An aging Australian male politician accused a younger Australian female politician of being unfit to be in government because she does not have children, apparently by choice. This has resulted in a new emergence of the childfree by choice debate and much blogging about the issue.

I’ve written previously about my choice not to be a breeder. The issue continues to receive regular media coverage and research. After going to a BBQ last weekend where my girlfriend and I were the only couple without children, my views are confirmed; children are not for me, and I find parents who can talk about nothing but their children make me want to escape the room. I like them as people but find that I no longer have anything in common with them.

A feature of recent Australian political discourse is the constant reference to ‘families’, which is usually used to refer to average working people who are likely to be parents and have little interest in politics – standard swinging voters. A 2006 BBC article notes that the childfree can resent being ignored as a distinct demographic by government and employers. This may become and increasing issue in Australia too.

I’m sick of having to defend my views. I really don’t care what breeders think of me but some people find it difficult and are childfree but in the closet about it. Governments don’t realise how much society is changing because not enough childfree people are vocal about their life choices.

deliberately barren and proud of it

6 thoughts on “deliberately barren and proud of it

  • 9 May 2007 at 9:53 am
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    Language is an interesting thing. A number of years ago, when I was doing personal research into the area of gender (whoah, that’s a big one), I put a lot of thought into the subject of profanity. Some feminists posit that the use of ‘cunt’ is sexist but I came to a different conclusion. I don’t think its use is in any way meant to be derogatory to women but to the [non-gender-specific] arsehole who offends us, or as a term of endearment to one of our knock-about mates.

    Anyway, this post isn’t really about cunts, but your use of the word ‘breeder’ got me thinking why I find that term offensive. I’ve had a number of non-heterosexual friends over the years, and I’ve really only heard that term used among them. Personally, I think its use is at least slightly derogatory, in much the same way that others use the term ‘fag’ to describe non-hetero people.

    Anyway, I’m open to thoughts on the issue, and it’s something that occurred to me while reading your post.

    On the subject of children, I often find myself saying to people lately that childlessness is a valid option. Society expects young couples to have children, but it really isn’t for everyone. I say that as a parent. One has no idea what one is signing up for when one has a child.

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  • 15 May 2007 at 1:29 pm
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    An open letter to smug breeders.

    Warning. The following rant may contains some hyperbole.

    Let me begin with this caveat; I am not asking that people cease creating children. I am childfree. If other people want to have children they can PROVIDED that they are PARENTS and not BREEDERS. Breeders are the smug, self-righteous sanctimonious ones that make their offspring without forethought. They want rights without responsibility. And they expect me to pay for it.

    Childfree people are treated with contempt by this government as some sort of milch cow to subsidise others. Consecutive budgets have seen money taken directly from the pockets of the childfree to the breeders. It appears most childfree people do not object to paying for public good such as health, education and infrastructure, but understandably baulk at paying high tax rates just so that breeders can enjoy a zero-sum impact on their lifestyle because they have chosen to breed.

    Breeders complain that it is all too haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard. They whine that they cannot afford their old lifestyle. Well DER! They call the childfree “selfish”. Huh? How can not making a child be selfish?? Are there disembodied ghost babies that are frustrated by their attempts to occupy my womb? The Breeders — from all socioeconomic classes — assert that they are almost worthy of a VC just for their contraceptive malfunctions. They claim they are doing the rest of us a favour.

    We hear that raising a family is expensive. A family does not “need” a five bedroom McMansion, nightly take-aways, two SUVs, Nintendo, internet and mobile phones for Bratney and Screamleigh.

    Childfree people are growing tired of the smug and self-righteous “we are making the taxpayers of the future” mantra being chanted by the entitlement-poisoned breeders of this country. I have a great deal of difficulty believing that, across this wide brown land, the bedside tables of the good white middle-class have a copy of the Defence Capability Plan “oh look honey! We need some Joint Strike Fighters—we had better make a taxpayer”. People! You are not having kids out a sense of patriotic duty.

    Most laughable are the “my chiiiiyuld might grow up to cure caaaaancer” Pft! I am sure Martin Bryant’s parents thought the same thing. Face it; only a small number of the breeders’ offspring will be geniuses. Your Pwesush will be the usual flotsam and jetsam of humanity like the rest of us.

    Oh yes and they will be looking after me in the retirement home you will tell me. Uh-huh. AS IF your PWESHUSH will willingly choose wiping drool off old people instead of being a lawyer — oh – and that fabled curer of cancer.

    Taxpayers of the future!? Actually, based on current trajectories, the current cohort of children are more overweight and obese than previous generations.

    http://www.aihw.gov.au/riskfactors/data_briefing_no_2.pdf

    They are more likely to be overweight and obese adults and so will require ongoing heath care during the years they are meant to be the most productive. What is most frightening is that this generation of children are likely to have the shortest lifespan of previous generations

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmpubacc/157/157.pdf

    A report by Lynne Pezzullo of Access Economics said that obesity is already costing Australia $20bn a year.

    http://www.accesseconomics.com.au/publicationsreports/getreport.php?report=102&id=139

    Imagine then what it will be when all those fat kiddies reach adulthood?

    And how many times have I heard that old qualifier, “As a parent I…” because, apparently, as soon as you make a child you are filled with this hormone that make you responsible and compassionate — something childfree people supposedly lack. Ha! Look at the recent child abuse stats. They have DOUBLED in the last five years.

    http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/cws/cpa04-05/cpa04-05.pdf

    I am not suggesting that all parents are child -abusers but the stats show that most child abusers *are* parents. And people are having less kids so you’d think that there’d be less kids to abuse. It could be asserted then, that this current generation of breeders — the ones that seem to be the most entitlement-poisoned – are more abusive than previous generations.

    Yeah. breeders of the Ritilin generation, you must be proud.

    I do note that there is rampant discrimination against single parents. A single parent on welfare is made to go out and work when her/his (more of the they are women) kids are primary school age but the rich doctor’s/lawyer’s wife can claim Family Tax Benefit B until the youngest child is 18. Yay for middle-class welfare. One must be able to buy Bollie for the tennis ladies somehow I guess.

    Some argue that Married Stay-At-Home-Mums deserve a wage for the “unpaid” for the work they do. So, lemme get this straight; the taxpayer is to pay only MARRIED stay at home mums — a small section of the community — for doing something that is part of life. S’funny. I could SWEAR that I do my own dishes, make my bed, buy my own groceries. Yet somehow SAHMs are the only people that do housework, apparently.

    Some even make the absurd claim that SAHMs are worth more than $100000 per year based on the wages of a cook, day care centre teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, cleaner, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist. This argument has been put forward by both socialist feminists and “pro-family” right wingers for ages.

    see: http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,21668267-910,00.html

    I am sorry but I think that I have already shown that parents (mums) are doing a pretty pi$$ poor job. And running a house with a couple of snotty brats is NOT the same job as the CEO of BHP, mmmmmkay? And, when some nuisance engages me in inane conversation about their personal problems when I am on a bus does that make me a “psychologist” that should make a claim from the government?

    Interesting too that when the SAHMs want to claim money off us childfree taxpayers they demand $100 000 for looking after their OWN kids but, with no sense of irony, baulk at the idea of paying a liveable wage to some poor bogan girl working in a child care centre that must look after their spoilt brat. Class warfare anyone?

    The myth of “unpaid work” is just that. A MYTH!! The reality is SAHMs DO get paid for doing housework! While the rest of us have to go out and earn a wage/salary to afford food in one’s belly, clothes on one’s back and a roof over one’s head, the SAHM gets a roof over her head et al in exchange for her “unpaid” housework. Furthermore, the Family Law Act is cognisant of the non-financial contributions of a non-working spouse when dividing property in a property settlement (there is no such thing as a “divorce settlement” under Australian law. Stop watching American TV). Yeah, sure, it is illiquid capital but hell, I know a hell of a lot of single people that do the dishes, mop the floors and cook dinner but it sure ain’t earning them some equity in real property! And, if the SAHM does not do her job properly it is not as if she will be fired like people in a “real” job. If the taxpayer was to pay SAHMs for doing housework, will there be inspectors that ensure that the dishes are done, the floors are swept? Nope. That money will be spent on more useless toys just like that Plasma Screen TV Baby Bonus.

    And this is a good segueway into what a pointless policy that was. An economist writing for, of all things, a right-wing think tank that has frequently espoused the “virtues” of the “traditional family”, Professor Ross Guest, agrees.

    http://www.cis.org.au/POLICY/autumn_07/autumn07_guest.htm

    The conclusion is this; one is not a better/more mature/responsible/less selfish/more compassionate person just for merely breeding. A breeder is not entitled to a zero-sum impact on their discretionary income that is to be unwritten by the childfree. The discretionary income that the childfree have is their own money and they are entitled to spend it on their own interests.

    At the end of the day; if ya cannot feed ’em, do not breed ’em.

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  • 15 May 2007 at 2:19 pm
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    My husband and I are childfree by choice. I think the term ‘Breeder’ is derogatory, but I use it with intent. I feel that it is used as one of the many terms are used- to describe people (and their ‘whelps’:) by the angry child free who have to endure alot of derogatory remarks and put downs, govermental slights at the hands of same, the magority of whom think it is their right as exalted procriators of the human race to call us selfish and deliberately baron etc.
    By definition a breeder is either someone who breeds something like cats, dogs ,cows, etc, or as in breeding pair a ‘breeder’ is the animal that is bred from. I think the term is fitting. Humans are rampant breeders,in plague proportion . kangaroos stop when there is insuficient food or water . But not our breeder humans-suposedly more intelligent that mere animals.

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  • 30 September 2009 at 4:27 pm
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    Yuck. Baron? Magority? Procriators?
    I am glad that you don’t have children, or at least that you aren’t responsible for teaching anyone to spell.
    What many of you seem to be appropriately ignoring is the fact that high birthrates are often reflective of existing poverty, a lack of female empowerment, and other serious underlying factors.
    I appreciate that these are merely ‘rants’, but pity you for feeling the need to justify your own decision (which may well be valid) by attacking others.

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    • 30 September 2009 at 5:19 pm
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      If you look beyond her spelling Gayle makes some good points, and I think the strong language is justified. People with children take their status for granted and are mostly oblivious to how they alienate and judge the childfree. Strong language is required to make them aware of their behaviour.

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  • 17 October 2009 at 4:24 pm
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    Too right Brian. It seems that the modern yuppie parents are so entitlement-poisoned that they are the exception to the rule. They beam on proudly as their offspring run amok in fancy cafes and restaurants, or play chasey at wineries and museums, or change their child’s nappy on a restaurant table coz dat meeeeen nasty westarwunt duzzunt wyk kiddies so we will show dem!

    I have been accused of being classist when I use the term “breeders”. This unwittingly reveals more about the accusers’ presumptions than any prejudice I supposedly have. My ire is not slug at the stereotyped low socio-economic demograph or single parents but, rather, the arrogant professional couples that oh-so-rightly demand their slice of middle-class welfare. The arguments I have heard about paid mat/parental leave and other cash handouts and subsidies are ludicrous, self-righteous, self-righteous, smug, pious and sanctimonious. These people care little for the common good. It is about them and their Pweshus.

    It is true that those who have families have may have less discretionary income, less free time, and more “responsibilities”. However, if the rewards of doing so were not also great, why would so many people do it?
    If a family is a personal choice, why should the childless face discrimination in favour of families? Why should the childless subsidise those who choose a different path?

    Parenthood is a personal lifestyle choice, with costs and consequences, rewards and sacrifice. Provided fertility can be controlled, and abortion available where contraception fails, having a family is just as much a valid choice as not having one. That is, children are a private good and their benefits are enjoyed mostly by their parents.

    People who choose to have children are making a private choice that should not burden people who choose not to have children. Thus, fiscal and workplace policies that favour parents impose unfair costs on nonparents.

    I am not asking that children be made to starve in the streets. I strongly believe in hand-ups to address socio-economic disadvantage but I certainly oppose handouts to the wealthy. And I am not opposed to handouts merely because I am not getting one. But it seems inequitable that childless singles are facing the prospect of never owning a home just so that middle class parents may buy their child an I-pod.

    I am not mean-spirited nor am I suggesting that parents ought to raise children with no support at all. Parents should be able to access social services aimed at making them better parents and I have no argument that social wealth is of long term benefit to me and society. Parents already have significant relief from the costs of rearing their children through government funding of health, education, child endowment and tax rebates for families, for up to eighteen years of the child’s life. However, I oppose the notion that as upholding the **private wealth** of parents is deserved as a matter of course, this can be achieved through compensatory monetary arrangements and it is morally acceptable to penalising the childless to achieve this.

    Yet, without a hint of irony, it seems that those who argue against the notion that children are a private good and insist they are social goods are, incongruously, supporters of private welfare – in the form of taxpayer-funded cash handouts — for parents and they seem to revile social support such as government supplied services for mothers and their children. How incongruous.

    The reality is that pro-natalist policies that reward fecundity with cash and penalise the childless may be good politics but it is lousy economics. Overwhelming, it is, at best, ideological and dogmatic. At worse it is little more than a poorly disguised piece of obnoxious social engineering that shrieks “if you are not married and making (white) children, you are not worthy of being a member of society” crude social-engineering .

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