Response to Prompt 1 Round 8: Feminism and overpopulation

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In my opinion, raising the social status of women leads to lower birth rates because it gives women options for their life.  In general the areas with the highest birth rates are also the poorest and where education for women is suppressed. Due to the lack of other opportunities, women are essentially boxed into the role of a wife, mother, caregiver, and homemaker. They have no opportunity to become educated and secure a job to provide for themselves, so often the only option is to follow the path laid out for them by a patriarchal society. A society that dictates that their main or only role is to produce children and keep house. Education opens doors for women, allowing them to have a future of their own choosing. Education provides opportunities for them to do what they want, even if it’s not creating children or even if it is creating children.

Policies like China are almost automatically rejected by most people. I oppose China’s policy because it is a direct infringement on my basic human rights to have such a personal decision mandated by the government or anyone except me.  The positive side of that kind of regulation is the acknowledgement that the human race has an overpopulation problem and it attempts to do something to solve it. However, it is not a viable solution for a couple of reasons. The most important one is that it completely infringes on women’s rights. It is no one’s place to tell a woman what to do with her body or to tell anyone what to do with their body. The argument could be made that because the issue of reproduction involves the well being of society, the government has the right to step in. However, there are certain freedoms and decisions that cannot be made for someone else. It is better to provide the tools and incentives for a person to make a certain choice. An additionl reason is that our society is constantly relaying the message that we are only complete if we are in a relationship and in turn, a relationship is only meaningful if you have a child. Movies, television, and music all harp on the notion of being a part of a relationship to complete you as a person. In turn, if you are in a relationship, particularly if you are married, and not having children, people think something is wrong. Even having only a single child invites criticism. It is silly to think the government, even if it wasn’t infringing on personal privacy, would be able to successfully combat the pressures of society.

In my opinion, lower birth rates are caused by increased equality between the sexes. A higher standard of living can encourage some people to have as many kids as they can, whether for religious or other reasons, if they know that they live in a country that will provide the resources to care for them. The Duggars are an example.

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One response »

  1. While I agree that society would benefit from greater gender equality (I use gender here to make the distinction between biology and societal classifications), I feel that increasing standard of living is being viewed from the wrong angle. In light of population stabilization, increasing standard of living should be taken to mean increasing the global average, or even better, moving towards a globally equitable standard of living. While this is not to say that everyone should be economically equal (certainly a neurosurgeon requires more training than a cashier), developing nations can’t be expected to act in a globally responsible manner if they are worried about getting food on their tables. With that in mind, a combination of gender and economic equality may have a greater influence on stabilizing our expanding population than either factor on its own.

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