did not account for climate change, and a dozen other unforeseen impacts on our social and natural environment, from the acidification of oceans to the massive extinction of other species. They did not account for advancements in the science of childhood development, which today show how family planning impacts the prospects a child has in life, for their entire life. They did not account for how, consistent with those impacts, family planning policies could exacerbate the massive gulf between rich and poor.
In short, the interventions did not go far enough, and certainly did not account for linkages between the issues above, like how better child development policies could have offset humans’ innate cognitive dissonance around slow-moving threats – like climate change.
What does all of this mean? Today, as an already unsustainable world population skyrockets towards eleven billion, the men who are pushing women to have more kids are a manifest threat to all of us, and the wellbeing of our children. Their caveman approach to family planning is not just wrong. It’s dangerous. Instead, we should embrace the clear trend towards lower fertility rates as a form of human evolution, the move towards a sustainable population, families that can invest more resources in each child, and the creation of smaller – and hence more democratic – communities where each person has more of a voice and role in creating the rules under which they live.
Take action: If you belong to civil society organization, one that protects the environment, children and their futures, democracy and human rights, equality for women, etc. please politely encourage them to consider taking a public stance on the need for better family planning, and encouraging a model that promotes smaller and sustainable families where every child is guaranteed a fair start in life.