|The Baby Matrix||Source|
Last Update: 05 March 2022 [see Contents for what’s here]
In the movie The Matrix, the character Morpheus offers two pills to Neo—if he takes the blue pill, he will go on with life as he has before, believing what he has always believed. If he takes the red pill, he will find out what the “matrix” really is, and many of his earlier beliefs will be shattered. When it comes to taking a hard look at a specific set of beliefs about parenthood and reproduction that has driven our society for generations, The Baby Matrix is the red pill.
The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World looks at long-held beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, and unravels why we believe what we believe. We commonly think our desire to have children boils down to our biological wiring, but author Laura Carroll says it’s much more than that. Unlike other books on parenthood, The Baby Matrix takes a serious look at powerful social and cultural influences that drive the desire for the parenthood experience, and lays out why we need to be very aware of these influences to make the most informed decisions about parenthood. It examines:
The Baby Matrix shows us how we got here, brings to light what is true, which includes knowing about the powerful influence of “pronatalism,” and explains why society can no longer afford to leave pronatalism unquestioned.
“This is not a book about convincing people not to have children,” says Carroll. “I want people to be very aware of the long-held social and cultural pressures, and be able to free themselves from those pressures when making parenthood choices. This will result in more people making the best decisions for themselves, will foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children and one that knows what it means to bring a child into the world today.”
This book will make you examine your own intentions and beliefs, will rile you, and might just change your mind. Whether you are already a parent, want to become a parent, are still making up your mind, or know you don’t want children, you’ll never think about parenthood in the same way.
The Baby Matrix is a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, sociology, anthropology, parenting issues, environmentalism, and social justice. But most of all, it’s for anyone, parent or not, who reveres the truth and wants the best for themselves, their families, and our world.
|Introduction: Why It’s Time for This Manifesto
Awakening to Pronatalism
The Destiny Assumption
The Normality Assumption
The Marriage Assumption
The Right to Reproduce Assumption
The Offspring Assumption
The Fulfillment Assumption
The Elderhood Assumption
The Transition Has Already Begun
Toward a Post-Pronatal Society
The 7 Post-Pronatal Assumptions
In the movie The Matrix the character Morpheus offers two pills to Neo—if he takes the blue the pill, he will go on with life as he has before, believing what he has always believed. If he takes the red pill, he will find out what the “matrix” really is, and many of his earlier beliefs will be shattered. When it comes to taking a hard look at a specific set of beliefs that has driven our society for generations, The Baby Matrix is the red pill. It unravels these beliefs and shows us why they no longer serve us—or why they were never true in the first place.
What is this set of beliefs? It’s called “pronatalism,” meaning “pro”-“natal” or “pro-baby.” It’s the idea that parenthood and raising children should be the central focus of every person’s adult life. Pronatalism is a strong social force and includes a collection of beliefs so embedded that they have come to be seen as “true.”
For some people, perhaps you, there may be nothing more fulfilling than raising a child. But I think you’d agree that parenthood is not automatically the right choice for everyone. You don’t have to look very far to find parents who never should have had children.
The problem with pronatalism is that it leads everyone to believe they should have children—even people who shouldn’t have children. And pronatalism leads people to believe they have the right to have as many children as they want—even people who shouldn’t have children. This creates problems that extend beyond families and the children who may be suffering from the effects of poor parenting. At a time when we humans are consuming resources over 50 percent faster than the planet is producing them, every choice to bear a child has implications for the larger community. That’s why this conversation about pronatalism is one that involves all of us, parents or not.
During my research for Families of Two and since then, I have learned a lot about how pronatalist beliefs affect us individually and collectively, and not in a positive way. This has been explored before; in the 1970s, Ellen Peck and Judith Senderowitz confronted pronatalism head-on with Pronatalism: The Myth of Mom & Apple Pie. Their book includes chapters with a number of different contributing authors who explain what pronatalism is, how and why it is so pervasive in society, and the negative effects of that pervasiveness.
It’s time to take another hard look at pronatalism. Many people have begun to question its tenets, and rightly so. They are waking up to the fact that this set of implicit assumptions furthers the agendas of power structures such as the church, state, and industry—not individuals. They are questioning how they’ve been unconsciously influenced to accept beliefs that ultimately serve others’ agendas, and how this negatively impacts not just themselves but people from all walks of life. Pronatalist assumptions dictate how we’re supposed to follow the “normal path” to adulthood. They also put unwarranted pressure on us to have biological children (and the “right” number of them), fail to foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children, and do a disservice to children who are already here in need of loving homes. The assumptions also result in inequitable workplace and tax policies that favor parents over people with no children. And they work against leaving future generations a better world.
It’s time for all of us to understand why we can no longer afford to leave pronatalist assumptions unquestioned and why now is the time to transition to a “post” pronatal society. The Baby Matrix is the manifesto to ignite this transition. In this book, I present seven long-held pronatalist assumptions and the reasons they are incorrect, are no longer necessary, or no longer work. I lay out an alternative set of assumptions that reflects present realities and supports true reproductive freedom and reproductive responsibility in today’s society.
Don’t misunderstand: I am not against people who choose to become parents. The Baby Matrix urges all of us to take a closer look at pronatal assumptions in order to see the truth about parenthood, reproduction, and our future. Like the red pill in The Matrix, which instigates an awakening to what is real, this book takes a hard look at why it’s so important to stop blindly believing pronatalist doctrine and start realizing its serious costs. It poses powerful ways to shift our thinking for the betterment of all.
This book is for anyone who reveres the truth and wants the best for themselves, their families, and our world. If that’s you, I say go down the pronatal rabbit hole where you will find the truths that need to be told, and see why I invite you to join me in being part of the emergence of a post-pronatal society.
Internationally Known Expert on the Childfree Choice
Passionate Reproductive Freedom & Ethics Advocate
My books include:
25 Over 10: A Childfree Longitudinal Study (2022)
This publication summarizes a first-of-its-kind longitudinal study with 25 women that tracked the childfree choice and more over 10 years.
Voluntary and Involuntary Childlessness: The Joys of Otherhood? (Contributor) (2018)
My chapter, “The Intentionally Childless Marriage,” is part of this textbook which has contributors from around the world and is designed as a key resource for scholars, students and policymakers. It is based on my qualitative research since the late 1990s. Published by Emerald Publishing, UK.
Man Swarm: How Overpopulation is Killing the Wild World (2015)
I collaborated with renowned conservationist Dave Foreman on this book, which is sold to the public and has been used in undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
One of my many talks on The Baby Matrix
One of many radio shows I’ve been on since 2000
The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World (2012)
This book examines and challenges pronatalism in our society. It is sold to the public and has been used in college curriculum nationally.
Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice (2000)
The first of its kind at the time of publication, Families of Two received global recognition and paved the way for me to become internationally known as an expert and leading voice on the childfree choice since the year 2000. I conducted interview research for this book, and have continued qualitative data collection on the childfree choice and those who make it since its publication.
Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out (2000)
This is my first book, which is based on my experience in counseling people who were laid off from their jobs. It is sold to the public and has been used in college life planning courses.
Learn more about my books Here
Currently Working On…
This year a book in which I have a contributing chapter will be released by Rutgers University Press. I am also working on another book for a younger audience … keeping close to the chest for now : )!
In the Media
Over the years I have been featured on network television, including ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS‘ The Early Show, and have been a guest on many radio talk shows, as well as US and Canadian public radio. My articles and work have appeared in many print and digital media publications, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Vice, The Guardian, New York Magazine, Women’s Health South Africa and UK.
At DOCNYC film festival, 2018
I have served on the Advisory Board and provided consulting for the film, To Kid Or Not To Kid by Maxine Trump. I also appear in the film.
I have been a contributor at The Huffington Post, ran the popular La Vie Childfree blog, which now lives Here, and since 2013, founded and headed the International Childfree Day event, a global endeavor to foster the acceptance of the childfree choice in today’s society.
My 30+ year career has also included:
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Jacket design by Creativindie Covers
Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2 [LINK]
Chapter 8 [LINK]