How Patriarchal Pronatalism Dominates the Conversation About the Human Future

Governments worldwide are in a race to see which one can encourage the most women to have the most babies. Hungary is slashing income tax for women with four or more children. Russia is offering women with 10 or more children a “Mother-Heroine” award. Greece, Italy, and South Korea are bribing women with attractive baby bonuses. China has instituted a three-child policy. Iran has outlawed free contraceptives and vasectomies. Japan has joined forces with the fertility industry to infiltrate schools to promote early childbearing. A leading UK demographer has proposed taxing the childless. Religious myths are preventing African men from getting vasectomies. A eugenics-inspired Natal conference just took place in the U.S., a nation leading the way in taking away reproductive rights.

The push for more babies to increase our numbers is hardly a new phenomenon. Longstanding forces of reproductive control have always favored population growth. These go back 5,000 years to the institutionalized male domination and patriarchy that emerged upon the rise of early states and empires centered in cities. Societies at the vanguard of civilization had two main goals: population expansion and seizure of resources. These were realized by coercing women to have as many children as possible and by pressuring men to become soldiers. Because of the dangers of both childbirth and war, birthing and soldiering had to be exalted and reinforced through social controls. To this day, pronatalism and militarism remain among patriarchy’s key features.


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