“Soooo…it’s going to be just you two?”

So, watch the following video if you will…sorry about the advert:

Thanks. Now as everyone knows I’m a huge Sex in the City fan, especially the movies and especially especially the sequel. Everyone knows that sequels are usually better.

Everyone also knows I’m rarely sarcastic. Ahem…

Anywho, in this particular case the movie clip and specifically the phrase “Soooo…it’s going to be just you two?” perfectly captures the confusion of many people when told we’re {not} having a baby.

(See what I did there?)

Really though, it never fails to amaze me that after ~50 years of access to reliable and easy to use birth control – talking about ‘The Pill’ here – people still have a hard time wrapping their heads around the notion of choice that this provides.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Meme courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com/

Meme courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com/

i’m {not} having a baby because…

I actually want to talk about the interviewee’s (Lauren Sandler) comments/findings on why women are making this choice. Here are the main reasons she gives:

“…a lot of women just don’t have the Jones for it and they’re frankly feeling a little bit more empowered to stand up for it right now”
“…kids are really expensive and as we all know our economy is not helping us support that”
“We have a lousy policy that doesn’t help us support it”
“We work more hours than any other country in the world” 

Well, there’s a lot of stuff there and I do think that these reasons apply to varying degrees. But let me take a slight aside here and wander back to my past…

BIO 242

When I was an undergrad majoring in biology, I took an animal behavior class. It was one of the most interesting, amazing, and frankly awe-inspiring classes I ever took. We spent a lot of time looking at various animals’ adaptations as they related to their behavior and one of the things we learned was to always look at these adaptations in two dimensions – the proximate cause and the ultimate cause.

What this means is why an animal does something (proximate) and also how it does it, usually physiologically (ultimate). One example that comes to mind is a certain type of moth, that when hit by sonar, immediately executes evasive maneuvers. And I mean immediately; before the brain of the moth is physically able to respond.

In this case the proximate cause is fairly obvious; it’s to avoid getting eaten. Sonar means bat and bat means predator. The ultimate cause however is not quite as obvious given that the response is faster than the brain can react.

What actually happens is that the moth has ganglia directly attached to the sensors that can detect bats’ ultrasonic calls. When a moth of this type detects ultrasound, the ganglia override the brain and send the moth into erratic and evasive flight. Very cool stuff.

Bringin’ It Home

About now you’re asking what this has to do with the video. Here goes:

The list of reasons above for not having children are all what I would call proximate. I’d argue that there’s something more fundamental and interesting going on here, and here it is:

Women realize they have the option to not have children

All the key pieces are now in place including effective and accessible birth control, woman having roles in society beyond ‘baby maker’ and ‘child-rearer’, and a society that is generally more accepting of non-traditional life choices.

This is the ultimate cause for why people are choosing to remain childfree. Only once you know you have an option can you start thinking in terms of the proximate reasons to not have kids of which there are hundreds.

At this point, if you’ve really been paying attention, you will have realized that I lied to you at the beginning of this post. I really did want to talk about the notion of choice. 🙂

Asta!

P.S. Geek bonus for you bat/moth and or bio lovers

P.P.S. For the record – whoever’s keeping it -I have never watched Sex in the City, nor will I

2 Responses to “Soooo…it’s going to be just you two?”

  1. lelainalandis August 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    Ah, Lance! Give the ladies of SATC a chance — even my CF Best Half has seen this series all of three times (which is two more times than I have).

    But yeah … you’re right. I felt rather strange for many years because the baby crazies refused to kick in. I always assumed that they would at some point, that I was too young, caught up in college, career, travel … Then I considered it from an intellectual place and realized, hey … I don’t have to do *anything* that I don’t want to do (well, except for work, pay bills, put gas in the car, etc.). Opting for one less Big Life Responsibility felt liberating feeling indeed. 🙂

    P.S. Serendipitiously, I blogged about SACT just tonight.

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