The Woman's Burden

Traditional women's roles are essential to maintaining civilization.

Sometimes we must bluntly state the blindingly obvious: In order for any society, civilization, or culture to survive, it's essential that women bear children - they're the only ones who can - and that someone put in the immense amount of effort needed for those children be raised to productive taxpaying adulthood.  Since childbearing can only be done by women, if too many of them choose not to, society grinds to a halt a few decades later.  In the long run, nothing else matters: the future belongs to those who show up for it.

Get Married

Our Japanese friends have no grandchildren because a lot of young Japanese ladies aren't marrying or shacking up.  Indeed, two-thirds of eligible single ladies aren't even interested in finding a relationship.

Because of these widespread individual choices, the World Bank states that the average Japanese woman has 1.44 kids, which is about half the number needed to keep the population stable.  As an inevitable mathematical result, Japan is losing population - each year, about a million more Japanese die than are born.

Unless Japanese women start having a lot more babies soon, Japanese culture is doomed.  There will be no need for a Chinese or Russian invasion, though that may come in time.  It's simply not possible for foreigners to learn enough about Japanese culture to preserve it without enough young Japanese being raised in it.  Japanese culture is so complex that raising children to be competent Japanese takes two decades of immense labor.

The situation in Korea is worse; the birth rate there is a minuscule 1.17 per woman.  The BBC reports:

An increasing number of South Korean women are choosing not to marry, not to have children, and not even to have relationships with men. With the lowest fertility rate in the world, the country's population will start shrinking unless something changes.

We've shown how Korean farmers import wives from other parts of Asia because Korean women don't want to be farm wives.  This may seem like half a solution, as the foreign women tend to be more amenable to having large families.  According to various studies, however, children born to non-Korean women have lower test scores than children with both native Korean parents.

As the long sad history of racism suggests, some say that foreigners have inferior genes, but that isn't the reason.  The cause is simply that non-Korean mothers don't know Korean culture well enough to provide the immense amounts of help Korean mothers give their children to make sure they do their homework (in Korean) and learn everything else in both the curriculum and the culture to succeed on life-defining standardized tests (in Korean).

This is an immense amount of work - indeed, not wanting to do all that work is part of the reason young Korean women are deciding not to have children.  If maintaining a culture requires more work than women are willing to do, they stop doing it and society eventually collapses, or at least changes into something unrecognizable.

This phenomenon is not restricted to Asia - we've discussed Brazil, where the number of babies per woman has dropped faster than anywhere else in the world.

Bear Children

Neither Japanese nor Korean society accepts children born outside marriage, but having fatherless babies is OK in America and in England.

Indeed, welfare mothers have lots of fatherless kids - the New York Times casually described a welfare mother who had 13 children and nearly 40 grandchildren at public expense and the Daily Mail described three men who had a total of at least 81 children by 46 different women.  Alas, although Dr. Ben Carson's single mother was able to raise him to be a successful contributor to society, very few single mothers can raise taxpaying citizens without a father's help.

Fatherless mobs burned down Detroit and Baltimore and shoot each other in Chicago.  This has NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE: the British welfare system, nearly all white when designed and largely white to this day, has brought about a situation where fatherless children effectively raise themselves.

Fatherlesness brings chaos.  After a bloody Chicago weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that although Mayor Rahm Emanuel understood the problem and described it well, his statements were not acceptable to his fellow liberals.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was accused Wednesday of victim shaming for citing an absence of values and character in the African-American community after the weekend bloodbath in which 71 people were shot, 12 of them fatally.

Shari Runner, until recently the president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, said the mayor's blame game is offensive and insensitive.

What does Ms. Runner expect the mayor to blame?  The guns?  The people who use them?  Public schools which taught them how to tell right from wrong?  Guns are already illegal in Chicago, so harsher gun bans aren't likely to accomplish much; the problem lies elsewhere.  Ms. Runner may be offended when the mayor calls her constituents criminals, but isn't she offended when her constituents shoot each other?  Isn't that a criminal act?

Mr. Emanuel was also quoted as saying:

I am asking...that we also don't shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.

Feminist rhetoric to the contrary, those single Chicago mothers simply cannot keep their children from joining violent gangs as they grow up.  Our law enforcement friends tell us that it is impossible for police to maintain order once more than about 2/3 of the kids in a neighborhood lack a father's presence.  Welfare regulations produce ghettos where there's no fatherly presence at all.

All these fatherless kids impose immense costs on society.  It's not clear how much "social safety net" we can afford.

College educated women generally don't have kids out of wedlock, but in more and more cases, both college-educated parents work long hours.  Our colleges are full of fragile snowflakes who retreat to safe spaces when they hear ideas they don't like.

We've written about the explosion in demand for mental health services at college.  Many students suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and all kinds of other mental troubles.  Nobody should spend a dime sending these kids to college, they haven't been raised in a way that makes the ready to leave home.

Two generations ago, that same age group was storming Normandy or Iwo Jima.  That generation of kids experienced the economic crash of 1929 as they grew up.  They learned to make do with whatever they had, they knew that there was no point in complaining, nobody would give them much of anything, and they'd have to work hard to get whatever they wanted.

This profound change, from the Greatest Generation to millennial "special snowflakes" in one lifetime, illustrates a much shorter 60 year cycle than the 350-year Confucian cycle we've discussed:

  • Bad Times make Hard Men.
  • Hard Men bring Good Times.
  • Good Times make Soft Men.
  • Soft Men can't maintain Good Times; things turn Bad.
  • Bad Times make Hard Men....

Guide the House

Why are so many American college kids, grotesquely pampered by historical standards, so ineffably fragile?  The Wall Street Journal reported on the book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters by Erica Komisar.  Ms. Komisar has been rejected by her former liberal friends because she was honest enough to report her neurological research accurately.

The premise of Ms. Komisar's book - backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics - is that "mothers are biologically necessary for babies," and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. "Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we've ever understood," Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, "that babies are born without a central nervous system" and "mothers are the central nervous system to babies," especially for the first nine months after birth. [emphasis added]

Stay-home mothers are important because women have more oxytocin than men do.  This hormone buffers against stress, and women give it to their babies through breast feeding or skin contact.  These externally-supplied hormones help the child's nervous system develop self-control.

"Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she's actually regulating that baby's emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then." For that reason, mothers "need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days."

This is why men aren't as effective as women in terms of socializing children:

Fathers produce a "different nurturing hormone" known as vasopressin, "what we call the protective, aggressive hormone."

If children are exposed to too much aggression before a woman's oxytocin matures the child's nervous system enough to control feelings of anger or upset, they find it hard to get along with others:

"What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls."  More youngsters were also being diagnosed with "social disorders" whose symptoms resembled those of autism - "having difficulty relating to other children, having difficulty with empathy."

This well-researched fact that women make better mothers than men do isn't palatable to the left.  Ms. Komisar said, "I was rejected wholesale - particularly in New York - by the liberal press" because "You are going to set women back 50 years."

The Man's Role

As a practical matter, very few women can earn enough money to support themselves and their children while also having enough time to raise their children to be successful adults.  Someone has to pay a mother's expenses.  In western countries, the welfare system does this, but only for unmarried mothers.  The absence of fathers from our welfare communities makes them ungovernable as Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The traditional custom was for a man to pay the costs involved in managing a house while his wife guided it.  This clearly led to some women being mistreated, but has our society improved overall as women poured into the work force?  Mayor Emanuel was sorely criticized for blaming Chicago violence on the absence of fathers, but this is nothing but simple truth.

We've tried many ways of raising children, and the only method that seems to lead to long-term social stability is for one man and one woman to enter into a long-term relationship centered around raising their children together.  Nothing else seems to work.  It's pretty hard for mothers to raise effective taxpayers without a lot of emotional, financial, and parenting help from their fathers.  Forming a strong family not only requires that women want to have children, men also have to value and respect the woman enough to want to get involved.

One difficulty is that men don't generally get as emotionally involved in children as women do.  If a woman says she wants marriage but lets a man have her without marriage, he feels she's a liar - marriage means little to her or she wouldn't do this.  If he can have her without marrying her, what would marriage give him that he doesn't already have?

If a women expects her husband to become emotionally and financially involved in raising her children, she has to make sure that he's emotionally and financially involved in her before they're conceived.

Restore Honor

We're going to have to restore motherhood to its place of honor.  There was a time when the effort of motherhood was respected and praised.  Now, it's criticized.  The New York Times wrote about a human resources consultant who interviewed many hard-charging coeds at Penn State University:

At one point, she asked the young women if any of them wanted to marry and have children. They at first appeared shocked by the question, then looked at one another for reassurance before, she said, "sheepishly" raising their hands.

"I thought, 'My gosh, what have we come to that these brilliant young women are afraid to say that marriage and children are significant parts of what they view as their lifelong happiness?'" Ms. Patton said.

"They have gotten such strong, vitriolic messages from the extreme feminists saying, 'Go it alone - you don't need a man,' " she added.

But, in fact, many of the Penn women said that warnings not to become overly involved in a relationship came not from feminists, but from their parents, who urged them to be independent.

"That's one thing that my mom has always instilled in me: 'Make decisions for yourself, not for a guy,'" one senior at Penn said.

It's sad that women who know that they want to have children acted as if they were ashamed of this.  On top of that, fostering this attitude of individualism and independence overlooks the fact that effective parenting is a joint, interdependent endeavor.  Each party to the marriage must give up their individual wants and desires in favor of helping their children fulfill their potential.  This degree of self-denial is difficult for members of our "selfie generation."

Popular messages make it hard for men to even think about making commitments.  When the pill arrived, feminists rejoiced that women could enjoy emotion-free, recreational sex as men do.  The New York Times article “Sex on Campus – She Can Play That Game, Too,” cited above described a “slender, attractive” coed who said, “I will not remember who I have slept with.”  If sex is just a game, "no" means "try harder."

Feminists proclaim that men are interested in one and only one thing and that women and men have exactly the same wants and needs.  This teaches horny men that women seek casual hookups.  My classmates a half-century ago declared allegiance to the “4-F club” – Find ‘em, Feed ‘em, Fondle ‘em, Forget ‘em.”

How is a woman who knows that she wants to raise her own children going to find a man who's attracted to her strongly enough to be willing to take on the traditional responsibilities of a husband and father if young men have been told so often that women only want sex?

Will Our Culture Survive?

Japanese and Korean cultures are doomed unless their women start having 3 or 4 babies each pretty soon.  That isn't likely to happen.

American population would be dropping except for immigrants who have higher fertility rates than the native-born.  These newcomers aren't integrating themselves into the American culture as well as they used to, which has become an explosive and intractable issue in our current politics.  They maintain enclaves of their originating cultures instead, making the potentials for future conflict even worse than they'd otherwise be.

Feminists proclaimed for decades that it's unjust for women to be paid less than men for the same job. We now have enough data to show that women who don't have children are paid just as much as men are, and in some cases more.  If a woman decides to bear children, however, the effort and emotional impact of raising them, even with excellent day care, tends to damage her career by 20 to 35% in terms of lower income.  In a sense, having children is the ultimate limit to gender equality.

Having children is clearly hazardous to maternal careers.  Unless American fathers become significantly more willing to help their wives do the huge amount of work needed to turn infant barbarians into productive adult taxpayers and wives decide to be more willing to do the work, our society is doomed because we won't be able to maintain our high-tech food distribution system.

Disruptions of our food supply will bring serious problems.  Continued innovation is vital to our getting enough to eat.  Our broken education system is making it harder and harder to maintain our high-tech farms which feed us and much of the rest of the world.  Neither solar, wind, nuclear, nor hydroelectric power give us anything to eat - all our fertilizer comes from oil.  Fossil-fueled high-tech agriculture feeds us.  If our education system declines to the point that we can't maintain it, half our population will starve.

The Chinese have recovered from societal collapse many times; we have not.  They are graduating 4 or 5 times as many engineers as we are.  They will be better poised to recover from not breeding enough tech workers than we will.

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for Scragged.com.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

I find it very interesting that the first advertiser on this article is PP soliciting donations to "save Roe". Looks like the targeted advertising is very effective.

December 16, 2018 7:41 AM

Talk about unintended consequences ! Just about everything you described appears to be a result of the welfare state. Japan, South Korea, Europe and the US all have generous welfare benefits . So the women can say they don't need a spouse for support and the man can say that they can fulfill sexual desires without consequences. That is basically the problem with Chicago. Lots of welfare underwritten studs lining up strings of state subsidized Baby Mama's .
And Saved by The Immigrants ? Data shows that a disproportionate amount come to collect welfare benefits. Especially those without any worthwhile First World skills. So they don't really assimilate because there is no real need.
I guess we have to update Bill Clinton's " End Welfare as We Know it ". Make it a temporary last resort that encourages work, family and social responsibility. Screen immigrants for the desire/ability to contribute to society. Tall order, but worth it.

December 16, 2018 4:38 PM

Others are noticing the issue.

https://nypost.com/2018/12/21/americas-falling-fertility-is-seriously-bad-news/

In 1957, 4.3 million babies were born in the United States. In 2017, 60 years later, the number was 3,853,472. That’s an 11 percent decline, in a nation whose population has nearly doubled over those six decades. And though there are a few days left in 2018, the number for this year is sure to be lower.

That’s the dominant finding from the thorough — and alarming — report “Declining Fertility in America” by Lyman Stone of the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies.

In recent years, demographic journalists have focused on slivers of the population — the ­increasing percentages of Hispanics and Asians, the decline in births to teenage mothers, low birthrates in high-cost coastal metropolitan areas. Stone looks at the larger picture, that of total population, and finds that “the specter of low fertility, and ultimately of declining population, has come to America.”

That’s a different picture from that of a decade ago. Back then American birthrates hovered around, and sometimes just over, replacement level, roughly 2.1 children per woman. That was a vivid contrast with substantially below-replacement birthrates in most of Europe and Japan.

Those birthrates were buoyed upward by immigrant mothers, after a quarter-century of mass migration from Latin America, especially Mexico. But Mexican migration fell toward zero in the 2007-09 recession, and births to immigrants in the US sharply declined, too.

Some Americans, including many President Trump fans, find that good news. It suggests that a lower percentage of babies are born to mothers in disadvantaged households. And just about everyone, as Stone notes, takes the continuing sharp ­decline in births to teenage mothers as good news, too, considering that such children have tended to suffer negative outcomes.

But the negative outcomes of increasing infertility and eventual population decline have even greater implications. To put it bluntly: Who is going to pay for Social Security and Medicare when there are fewer working-age adults paying taxes for every oldster receiving benefits? Welfare states assume an expanding population, and America’s potential parents don’t seem to be providing one anymore. Why?

Stone rules out one cause: Surveys show that women want more children than they’re having. That was probably not the case, or less so, when American’s fertility rate dropped this low in the middle 1970s.

The culprit this time is something that scarcely existed then: college student loans. The top item on Stone’s list of five causes is “increased young-adult debt-service costs due to student loans.” Number two is “decreasing young adult homeownership” due to higher prices and — here it is again — “student loans.” Number three is “increasing years spent actively enrolled in educational institutions, which tends to reduce birthrates dramatically.”

Government efforts to encourage higher education have backfired for many intended beneficiaries.

Non-graduates still have debt. Graduates with politically correct degrees can’t find jobs. College costs have been inflated by administrative bloat and country-club campuses.

The result is “delayed marriage.” This “changed marital composition explains the vast majority of changes in American fertility over the past 10 or 20 years,” Stone writes.

What are policymakers doing to respond to this abrupt demographic challenge? Approximately nothing. Stone notes that the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Administration and Medicare’s actuaries have not “even published stress-test scenarios of long-term fertility at 1.5 or 1.6” — just below the current 1.7.

December 22, 2018 11:35 AM

Some years ago, now Senator Warren wrote a book "The Two-Income trap." She pointed out that one breadwinner was able to support a middle class life without his wife having to work back in the 1960's, whereas it takes two incomes now, mostly because costs have risen so much. While it is true that the cost of houses, day care, college, and otehr needs have increased, taxes are the real killer. Taxes have gone up a lot more than anything else.

Fox News commented on her book:

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-elizabeth-warren-encouraged-married-two-parent-families-16-years-ago-she-cant-do-that-today

Their article points out that Sen. Warren CANNOT admit to once having held the views she put in her book because her base is totally against traditional families. Fox quotes her:

“Many view parenthood as nothing more than another ‘lifestyle choice,’ not so different from joining a commune or developing a passion for windsurfing, but it isn't true for society at large. What happens to a nation that rewards the childless and penalizes the parents? If middle-class men and women stop making that parental lifestyle choice, who will care for them in their old age? Who will pay taxes, build infrastructure, and keep the economy afloat? And most important, who will populate the great middle class of America's future?”

Yep. She sure nailed it. It's really too bad that Democrats not are no longer the party of workers, they are no longer the party of families either.

January 9, 2019 10:39 AM

The economist email newsletter said:

A new study measures the effect having children has on a woman’s salary, across six countries. In Germany, after ten years, a typical mother was earning 61% less than she was before she gave birth. In America and Britain it was about 40%, and in Sweden and Denmark 27% and 21% respectively. Men’s earnings in all countries were virtually unaffected by parenthood. Cultural attitudes and public policy largely account for the difference

They show some graphs here:

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/01/28/how-big-is-the-wage-penalty-for-mothers

January 31, 2019 2:22 PM

Why is a good man so hard to find? Blame the war on boys and men

The author misses the main point.

https://nypost.com/2019/09/27/why-is-a-good-man-so-hard-to-find-blame-the-war-on-boys-and-men/

It begins:

Gina Thibodeaux, as Hannah Frishberg’s Post feature this week noted, is a single woman seeking a male partner in New York, preferably for marriage. She seems to have it all: beauty, success and youth (though at 38 she’s old enough to be tormented by the ticking of her biological clock). Alas, she says her luck with men has been so bad, she’s now considering living communally with girlfriends.

“Dudes these days just do less across the board,” she says. In particular, “they just don’t go out there and make money.”

Thibodeaux’s assertion was backed up by a recent academic study, as Frishberg noted, confirming that, yes, there is “shortage of economically attractive partners for unmarried women to marry.”

Hello? What did anyone expect?

As Dr. Helen Smith put it in her 2013 book “Men on Strike,” increasing numbers of men are boycotting marriage and fatherhood — and even engagement with women at all, except via commitment-free hookup culture.

But why wouldn’t they, after 50 years (dating from the onset of first-wave feminism in the ’70s) of relentless society-wide put-downs of the male sex.

Don’t take my word for it: Read Christina Hoff Sommers’ book “The War Against Boys” written almost 20 years ago. She documents, for example, how boys’ natural rambunctiousness was beginning to be diagnosed as a disorder and treated with drugs like Ritalin.

...

The real problem is that the women are letting men have them without marrying. I really wish that older women would teach younger women about men - it would save a lot of grief. They aren't explaining that men are far more physically driven than women, and they aren't telling http://successful-marriage.blogspot.com/2013/10/what-drives-men-to-marry.html Women used to say, "Not unless we're married, and I won't marry you unless you grow up and get a job."

If a woman says she wants to marry but lets a man have her without marrying her, he feels that she's a liar. Marriage clearly means nothing to her or she would insist on it instead of just giving herself. If she gives herself to him without marriage, how can he trust her not to give herself to someone else?

If he already has her, what would marrying her give him that he doesn't already have? Men know very little about women; how does a man know whom he should marry? If he can have her without marriage, she isn’t worth marrying. If he can’t, he will marry her if he wants her badly enough.

Intimacy without commitment is like icing without the cake. It can be sweet, but it's going to end up making you sick. A woman sets her price by what she does. If her price is a few dinners or movies, she isn't worth much. If her price is that he dedicate his life to taking care of her before getting her, she can be a priceless treasure. What you do shouts so loudly that nobody can hear what you say.

September 29, 2019 6:50 AM

The NY Times is getting on board.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/opinion/sunday/capitalism-children.html?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Declining fertility typically accompanies the spread of economic development, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. At its best, it reflects better educational and career opportunities for women, increasing acceptance of the choice to be child-free, and rising standards of living.

At its worst, though, it reflects a profound failure: of employers and governments to make parenting and work compatible; of our collective ability to solve the climate crisis so that children seem a rational prospect; of our increasingly unequal global economy. In these instances, having fewer children is less a choice than the poignant consequence of a set of unsavory circumstances.

Decades of survey data show that people’s stated preferences have shifted toward smaller families. But they also show that in country after country, actual fertility has fallen faster than notions of ideal family size. In the United States, the gap between how many children people want and how many they have has widened to a 40-year high. In a report covering 28 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, women reported an average desired family size of 2.3 children in 2016, and men wished for 2.2. But few hit their target. Something is stopping us from creating the families we claim to want. But what?

...

This Times writer doesn't read the paper. One reason Americans are having so few babies is that having a baby gives the government an 18-year window during which they can trash your family financially, emotionally, and in every other way. The New York Times wrote "Motherhood in the Age of Fear" https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/27/opinion/sunday/motherhood-in-the-age-of-fear.html to explain how this happens.


November 18, 2019 8:41 PM

The New York Times reports an approach to the problem:

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/11/26/world/europe/26reuters-hungary-marriages.html

Hungary Government Scheme Sparks Marriage Boom. Will Babies Follow?

BUDAPEST — A new Hungarian government scheme to promote marriage and childbirth with subsidized loans has already helped produce a boom in weddings, though it is still too early to say whether more babies will follow.

Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made it a priority to persuade more Hungarians to marry and have children to reverse a population decline. He has introduced a number of tax benefits and other programmes to favor families.

A big new scheme this year offers couples that marry before the bride's 41st birthday subsidized loans of up to 10 million forints ($33,000). A third of the loan will be forgiven if they go on to have two children, and the entire debt wiped out if they have three.

The central statistics office (KSH) said there had already been a 20% surge in the number of people getting married during the first nine months of this year. The number of weddings recorded was the highest over that period since 1990.

30 grand is a tidy sum, but doesn't put much of a dent in what it costs to raise kids. We shall see....

November 28, 2019 6:30 PM
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