Be Fruitful and Multiply Capitalism: Children as Economic Items

According to a recent online article in U.S. News and World Report, “… one of the great strengths of the U.S. economy, especially compared to Europe and Japan, is a relatively high birth rate.” This statement is pretty clear:  procreation equates to production. Thus, why–or rather, for whom—could birthrate be a problem? Isn’t the angst about fertility hiding the real difficulties faced by population?

Is a falling birthrate a big problem?

Others in the media have also warned that if women don’t have higher numbers of children, the economy could suffer. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat compared the decreasing American birthrate to France’s higher one: “America has no real family policy to speak of at the moment, and the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound.” But while benefits such the ones in France obviously could help those rates rebound, they aren’t the key to economic growth. [Read more...]

The Mother, The Welfare State, and The Others

The welfare state began in Europe in the late 19th century, but reached its climax after World War II. Europe was devastated and needed to be rebuilt, and at the time, the guarantees of social security, employment, and retirement were real human progress. The population had also declined, and in France, a country of pro-natalist tradition, policies that encouraged having children were more of a priority than ever. Financial support for mothers and other family benefits were introduced, and these pro-natalist policies still exist in France today.

Generally motherhood is glorified, to the detriment of women that don’t have children. Glorifying motherhood to this point, and to the point that it can seem to be an obligation, can also be considered in attitudes that victimize women and demonize men. The persistence of beliefs such as women are weaker than men, can put women into defenseless roles that are reinforced by other, equally damaging beliefs, like women are kindness incarnate because they can give birth. Such obstinate views like women are incomplete without kids, or men are always the bad guys, can contribute to a perception that women that make different choices are abnormal or bad, and therefore are easier for society to reject.

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Occupy Wall Street and Feminism

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to gain traction both in New York City and around the country, one question keeps popping up: is this a feminist movement? After all, in its energy, audacity, and sense of limitless possibility, OWS is reminiscent of the feminist movement some forty years ago.

On the Ms. Blog, Daphne Muller argues that OWS is indeed a feminist fight. “I realized that Occupy Wall Street is galvanizing because the ire is feminist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist and anti-patriarchal,” she writes, adding that Code Pink was very visible at the New York protest site that she visited. But while she praises the diversity on display at Liberty Plaza, Muller does acknowledge that men have dominated both intra-movement discussions and mainstream media representation.

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