Recently I was at a food court in downtown Toronto, reading the paper while grabbing some lunch. As the editor of The Interim, I have read and seen much of the moral decadence in our age and it seldom surprises me. But, for all this, I wasn’t prepared for the conversation that took place at the table next to mine.
Three women in their early 30s (I’d guess) and a man, all dressed in business attire were discussing abortion, contraception and children. The women were all thankful that they had access to birth control pills, IUDs and condoms. My best guess is that they had also resorted to abortion for those times that, as the cliche goes, the condom broke or a pill was forgotten, (although none mentioned that they had personally had an abortion). The man was also thankful for contraception and abortion so that women could be equals in the workplace and not have to deal with the inconvenience of children that might take them off the track of promotions and pay increases.
None of this surprised me. I almost turned my full attention back the paper when the conversation took an interesting but not altogether surprising twist. One of the women, the dominant personality of the group, said that women shouldn’t have children at all. She went on to explain herself although no one challenged her proclamation. She said – I remember it vividly – that “children ruin women’s lives” and therefore they shouldn’t have them. One by one, the other women agreed and told stories of friends who no longer join them in what is no doubt an exciting social life like those lived by the characters in Sex and the City: nightclubs, dinner out seven nights a week, girls’ nights out, and the endless series of dates with numerous men.
All of the women agreed; as one of them put it, “no woman should have a child.” The dominant woman then added that many women think they want to have children but have no idea what they are getting into. “It kills them,” she said. “Every female should have a tubal ligation. Newborn girls should have them at birth.”
At this point the man at the table spoke up. He said he found such measures extreme. Although he agreed that most girls should have their tubes tied once they reach puberty if they are going to be sexually active or don’t want children later in life that it wasn’t consciousable to force that upon them at birth, that such a decision wasn’t the parents to make.
But here, in a disturbing twist, the dominant woman agreed with him – it wasn’t the parents’ decision to make. She said sterilization should be mandatory because if it were left up to parents either at birth or at puberty, many would make “emotional decisions based on their out-dated desire to have grandchildren.”
The other women at the table seemed somewhat uncomfortable with this view but, of course, none spoke up. The man resigned himself to his inability to change her mind, shrugged and said “you have a point.”
This conversation is a chilling reminder that the anti-child mentality is grotesque, selfish and, ironically, quite childish. It is clear that the mentality is nothing more than hollow cliches cobbled into a conventional wisdom which is easy to refute and yet distressing to confront.
The conversation was also emblematic of our current political situation. Canadians, like the other two women at the table, may be uncomfortable with many prevailing social trends; but the herd of independent minds marches only one way. Abortion and contraception, which are defended as “choice,” quickly become the only choice.