Friday, February 1, 2013

Single Income No Kids: A Supernormal Stimulus Benevolently Exploiting Ancestral Patterns

Throughout human history until the extremely recent past, a successful pair bond almost always resulted in the birth of many children (around two of whom survived to reproduce). Labor was heavily divided by sex, with women not only caring for children, but also engaging in hard labor for the survival of the family - foraging, farming, or supporting hunting parties with equipment and clothing. Neither women nor men have had much option to do anything other than their assigned, ancestral roles. Presumably, selection somewhat aligned their happiness with the tasks and rewards associated with their roles.

One of the saddest results of modern happiness studies was the finding that while marriage increases happiness, having children decreases it, and happiness does not return to previous levels until the children have left the home. The authors of these studies were surprised to find that even though their control group consisted mostly of couples who experienced involuntary sterility and were childless as a result, they were still happier than married couples with children! (See, e.g., Baumeister, Meanings of Life, at p. 161 and 388-396.) As if the drop in general happiness were not bad enough, the birth of the first child is associated with a large, permanent drop in relationship satisfaction. In earlier times, the presence of children at least decreased the likelihood of divorce; now, each child increases the likelihood that the couple will divorce or break up.

However, as with ancestral gender-based assigned tasks, children were, until the past couple of generations, nearly unavoidable. One made the best of a bad situation, and even found a sense of meaning in it. The sense of meaning may even be proportional to the perceived drudgery and thanklessness of childrearing.

Traditional roles, again on balance from selection, have probably been mostly fine for the majority of humanity throughout time. Women have competed for choice in mating with both their families and with the purchasing power of prospective husbands. However, even the limited mate choice of the past has produced strong pair bonds for ordinary women and men, as is easily seen from modern societies that continue the practice of arranged marriage. The negative things we have read about the traditional sex roles in marriage have mostly been written by extraordinary, unusually intelligent, perhaps male-brained women saddled with poor matches. These unhappy women were more likely to write compellingly about their experiences - and, perhaps, their narratives are more likely to have been placed before us moderns, for reasons to be explored later - than the more ordinary, perhaps more likely content, majority of women.

Some degree of pair bonding is a human universal, but societies vary in polygyny and even polyandry. In monogamous societies with cultural (and material) patterns that favored monogamy, there may have been extra adaptation for strong pair bonding. In modern populations, some are probably more adapted to monogamy than others.

Recently, of course, childbearing has become increasingly optional even within the context of a highly successful pair bond. With the availability of reliable birth control and abortion, few women in developed countries are really forced to procreate.

However, at the same time, sex roles have become more universalized. While women still do the majority of childcare, they are also expected to compete with men in the labor market. In fact, single mothers with children have become one of the most common patterns in developed countries today. Housewives - now euphemized, because reviled, along the usual euphemistic treadmill, as "stay-at-home moms" - are still extant, though radically less common than in previous generations.

What is almost nonexistent is the childfree housewife - a woman who does not do market labor, is supported by her husband, but does not have children. Ours is one of the first generations in which this pattern is even an option; unfortunately, I will argue, few have taken advantage of its considerable appeal.

Most of us are familiar with the lives of those living other patterns - couples who both work, with or without children; single people, with our without children; and those "stay-at-home moms" like my own. Let's explore the unfamiliar, rarely travelled road of childfree housewifery, from a variety of perspectives, to examine who wins and who loses.[Note]

From the husband's perspective, he has a person with whom he is strongly pair-bonded who has the time, freedom, energy, and cleverness to take care of him in all ways. While most of her services might arguably be available on the market (if we include black markets), the attention and skill she devotes to providing them as a result of the pair bond would likely make their market equivalents vastly more expensive. As explored in books like Richard Titmuss' The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy and Lewis Hyde's The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, their very provision in non-market terms may fundamentally change their character.

She may be an amazing cook, carefully attending to his tastes and health and challenging him with her creativity. She may ease his life and increase his comfort (and even status) by maintaining his clothing and their living quarters, at a level of care an arm's-length market stranger would be unlikely to provide (though, from fiction, sleeping with an otherwise forming a romantic relationship with one's housekeeper is hardly an uncommon pattern!).

She may cut his hair, so that he need not pay a stranger for the privilege of being touched with instruments that touch the scalps of hundreds of other strangers. She has the time and energy to maintain her body and looks, and to engage in her own pursuits, creative and intellectual. If they had children, or if she were obliged to do a great deal of market labor, this would not be the case. The benefits of her beauty, achievements, and available energy fall to him, as his willingness to provide for her materially is what enables her to have them.

The working, providing partner well-suited to a childfree single income family, I argue, may essentially have the futuristic equivalent of what is sometimes called a "catgirl" - a pair-bonded, beautiful, clever dream-creature extremely devoted to him - but without the problems associated with the futuristic scenario.

The couple never suffers the drop in relationship satisfaction associated with the birth of the first child, and the burden of each is made lighter and more meaningful by the work of the other. If they are the kind of people who can find adequate meaning in a pair bond and other pursuits, they can successfully avoid the ancestral trap of childbearing - while retaining all the benefits of ancestral caretaking and protection patterns, not to mention all the benefits of modern Dreamtime "zero-th world" society.

The non-working partner, of course, enjoys freedom from the rat race - from market labor and all the energy drains it entails - as well as from welfare loss from childbearing. She is free to forage farmer's markets and exotic grocery stores for cooking ingredients, with plenty of time left after all her (really not unpleasant) caretaking tasks to pursue her own interests. What other women do as expensive hobbies - cooking, sewing, knitting, aesthetic arrangement - she may engage as her main occupation.

Sex acts for women as a gauge of the happiness of their relationships and of general life satisfaction as it relates to their partners. In a situation in which a woman is valued so much that she is taken care of materially and respected for her labors, her satisfaction and wellbeing translate into more sex, to the benefit of both herself and her mate. When her energy and satisfaction are sapped by full-time market work and/or childrearing responsibilities, sexual frequency cannot but drift downwards.

To form a pair bond with a catgirl of one's own level of cleverness is a great privilege toward which many aspire. Few imagine how enticing it can be to BE such a beloved, pair-bonded yet utterly free catgirl.

This pattern is clearly not available to everyone. Many people may not be able to find meaning in life except through breeding. And it may be that only a minority of women are presently capable of the enjoyable, but hardly brainless and undemanding, tasks of housewifery. I also suspect that the monogamy orientation of the male partner (if there is one) most limits such pairings; while female humans may self-modify sexually in many important ways, it may be that only particularly monogamy-adapted males can find deep satisfaction with such a pattern. I doubt men have much control over whether they are such fellows, and certainly do not cast blame on those who are not; however, those without a strong monogamy orientation are excluded from this pattern.

Who loses, then? Why is this pattern so rarely seen, even among those well suited to it?

The main losers are the relevant governments. Market labor and the market exchanges this pattern replaces are taxable events. The satisfaction from this pattern is not at this time taxable. Also, the childfree pattern refuses to produce more "citizens" for the relevant governments to bleed.

Corporations may also lose, for the same reasons: their labor pool is contracted, with some of the most able excluding themselves from it; therefore, labor is marginally more expensive. In addition, non-market provision of services means demand for their products and services decreases - both in this generation and the less-populated next.

This may be part of the reason this pattern is presently rare and reviled, with "housewife," as mentioned above, on a euphemistic treadmill toward necessarily including children in the pattern to remain even close to respectable.

However, a truly free society, I argue, would see much more of this pattern among those well suited to it. It is fucking rad, and I encourage you to consider whether you might be suited to it, and to avoid playing into governments' and corporations' interests by reviling those who freely choose it as their life pattern.



Note.Feel free to mentally change the genders here. While on balance I'd expect most couples capable of enacting this pattern to be as I describe, there are now no rules stating that this must be the case. Lesbian and gay couples, and the occasional gender-reversed hetero couple, may derive the same benefits as the heterosexual couple in traditional roles as described.

94 comments:

  1. Thanks Sister Y for another great post. I indeed agree that it would be so much better if such relationships were the foundation of society and not a periphery.

    I couldn't care less about labour, corporations, governments or what have you but hearing about a loving relationship blossoming with no responsibilities for other beings is heartening.

    It is not of course ideal by any stretch of imagination because someone still has to work. Ideally, once capitalism is displaced, a future society (if such a thing will ever come to be) will automate all work and there will be no such thing as governments, labour, corporation and all that other useless crap and so, without kids, the couple will get to enjoy their temporary freedom in existence before the whole human race finally inevitably succumbs to non-existence.

    By the way, I pre-ordered your book :)

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  2. Another specific flavour of this general option is for both partners to divide their time between the world of paid labour and the household/needs of the other partner. Two approximately half-time jobs, preferably with an element of flexibility in hours/place of work; plus plenty of free time for shopping, cooking, and bonding. Has the added advantage of building some resilience in there, since both partners can step up if one disappears, suffers illness, etc.

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    1. Right on! Also great blog title (Kale Force!)

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    2. Then you might like this idea: http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/p/for-individual.html

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    3. Unfortunately, and this is especially so in the U.S. where social benefits proper to the State are instead fobbed-off on employers, it is very, very, hard to find even one decent half-time job in (in the example I know best) the high-tech industries. My (associative meaning) wife and I calculated that the best we could find at our level of ability would probably be two half-time jobs paying us about three-fifths of what one of us could earn full-time. Beside the benefits cost per employee, when you work half-time, your employer has a pre-set hard limit on your time, but full-time allows them to work you up to (in our experience) twice as much as your nominal weekly level, making you much more than twice as valuable.

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  3. I think one of the reasons being a "housewife" is so demeaned by our society is because it is seen as a submission to another person that doesn't take place in a market context. You're essentially consenting to be the support person, requiring your partner for income. And even though you may work as hard or harder than your partner, that work is seen as providing no value, making you the "dependent" (another dirty word in American culture).

    The strange thing is that in a labor market context it is common and even highly desirable to submit to another person. It's just that being paid to work has allowed you to avoid the label of "dependent". Your submission through labor is labeled a "market exchange" rather than a "dominant/submissive" relationship.

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    1. Presumably insightful, but given the context of family law, the real subordination in that situation is of the man to the woman. She has, through her marriage license, received an option on half the assets, all attorney's fees, a life insurance policy paid for by the husband and a potential annuity, possibly to be paid for life to keep her in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed in the event of a divorce, all of which is exercisable at her discretion, upon a divorce.

      Perhaps this is why men are no longer looking so avidly for such an arrangement.

      The fiction that marriage is subservience for the woman is a Great Lie. Men pay ~95% of all alimony to women resulting in transfer payments from men to women of ~9,500,000,000 per year.

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    2. Barely survived that mistake once. I have taught my son to at least ask for a prenup agreement. The response will speak volumes of the true intent of the other. As for my self, a prenup is non-optional for a marriage contract. A marriage should be about the emotional relationship/connection and not the present / future monetary rewards.

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  4. Here are the reasons I can think of why most women don't want to be housewives (and they don't, if we can take what they say to pollsters at face value):

    1) they know a relationship might not last forever, so they want to maximize their ability to be self-supporting just in case;

    2) one income is not enough --- if neither partner has a "good" job, two meager, maybe sporadic incomes might be needed to make rent/pay for food and other expenses;

    3) the stay-at-home partner might feel guilty about not "contributing" enough, even if they do all the housework, cooking, home upkeep etc.

    4) the stay-at-home partner would be bored, unfulfilled, etc. --- this one probably has the least generalizability, as most people's outside-of-home jobs aren't particularly interesting, fun or fulfilling either.

    I think #2 is probably the most important/relevant of these reasons, but I also think #1 is a biggie too. More psychological reasons like #3 and #4 definitely won't enter into it for everyone --- for everyone who would feel incomplete or unfulfilled without paid work, it seems to me there's at least one other person who's just *dying* to quit their job and loaf about all day, or pursue something they actually care about.

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    1. These are great points. Regarding (1), I have previously argued that marriage barely exists anymore; neither governments nor social groups can be relied on to enforce agreements in the marriage context, so the childfree single income path would be one for exceptionally high-trust couples only. (Child support is much easier to enforce, despite its not being an agreement between the parties.)

      Regarding (2), I think your point will resonate with many people. Several responses: one is that isn't it interesting that there are probably more single income plus kids families than single income without kids? If one income isn't enough for two, how can it be enough for 3+? Another is the nature of poverty. The poor are not only exploited and trapped in poverty by lack of money, but also by lack of time. The saying that it's expensive to be poor applies to time as well as money. A one-earner, no-kids family has many opportunities to scale back its market consumption by translating time into resources, such as cooking at home instead of purchasing prepared market "food." I would submit that gas and entertainment budgets can also be scaled back, as well as money people spend on what they imagine will get them status.

      I think (3) and (4) could totally apply to many situations. It may be an unusual couple who can feel both equally contributing and equally fulfilled despite radically different roles, especially since we are taught from girlhood that being a housewife is an inferior role that is forced on us and is low-status, etc. or that working for money or breeding are the only ways to be a mature adult.

      There are both characteristics of the spouses individually, and of the match, that are necessary to making this unusual pattern work. Despite that, I am surprised we don't see it more commonly.

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    2. I actually don't know how many single-income families there are, let alone how many of them include kids vs. don't!

      I belong to one of them, but I've known all my life that we were a throwback, an Exception to the general Rule that two incomes are needed. (Dad's an engineer, one of the rare professions to require only a bachelor's degree, and he works for the government, which is a high-security job with lots of benefits, including a generous pension when he retires. I actually think my parents would've been happier if they'd been able to reverse roles, with Mom working and Dad staying home --- like me, he's an introvert and a homebody --- but, as a nurse, she would probably have made about half, or less, of what he did.)

      Anyway, I totally agree that one partner having all the time in the world allows you to save money by doing more things yourself, and maybe if you're only feeding two there are more jobs that pay enough to "keep" a dependent. I just think there's a minimum income at which this is feasible, and that most jobs pay below this minimum, even assuming the people live frugally.

      There's also no job security for lots of people anymore, so if you're working now, you may not be able to guarantee you'll still be working a year from now. So in that event it's nice for you to have a partner who is also capable of earning money while you are trying to find work.

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    3. Surprisingly hard to find numbers for single-earner childfree versus having children. I did find one interesting factoid - apparently as of a few years ago (tax law changes rapidly), the biggest tax benefit (zero marriage penalty and a big benefit) from marriage went to wealthy ($180,000 per year income) couples with no children (source)! Woulda thought the government would be doing more to prevent that, given my conspiracy theory outlined above. ;)

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    4. Regarding #4... I probably have the best job I've ever had right now, but I still think an afternoon spent doing the dishes, kicking ass at Civilization for a while, writing half a chapter of a novel, and making dinner for a loved one is more interesting and fulfilling than anything I'm ever likely to make a living at.

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    5. (A loved ADULT, I ought to say, to avoid confusion...)

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    6. Likewise. (Book chapter more difficult to multitask on than other tasks, though...)

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    7. True, but I'm still much more psychologically up for writing after sex and video games and cooking dinner than I am after eight hours at an office!

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    8. First, if you think that being a housewife is 'just staying home and loafing all day' is the job description, you have never tried it.

      Second, one income is 'enough' if it provides the basics and the materials to make life possible. You better get over this 'not enough' idea. Soon the basics will take ALL of your time to acquire. Having someone at home who can cook and sew and take care of a garden is going to be more important than the internet or TV or your other favorite waste of resources.

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  5. Say, great blog, I just discovered it today.

    I think my wife and I may be a good example of today's essay, as well. Frugality and lack of kids allowed us a wider choice of what we wanted to do in life; and allowed us to remove ourselves from the stresses that bedevil most working-class folks, and keep a high level of control on our lives. The relationship has stayed fresh as well, for going on 40 years now.

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  6. There is something deep in the female brain (mediated by the tyranny of natural selection that cares more about our potential offspring than us) that loathes working to support a man who doesn't work - for a female with high erotic capital, the things he would bring to the table can be had without supporting him or can be had in a package that also earns money. Sadly, only women can partake in this arrangement, mediated by female atractiveness standards, not the fragile male ego.

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    1. My suspicion is that a "bower bird" type of male could make this work - artist, musician, chef, etc. I'm not positive because I've never seen it in action.

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    2. I believe this was the case with my maternal grandparents, at least some of the time. Not sure how the USSR backdrop affects things, however.

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    3. Generally I agree with you here Brian. Things may be changing though as female needs are changing. For example, I know one attractive 30 something working woman, we'll call her B, who thought she could never have children as she lived for an entire decade with a man and had unprotected sex with him but never got pregnant. This man also had 2 children who she helped raise, though those children spent more time at their mother's home than at their dad's (B's partner).

      After 10 years B broke up with that man and met a younger and more physically attractive man, not that much younger, a mere 6 years, but he was quite handsome and all her friends' admired her looks and teased her about how "jealous" they were, in a friendly joking spirit. Well, low and behold, she gets preggers the first time she had sex with him! She couldn't believe but was overjoyed. Now she would finally be a mom, after having given up on that dream thinking she was infertile. Now, not only does this new partner not have a steady job, he lives in the USA too. (She's Canadian). Not to be deterred, she has him move to Canada into her apartment and they set up a home for their baby together, her working 5 days a week 9-5 and him staying home taking care of the baby, surfing the web, and making dinner. He is not yet a Canadian citizen and hasn't work a day since meeting her, but she's fine with that because he's providing her eye candy with his good looks, sexual satisfaction (I'm assuming), he gave her a baby, and he stays home and takes care of that baby.

      She is as happy as a bug in a rug.

      Now, she might prefer that he be the one working outside the home and she be the one to stay home with the baby, perhaps they've had some arguments about that, I don't know. But I do know that she is in love with this man and she never considers kicking him out. In fact, they got married - after the baby was born.

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    4. I think it's great for people to experiment with different styles of relationships until they find what's right for them. When a relationship ends, it's only a failure if it produced children, who are now stuck with the burdens of being children of single parents or (worse) having stepparents.

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  7. I think that, due to your own outstandingly happy experience with monogamy, you might be insufficiently pessimistic. Heh. (Especially in regards to the possibility that there might've been lots of "mediocre" people who still experienced quiet anguish under traditional marriage - like many do in today's sexual marketplace - and could neither quite reconcile to nor revolt against it, but instead lived with the trauma of repression.)

    -----------------------------------

    "Marriage as a community of [self]-interests unfailingly means the degradation of the interested parties, and it is the perfidy of the world's arrangements that no one, even if aware of it, can escape such degradation. The idea might therefore be entertained that marriage without ignominy is a possibility reserved for those spared the pursuit of interests, for the rich. But the possibility is purely formal, for the privileged are precisely those in whom the pursuit of interests has become second-nature—they would not otherwise uphold privilege...

    ...Tenderness between people is nothing other than awareness of the possibility of relations without purpose." - Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia

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    1. You're the only one allowed to accuse me of being insufficiently pessimistic. <3

      I suspect that in previous eras, people suffered during marriage, and this was the visible pain that reformers of various kinds sought to remedy - what they coudln't see was the happiness and comfort that it also brought, that is utterly absent and irreplaceable in its absence for many. I think marriage may be more possible and more important for normal people than for people like us, even.

      I lucked out, absolutely. Most of my monogamy experiences have been with inferiors (not all, but most) and have been disasters. It's a bit of a juggling act to keep the monogamy gift circle going - greater than five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions, maintaining the constant feeling of gratitude toward one's lover - and I think that's both rare now AND unsupported by modern institutions. The modern wisdom is you need to "communicate" or whatever. I think that's so missing the point it's sad.

      Anyway, as with long distance running while high on cannabis, it's one of the best things I've ever experienced and has made me not want to die all the time, so I thought it was important to share it!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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    2. Sister Y, could you tell me what you mean here when you say most of your monogamy experiences have been with "inferiors"? Does this mean a bad match? Not capable of filling a given role? Did you this is what they were before you lucked out with your current situation?

      Great article.

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  8. A possibly relevant data point, from a PUA newsletter that I have subscribed to for years out of curiosity...reproduced below in part but verbatim:

    ------------

    Yesterday afternoon we - the core team in Style's Social Laboratory - discussed the following BlackOps results that had raised quite a few eyebrows in the room. To recap, we had asked:

    "If you had your choice, hypothetically, of only two options -- being with a different beautiful woman every week OR being with the perfect woman for the rest of your life -- which would you choose?"
    And here's how BlackOps agents responded:

    25% said "Being with 1 beautiful woman per week"
    75% said "Being with the perfect woman for life"

    Style looked at us and said, "This is where all the Seduction gurus and critics are wrong!!!! Learning about attraction and seduction does NOT mean that you want to bed every woman you meet. Because the same would apply for the millions of women who are reading the 'love making tips and seduction techniques' in 'Cosmopolitan magazine' every month. Almost all of these women believe in loyalty and finding the love of their lives.

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  9. Not to be off topic, but Dima mentions your forthcoming book. Any idea yet when it will be published? Thanks.

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    1. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1616583509/1n9867a-20

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    2. Just placed my own pre-order, Sarah.

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  10. Damn, I'd cut off my pinky finger to be a childfree housewife, so long as I got to keep my current mate. He'd still hate workin' though, so I'd probably eventually be crippled by guilt, but I dunno, maybe if we could take turns? (Sigh.) I hate you, modern job market.

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  11. Sister Y- just added one of your entries to my new antinatalist sqworl:
    http://sqworl.com/nc1gf8
    Please spread the word. Suggestions of entries from other blogs are welcome as well...

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  12. I've been hoping for this sort of relationship for years BUT with the roles reversed!

    I'm a hetero male musician, cook, gardner, hunter, fisherman, carpenter who is well read and intelligent but despises all social heirarchy and required jumping through hoops of any day job. I'll never be career oriented or financially successful. Guys that are good at it often seem like tools to me. What professional woman wouldn't want a romantic stay-at-home lover who takes care of their every domestic need while supplying much of the food, maintaining the home and garden, and filling life with refreshing excitement to counter the drone of most modern careers? It doesn't have to be the woman that stays at home. A guy could do this and potentially maintain much MORE masculinity than he could in the modern job market. There's a huge hole in this article, not mentioning the reversal of gender roles.

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    1. Especially considering the majority of college graduates are now female.

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    2. Great to hear - see footnote and comments. The boring fact is that the majority of couples capable of this (for boring monkey reasons) will be as I describe. The more intersting question is: say 5% of attractive (however defined) women are interested in being the monetary provider in such a relationship. What do their chosen partners end up looking like? Who is in that 5%? What characteristics do the women have?

      Slate or somewhere just carried an article about a gender-reversed SINK couple that I posted to my twitter account. I was surprised at the level of cranky pants directed at him in comments, etc. - even by nice proper liberal guys. But he doesn't sound half as capable as you. And I think you're on the right track that a successful match like this has to preserve masculinity/femininity (I bet that even happens in successful same-sex versions of this pattern).

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    3. Women wouldnt mind having good lovers like you, but they still cringe at the thought of being wanted for their providing ability. They have more sef-respect than men I guess. They still want to ensure they are desired even if they are broke.

      Ever noticed how, even financially stable women say that they wont marry for money, but they still want someone who is at an EQUAL level or can atleast take care of himself financially. I dont see a signifcant number of women signing up for Stay-at-home husbands regardless of their earning potential.

      Most importantly, women dont require marriage to obtain 'lovers' and sex partners. Most men do. Thats why there will never be a widespread role reversal

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    4. Refreshing gust of reality. #hypergamy

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    5. Okay as I mention this may be true on average - hypergamy and all that, yes. But maybe consider talking about the outliers rather than assuming women are a homogeneous class? Sex differences on average (aka reality) does not mean everyone can be predicted based on gender.

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    6. Ah and one other thing - I suspect in order to understand the gender-reversed situation, we must examine the "pimp" situation - in which women voluntarily work in the most unpleasant, unsafe circumstances and voluntarily hand over all of their earnings to a man who does not work, and resist the attempts of outsiders to "rescue" them from this situation.

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  13. In this era the primary reason for most women to get married is to have a family..raise children.

    As already noted by the author in other articles, women obviously dont require marriage or pair bonding to obtain regular convinient sex, physical intimacy, companionship or even a 'lover'.

    I dont think a financially independent woman who doesnt want children, one who isnt hysterical about her biological clock ticking and thus deperate to find a husband, would consider this option attractive. The reason being that she will have to forego the high quality short term sexual and relationship options that she has access to simply by virtue of being a young woman. In this sexually permissive age, this will be a high cost to bear.

    The number, quality and variety of men available to a woman for short term sexual relationships is much much higher than the number and quality of men available to her for marriage.

    Only very rich men could be considered prospects for such an arrangement. It would be similar to having a mistress/keep.

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    1. It may be that the "primary" reason for women to get married is to have children - I haven't seen data on that, and anyway it doesn't work very well since having children increases the probabily of divorce.

      What I am hoping for people to see is the awesomeness of childfree semi-traditional marriage. You don't have to be that rich to support two people in reasonable style, and short-term sexual interests are simply not as valuable to women as to men.

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    2. But you raise an interesting possibility: this pattern may work best not for teenagers or twenty-somethings, but for somewhat older people (though likely in the most common human universal-ish situation of the stay-at-home party 5-8 years younger than the provider).

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    3. Women who dont want children, or have the means to raise children on their own, can truly see marriage/ life long committment for what it is - an economic arrangement...a vehicle to raise kids. Their expectations from men also change. No longer do they require men to invest their time and emotions in them heavily. All they require is the occasional companionship and sex.

      Such women will value short term mating opportunities much more than others. Thats why I beleive it will be a huge cost to bear.

      She will have to compromise heavily on the physical/sexual attractiveness of her partner in the kind of arrangement you mention. Attractive men dont have to be monogamous and they certainly dont have to support someone financially to be monogamous.

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    4. So you don't think pair bonding is a thing (some) of us have adapted to find pleasurable and meaningful?

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    5. The so called adaptation is the reason you see an increasing number of unhappy single women who cant find Mr Right.

      When you remove the economic/cultural/social pressures that channel women towards pair bonding, women will only choose men out of desire, for short term or long term.

      How will every woman pair bond with a desirable man?



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    6. On the other hand, there was that study a while back that women on the pill chose qualitatively different men from those who don't use hormonal birth control - and when they got off the pill, they were dissatisfied with their mates (more oriented toward dark triad facial features, etc.). You won't find me arguing that everyone can be happy; I think, in old times and new, most humans are destined for quiet desperation at best; all we can do is try to stop them from revisiting their misery on another generation.

      But people do desire to pair bond, and get pleasure from pair bonding - especially the sort of people who are well-suited to the SINK model. Those who don't, are excluded from the pattern.

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    7. You don't mention that studies show mariage increases mens happiness but not womens. Married men live happier and longer lives than single men but the same doesn't hold true for women.

      In a society where mariage or pair bonding has gone out of favor, women would still be doing fine. Their sexual, emotional well being wouldn't be adversly affected that much. But most men would struggle to find mates.

      Paradoxical isn't it that men generally seem more averse to marriage? Just a thought.
      Most men only opt for pairbonding / monogamy etc because that's the only option available to us. If short term relationships and sex was as easily available to men as they are to women, we would see how many men sign up for life long monogamy before 50.

      Delete
    8. What studies are you referring to? Any prior to the de facto destruction of marriage? Women's happiness has been declining overall for a long time. I don't know what studies you're referring to, but I'd hope they separate childfree from breeder marriage. I'd fully expect breeder marriage to make women less happy, since women do more childcare universally and childcare is near-universally one of the most detested activities there is. (Can point to some studies if you're not aware of them.)

      Having to work AND take care of children is the worst of all worlds.

      Delete
    9. I have yet to see the data from any recent study that says marriage creates happiness in men.

      I have seen many studies that count "married" men in their datasets as those who are "still married" and ignore the "once married", i.e., divorced and separated men.

      Does marriage induce happiness in men or do happy men somehow manage to stay married longer than unhappy men? None of the studies I have seen distinguish between the two.

      Delete
  14. Happiness after having kids is lower on average. Okay. That is the average. However in any distribution, there are the results that run counter to the average. Assuming there are such data points, it seems possible that those whose happiness increases with kids will be selected for. And over time, such folks will increase in number.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep in mind: until only extremely recently, breeding given pair bond wasn't really a choice. Now all of a sudden it's a choice, but I doubt that happiness from breeding is really the selection factor. Being prone to fail at birth control and refuse abortion seem much more relevant in our environment than happiness from childbearing as selection factors.

      Delete
  15. I love this blog, it is fascinating, but I have to say, it is overarchingly depressing.

    By pulling back the thin delusional cosmetic skein that the human mind lays upon institutions such as marriage, the culture of optimism, raising children, etc., Sister Y has laid bare the ugly, festering reality underneath the brightly colored soft pelt covering it, the pelt which allows us to go through our day not worried about death by meteorite, divorce, terrorist attacks or MRSA.

    The effect is two-fold: (1) this exposure to "reality" induces a fear and paranoia about innocuous events and institutions that previously were considered stable sources of comfort and security, and (2) stripping illusion away from ugly reality creates a fascination with the dark, fetid ugliness that Lies Beneath. We curiously kick the dead dog to watch the maggots squirm. Then we do it again. And again.

    Which is better? To live in an illusory fog, happy and uninformed, or to be confronted with a more "sincere reality", one that creates a sensation of being right, but also disconnects that sensation from joy and happiness.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I get some amount of meaning from the fact that my suffering and not giving into the illusory fog means others (my never-to-be-born children and their line) will not have to suffer. But we are all interested in religion now - those of us who've grown out of Richard Dawkins - especialy that kind that can meet our human needs for meaning without causing us to make suffering other or make others suffer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. As someone once said,“Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion.”

    To go through the day ahead one needs to believe that certain things will happen without actual proof they will. My already-born children already see that: some fog is good, when judiciously applied.

    The problem lies when one's illusions about marriage, loyalty, morality, etc. are stripped away. The paralysing question then echoes at every turn; "Is this for real, or is it another trap set to lull my senses?". That doubt can be insidious and immobilizing.

    Once one has been hit with the fetid odor underneath the brightly colored blanket, every blanket hides yet another dead dog.....real or imagined, then one leaves the blankets alone and tries to avoid them altogether.

    The trick is in ignoring them in the first place and putting one foot in front of the other, neither succumbing to the fog, nor being paralysed by the ugliness it hides.

    Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it, then, wrong for insight seekers to poke holes in the comfortable myths that protect most from painful enlightenment?

      What's wrong with paralysis if it prevents evil? Why the bias in favor of Doing Things?

      Delete
    2. No, it is not wrong, but at the same time life becomes unworkable without a balance between faith and empirical knowledge, trust and certainty.

      As a trained scientist, I am often criticized for being "too analytical" (and critical of others for "not being analytical enough"), but the more common error is for people to place faith and bias over facts and statistics. Comfort and smugness over unpleasant truths.

      For those of us who have been through a meat grinder, the converse is somewhat more often true - we are certain of illusion and wary of reality. That can lead to a paralysis where both are suspect. And that course then doesn't really prevent evil, it just makes "evil" a bogeyman hiding under every bed.

      For poke too many holes in those comfortable myths and it becomes a very real possibility that every myth is a comforting layer hiding a different unpleasant and dangerous ugly truth.

      This is a perspective the mind gravitates towards quite easily, and one which leads a person to spend the day in bed, under the covers, lest The Horror be faced up to again.

      Delete
  18. The use of the word "pattern" to describe SINK is, if an allusion, also an inversion.

    I very much want to believe that SINK couples can reasonably expect happiness into old age comparable to their breeding counterparts but I have reservations. Patterns which describe a break from rather than reversion to evolutionary-supported infrastructure deserve a higher standard of proof. That self-selected childless couples, having the belief that childlessness increases happiness, tend to report higher happiness in connection with childlessness studies, would not be surprising.

    Can you refer me to studies which convincingly conclude that childlessness isn't harmful to fulfillment?

    Even then, it remains to be shown that the dissatisfaction coupled with child rearing can't be undone by reverting to community patterns of yore (e.g. expanding the home-radius).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally get this worry - that's why I call it a supernormal stimulus, since it's not time-tested, it appears better than what nature's got to offer, and it will result in extinction if pursued to its ends (yay). The studies Baumeister tracks do not take self-selected childfree couples as their baseline - surprisingly to the authors, they take people who were found to be infertile after trying unsuccessfully to breed, and find that even these folks end up happier than those who successfully reproduce themselves!

      I would recommend reading Baumeister's summary ("The Parenthood Paradox," pp. 388-396, linked above) for links to studies. An interesting thing happened between these studies of the 70s and 80s and now, though (these studies that showed that married childfree adults are happiest, married with children less happy, single with children least happy of all): marriage disintegrated. So now you see studies that stuff related to marriage has reversed: children now increase the likelihood of divorce instead of decreasing it (when in the old days they did the opposite and only destabilized non-marital unions), partner homicide used to be more common in unmarried "common law" unions but now it's not, etc. So marriage died - hence I think these studies from the 70s and 80s are showing something really interesting. I don't think children are likely to make anyone happy suddenly, but marriage might not make people as happy as it once did now that it's dead.

      A few studies: Glenn, N.D., & McLanahan, S. (1982) Children and marital happiness: A further specification of the relationship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 63-72 (great quote: negative effect of offspring on both marital and global happiness of parents "is not absolutely conclusive, of course, but it is perhaps about as nearly conclusive as social scientific evidence on any topic ever is."

      Anderson, S.A., Russell, C.S., & Schumm, W.R. (1983). Perceived marital quality and family life-cycle categories: A further analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 127-139.

      Bernard, J. (1982). The Future of Marriage. New Haven: Yale University Press.

      Campbell, A., Converse, P.E., & Rodgers, W.L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.

      Campbell, A. (1981). The sense of well-being in America. New York: McGraw-Hill.


      Elderly childfree are happy too:
      Rempel, J. (1985). Childless elderly: What are they missing? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 343-348.

      Delete
  19. I live it. And you're right. It's a fuck of a lot radder than working.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm glad I came across this blog, and this post in particular. I am a stay at home husband, without kids. My wife and I started this lifestyle after working opposite shifts for over 10yr. My wife has always had far more earning potential than I have, and this arrangement has allowed her to excel at her career. This arrangement is great, but requires a lot of trust initially. My wife had to trust that I would not simply sit around drinking beer all day, and I had to trust that she would not leave soon after my quitting work. You can expect to get some negative feedback occasionally from narrow minded people, after starting this type of lifestyle. When you live well, you're going to have some haters.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is going to be a bit off topic, but... back in the bad old days before modern psychiatric drugs, one of the things people tried as a depression treatment was opiate painkillers, such as morphine and heroin. Apparently some people with treatment-resistant depression actually are helped by drugs in this class, and you mentioned running as one of the few things that helped you personally, so I thought it might be worth mentioning. Good luck finding a doctor willing to prescribe even "mild" narcotics for depression, though. :(

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sister Y and Anonymous 9:27 AM,

    Just yesterday I asked my psychiatrist to prescribe Tramadol since nothing has ever helped my Bipolar II depression, except for Lamictal and Provigil briefly. He agreed (he has 3 other patients on it besides), and I've taken one 50 mg tablet yesterday and one today to give it a test-drive. It's already alleviating some of my listlessness even at this low dose.

    So thank you, Sister Y, for mentioning the fact that you are taking this drug! I never would have heard of it otherwise. If it's not too personal, my doctor was wondering what amount you are taking since your history is so similar to mine.

    I adore this blog of yours and appreciate your quality thinking....can't wait for your book to be released!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad I could be of help! I take 50 mg in the morning and 50 in the afternoon, more on bad days or if I have menstrual pain (up to 200 mg per day).

      The main negative side effect has been loss of appetite and weight loss - I'm technically underweight now - but I haven't had any adverse health effects from it, and it's certainly radically improved my quality of life.

      My doctor had me send him a few studies before prescribing it to me - I will dig up the email and link to them when I get a chance.

      Congratulations on feeling better!

      Delete
    2. Sister Y, please do link to the Tramadol studies if you find them.

      Delete
  23. Such a long text. What for? We will all die and be forgotten anyway. Oh well, back to bed now. Sleep, the brother of death.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Many of you antinatalists have mad writing skills; I really look forward to your posts, but when there are long gaps between posts, I get anxious because I start to wonder if you've finally, you know, "left us." Please post more often.
    This site is freaking awesome.
    I have one question: As a middle aged man, with antinatalist tendencies, am I being a hypocrite if, when I go to a party or family event, I prefer to spend time with the younger crowd-the people who might not exist, if I had influenced their parents with the ideas I hold now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a fucking twitter account. <3 But no, since everyone on earth equally deserves not to exist, there's no special harm, I think, in preferring to interact with neotenous minds of whatever age.

      Delete
  25. It seems like this could combine well with polyamory.

    One of my main concerns about polyamory is that I want more time with my current partner, and adding more seems like it would make my life hopelessly hectic. But if I weren't working full time, having another partner would seem much more doable. Housework, errands, email, etc. could be done while they were working, leaving more leisure time available during their time off. This would work especially well if the employed people were e.g. programmers or other people with flexible schedules.

    Likewise, two people on one income can be economically tough. Three people on two incomes, or four people on three incomes, could be easier.

    I know a man in a female-heavy community (poor black neighborhood) who has this arrangement. He stays home and manages business for two or three lovers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There should be a video game called Subtext Hero.

      Delete
  26. This blog mostly addresses the problems of anti-natalism, and the ethical obligations of parents not to reproduce from a universalizing perspective.

    But for me my anti-natalist position towards my parents was based on unique racial-cultural factors. I'm the son of a White Male and Asian Female. I've been googling a lot on this topic, and it seems I'm far far from alone. I think there is a moral obligation on WM/AF couples not to reproduce, in the stronger sense that parents with heridatory disabilities ought not reproduce.

    At its core, WM/AF is based on the supposed inferiority of Asian Masculinity and Western Feminism. The problem is that WM/AF is incredibly degrading to their half-white daughters and half asian sons. It creates a deep deep seated inferiority complex in the minds of their own offspring. The White Males who engage in WM/AF are essentially 'cheating' at the game of sexual selection in the West. The problem is that their poor sons inherit both the inferior genes of the beta white dad, and on top of that they have to inherit the betaness of being Asian. Eurasian Males have no place in sexual selection. There is a moral obligation not to create Eurasian life.

    What right to WM/AF have to reproduce, if their relationship helps contribute to the misery of their children?

    I basically agree with the anti-natalist arguments toward humanity in general. But I think certain racial, cultural, and socioeconomic factors place an added burden on parents not to replicate their faulty DNA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spent five years in a relationship in the opposite racial direction, and we used to refer to our own direction (white female/asian male) as "right way" and the other as "wrong way (ditto for the more predictable/lame and less predictable/more cool arrangements of white and black people). It tends to only be the extreme elites who engage in "right way" relationships, so there's that selector. One of my best friends is half Scottish and half Chinese with wrong-way parents, and while he is cool as fuck, I'm not sure I would have wished his painful life on him. I'm not sure what % to attribute to the raciality of his parentage, though, compared to, say, both his parents being scientists, which i think also leads to painful lives.

      In general, actually, I could probably find 100 better reasons for a given couple not to reproduce than their racial arrangement. If there were studies being done backing up the claim that people of particular parentage (not just other circumstances) are more likely to be unhappy, (a) those studies would never get done, and (b) if by some miracle they did, it would be used the same way the information that more female doctors commit suicide: as evidence of prejucide that we need to somehow magically break down.

      I am not sure it is worse to bring into existence a poor, near-subsistence child than a wealthy first-world child, given the pain of downward mobility. The only specific where I'm comfortable saying there's a special requirement not to breed is heritable (including from bad parenting of course) conditions that cause misery, like bipolar disorder and personality disorders.

      A reframing of your comment I'd support more would be: you people are always saying how "cute" hapa babies are, all the models in Japanese fashion magazines are hapa, but I was born in this circumstance and I'm not at all happy, so maybe you should think about my reality before conceiving.

      That, of course, applies to all conceptions, and the voices of the discontented tend to be shouted down as pathological - EXTRASPECIALLY if the "racist" heresy can be thrown at them.

      Another thing to think about: you may see guys of other races doing better with women. Do you think their lives are better? What parts of their lives are you not seeing - the violence, the child support obligations, the sense of not having control over one's own body...stuff like that?

      Anyway I don't think anybody has special rights to reproduce just because of their race.

      Delete
    2. Actually, thinking about it a bit more, one of the hapa guys I've dated (wrong-way parents, Jewish dad Chinese mom) - incidentally the guy who took the picture for my Twitter profile - is a semi-famous music video director who hangs out with famous rappers and gets mad pussy. But I realize that's not how it works out with everybody.

      Delete
  27. So this might seem like an overly intellectual reason to be depressed, but it does relate to everyday life, and I probably have aspergers which often leads to abstract fixations.
    We see the ideas of evopsych popularized all over the internet in memes (itself coined by Dawkins), PUA, friendzone, foreveralone, niceguy, alpha, beta, omega. Pop-Nietzsche seems to have triumphed with the whole idea that any morality (aka being a nice guy) is a sign of slave weakness, and that only cruelty and domination can win in this harsh Darwinian world. Evil is sexy.
    Its useless trying to refute evopsych. If one accepts the premises of evolution, natural and sexual selection, game theory, genetics, cognitive psychology, the conclusions of EP seem to logically follow. But even if EP is bunk, and just an ideology to justify American society, so what? Nature or Nurture, I'll still have to live with it my lifetime. For better or worse, I will live and die under American capitalist society. And the human nature described by EP, perfectly describes the world I live in. War for money, sex, power. Nature red in tooth and claw. Robots for the selfish gene. And if Pinker is right, and the Blank Slate is a myth, and human nature is indeed hardwired and not plastic, then we're stuck with this world for eternity.
    The highest ideal of Darwinism is to be a Genghis Khan, Tucker Max, Don Juan, playboy, Fratboy, Hiphop gangsta, pick up artist. The lowest of the low is to be a Foreveralone like me. Human emotions, desires, loves are nothing but the random firings of neurons and chemical imbalances driven by the rational calculus of gene-fitness maximinzation.
    What kind of world is this to live in? I'd love nothing more than to destroy this capsule that holds my parents' selfish genes. I resent them furiously for imposing that burden on me. I hate humanity, mammals, animals, life, biology, matter, and ultimately existence itself. Ruled by a fat, blind, uncaring scientist God, staring into the void with dead empty eyes. All men are created unequal. Defined by race, gender, ability, looks, strength, economics, IQ, EQ etc. The Law of Difference. And evolution acts upon these inequalities, weeding out the unfit. Life unfit for life. Life is struggle. Even physics which seems so cold, rational, lifeless, abstract, fleshless, is about domination. F=MA The Stronger Force imposes its' "will" on the weaker force.
    Life is both too rational (in that everything is determined by the selfish calculations of DNA) and too irrational (in that all human behavior is determined by evolved Dionysian impulses).
    I can't find any meaning whatsoever in a cruel world like this. How can I just accept existence as a gene-machine? Fight to be the biggest cruelest ape on a mountain of skulls. The law of evolution, is that cruelty, sadism, evil, domination, brutality, and raw power always triumph.
    While intellectually I accept Darwinism, I understand why an honest Christian (not a hypocritcal Priest or Evangelical) would want to rage against the cruel world of Darwinism. "Turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor" is a losing strategy in evolutionary game theory. OF course all worldviews accept the evils of the world, it just depends who you want to blame- Satan, Original Sin, Genes, Patriarchy, Feminism, Statism, Capitalism, Religion, Racism, Big Government Liberalism, etc etc They're all arguing about WHY the world sucks, that the world sucks, no one can deny.
    How can robot-capsules for selfish DNA ever find meaning in this brutal cutthroat competitive universe?

    Mitchel Heisman summed it all up about how Judeo-Christian Slave Morality is fundamentally a revolt against the biological nature of existence, and can only be completed in the rejection of bios itself.

    ReplyDelete
  28. New blog: http://nietzscheanhell.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  29. "The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor"

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/05/08/it-is-in-our-nature-to-need-stories/

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thomas Wilhelm Alexander aka sundog (on Ligotti Forums) killed himself:

    http://dimasokantinatalism.blogspot.se/2013/05/tribute-to-sundog.html

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hey Sister Y I've been commenting on antinatalism on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Giordano Mirandolla,
      Allow anonymous and unregistered commenters on your blog!

      Delete
  32. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/is-forced-fatherhood-fair/?src=me&ref=general

    ReplyDelete
  33. In our time pedophilia is a religious taint that makes those who touch it unclean - but it has not yet evolved any sort of cleansing ritual.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I don't know if previous commenters have mentioned this (sorry, I just couldn't read through all of those comments although many of them appear to be well-written and insightful).

    But how does everyone feel about a stay-at-home husband with no children? Is it expected that men are supposed to work outside the home and bring home a paycheck? Perhaps he would like to stay home and pamper his wife while avoiding the stress of the rat race.

    The problem is, we need the rat race. The rat race gives us choices. How can someone be a stay-at-home anything unless there is money flowing in? I think society is uncomfortable with allowing men to leave the rat race.

    Something to consider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose I should have replied to your comment, instead of just adding the one below. Oh well.

      Delete
  35. I left the following comment above. "I'm glad I came across this blog, and this post in particular. I am a stay at home husband, without kids. My wife and I started this lifestyle after working opposite shifts for over 10yr. My wife has always had far more earning potential than I have, and this arrangement has allowed her to excel at her career. This arrangement is great, but requires a lot of trust initially. My wife had to trust that I would not simply sit around drinking beer all day, and I had to trust that she would not leave soon after my quitting work. You can expect to get some negative feedback occasionally from narrow minded people, after starting this type of lifestyle. When you live well, you're going to have some haters." Of course society is uncomfortable with men leaving the rat race, but I prefer to think of humanity as more of an ant colony. Society values professional sports, ego/status displays, etc. So, why would a thinking person care what society thinks?

    ReplyDelete
  36. In case you might not agree with my ant colony comparison.

    http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/humans-ant-colonies-120502.htm



    ReplyDelete
  37. Dystopia TouristJuly 30, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Finish your goddamn book already! Und schnell!

    ReplyDelete
  38. In theory, I see nothing wrong with a childless couple, nor the obvious advantages acquired by being a partner in one. But who then procreates the next generation - especially the children destined to be members of the cognitive elite? Surely we cannot rely on the proletarian classes to produce the next generation of inventors, aerospace engineers, physicists, novelists, philosophers, and cutting-edge thinkers.

    As such, today's anti-natalists are riding on the backs of those previous generations who endured parenthood so that we who are alive today can - if we so choose - lead care-free, child-free lives. I would think, then, that the only plausible solution is to free the cognitive-elite from child-rearing responsibilities by cloning their successors. That, or create Nazi-like "baby factories" (which I for one would support) in order that our civilization not be overrun by low-IQ hordes.

    Ward Kendall
    author of "Hold Back This Day"
    amazon.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "our civilization"

      You see, that's where you're wrong. I don't identify with society or human civilization. I'd be perfectly happy if they went extinct.

      Your assumptions are flawed, of course, but I'm not even going to bother arguing why. I have encountered enough humans to know their civilization is not worth sustaining. :)

      Delete
  39. A major defect with the model proposed is a lack of security for both sides. The working, cossetted, spouse may throw-over their [sic] partner and with the aid of a good divorce attorney support the partner thereafter inadequately or not at all. The working, cossetted, spouse may become unable to work and then the non-working spouse is faced with entry into a labour market lacking possibly decades of work experience, and might be able to find terrible work or none.

    I speak from experience: I loved being able to keep my wife from the Hell-is-other-people that work has always been for me, but now age and the effects of my working have made my depression so severe that I am now not really able to hold down a full-time job, though I am still trying to get one; now her impressive experience is a decade out-of-date. If we were not very thrifty we should be in serious trouble; as it is, we are in trouble, and now _that_ preys on my mind, partner to anger at myself for not being able to provide as I did before.

    ReplyDelete

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