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34 Responses

  1. Em
    Em June 15, 2006 at 11:33 am |

    Uh….does someone want to clue her in on the abysmal infant mortality rate in say, Somalia?

  2. Tuomas
    Tuomas June 15, 2006 at 11:33 am |

    So, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, among others, are going down the demographic tubes, with shrinking pools of young workers to support growing masses of seemingly immortal retirees.

    They might have to let in immigrants!

    My God! We might have to let in brown people! And those brown people might be Muslims!

    That’s not what she said (looks like I’m not the only one “obsessed” about Muslims…).

    And maybe you could enlighten me on one crucial point: If the European countries “need” immigrants so bad, then how come unemployment is 10 % or higher, including among young people?

    Kind of blows the whole theory, huh?

  3. Tuomas
    Tuomas June 15, 2006 at 11:34 am |

    need, as in need for labor due to “labor shortage”.

  4. Tlazelteotl
    Tlazelteotl June 15, 2006 at 11:37 am |

    Or John Gibson (and he was widely criticised as being racist for making such comments, and rightly so).

    On the other hand, I always say, “I like children, but I could never eat a whole one.”

  5. piny
    piny June 15, 2006 at 11:48 am |

    (Sigh)

    I love children, and would love to have some someday, and I still can’t stand this woman.

  6. Galloise Blonde
    Galloise Blonde June 15, 2006 at 12:22 pm |

    She’s really making an assumption to imply its selfishness that stops women from the capitalist states pumping out babies. I’m in France, where the birthrate is increasing. There’s two possible reasons for this. One, if you have five babies you get a shiny medal and your picture taken with the mayor. Or two, subsidised childcare, (and when I say subsidised, I mean >2€ p.h.), and excellent schools that start at a very young age. If people are really concerned about the birthrate, then what’s called for is provisions to help working mothers, not guilt trips.

  7. Sydney
    Sydney June 15, 2006 at 12:29 pm |

    Oh yeah I saw that. What really irritated me was that Ms. Yoffe changed HER mind abou thaving children because her husband wanted children (and she wanted him as a husband), but in the advice seeking couple’s case, NEITHER wanted children. She is so narcisitic (sp?) that she can’t even tell the difference.

  8. Tuomas
    Tuomas June 15, 2006 at 12:33 pm |

    You don’t tolerate pointing out flaws in your (and the natalists) theory, it seems.

  9. Sarah S
    Sarah S June 15, 2006 at 12:46 pm |

    I am one of those people who was committed to being childfree and then I met my current partner and we’re planning to have children once I’m done with grad school. And this lady has me fuming!

    If someone decides to change their mind about having children, it should happen because they actually change their mind about having children. Not because some snotty advice columnist who luuuuvs her kid thinks everyone should mandatorialy have a “are we absolutely totally 100% completely surely and completely sure we don’t want to have children because Emily Yoffee thinks everyone should have them” talk. Some people know what they want, some people change their mind in response to different situations. But I can guaran-damn-tee you that no childfree people are going to read that column and go “ah ha! I’ve just been a selfish bitch for too long! Lets have another conversation about kids!”. These people have had the conversation already, they don’t need to rehash it to make Emily Yoffe feel better.

    People like this piss me off. What is right for me is not right for everyone. How would Emily Yoffe feel if I told her that she really should consider dumping her husband and switching to licking pussy because I just trying to help the poor benighted straight woman see how very fun and rewarding being with a woman is, and, like, I’m bisexual, and now I just lovelovelove it, and I just want everyone to know the joy I know, and I just know that she doesn’t know she wants it yet, and when she says she doesn’t want to know the joy, she doesn’t know her own mind. Yeah, that would be pretty fucking stupid and really rude. Just like this is.

  10. Catty
    Catty June 15, 2006 at 2:01 pm |

    I am a committed child-free woman, and this type of crap makes me blow my top. No, not everyone can have kids- maybe she hasn’t heard of health problems that can be exacerbated/kill during pregnancy. I’ve got health problems that are guaranteed to worsen- and bing self-emplyoed with no health insurance, the Emily woman can go screw herself. I don’t want pity. I hate hearing, “awww… I’m so sorry.” My response lately has been, “I’m not.” I wouldn’t want children even if I could have them- my health issues just made it clear that I’d never have biological children, period.

  11. PG
    PG June 15, 2006 at 2:51 pm |

    Whew.

    Yoffe doesn’t say that everyone should have children — she says that two people who love each other and love children sound like the kind of people who would make good parents, and they therefore should consider seriously whether they want to stick with being aunts and uncles only, or if they want to add parenthood to their lives.

    As for the natalism, I wholly agree that too much concern about declining birth rates in the developed world often has a suspicious odor of xenophobia. However, the solution of having young brown people immigrate to fulfill our labor and tax base needs also is a bit simple-minded. First, we tend to prefer educated/ skilled workers as immigrants, and as nations like India and China become better environments for such people, they’re less likely to immigrate to the G7. Second, the old brain drain concern, except now expanded to cover more than the PhDs: if the developed world sucks up the smart and hardworking folks, what about the brown elderly left behind in the developing world? It’s not xenophobic, but also not wholly respectful to look at Latin America, Africa and Asia (except Japan) as a source of already-grown, someone-else-took-care-of-the-diapering bodies.

  12. Dilan Esper
    Dilan Esper June 15, 2006 at 2:57 pm |

    Yoffe doesn’t even realize how idiosyncratic her stiuation is. She doesn’t even think of what would have happened if her marriage had gone bad or her husband had turned out to be a lout. (Of course maybe Yoffe thinks her mate-selection skills are so refined that this couldn’t have happened, but thinking that is the road to ruin.) That baby she had would have made a divorce more difficult, and furthermore, it could have become a great source of resentment and even psychiatric problems if Yoffe viewed the baby as a choice she did not wish to make but was essentially coerced into by the situation and the husband who turned out to be Mr. Wrong. This happens to a fair number of women.

    I think it is very dangerous to be promoting to women especially that they should go ahead and have kids when they don’t really feel they want them.

  13. Frumious B.
    Frumious B. June 15, 2006 at 3:23 pm |

    I didn’t notice Yoffe bringing up immigrants.

  14. Dianne
    Dianne June 15, 2006 at 3:29 pm |

    Hmm…I have a kid. It is fun under the right circumstances. However, methinks the lady doth protest too much. I wonder if she doesn’t really regret her lost pre-child (pre-marriage?) freedom and resent the child. Hideous. Don’t ever have a child unless you want it for itself: not to show you can, not to reproduce your genes forever, not to please your spouse, but simply because you want a baby.

  15. Half the Sins of Mankind
    Half the Sins of Mankind June 15, 2006 at 3:55 pm |

    The Only People Worth Hearing

    Feministe Jill criticizes Yoffe for saying that parenthood is depicted negatively, but Jill’s remarks only seem to make Yoffe’s point…
    zuzu criticizes Yoffe for being a “natalist,” and normally I’d consider association with the likes of Pat Rob…

  16. piny
    piny June 15, 2006 at 4:00 pm |

    It’s not xenophobic, but also not wholly respectful to look at Latin America, Africa and Asia (except Japan) as a source of already-grown, someone-else-took-care-of-the-diapering bodies.

    You’re misconstruing what zuzu’s saying. She’s not arguing that we should look to developing countries to provide that natural resource for us–any more than any other–but that natalism is all about xenophobia. When people talk about underpopulation, they’re talking about a trend toward fewer white babies: racial death.

  17. wolfa
    wolfa June 15, 2006 at 4:08 pm |

    PG, that would be fine — if she also told everyone who wanted a baby to think really super hard about whether or not they really wanted one or would be good parents or whatever, and maybe they’d be happier just being aunts and uncles, because presumably they hadn’t thought hard enough about it or ever reconsidered.

  18. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 15, 2006 at 4:40 pm |

    You know what kills me? Yoffe completely ignored the fact that in her original answer, she engaged in the very behavior the letter writer found so repulsive and alienating.

    Did it not occur to her that she was being rude and boorish when she did that? Um, here’s a newsflash, Emily–when someone says they are tired of hearing the same lecture over and over and over again, giving them that very same lecture is rude, not to mention passive agressive.

    But do go on about how mean those child-free folks are. Anything but acknowledge how flipping rude and boorish you were in your response. It’s not like the letter-writer and her husband–who are quite clear in their desire to remain childfree–heard enough whiny and self-righteous lectures on the joys of having babies already. It gets old really fast, and my advice to people who’d like to preach to the child-free about the joys of having children is this: shut up. We’ve heard it before, about 1,000 times, and you’re not going to say anything that will change our minds. The hectoring will likely make us dig in more. So shut it and stop getting so bloody defensive when someone makes choices different from yours.

    What an ass.

  19. Raincitygirl
    Raincitygirl June 15, 2006 at 5:07 pm |

    See, I think “childfree” is a loaded term. But then “childless” is also a loaded term. I prefer to say that I like other people’s children very much, but don’t actually want to have my own. Which is accurate, in my case, though long. The idea that people who don’t want children will suddenly come to love them if they have them is….weird. Yes, there are cases where women who had not intended to have children get pregnant and decide they do want children after all. And yes, there are cases where a man, woman, or couple didn’t want children when they were younger, and then changed their minds. This happens. I’m only 29, and I suppose there’s a remote possibility that five or ten years from now I might feel very differently than I do now. But if somebody didn’t want to get pregnant, and doesn’t want to stay pregnant but feels obligated because her husband wants a child, or because everybody says she’ll love motherhood once she has the baby, that could be a recipe for disaster.

    Women who are happy about being pregnant (regardless of whether those pregnancies are planned or not, because yeah, sometimes an unplanned pregnancy can cause happiness) are liable to be better mothers than women who aren’t. It’s not rocket science.

  20. Erin M
    Erin M June 15, 2006 at 6:42 pm |

    Don’t be an ass, Tuomas, just ’cause she hasn’t gotten around to answering you yet.

    As to the Steyn bit:

    If only a million babies are born in 2006, it’s hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees).

    I assume Mr. Steyn is a rough and ready, go to it, git-r-done blue collar guy that didn’t waste his time on something like a liberal arts degree, right?

    Oh, oops. I see I’ve maligned him. Of course he wouldn’t do anything called liberal. He dropped out of high school to be a DJ, then worked his way from theatre critic to pundit. A man’s man for sure.

  21. StacyM
    StacyM June 15, 2006 at 7:06 pm |

    Considering that world’s industrialized nations tend to consume most of the world’s resources and are responsible for most of the world’s pollution, I’m not upset over the declining birthrates referenced by Emily Yoffe’s article. It would be nice to see US birth rates drop too, given that we are the single largest consumer of resources and producer of wastes.

    Yes, I know that declining birth rates alone won’t fix the world’s environmental problems. We still need to curb pollution emissions and alter the constant push for consumption that drives much of the world’s economy. However, virtually any reform that is made will work more effectively if fewer people are consuming natural resources and producing environmental wastes.

    This is one of the biggest reasons I’m thankful I can’t reproduce.

  22. Glaivester
    Glaivester June 15, 2006 at 7:08 pm |

    My God! We might have to let in brown people! And those brown people might be Muslims!

    You are so right. I can’t imagine any reason why people would be concerned about Islamic immigration other than xenophobia. In particular, feminists should be really eager to let more people into the country whose customs and mores developed in countries like Saudi Arabia. I mean, some people may call the Arab world sexist, but western countries like the U.S. are just as bad. I mean, we don’t force pharmacies to stock emergency contraception, which is really no different than forcing schoolgirls back into a burning building to burn to death because they weren’t wearing their headscarves.

  23. piny
    piny June 15, 2006 at 7:16 pm |

    You are so right. I can’t imagine any reason why people would be concerned about Islamic immigration other than xenophobia. In particular, feminists should be really eager to let more people into the country whose customs and mores developed in countries like Saudi Arabia. I mean, some people may call the Arab world sexist, but western countries like the U.S. are just as bad. I mean, we don’t force pharmacies to stock emergency contraception, which is really no different than forcing schoolgirls back into a burning building to burn to death because they weren’t wearing their headscarves.

    …Does it mean anything to you that most of our fundamentalisms–at least, the ones that have the power to do things like force pharmacies not to stock EC–are no longer in the position of immigrant?

  24. PG
    PG June 16, 2006 at 9:11 am |

    “When people talk about underpopulation, they’re talking about a trend toward fewer white babies: racial death.”

    Please point out where Yoffe mentions race. She does not specify that white people are not having enough babies; she’s saying that people in developed nations are not having enough babies to replace themselves. Note that Japan, a decidedly nonwhite nation, is included in her list. Immigrants tend to have the same number of babies that would accord with their socioeconomic status, so unskilled workers have a higher-than-average number, and immigrants with professional degrees tend to the average. (Though most immigrants to the U.S. do come from cultures where childbearing is even more the norm than it is in the U.S., so I would bet that there is a smaller incidence of voluntary childlessness among them. In my community, the only couple we knew who was totally infertile — after many expensive and difficult medical procedures — finally adopted two children from the motherland. Status is much more attached not only to one’s own educational/ economic position, but also to one’s children’s accomplishments, than it is among native-born Americans.)

    wolfa, when someone writes to Dear Prudence saying, “I really want to have kids but everyone’s telling me I’m too irresponsible and scatter-brained to be a good parent” (this is my family’s opinion of me, btw), I bet Yoffe would make the procedurally similar response of “Maybe you should look at why everyone is saying this to you before you make a decision.”

  25. piny
    piny June 16, 2006 at 9:50 am |

    I’m not saying that she mentioned race specifically. I’m saying that it’s racist and xenophobic to limit population problems to developed nations, as though we’ll all be fucked if native citizens (which in this country is defined as what, people whose families showed up more than forty years ago?) drop below replacement. That’s…really not a problem that any prospective parent should give a damn about. And it’s missing the point to act as though people who say, “Well, we’re all human, and there are plenty of people outside of this country, so it’s not like we’re going the way of the dodo, nu?” are being racist and exploitative themselves. Nor is anyone hoping that all these extra-nationals will show up and make with the baby-making.

  26. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 16, 2006 at 10:22 am |

    “Note that Japan, a decidedly nonwhite nation, is included in her list. Immigrants tend to have the same number of babies that would accord with their socioeconomic status, so unskilled workers have a higher-than-average number, and immigrants with professional degrees tend to the average.

    Japan is not exactly immigrant friendly. Just sayin’.

    One reason why many women decide not to have children is the lopsided expectations put on them–culturally we are expected to shoulder more of the burden, and make more of the sacrifices. Hence, you have more women either opting for fewer children later in life, or opting out completely.

    Besides which, it’s degrading to expect women to birth for the good of the nation, whether we like it or not. I don’t see how harranguing people to have children against their better judgement is at all helpful to the cause of having healthy, productive citizens. And frankly, I find it insulting as hell.

    People have children because they want to. Her defensive, over-the-top lecture neglected to acknowledge that she did exactly what she fucking shouldn’t have done–subject the original letter writer to the type of rude hectoring that she found alienating and annoying. Now we’ve got the National Duty Lecture. Give me a fucking break.

  27. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 16, 2006 at 10:44 am |

    And lest we think the lectures only go one way:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/dear_margo/20060615/en_dm/margo_howard20060615

  28. Magis
    Magis June 16, 2006 at 11:16 am |

    About “under population….”

    The population in Italy in 1910 was 34.4 million. Despite a horrific World War, the population had risen to 36.4 million by 1920. The 1870 census, just after unification, showed a population of 25.9 million. In 2000, the population stood at 57.6 million; an increase of more than 100% from the time the Republic was formed. I wonder how they managed to have a healthy vigorous country in the old days with so few people?

    Yes, I realize were talking about age demographics but one must also realize that the infant mortality rate was significantly higher in the old days.

    The population of the world simply cannot continue to increase at this rate. Regardless of whether it’s brown babies or white babies. This isn’t just a survival issue it’s a quality of life issue. The can probably support 10-12 billion people…in poverty.

  29. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 16, 2006 at 1:09 pm |

    Yep. I do rather like Margo Howard.

  30. Alecto
    Alecto June 16, 2006 at 1:11 pm |

    “Replacement” fertility rate–i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller–is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?

    …they’re all very, very poor? Does he really want to hold some of the poorest countries in the world up as ideal economic models? Or am I missing his point?

  31. Glaivester
    Glaivester June 16, 2006 at 4:58 pm |

    …Does it mean anything to you that most of our fundamentalisms–at least, the ones that have the power to do things like force pharmacies not to stock EC–are no longer in the position of immigrant?

    piny – obviously you missed my point. My point was that most Muslim countries are very, very unfriendly to feminism. And I mean to 19th century, give women the right to vote style feminism. They far exceed the most anti-feminist groups in mainstream America. So I would think that feminists wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss concerns about Muslim immigration as zuzu was. For a person to act as if it is foolish to not want large amounts of Muslim imigration, and for them to be indifferent to such immigration, indicates that they either are ignorant of hte culture of those countries or somehow think that hte culture exists in a complete vacuum and that the immigrants will not take it with them.

    My comment on EC was meant to be sarcastic. I have seen feminists, when confronted with the misogyny of countries such as Saudi Arabia, suggest that we have no right to criticize because we are far from perfect on the sexual equality front – which indicates a complete inability to deal with issues of scale. That is, to claim that we have no right to criticize Saudi Arabia because we don’t have, e.g., taxpayer funded abortion is roughly equivalent to saying that we cannot criticize slavery until we have much better affirmative action.

    In other words, whatever complaints you have about the U.S. from a feminist perspective, they will get much, much worse if Middle Eastern Muslims become a politically powerful group.

    Also, note I was not talking about forcing pharmacies not to stock EC, I was talking about not forcing them to stock it against their will.

  32. piny
    piny June 16, 2006 at 5:11 pm |

    piny – obviously you missed my point. My point was that most Muslim countries are very, very unfriendly to feminism. And I mean to 19th century, give women the right to vote style feminism. They far exceed the most anti-feminist groups in mainstream America. So I would think that feminists wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss concerns about Muslim immigration as zuzu was. For a person to act as if it is foolish to not want large amounts of Muslim imigration, and for them to be indifferent to such immigration, indicates that they either are ignorant of hte culture of those countries or somehow think that hte culture exists in a complete vacuum and that the immigrants will not take it with them.

    I know what you’re saying. I just think that thinking this way about how immigration and fundamentalism function in America is wrong.

    And “I have seen feminists?” Whatever. Go complain to those feminists, please, and talk here about what people here are saying.

  33. Norah
    Norah June 17, 2006 at 5:58 pm |

    Yoffe doesn’t say that everyone should have children — she says that two people who love each other and love children sound like the kind of people who would make good parents, and they therefore should consider seriously whether they want to stick with being aunts and uncles only, or if they want to add parenthood to their lives.

    But that wasn’t what the woman asked her. She asked her how to handle rude people who told her she should have kids even though she didn’t want them. So Yoffe immediately proved herself a rude person.

    At least Dear Abby admits when she bollocks up, unlike this whiner.

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