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Publisher LiveTrue Books
eBook Kindle Edition
The Baby Matrix looks at long-held beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, and unravels the origins of why we believe what we believe. It boils down to a set of beliefs that has influenced society for generations called “pronatalism.” So many of the beliefs that make up pronatalism have become so embedded we think they are “true,” yet are not, and negatively affect us, individually and collectively. The Baby Matrix lays out why we need to be very aware of its influence to make the most informed decisions about parenthood in today's society.
Why It's Time for This Manifesto
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 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.
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Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, and Finding Fulfillent From the Inside Out. She has been featured on The Early Show, Good Morning America, national radio, and in print an digital media to discuss social science topics.