Book Review: The Baby Matrix

Laura Carroll in her book The Baby Matrix addresses the impact that pronatalism has had and continues to have in our lives.  This topic is complex and Ms. Carroll has done a superb job in her research of this subject and in making that research relevant to not just the childfree but to parents as well.

For parents, and want to be parents, this book will challenge them to think about considering having only one child and looking at adoption if more children are desired.  Carroll also addresses the ethics of reproducing more children than can be supported environmentally, financially and economically.  The topics of IVF, surrogacy, the myths of the only child and adoption are also discussed.

For the childfree she offers plenty of support as to why the CF are so often made to feel abnormal or like something is wrong with them for not wanting children.  She discusses the idea of the pronatalist view of fulfillment and how it compels so many to believe that children are the only means of fulfillment in life.

This book is not long but it is packed with information with plenty of research based support.  An excellent reference and a very relevant resource that goes a long way explaining why the childfree choice meets with so much resistance; and why it is time to begin thinking seriously about why we hold the attitudes that we do.

Sometime, go and look at the “Welcome New Members” section of the forums here on TCFL.  It is interesting to note how many members state that they feel alone in their decision.

Pronatalism has a firm hold on the world that we currently live in.  But books such as Laura’s, online communities like TCFL, the many blogs, magazine articles and media interviews are all serving to make small inroads into this monolithic view.

Reproducing responsibly and with forethought will someday, hopefully, be the norm with the childfree choice also being part of that equation.

This is a complicated subject and an important one to include in the discourse here at TCFL.  The Baby Matrix is the featured book through the month of August in the TCFL book group on goodreads.  After reading this book I hope that there will be some more discussion both in the forums and on goodreads.

Thank you Laura for getting this conversation off to a great start.  This is a book I will plan to read many times!

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12 Responses to Book Review: The Baby Matrix

  1. You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  2. Lauren says:

    I can’t wait to read it!

  3. las artes says:

    Just read her thread on the childfreelife complaining about us. I can’t really see where she is getting all the hostility from. And, FWIW, as a mother of two, I find it perfectly possible to have friends who don’t have children: I have child-free male and female friends, gay and transgender friends, people older and younger than me, and we find plenty to talk about. In fact I used to have a brilliant book group that was hugely diverse in terms of age, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, parents/nonparents, and I really enjoyed the breadth of discussions. But I think I would rapidly get fed up with a female friend who was obsessed with being child-free. There is an awful lot more to life.

  4. nikki says:

    i don’t think she’s being obsessed with ”childfree”, i think she’s just exploring why society has such a big problem with it. think about it, if someone says something like ”i want to have kids someday” nobody who say anything about it. however, who someone were to state ”i DON’T want to have kids”, people almost instinctively respond ”that’s a good choice..FOR NOW”. it’s almost like they can’t control themselves. and why exactly is that? why is it so hard for some people(a lot of people) to believe that someone doesn’t want children? i don’t have anything against parents, but i do believe we live in a very pronatalist society. i don’t think it’s right for you to attack her the way you did. if you don’t have a problem with the CF lifestyle, then you wouldn’t mind her studying it, jut saying.

  5. I’m missing something, but outside of the internet I don’t see fighting between CF and parents. I really don’t see much of it online either, save for the occasional trolling invasions from disgruntled moomies (there may be some CF who troll parenting sites but I don’t read those so I wouldn’t know).And I don’t see how one person anonymously posting on TCFL about being extremely grossed out by pregnancy (in a thread where most of the posters were considerably more moderate) is in any way equivalent to the en vivo harassment, insults, and discrimination that many CF face from family, coworkers, and “friends”. Venting in ‘safe spaces’ constitutes war? Really? If the book she’s putting out is anywhere near as shitty as this blog entry then I don’t think it’ll sell very well among the CF (parents might like it, though).

  6. gold price says:

    This is what breeders will never comprehend because children is not about the kids it’s about them, what the kid does for them, what the kid will do for them etc._______________________________________________Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

  7. erin says:

    I’m child free by choice for the most part. I’ve chosen not to keep going through with fertility treatments because it doesn’t allow me to have any kind of life and I’m tired of the bad news and spending money I don’t have. So being child free is still a choice that I’ve decided. I have way too many friends that are either pregnant every time I take a breath or already have at least one child and this is a favorite topic that always comes out of their mouths. I must say this can be extremely annoying to hear about ALL THE TIME! I can’t get on my facebook anymore without seeing some kind of comment or post for example “sorry I’ve been such a crappy friend, I’ve been busy being an awesome mother.” “Oh, the baby is kicking again” I can understand excitement and its all new to her, but its not new to the world! They are not the first woman in the world to be pregnant or have kids, so I completely understand the child free point of view where hearing about and seeing it constantly gets old and I can defitnitley see how this is a pronatalist world we live in. Saying to have children is our only reason for existence is just too far, cause there are plenty of women in this world who aren’t able to procreate even with fertility so just a little bit more sensitivity from people who are parents would be wonderful to us who are not. I don’t think that is so much to ask anyways since parents ask for so much sensorship from us when we are around their kids as to not let little “billy” learn a bad word or watch a certain show. I feel as if people with children get a lot more respect and a lot more sensitivity then non parents and that my friends is I believe what she was talking about.

    • Jackie says:

      Oh my god Erin I love your comment! I too have had numerous attempts at fertility treatment and cannot put myself through it any more so have resigned myself to the fact that I will be child free. I prefer the term child free as opposed to childless – somehow it makes me feel better because it is a Decision i have made rather than mother nature. And i totally agree with you about Facebook which just makes the situation worse especially when you’re having one of those days when you do feel broody. As happy as I am that everyone is pushing out sprogs left right and centre, i really don’t need to get an update on their baby’s bowel movements each day or see photographs of their ‘amazing creation’ in 30 different outfits! I also hate the awkward moment when you meet someone new, because you can bet one of the first questions you get asked is ‘how many children do you have?’ and when you say ‘sorry I don’t have any children’, the conversation is well and truly over. And why I feel the need to apologise is beyond me. Why are some women incapable of talking about themselves? Their whole life revolves around what their child or brood are doing. Men never have to worry about these awkward moments – most of them really don’t care about which school you are going to send your child. I also hate it when they say people who decide not to have children are selfish! Why? Because they have the time to enjoy going out, have more money, better sex lives etc. you could say having children is selfish. A lot of people have kids so they will have someone to look after them when they are older (Not always the case anyway) or just because ‘they’ have a desire to have children – that to me is selfish. Anyway I didn’t mean to ramble on so much, I just wanted to say I share your feelings and it’s always nice to know us child free ‘freaks’ :-( are not alone!

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