A demographic slap in the face

Ruth Coniff is apparently one of the few feminists capable of doing basic math:

Of course, there is one large segment of society that is still very interested in domestic and family life. But guess what? Their plan is not exactly warm and fuzzy either. In Foreign Policy Magazine–www.foreignpolicy.com–Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, writes that liberals, secular humanists, and feminists are going extinct. The reason is that people with liberal values are having no children, or only one, while conservatives and fundamentalists are breeding like mad–and creating a far more conservative future.

“This dynamic helps explain, for example, the gradual drift of American culture away from secular individualism and toward religious fundamentalism. Among states that voted for President Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry,” Longman writes.

It’s an interesting and timely argument.

There’s not much we can do about the demographic trends. But at the very least, before it’s too late, we dwindling numbers of feminists and progressives need to get our act together and start arguing for a more humane, child-friendly society instead of taking the side of profit-mad business, which is in no danger of losing its hold on power, and certainly doesn’t need any help from us.

Of course, she still doesn’t grasp that “society” doesn’t pay anyone for anything, so if you want to get paid for taking care of your family, it’s your family that has to pay you. Now, it might occur to a more thoughtful woman that she has already been paid by being the recipient of such care for around 18 to 25 years herself, or that since the elderly are collectively the richest Americans that there’s no genuine barrier to elderly parents paying their daughters for time spent working on their behalf.

Of course, feminists like Ms Coniff would likely rather see Congress pass a federal law forcing everyone to pay the family caregiver rather than be put in an uncomfortable position of asking her mother for a reasonable weekly paycheck, but then, if they were capable of thinking straight, they wouldn’t be feminists in the first place. And as for the supposedly staggering amount of housework she mentions earlier in the article, the truth is that American women have never done less. Fewer of them are married, they have fewer children… where are all the single men complaining about the crushing burden of housework they are forced to perform without help in addition to having to work for a living?

The reason “civilized cultures” like France are on the decline and their continued existence is imperiled is simple. There Is No Free Lunch. There is always an opportunity cost. If would have a wealthy and functioning society, it is necessary that the women stay home raising children and managing households while the men work, invent things and defend against predators. It’s a simple but vital concept called the division of labor, and the more you depart from Adam Smith’s brainchild for whatever reason, whether it be the name of the worker’s paradise, gender equity or Sweet White Chthulhu, the less successful and less wealthy your society will be.

She may have intended it as sarcasm, but it is nevertheless interesting how Ms Coniff appears to at least recognize the possibility that feminism’s days are already numbered.