A Baby Story

Babies and wisdom are up in today’s edition of Let’s Talk About It.


Oh, sure. We’re pretty fond of each other, but the truth is you all are our favorite contributors to The Man Repeller. Really! And we’ve formalized that fact with “Let’s Talk About It.” This weekly column is a forum for conversation, communication, and complete distraction from the jobs you’re supposed to be doing right now. So get involved. We promise we won’t tell your bosses.

I can’t say I’ve retained much of my freshman-year biology class. (The sciences and I established mutual dislike circa an ill-fated meteorology project in the third grade.) But this fact, I recall: humans are designed for procreation. Deep down within each of us is a supposedly shared instinct that impels us to have babies! Produce offspring! Populate the earth! “It’s survival,” my ninth-grade teacher said simply.

At the time, the assertion was one I accepted without question. After all, haven’t I always planned to have a brood of my own someday? Like Blake Lively before me, I’d like someone to inherit my shoes. Of course, not everyone adheres to this so-called “natural” law. I know plenty of people who neither have children nor want any, and, so far, the earth seems to be spinning along just fine without their reproductive activity. But while the fate of a recently acquired pair of Brian Atwood pumps drives my will to breed, more empirically oriented individuals want to understand why some—particularly women—choose not to procreate.

The latest expert to weigh in? That would be controversial evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. In The Intelligent Paradox, Kanazawa writes that for every 15 additional IQ points over the UK’s national average, a woman’s desire to have children decreases by 25 percent. Basically, there’s a direct correlation between a woman’s intelligence and whether or not she decides to be a mother. Evolutionarily speaking, this is very worrisome news. Broadly speaking, it’s kind of offensive.

Recently, the Washington Post asked leading authorities to weigh in on Kanazawa’s research. Pamela Smock, a professor affiliated with the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center, said that her students “do not want to believe this is true. But it is.” As more and more women enter only nominally “family-friendly” workplaces, “something’s got to give, and for many highly successful women it is children.” On the other hand, Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at Concerned Women for America offered a more measured take: “I could list very quickly a handful of genius IQ women that I know personally—some are wonderful mothers and some are awful ones. I seriously doubt the results of this study.”

But whether Kanazawa’s findings are spot on or way off the mark, there’s no doubt that his provocative conclusions make for inflammatory conversation. Have our priorities changed? Are our parents still begging for grandchildren or have their concerns shifted as well?

Were I a betting (wo)man, I’d wager most of us feel that whether or not a woman wants to change diapers is her prerogative. But there’s a nagging detail complicating what I assume to be our collective, 21st-century-hewn stance. We’re total hypocrites. Even as we profess modernity and alterative living and personal satisfaction, don’t many of us continue to obsess about the ticking biological clocks of, say, Cameron Diaz and Carrie Bradshaw and, of course, Jennifer Aniston? Do we still count children as a measure of “true” female success? Just this week, Aniston weighed in on the subject when a particularly form-fitting dress fueled speculation that she and fiancé Justin Theroux are expecting. (They aren’t.) Moreover, the actress told Good Morning America that baby-related questions are the ones she dreads most.

It seems intelligent, ambitious women may not be having babies, but that hasn’t stopped us from fixating on others’ procreative efforts. Why do we care so much about the contents of Jen’s uterus? Who the hell do we think we are, anyway? Rick Perry?

Let’s talk about it.

Written by Mattie Kahn. Photographed Charlotte Olympia heels, available here.

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  • Rachel

    thank you for provoking a thought on that subject with your essay mattie!

  • ar

    Maybe I have gotten significantly more boring and no one has anything else to talk to me about, but why is it that since getting married two years ago, all anyone can think of to ask is, “sooooo, any babies on the way yet??”

    Not to be rude, but there is so many more interesting things going on in my life and THE WORLD that would be more interesting to discuss besides if or when we are going to make a baby.

    • Curvily NYC

      My god, the pressure once you get married is so ridiculous. We had people asking us when we were going to have babies at our RECEPTION! It was like “Chill out, we’ve been married an hour.”

      • ar

        Sometimes, just to be an asshole in response to such an inappropriate, rude question, I want to say, “nah, I’m not sure this marriage is going to work out, so I’ll probably have a baby with my second husband.”

        • Curvily NYC

          Oh my goodness, if only I was there to see their faces! Haaaa!

          • sketch42

            Guys, I hate to tell you this, but this doesnt go away once you actually have kids! I have 2 and I keep hearing… when are you going to have a 3rd! Its ridiculous!

          • Curvily NYC

            This is just horrifying.

    • Leandra Medine

      This is actually such a good question. Why is the assumption that I have nothing else to do post matrimony lest I start spitting babies out of my vagina? I’d like a bunch, eventually, but why get married at 24 if not to shoot the shit for a bit?

      • mariaelina

        Exactly! It’s like “now that you have conformed to this one part of tradition, you will no doubt do the rest too and of course I am allowed to butt my nose into your business because of that”.

        And what makes it worse, in my case, is that I would really want to be a mother some day. But I am not even sure that I can (severe anorexia and being period-less for five years have left me with fertility issues at 26, even after full recovery from said disease), so that’s a whole other dimension of hurt when asked about impending babies.

      • Jane Pope Cooper

        I am from a tiny town in SC (you’d think i would have planned birth
        since my own), but i didn’t think i was ready for children right up
        until the moment i accidentally got pregnant on vacation while my hubby,
        then in grad school, and i (age 33) were living in a 5th floor walk up
        in hells kitchen.

        it’s always been a ridiculous concept that people are busting their way into other people’s business, asking when are you getting married, when are you having babies? exactly as you said, do you not have anything else to talk about?!?

        enjoy being 24. i (although ever so slightly ashamed to admit it) miss the days of being foot loose and fancy free. of course, i wouldn’t give my kiddos up for anything… accept for that feeling and only for a minute :).

        xo jpc

  • Aubrey Green

    You are smarter if you don’t have babies – I don’t agree at all. It’s a woman’s choice and who cares if they do, or don’t – I don’t understand the fascination with it either. I think the ‘smarter’ study they did, might stem from the fact that some women who have children stay home, therefore have less communication with adults, more with changing diapers, or whether their child is breast feeding or not – which then might make them seem less inclined to discuss world news, or the economy, etc. I don’t think that makes them any less smart, but I think it’s just a shift in their focus, ie: child is more important. (at-least presently).

    • Jean Lehtinen

      The study is based on IQ tests, not general world knowledge or conversation. These results wouldn’t be skewed by hanging out with babies all day.
      Interesting topic though – see the first few minutes of the film “idiocracy”. Interesting concept, alarmingly terrible film.

      • Aubrey Green

        I will take a look at the film. thank you for the suggestion. If it is true based on their testing, that’s very disturbing. Would that also imply that the more children you have that makes you even less smart than if you only have one?

        I wasn’t saying their tests were based off of conversation and not real IQ tests – I see your need for clarification though.

        I just read this:

        Dr. Louann Brizendine writes, “It’s not that a woman is losing brain
        cells … the mother’s brain shrinks because of changes in cellular
        metabolism required for restructuring brain circuits—getting ready to
        turn some one-lane highways into superhighways.” Even as some areas of the brain shrink, other areas, including the forebrain, which is
        responsible for problem solving and higher reasoning, expand and
        develop. The forebrain develops new communication conductors that enablemothers to protect their babies. “Mothers may have better spatial memory than females who haven’t given birth, and they may be more flexible, adaptive, and courageous.” These
        brain changes last a lifetime and are even present in the brains of
        adoptive mothers. Any kind of constant contact with a child is enough to
        trigger the development of the “mommy brain.” – It does seem it is still a shift in focus (within the brain)

  • lovechicken

    best. post. ever.

    can we also talk about how having babies/not having babies is complicated by our political views? like, i want to be allowed to control my uterus’ fate and say, yeah no thank you, no babies, imma do me. but also i want to squish a little face and teach it things about the world. how to do both without feeling like you’re fulfilling some role that someone else expects you to fit in?

    • Amatoria

      I agree. I want to do both, but your twenties go by so fast. Everyone wants to hurry you into getting married, and as previously mentioned, you are expected to pop out babies right after the wedding.
      I feel that I have spent the first half of my twenties figuring out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. Now that I am figuring it out, I barely have enough time to actually do it before “The World” decides my time to “do me” is over, and it’s BABY TIME….

  • I cringe even at the idea I should be thinking about Jen’s uterus. Or Angelina’s, for that matter.

    I hate imposing on other people’s intimacy (too much) and the contents of the uterus (and often the exact timing of their arrival) are really way too personal, even with Famous People. To me. At least if they want to keep them personal.

    I was in Finland when Catherine gave birth to George and even though I am not that interested in the Royal family, that certain day I HAD to ask a vendor what the newspaper headlines were saying and when she mentioned a prince I went all “Oh, so it is a boy?” and felt suddenly relieved. I’ve done my duty, I know the gender and now let me spent the rest of the holiday in sweet oblivion (Finnish IS difficult :-)) …

    But then, I don’t want to know too much about South East, either, but I won’t have the choice, since we will all be keeping up with her anyway, even people without TV, no?

    11 years ago, I sensed everyone would be asking me about kids when we got married, so I prepared an answer, a true but not too far reaching one. Fortunately, I have needed it rather seldom since then. And soon, I’ll be asked how come I haven’t born any children and the answer will still be the same, but I need to work on the tense.

  • an evolutionary psychologist

    Kanazawa is not an evolutionary psychologist. He is an economist. Trained evolutionary psychologists have signed open letters saying that he does not represent, or even understand their discipline.

    • Amommy

      Ahhh! This is such an interesting and important fact! This is an interesting conversation but after ready this post I wondered about the design and conduct I the study. As they say, correlation does not mean causation.

  • Gabi

    I just read that article last night and was equally peeved. (I don’t know if this has been pointed out yet, but he is also the one who did a study concluding black women are less attractive so i wouldn’t take anything he says too seriously). But as someone who married in her early twenties as you did, it is the most annoying thing in the universe when just two years later, people are already asking “So are you guys going to have kids soon?” or when people at church find out i’m married and ask “Do you have kids?” Bitch, I still look 17 do you think I really have kids??? And any time people ask, i tell them bluntly that I don’t ever want kids either. I don’t know why people think it’s there place to question my reproductive decisions. No one questions my husband. I like my abs flat and my evenings drunk.

    • Mattie Kahn

      So true. When is the last time anyone questioned George Clooney about his seeming disinterest in procreation?

      • Gabi

        oops sorry Mattie when i said “married young like you” i was referring to Leandra because i didn’t read who wrote it -__- not sure if you’re married lol.

    • Curvily NYC

      I was just going to write about Kanazawa being the WORST – you beat me to it.

    • Margaret

      ” I like my abs flat and my evenings drunk.” That’s the best thing I have ever read, touché!

    • Laura

      Best answer ever, as I use it too. And when the person seems too disturbed I finish with “…but maybe in 10 years!”. That should shut ’em… or keep ’em quiet (if it’s your grannie asking and you don’t wanna hurt her feelings).

    • Poe

      “I like my abs flat and my evenings drunk.” – <3 it.
      Since I've been married, everyone is clamoring, "Have kids! Have kids!" and I just want to shoot back, "I will as soon as you pay for them!"
      I don't even bother with the reasons why not anymore… people think you're selfish and vain if you care about your body or would rather have more vacations with your husband than sacrificing beach time to pay for private school or piano lessons.
      It's called knowing yourself and what is important to you…

  • Thank you for this! I was literally just having this very conversation with a co-worker the other day.

    I believe that what Mattie said is true – our priorities as women have changed. And that is okay. As women in the 21st century, we have the ability to choose whether or not we want to partake in motherhood. We have the opportunity to weigh our parental decision against the goals we set for ourselves and the futures we wish to attain, and we certainly have the right to rail against people who believe it to be their responsibility to tell us the incorrectness of our personal choice.

    I also agree that we need to cool it in regards to judging celebrity wombs. Perhaps these woman choose the life of non-parenthood because (1) they just really don’t want children; (2) they can’t for whatever reason physically have children; or (3) haven’t found someone with whom they see themselves having children. All or none of these reasons could apply. At the end of the day, we should approach something as sensitive as opting in or out of maternity as the personal (or god forbid, biologically impossible) experience that it is.

  • Natalie JM

    Not sure if I buy that smarter women have any less desire for babies, but maybe the higher your IQ, the better you are at suppressing your desires.

    Don’t you think that having children is kind of a selfish pursuit? The world is totally over-populated. We barely have enough resources to keep this thing (human life) going for our great-grandchildren. So if some small percentage of women decide not to procreate, they’re really doing the rest of us a favor. All we have to do is stop the endless pressuring and stigmatizing and pitying that we dump on women who, for whatever reason, are just women, not mommies.

    • gabrielle

      On the contrary, I think having a child can be one of the least selfish acts you can do because your priorities switch to put the child before most everything else in your life.

      I do agree in a sense that some people can take it to a selfish extreme (endless dollars spent on IVF/other methods or international adoption when there are plenty of American babies that need to be adopted) but it’s not fair to say that in general having kids is a selfish pursuit.

      I too resent all the people (acquaintances and friends alike) that without a doubt drop the “when are you going to have babies?” comment into conversation. I am a pretty private and introverted person so to even assume I want to talk reproductive matters with you is a poor judgement call. I think people need to show a little more respect that arena and only discuss with close friends or family.

      I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that the higher the IQ, the less you desire kids; it is pretty offensive to educated women who do desire to have children. But I would venture to agree that it’s possible those women with the higher IQs weigh the pros and cons more or approach the issue with a more realistic and thoughtful expectations.

    • Mandy Pants

      I 100% agree. While child-rearing requires sacrifice in the name of caring for someone else’s needs, it’s a pursuit driven by the desire to procreate and continue the legacy of well…you. It’s a life choice just as is choosing to NOT have children in pursuit of other desires and should be treated with the same respect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain/defend why I’m choosing to not have children (I haven’t even walked down the aisle with my fiance yet). I get it, my choice in life is a bit less conventional, but rather than an open discussion about a life choice, 99.9% of the time I receive a comment that questions my character. I’ve gotten comments like “well, you just must hate kids” or “I just think that’s so selfish. I spend a lot of time supporting friends and relatives’ choice to procreate at kid’s birthdays, the holidays, etc. I get asked/pressured to babysit regularly because of the perception that I have a ton of free time (which is very untrue…I work a lot, but it’s very fulfilling to me at this point in my life).

      I’m neither more or less intelligent for this choice- (what a bogus study!). I just dream of a day that I don’t have to a) lie about not wanting kids to avoid an awkward dinner b) be made to feel selfish for my decision and c) occasionally choose other fulfilling weekend pursuits that aren’t children’s birthdays/sports events/etc. without the perception that I’m not a being supportive aunt/friend.

    • Amommy

      The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is an interesting read re: perspective in this.

    • Nat

      I amuse myself by questioning people about their reasons to have kids and these are some of the most ‘touching’ (and most common) reasons :: we went on to have kids because there was either “nothing else to do in life, we were kind of bored” or “I don’t want to end up lonely when I’m old” or “everybody around was having kids, and so did we… “. How much dumber and selfish can you sound, really? I’ve yet to hear somebody say – I had kids because I wanted to make someone else’s life rich and amazing. Now that would be motivational! Not all those silly parents clamoring for grandchildren because they don’t know what to do with themselves once retired! Besides that, I honestly think than some people just shouldn’t have kids. They really are not cut out for such a demanding role, so if they realize it beforehand, they’re just doing themselves a favor. And us too. There’s nothing worse than a child with life long mental issues due to bad, lazy and selfish parenting. And trust me, I know a few.

  • I read that stupid article. What bothered me wasn’t what was said, it was the TONE in which it was said. As if women who are intelligent and happen to choose not to have kids are selfish, stupid, or at best immature.

    Hell, plenty of women don’t have kids because they CAN’T have kids. I know a few people who have struggled to get pregnant, or are still struggling, and it saddens me that they have to constantly feel pressure to answer to people as to why they don’t have kids yet – knowing that they never will. I think it’s rude and awful to badger any woman about the state of her uterus – you never know whose feelings you’re really going to hurt. Women shouldn’t have to tell the whole world their medical business if they don’t want to, but it seems that when it come to babies, people throw tact and respect out the window. I don’t care if you’re Jennifer Aniston or some woman I ran into at the bank – it’s none of my business what’s going on in your baby-maker, and I’m not going to make it my business.

    Being a parent isn’t the only way to positively influence a child’s life, and for those of us who aren’t interested in having children of our own, maybe being the kick ass aunt is just fine. It is for me anyway. 🙂

  • royal wang

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  • Curvily NYC

    I think this is an interesting topic, but Kanazawa is a junk scientist (using that term loosely), and JFC I cannot believe “measured” is in the same sentence as “Concerned Women for America.” I did some in-depth research on them back in college and uggggggggggghhhhhhhhh they are a horrible group: It is an anti-feminist group founded on the tenet that women can achieve “true liberation” by being “totally submissive” to their husbands (really).

    • Mattie Kahn

      Ooh, I knew it was conservative, but I didn’t realize the group was that bad! Eek.

      • Curvily NYC

        Totally understandable – they try to present a more moderate front, but their philosophies are scary once you take a deeper look.

  • jaime

    I mean, if you want to let me inherit your shoes, that’s cool too.

  • Hannah Nicely Turned Out

    Although the baby brain takes a while to shift, and employers can swing from enthusing over your shining future with the company to pushing you out of the circle of trust at first sign of morning sickness, there are plenty of inspiring women who didn’t get success till they popped out a sprog or two. Sophie Cornish of Not On The High Street & Michelle Mone of Ultimo lingerie to name two.

    Motherhood may decrease IQ but being a new mum has made me more determined to be a successful woman my son can look up to 🙂

  • Charlotte

    Superb article! Man Repeller is already such a fantastic platform with the content of Leandra alone. But the contribution of for example Mattie and other writers make it even better! It comes with the same wit, depth and humour as we are used to. This one is no exception 🙂

  • Amatoria

    Mattie, this is something I think about almost daily. I have always pictured myself having children, but as 25 came and went, I realized I am not ready to give up MY life as an individual to start having children.
    I constantly joke about how crazy people are to have children so young, and now my boyfriend seriously questions if I will ever want kids.
    The problem is that MEN DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE. Even those who are very helpful and involved in raising the children. They don’t have to get pregnant (changing their bodies forever) take extended time off work, and make the choice between advancing their career or making babies.
    It’s just sad that we can’t extend our fertility (hit SNOOZE on the ticking clock) until we reach that moment when we feel that we have lived our life.

  • Wind-up bird

    I read the Kanazawa article and was not very impressed. As a (childless) biology student nearing graduate school, this is something that pops into my thoughts on occasion. There is still a concern that once a woman is married, she will abandon a program in order to have children. This is really an unfortunate and completely unfair bias, as many women enter graduate programs already having a child or children and do just fine, or they enter with no interest in having children at all. Perhaps women will one day be afforded the trust to make our own reproductive decisions without the burden of stigmatization.

    • Amatoria

      Good point! In some cases there is a perception that women are only going to college to meet their future husband, and earn their MRS… Although that may be the life goal for some women, I think many of us just want to be taken seriously.
      When a man gets married, no one wonders if they will drop out.

  • Hedwig

    The conversation all simmers down to society’s traditional (ech-hem sexist) views on the role of women, and, although women are in the workplace, that view has not changed. It’s for that reason women, not men nor their spouses, are asked about starting a family; if you want to go on a subliminal level, most of women’s restrooms have baby changing stations whereas men’s are less likely to have them. This issue was raised in Grey’s Anatomy beautifully, if not dramatically *all hail Christina Yang*… I digress.

    On that note, a request: could Man Repeller offer an astute essay on Dr. Yang, given that this is Sandra Oh’s LAST SEASON ON GREY’S. If not Christina, just the awesomeness of Shonda Rhime’s strong and diverse female characters.

    • Mattie Kahn

      I was pretty sure that I was the last person left watching Grey’s! Not only does the show have a special place in my heart, but Christina is a total revelation–interesting, complicated, opinionated, and totally real. That Shonda. . . A genius!

  • Hedwig

    If not that then the comfort of the pajama bottom’s distant but just as, if not more comfortable, sibling, the scrub pant.

  • Don’t agree with that correlation. I do agree with the below commenter though. As soon as you get married people expect you to start popping out babies. This may be why the divorce rate is so high. Let people enjoy their marriages without all the pressure. Geesh.


  • Eliza

    Obviously the study is flawed. It has been proven that more educated woman are less likely to have children (hence the drive to provide better education opportunities to woman in developing countries where population is skyrocketing), and obviously IQ can correlate with how much education one gets, etc.

    What I dislike most about this study is that it once agains pins women against other women. Why do we need an article telling us that if we have children it means our IQ is lower, and I recently read another article that shamed three highly educated women for leaving the job market to stay at home. Most of us grew up in a society that expected women to have babies ASAP, and there is serious judgement if you don’t. But lately it has also been going the other way. Women have been judging other women who decide to have children, and HEAVEN FORBID they decide to be a stay at home MOM! Feminism is believing in equality. Which means a woman isn’t STUPID if she wants to stay at home, but also that every childless woman doesn’t secretly feel unfulfilled without a baby. Stop the judging, let everyone make their own decisions.

    Going a slightly different direction my long-term boyfriend insists he would like to be a stay at home dad while I work. I thought it was sweet, but when we told some of my coworkers this they all laughed and mocked the idea! I was appalled! Is it so ridiculous for a man to want to stay home and not work?

    • Amatoria

      I agree that it goes both ways. This is what concerns me even more about the difficulty of balancing both parts of your life successfully. People keep blaming the increasing problems with young people on videogames and sex on television. My opinion is that, a lot of it has to do with parenting. Now that most women HAVE to try to balance work and parenting, it seems that children are not getting the guidance they need. Because in most cases, men do not pick up the slack.
      You are lucky to have a husband who is willing to be a stay-at-home dad. I don’t know how my future will turn out, but hopefully we will all figure it out.

  • j.o.b.

    pretty amazing, how in the article about procreation you still managed to afford two product location stunts ;D

  • Katrien

    A very timely discussion, I need to go read Kanazawa’s artice now… 🙂 I wonder if he’s taken into account women in countries where having children is not their choice? A major element of supporting women in ‘developing’ countries to realize their human rights is to support their government and society to enable girls to stay in school. The openly discussed aim is to ensure girls and women don’t leave school and fall pregnant. It seems ‘developed’ nations are happy to support women in ‘developing’ nations to continue their education and achieve their life goals, preferably before having children. Meanwhile, the media surrounding women in America, Australia, the UK and other western societies seems to have it all wrong and assumes females in these societies are all baby machines. That said, I’d love to have oodles of babies, but not anytime soon (and I may reassess the ‘oodles’ after having the first).

  • Jessica

    Important thing to remember– correlation does not equal causation. It may be true, given this study, that many of the women choosing not to have children are of higher intelligence, but that doesn’t mean that the two are mutually exclusive.

    I think it much more likely that these intelligent women want to have careers and intellectually contribute to society. But because most workplaces aren’t very working-mother-friendly, and our culture puts such a pressure on the supposed dichotomy between stay-at-home moms and working women, these women feel forced to choose, and they’re choosing careers.

    I think all this study tells us is that we need to create an environment more conducive to exploring both – or either – path, without necessarily prioritizing one over the other.

  • How do we measure a person’s success, regardless of sex? For some women and men, their children become their new projects that they must create a success out of, thus beginning another loop. Then for people who do not want children, they have their own definitions of success. In the end, I think it’s what we have contributed to the world when we have left it.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Leen
  • ardeo

    Thank you for posting this article ManRepeller! Not only does this allow for people who read this blog to have some extra exposure on issues that effects us today, but also shows the importance of critical thinking. Critical thinking requires that rather than make generalizing claims based on “common sense” or our own opinions, we make these claims based on empirically derived EVIDENCE. Unfortunately, Kanazawa seemed to only use data that supported his conclusions, while leaving out other evidence that did not support his claims (this makes him not a true scientist or at least one that allows his opinions get in the way of his work, which is something all scientists have to battle). While these ridiculous claims hurts to read, take heart, because this is a new and changing time and we as women have increasing opportunity to make not only our lives better, but also the live around us.

  • Addison

    We care about Jen’s uterus, and any woman’s over 40 for that matter, because we are all naturally nosy and curious about whether they’re going to pop any out “before it’s too late”. Even in this day and age, and we have to come to terms with this ladies and gents, it is still a deeply ingrained concept in our society, community, planet (?) that a woman MUST have children. Or, she will be perpetually and morbidly unhappy and would have lived a half-life. Obviously. That was sarcasm, if you didn’t catch it. I know this much-it is a huge fucking responsibility to have kids. Now more than ever. This planet be cray cray, am I right? Since I am here now, and have an uterus me self, I view childbearing as an option not an ultimatum. Just because you have an Amex doesn’t mean you should max it out? Bad analogy? Maybe I’ll have kids, maybe I won’t. It’s no-one’s business-either way. Yep, not even any of old Jen Aniston’s or Kanazawa’s biz.

    P.S. I love you. Sorry, I had to. Ahem, the scariest thing about the possibility of having a kid? (Besides the actual kid part.) It’s the not knowing part, the not knowing what it would be like, or how it would turn out. No trial runs allowed. Experience can’t be bought my peeps. That’s why it’s experience….

  • Maike

    I am in the same Position. Just married, everyone expects me to get a huuuuge belly. But I am more interested in my birthday present and finding the perfect boots for my new skirt. There is no “tick tack” in my head, even when I am getting 36 in two weeks. I read an article a couple of days ago, that my generation of women changed completely their mind and being happy is not about a decision for or against a child anymore. I figured out for myself, that I have to hear ME and not the others. Feeling comfortable in my own body should be my target, without feeling guilty for my feelings. Big challenge!

  • Michèle
  • Luise

    It’s statistics! It doesn’t say: you are smarter when you don’t have kids. It says: most women with a high IQ are less likely to have kids than those who have a lower IQ. What matters is the WHY. And the WHY is certainly not that they decide not to have kids just because they are smart. They probably are less likely to have kids because: they went to college, have a demanding job and do not have a lot of time for a baby. Or some other intermediating factor. Women do not get stupider after they have the baby – that’s hardly a plausible interpretation. So we shouldn’t confuse a rather standard statement (on average, women with IQ’s have less babies or women in comfortable economic situations tend to have less babies than women in dire economic situations) with a completely implausible statement (women choose to not have kids because that is the smart thing to do)!
    This also does not say that you are stupid when you have one (or two or three or whatever), because it is only a correlation, so a big dataset that spreads its results out in an even way. Also, I don’t know the scientist but quite a few comments suggest he is not being taken really seriously by actual scientists.
    On the other question asked: I completely agree that it should be an individual choice whether to have kids or not – what policy should do is make it possible for those who want kids AND a career to actually have both!

  • Georgina

    Having your own kids, the pragmatic slightly selfish perspective.

    While the world population is increasing, the same does not stand for the “civilized” western world. I am trying to picture how my life will be like when I’m in my 60s. How will the world look like then? Who will work to pay my pension when I will not work anymore? Actually, who will work then at all? Who will be the doctors, teachers, economists, lawyers, writers, engineers? Well, those will be people with the same age as our hypothetical children would have been. We take our comfortable life for granted, but the truth is behind it there are educated and committed people working hard for it. If intelligent women keep choosing to not have children, who will have them? And yes, this sounds extremely discriminatory, but genetics say smart kids stem from smart parents. That “Idiocracy” movie might not be too far from the point after all.

    It’s pretty frustrating to balance all the “career/family/enjoying-everything-that-life-and designers-have-to-offer/losing-the-baby-weight-in-6-weeks” if you are a woman who wants it all. And hell, society is not really supportive. But is the option to not procreate really a valid one?

    Some countries try to compensate for the population deficit with immigration, which is fine, but that will create a totally different cultural environment. Will we be able to accept it?

    Anyway, my point (more like a toy thought then conviction) would be that besides sorting out your recycling, reducing your carbon footprint, donating to charity and being a generally considerate person, as a woman you have some sort of duty to have and raise decent children (that includes involving the hell out of the father, of course). At least two, if possible. Especially if you are a smart, educated woman. And that duty wouldn’t be towards the society only, but towards your future self, too.

  • Mariana Rosa

    The saddest part is that not only we are measured by how sucessfull we are in business and in love. Is that everything any woman does is under avaliation. We have to be these super duper women who can do almost anything order to be considered an “achiever”.

    I haven’t decided if I want to have children. With technology I can postpone this decision to my mid 30’s. But, still, why does this decision, wich is mine and only mine, a criteria to what people think of me?

  • Anyone else feel like this research might use spurious reasoning? Could it be that the more educated, intelligent women are also more likely to have high-paying professional careers and are therefore less likely to choose to have children?

    Just a thought without having read the research. Love this piece!! So many good points.

  • Laura

    I don’t think women who DON’T want children are necessary smarter than those who do want them.


    Because intelligence isn’t just about successful careers or skinny bodies but also about personal accomplishment, and to reach that up it normally reacquires affection and prosper interpersonal relations, and children are the main source of those.

    I know bright women in their 60s who decided to not have children, and now that careers and jobs are done and life is about other stuff, they seem lonely and underachievers.

    Even though, as I married young (21. Über young) I do know I don’t want children right away. I even don’t want ’em till I’m 30 or so. For now I’d rather to work, travel, succeed… I mean: enjoying my alone time with my hubby and all that things we won’t be able to have later if we have children.

    Finally, I want to be successful but emotional intelligence also counts. And for me, at last, it counts the most.

  • Greer Clarke

    I just really like this column. I think it’s what you’ve been aiming for for ages but never really got there. I could tell you always wanted this to make people think as well as look at fashion. YAY FOR LET’S TALK ABOUT IT


    I have newborn and people are already asking if i’m going to have another…it’s freaking annoying!!!

  • dustUP

    None of my artists, architects and designers friends, aged from 39 to 43, me included, has any wish or plans for children. We talk about it, just to conclude: nah, in another life. Having pets and 200 pairs of shoes is hard enough to take care of. Not to mention being freelancer and lack of security. They say that children make you create security, but I’m not buying into that theory. All they do is stretch your belly, age your skin, empty your wallet and take your shoes without asking.

    That said, in 10 years I’d like to foster kids with diabetes type I, cos I’m type I diabetic and teach them how to properly eat and take care of themselves. I have small feet, unlike today’s kids, so my shoes are safe.

  • hila

    Thank you for posting something so so relevant! I think it’s a matter that women have more choices now. If they are succeeding at their careers, I can see why they wouldn’t want to have to go on maternity leave, or have someone that they need to care for 24/7. But I don’t think it’s about IQ. Maybe people with higher IQ’s make more money, so their priorities are different? (I know nothing about IQ or making loads of money)..
    Also, about Jennifer Aniston, I can see why baby questions make her uncomfortable. It’s probably bothering her anyway, and so rude for people to ask such a question. Like she never thought of it before! One day I hope she turns around and says “you know what, I’m gonna go make a baby right now, ciao!”

  • xtyb

    I would be interested to learn a little more about the data in the dude’s survey. Maybe higher IQ women just are not getting married because just like the stylish, they are repelling the mans.