Most of the baby strollers my family observed on vacation in Savannah, Georgia were not transporting babies. Instead, couples perambulated about the city with . . . dogs. By the end of our vacation, we had counted more than 200 different dogs in strollers across the city. Seeing an actual baby in a stroller proved to be the exception, not the rule.
The U.S. birthrate has fallen by about 20 percent since 2007, and shows no signs of recovering. Among childless adults, 44 percent of those under 50 say it is not too or not at all likely they will ever have children, up from 37 percent who said the same in 2018.
Business Insider recently interviewed eight women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s about their “easy decision” to not have children. These women all say they found having children “comes at the opportunity cost of reading the paper in bed until noon on Sunday or gallivanting around Europe, pleasures that some women find crucial to their independence and self-expression.”
Without children, 34-year-old Tasmin Turner said, “I’ve been able to move across the country and back again based only on my wants and needs.”
“It’s a sign of economic progress, signaling a rise in individualism and women’s autonomy,” the article continues. No doubt economics has a lot to do with this trend, but if this is progress, society should consider regress for a change.
“In postfeminist America,” New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote in 2009, “men are happier than women.” New research at the time had found that despite being more “liberated” than they had been 30 years ago, women were drastically less happy. Such a finding would seem counterintuitive if you believed the stories of the career-fulfilled, well-traveled women interviewed by Business Insider.
The sorts of women Business Insider profiled understand that their biological clocks mean that postponing childbearing may mean foregoing the possibility of motherhood entirely, but they resolutely live in the moment. “I have thought about maybe regretting the decision one day, but would rather regret it later than choose to have a child now without really wanting one and resenting them for it,” 31-year-old Brittany said.
The story also notes how many modern women with children now wish their offspring did not exist. As a sign of the times, consider that a Facebook page called “I Regret Having Children” has 45,811 followers. When I checked the page, the top post was from a regretful mother of three. “[T]hese three are awful!!!” she complained. “I am seriously considering leaving them with their dad. Moving to another place, a place where I can work back on me, my mental health.” A male commenter on the post validated this mother’s hate towards her children. “Sounds like you need a break! Children are awful soul suckers,” he said.
Jennifer Matthieu told Business Insider she decided not to have children after watching her career-minded mother “juggle” work and family. Posing wine glass in hand with her dog, she says she knew from the early age of 11 that she didn’t want to have children. According to the story, Jennifer attributes her decision for a childless future “to her unconventional upbringing, in which her father acted as the primary parent since her mother often prioritized her high-profile career over family.”
But these women are unable to deny their biological desires to be mothers. Their maternal instincts are merely directed elsewhere.
As Business Insider points out, “For some women, a career is their baby.” But these same women, assuring the world that their feminist dreams have left them happy and fulfilled, will fastidiously attend to their “plant babies” and no one in their lives will tell them they’re fooling themselves. More than likely, they will become one of the millions of women taking antidepressants or subjected to the myriad of adverse health effects associated with the birth control pill, a staple of modern women seeking to remain childless.
Traveling the world and climbing the corporate ladder, while fine objectives in and of themselves, have not been enough to make most women as happy as was the resolute promise of the feminist and sexual revolution. Perhaps it’s time women and men gave the good old fashioned nuclear family unit a try.