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Fecundophobia: The Growing Fear Of Children And Fertile Women

Posted by on in Wall of Shame
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"America's embrace of low fertility rates is becoming a problem." Really? I was on the fence about whether to roast this on the Wall of Shame. It’s just a bit of commentary at a very new magazine-style website. The outrageous statements here, however, convinced me you will find this noteworthy.

Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, wrote this piece in defense of reproductive hyperactivity. That alone rises to the level of shame. While I share her wish to see abortions avoided, I cannot condone her mischaracterization of couples making wise choices about family size:

“It’s entirely natural, of course, for babies to be conceived when men and women have sex. Treating the entirely expected procreation of children as something to be avoided at all costs — and an unspeakable atrocity if one has, say, three children already — would be weird even if our culture weren’t obsessed with sex at all times, in all places, in every context, at every moment.”

Mollie seems to be horrified by the idea of NFL football stars fathering lots of children, but only because they enlist the aid of so many mothers:

“…it isn’t weird at all for an NFL player to have his seventh kid. It’s only weird for an NFL player to have seven kids with his one wife. Take former Charger and current New York Jet Antonio Cromartie. He’s fathered at least 12 children with eight different women….Or what about Travis Henry, a former running back who last played for the Denver Broncos? He’s fathered at least eleven children to ten different women.”

Her real problem is that society now frowns upon the idea of one person conceiving 7, 8 or even 11 children:

“And yet this procreation — whether the resulting children are raised by their own married parents or not — is the real outlier.”

But it’s that mischaracterization that convinced me Ms. Hemingway’s post deserves a spot on our Wall of Shame:

“…who, knowing anything about human flourishing throughout history, would think that it’s impossible to be a good parent to six kids? Since when did having kids become something that Americans irrationally fear and loathe?”

The fact is the odds of outstanding parenting are much higher for a family of one or two children than a family of 6, 8 or 20. If someone does “fear” or “loathe” too many children, the smartest thing they can do is limit their number of offspring. The vast majority of couples who choose to conceive zero, one or only two children, however, do so for reasons that could not be farther from fear and loathing. Nor could it be farther from irrational.

More and more couples are becoming aware that humankind has outgrown our planet. They know we’re in a state of overshoot; we are overpopulated. With that knowledge, they make the most loving, compassionate decision they can make: to bring fewer children into the world, so that their children ­– and all the children of the world – have a fair shot at living a good life.

I share her shock and revulsion at NFL players fathering so many kids, but not because of the number of mothers. It’s simply because they should know better and should love those children enough to stop at one or two. Zero, one or two is the new normal.

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  • Guest
    Twitchit Monday, 04 November 2013

    While I agree that the world is far too overpopulated for its available resources, Mollie Hemigway certainly does have some good points, like the inane hypocrisy and contradiction of fearing children in a society that is obsessed with sex. She also has a pretty good point about it being twisted to find it perfectly acceptable for one man to father 12 kids only AS LONG as it is with numerous different mothers. How exactly does that not affect population growth in exactly the same way as having 12 kids with one single person? In both scenarios there are exactly the same number of new mouths to feed.

  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Monday, 04 November 2013

    Like Mollie I find it reprehensible that a man would father ten children with ten women (or anything similar), but I find it equally reprehensible that someone would characterize men and women carefully choosing to have few or no children as "fear" or "loathing" of children. That decision is often made out of love and compassion - either for their own children or for all the children or for future generations. There is nothing wrong with exercising that responsibility. It is admirable.

  • Khannea Suntzu
    Khannea Suntzu Monday, 04 November 2013

    I am so deeply fecundophobic I may need therapy and medication. I treat prolifically reproductive men & women consistently rude.

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Guest Tuesday, 24 November 2015

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