Have a goddamn seat, sir.
Ross Douthat has (yet again) penned a piece befitting his nickname “Douchehat.” In his latest spectacularly abysmal attempt to be insightful, Douthat laments the decreasing fertility rates in America and implies — nay! — outright states that women who are “retreating from child-rearing” are lazy layabouts unwilling to make the sacrifice that is their earthly duty.
He scolds childless women, whether married or not, for being decadent — for not doing what they’re goddamn well supposed to do, which is have children and shut the fuck up about it:
In the eternally recurring debates about whether some rival great power will knock the United States off its global perch, there has always been one excellent reason to bet on a second American century: We have more babies than the competition.
America’s demographic edge has a variety of sources: our famous religiosity, our vast interior and wide-open spaces (and the four-bedroom detached houses they make possible), our willingness to welcome immigrants (who tend to have higher birthrates than the native-born).
Among the native-born working class, meanwhile, there was a retreat from child rearing even before the Great Recession hit. For Americans without college degrees, economic instability and a shortage of marriageable men seem to be furthering two trends in tandem: more women are having children out of wedlock, and fewer are raising families at all.
The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.
What do I even need to say about this nonsense? The doucherocketry erupts from the page. It is dripping in privilege of every sort — white, male, financial — and is borne of rank stupidity.
It may come as some surprise to Douthat, but most people do not have the privilege of living in a four-bedroom detached house. Most people are struggling to feed their kids and hold down minimum-wage jobs, even as the GOP increasingly makes public assistance more and more unavailable while sneering about how half the country needs to get over its burning desire to sit around and collect “free stuff” from the Kenyan-in-Chief.
If Douthat is so worried about the low birthrates in this country, and if he wants women to squeeze out little worker bee-babies that can contribute to this country’s economic growth by becoming taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and workers, he should focus more on what he glosses over in his article: Making it easier to plan for, have, and raise kids.
That means providing paid maternity and paternity leave; ensuring that women get paid as much as men do in the workplace; providing public assistance when families run into financial trouble; spending more money on public education and training programs; providing more and better student loan packages so parents can send their kids to college without going broke; ensuring that women have full access to healthcare, including contraception (because being able to choose when to have children is more beneficial for this country’s economic viability than forcing women to either remain celibate or to have oopsy-babies when they’re not ready.)
As for Douthat’s claims that those who choose not to have children are somehow being decadent, it is fairly obvious that he is saying that women who choose to remain childless are selfish or damaged in some way. And for that bit of 1950s thinking, I offer Mr. Douchehat a hearty “fuck you.”
As a side-note, I congratulate the headline writer for this particular piece of pablum. Since I cannot imagine that Douthat wrote the headline himself, I agree with djw at Lawyers, Guns, and Money :
First: Kudos to the headline writer, who I have to believe was entirely aware of the dark humorous effect of putting the phrase “More Babies, Please” directly above Douthat’s sneering visage.
[cross-posted at ABLC]