“We need more smart / educated women having babies.”

Guardian writer Sadhbh Walshe takes issue in her recent article, “Should we care that smart women aren’t having kids?,”with research conducted by psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, whose “ultimate conclusion” in his book The Intelligence Paradox, she says, is that

intelligent women’s failure to reproduce is bad for them because they are flying in the face of their biological destiny and it’s also bad for society because fewer intelligent moms means fewer intelligent kids and that may have drastic implications for the nationwide IQ.

While being prepped recently for a local TV segment on being childfree (coming up on the 17th), I was pummeled with a stream of objections people have to childfree people women, one of which was given in the form of a question:

“Don’t you think you [women] could contribute a positive influence to the world in the form of a child?”

First, I obviously don’t agree that it’s everyone’s biological destiny to reproduce (if it were, wouldn’t we all do it?), nor do I believe measurable intelligence to be the only value that can advance a civilization. (Being civilized is a biggie.)

But also, and this is so obvious and has been said and said and said by many, many people, it’s a waste of existing potential to insist that all contributions women make be similar, and in the form of offspring.

What if instead of pressuring women – or to address the good doctor’s concerns, specifically high-IQ or educated women – to procreate we instead make more of an effort to help educate all women of their options? By communicating to them, for instance, that children aren’t a foregone conclusion but just one of several choices. Just in case there’s something else they’d like to do with their lives.

If some of them choose to use the money and/or energy they otherwise would have spent on children on a different interest that would enrich them as much as children enrich others, they might become the people others have children to create.

Rush Limbaugh said this about women not having kids, which had me nodding because, yes (except for the “sock in the face to men,” because contrary to what obscenely conceited people like Limbaugh think, not everything we do is a reaction to, desire for the attention of, or war against men):

Yeah, it’s a good thing that women aren’t having kids! It’s a liberating thing that women aren’t having. Damn straight it is, and it’s just other sock in the face to men. You know, you’ve had it your way ever since Adam and Eve. Well, it’s our turn now! We’re not gonna bear your kids, and we’re not gonna stay home and raise ’em and we’re not just gonna sit here at home while you get to go do whatever you do.

Somehow, I think he said that with a sneer.

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12 thoughts on ““We need more smart / educated women having babies.”

  1. Tatiana

    You are so right there. Intelligent women who don’t have kids are able to invest more of their time, energy and indeed, intelligence, towards creating a better world. If they have children, much of this time and energy would be used for (or, dare I say, wasted on) domestic things like changing nappies, driving kids to school, making kiddie meals and the like.
    I think that the real motive behind this ‘Intelligence Paradox’ book is a very old one – to keep intelligent women ‘in their place’ and discourage them from competing with men in the job market and in positions of power. Too late, Kanazawa – we are here to stay!

  2. I hope, for his sake,that Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa (@SatoshiKanazawa in case anyone is interested) is NOT attempting to make the further correlation that everyone but intelligent people have dumb offspring. But I’m not sure I want to spend time and money on his book or research to find out.

    Also, I agree with Sylvia, since when is intelligence ( when measured as high IQ) the only thing that adds value to the world? ~ Jackie

  3. This argument always confuses me. What would be the purpose of having an intelligent child (who, supposedly, would make great contributions to humanity), if that child (especially if female) will grow up and then be encouraged to set aside her dreams to have yet more children? At what point are people expected to actually MAKE those contributions to humanity, rather than just kicking the can down the road?

    1. This is what gets me, too. People always trot out that tired line, “children are our FUTURE! Why, my kid might cure cancer one day!” Has the parent done anything remarkable? What makes you think your child will “cure” cancer, if you can’t manage to do anything other than make children? Isn’t it more likely he will just imitate his parents and grandparents who just devoted their lives to reproducing? Why don’t parents give their children something worth living up to, rather than bleating endlessly about the importance of having more children, who will one day do something great?
      If they really cared about curing disease, shouldn’t they be volunteering their time to teach the people who are already here about vaccination? If they don’t want to become biologists themselves, how about donating time and money to fundraisers that help support research?

  4. omyogaK

    Hi, I visited here first time and happened to find out through someone’s twitter. I researched Satoshi Kanazawa as I understand Japanese. I must say, what he’d (not she, by the way) said so far is outrageous and ridiculous. I was horrified to find out what he said about black women (” black women are least attractive group of human”). Please don’t think he is presenting the rest of Japanese nation! In fact Japan has much greater number of women without children than UK ( or perhaps in the world) and birth rate is declining dramatically (average number of children is about 1.3/4 per couple). I felt much easier to live in Japan as child-free woman than here in UK. Here I feel childless women are stigmatised more and being judged unfairly. Policies are focused on mainly “families” though single person household has been the most growing number among population. Anyway, whether having child or not is ultimately women’s decision, not by pressure from the states and society.

  5. Bad Puppy!

    Sorry this is long…

    In the first place (Not snarkily directed at you, just the general Internet), there is a growing body of evidence that intelligence is not that heritable. It’s more nurture than nature. And even when it’s nature, often there is no line to be drawn that connects clearly the intelligence of the parents to the intelligence of the child. Very smart people can have children with below average IQ’s. Not-so-smart people can have child geniuses.

    In the second place, evolution is not survival of the smartest, but survival of the fittest which is defined by whatever causes people to survive long enough to successfully reproduce. Past a certain point, nature doesn’t favor intelligence. I DO think childfree women on the whole have higher IQs than childed women. I’m not saying a woman with kids is automatically dumber than me, but the odds are decently high that that’s the case… in part because most of these women don’t seem to grasp that there is a choice at all!

    But we are evolutionary dead ends (and I’m totally okay with that. I kind of take pride that my line dies with me. I’m just putting a stop to that tomfoolery, thanks!) We tested out of “evolution”. We are smart enough to see beyond all of nature’s tricks that still convince a significant number of women to breed. Enough for the population to survive quite nicely without my participation.

    Failure to reproduce is actually GOOD for me because it means nature and society hasn’t conned me to act against my own interest. And it’s definitely not ‘bad for humanity’. We could actually do with a LOT fewer women reproducing. I really think that childfree becoming a more visible choice, and one that more and more women take seriously might be the only thing that saves humanity, to be honest. After all… if this runaway reproduction train isn’t slowed significantly, we’ll overbreed ourselves into extinction.

    I also find it extremely frustrating that women are expected to sit on the sidelines and give birth to the great artists, thinkers, inventors, scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc. but not to BECOME those things themselves. It’s really disgustingly sexist.

  6. Bad Puppy!

    Also, the next time someone tries to guilt you into having babies because you are so smart, you should just say: “Thank you. Being an intelligent person, I can see that the world is very overpopulated so I’ve decided to be part of the solution. You’re welcome.”

  7. Stop Thinking Make Babies

    Let us assume that a person could live vicariously through their genetic material. Why would an “intelligent” person want to live in the human cesspool ad nauseam? Reproduction is a easy choice for the subdued mind. The subdued mind imagines and believes in a set of expectations for the future aka hope. I have seen many vendors selling hope at the local religious facilities, sports stadiums, universities, etc. Constrained by fear most humans bow down to “fate” aka the acceptance of reproduction and the continuation of the cycle of life. All the while, most humans believe that there is no choice beside the decision to reproduction. A whole lot of velociraptor feces, a decision maker is the only master of destiny. All in all, intelligence not required to reproduce. Also, intelligence is not necessary if all the remaining people in the world are not concerned with intelligence, and they find themselves happy and reproducing in an ignorant bliss. What is the problem? Haha! :P

  8. Jen

    Thank you for this. The same thing bothers me. Women are viewed as breeding stock in many {most} circles. And Rush Limbaugh is an idiot.

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