Tag Archives: Causes and Effects

Should women think more carefully about age and fertility?

Here is an excellent, controversial, interesting post from Robert Stacy McCain. He critiques a feminist who has postponed becoming a mother, and she is now age 33.


It is one of the bitter ironies of the Contraceptive Culture: Many women spend years scrupulously using birth control — making what they have been told was the only safe, responsible decision — only to discover that when they decide they are finally ready for motherhood, they can’t become pregnant. Unknown to them, their fallopian tubes were so badly scarred by some long-forgotten infection during their youth that, for many years, they have been as sterile as if they had undergone tubal ligation surgery.

“Chlamydia . . . can go undetected for years and can cause permanent sterility. The top four [sexually transmitted infections] that affect fertility are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HPV. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), caused by STI’s will cause more than 100,000 women in the U.S. to experience infertility annually.”
American Fertility Association, “Infertility Prevention Handbook”

The genuinely important thing to realize is that the ways we think about sex, romance, marriage and parenthood are shaped by our culture and society. And the dominant ideas associated with the Contraceptive Culture have become so deeply entrenched in our society that most people (especially most young people) are incapable of understanding how profoundly unnatural these ideas are.

Postponing marriage until you are 30, and then imagining that you have plenty of time to wait around deciding when you want to become a mother, is not a natural way of thinking. To a greater extent than Rachel Birnbaum or her young readers may understand, this way of thinking is an artifact — or perhaps we might call it a side-effect — of the Contraceptive Culture, which fosters the belief that the procreative process is infinitely subject to human control. Yet while it is true that childbirth can always be prevented, by contraception or abortion, the logical obverse is not equally true: Pregnancy and childbirth cannot be magically conjured up in compliance to human will.

Ideas have consequences, and the ideas of the Contraceptive Culture result not merely in attitudes, but in lifetyles reflecting those attitudes. How many thousands of Rachel Birnbaums are out there, living their 20s and early 30s with the idea that they want to become mothers eventually, but not now? And how many of these women are destined to discover that, when they finally decide they are ready for motherhood, the decision has already been made for them by their own bodies, and that the decision is an irrevocable ”no”?

Whenever I write about subjects like this, it provokes strong reactions, many of them from people who accuse me of judgmentalism, or of trying to “tell women what to do.” Such responses – and they are often quite vehement — indicate how firmly rooted the ideas of the Contraceptive Culture have become. People simply are not used to hearing these ideas examined in a critical way and, having become accustomed to thinking and living in accordance with such ideas, feel that any criticism of the ideas is a personal judgment, a moral condemnation of their lives and beliefs.

I like Mr. McCain’s blog because, like me, he isn’t afraid to take on these cultural issues, and to attack feminism. And yet his blog is enormously popular. On so many blogs that are popular, the authors just find news stories and make these short comments about the news. But with McCain’s blog, you get long form essays that don’t shy away from controversy. Like it or not, it’s worth reading. And I couldn’t agree more with him about this essay – it never hurts to think ahead and take into account these limitations.