Natalism Defined and Discussed

Natalism Defined

Some guy on Twitter was bickering with me a tiny bit about Natalism. I think he and I are basically on the same page, but he keeps tweeting me in apparent disagreement.

Here is one of his tweets to me:

If I understand his position correctly, he apparently feels that “natalism” means only pushing or encouraging a woman to have lots and lots of children, say fifteen or more children.

I disagree.

If you read online dictionary definitions of the word “natalism,” or material on the topic, the number of children is irrelevant when understanding what natalism is.

Here is how “natalism” is defined in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:

  • :  an attitude or policy favoring or encouraging population growth

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the word “Natalism,”

  • Natalism (also called pronatalism or the pro-birth position) is a belief that promotes human reproduction.
  • The term is taken from the Latin adjective form for “birth”, natalis. Natalism promotes child-bearing and parenthood as desirable for social reasons and to ensure national continuance.
  • Natalism in public policy typically seeks to create financial and social incentives for populations to reproduce, such as providing tax incentives that reward having and supporting children. Adherents of more stringent takes on natalism may seek to limit access to abortion and contraception, as well.

From The Free Dictionary (link):

  • An attitude or policy that encourages childbearing.
You will notice in these definitions that natalism comes down to an attitude, not a definition limited to strictly the number of children being under consideration; it is not that “natalism = having exactly X or Z number of children.” The number of children is not the point.
Natalism is an attitude that people should pro-create, whether that is having one child, three, fifteen, or 35.
I do not care if people want to have children, within reason.
If someone of her own free will wants to have children, and she has the time and financial resources to properly feed, care for, and love her child (or children), I am fine with it.
Where I depart company with natalists (and many American conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are highly natalistic) are with the ones who reduce a woman’s only, or who insist that a woman’s most important role in life, to baby-making.
I also part ways with natalist churches, natalist Christians, natalist culture, and natalist political parties, who guilt trip, shame, or try to coerce or bribe women into having children.
For example:
  • By Masum Momaya
  • As another June 12th – Russia’s “National Day” – passed in Moscow, the Kremlin calculated how successful its efforts have been to encourage Russia’s women to have more babies.
  • Worried about declining population numbers, the Russian government has introduced a host of measures designed to encourage procreation.
  • Incentives include a dedicated ‘day of copulation’ that releases citizens from work for one afternoon to have sex; an all-expense-paid summer camp for young adults complete with private tents – and no condoms – and cars and cash payments for parents with newborns.
  • Fears of declining birth rates and population numbers are rampant not only in Russia but throughout Eastern Europe,[1] spurring interventions and bolstering anti-reproductive rights and nationalist campaigns by right-wing forces, who lament that that women are not fulfilling their responsibilities as child-bearers and that “native stock” are disappearing.
I also do not support what I will label “extreme natalism,” such as “Quivering,” a cultic branch of Christian expression where one or two Bible verses are plucked out of context and/or twisted to support an un-biblical idea that women should have as many children as physically capable, should never use birth control of any kind, and/ or should not try to space out, or time, or limit, the number of children one has.
Whether we are talking a mindset that teaches all or most women should have at least one child or 15 or 35, all those situations fall under the category of NATALISM.
NATALISM is not merely the extreme forms, such as women having 15 kids a piece, but Natalism is also a woman who has only one child, and Natalism is also the mind set that women “should” have babies at all or in the first place.
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