As Roy notes, the threats of being alone and unloved are a favorite tactic of culture warriors trying to bully the rest of us into following their paranoid values system. On the alone and unloved front, I have to point out, with as much tact as I can muster, that while Rod Dreher and Phillip Longman, who he quotes extensively, might be in a situation where they have to make people to get anyone to care about them, their dilemma is not shared by the entire nation. Many people are able to get friends and loved ones on a volunteer basis, even. The “no one will love you” threat has been way overplayed on the right, by the way. It’s the favorite to bully teenage girls into remaining virgins, and is easily disproved time and time again.
Okay, not only is it insulting, it’s also just reallystupid. Anyone who’s ever had an overbearing or annoying relative knows that blood compatibility is no guarantee of sympathy, and honestly, it’s not like we’re short on examples of people who hate their kids or their parents or both, or who love them but can’t be in the same room for five minutes without being incited to physical violence. I say this as someone who wants children, and who has as close a relationship with her parents as anyone can have when they’re still trying to figure out which egg their little liberal commie hatched out of.
And let me just say, because posts like this always result in comments arguing against the perception that I’m prescribing some particular way of living: Have kids, don’t have kids. Have one kid, have a dozen. Have them for carefully considered reasons reached after torturous and lengthy debate or have them because the condom broke and what the hell, really. Do whatever you want.
People tend to offer this “you’ll have someone to love you!” argument in an attempt to recruit the childless into having children, and as a recruiting poster, it kind of sucks. Amanda sees the fear of death in it, and Roy a sort of generalized wish that we could pressure people into reproducing so we wouldn’t have to live up to the social contract and care for our elderly and value them because their own kids will handle it (oh, the tales I could tell from the friends who worked in nursing homes in college), but I see something a little simpler in it all. I think Dreher and others are just pissed as hell they can’t order people to behave a certain way, force people into living lives they can relate to, and this is just one argument in the arsenal.
This is a thing we do to others, with regards to kids especially, and I’m not just talking about the odious “So when are YOU having kids” discussion, because we have no vodka in this house and I won’t write about that sober. I’m talking about our pathological need to pass judgment on how everybody else, from Britney Spears on down, is having and taking care of babies. It’s the same species of fuckwittery that leads strangers to pet pregnant women’s stomachs in the grocery store, and ask if they plan to breastfeed, and tell parents of disabled children that however they’re dealing with their child’s situation, it’s wrong and fucked up and you should do it THIS way.
It’s just that in Dreher’s and others’ cases, they’re justifying their busybody tendencies with the tenets, conveniently to hand, of racism, economic selfishness and misogyny, and while I don’t tend to ascribe to the last condition what the previous two will adequately explain, there’s a certain amount of desperation here to shove us in boxes they can understand and relate to, to ask the questions that produce answers they’re comfortable with. Problem is, it’s not very effective, the line that you’re such a loser you need to birth someone who will love you into old age, or that a child is a sort of robot maid, to be plugged in when you can no longer sweep the floor on your own.
That they can’t see how such arguments devalue the very family they purport to deify drives me up a fucking wall.