April 11, 2006

Book Review: The Baby Trap

I was 11 years old when I first heard about Ellen Peck and her book, The Baby Trap. For two mind-blowing weeks, the library copy occupied a spot on my book shelf right next to my Judy Blume novels. Years later, I was able to get a copy of my own, and I have re-read it many times since. Originally published in 1971, at the height of the enviromental and Zero Population Growth movements, the book speaks as eloquently and passionately to me today as it had back then.

This book is a must-have for any childfree library. Buy it. Steal it. Borrow it. Just read it. (While it is out of print, most online booksellers do have copies available). This book can be read in one gulp; not because it's light on content, but because it is so well-written and frank that it cuts right to the chase regarding the childfree vs. child-rearing decision. Through personal anecdotes and well-researched case histories, Ms. Peck discusses the cultural brainwashing that takes place via merchandising, the media, and the culture at large. The book also contains frank discussions regarding abortion and birth control, as well as a chapter on how to uh, "turn up the heat" in your childfree marriage. Both chapters wouldn't be included had the book been published in today's overly politically correct climate; the overall tone and content of the book makes it a gem in and of itself. Time will stop when you read this book, take my word for it.

The book closes with a call to childfree people everywhere to work for a more equitable society in terms of workplace policies, taxation, and overall perceptions of childfree people. Sadly, things have not changed much. Ms. Peck was instrumental in the early childfree movement, and the book is a powerful, concise call to arms for all childfree people and their supporters. Read on and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

AlphaGirl -- Thanks for this post. I will definitely read this book in the near future. I am particularly interested in her calls to action for childfree adults. I think we have touched briefly in the comments section of this blog about the taxation and workplace issues.

This globally published blog would be a good place to air some of our voices on these subjects, if you would care to put forth some of them. I really need to focus on getting the word out about what we are doing here. I'll roll out my plan in the coming weeks.

I am on the planning committee for the 5th Annual Childfree Festival, an annual event put on by volunteers-run chapters of the No Kidding social club. (There's a link in the PW sidebar.) It's all about fun and games, one big party. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that the opportunity to create something of meaning, or have a discussion about how we have been portrayed in the media recently, or most creative ways to counteract awkward social settings, or how to be a childfree Christian, or a speaker on the topic of Childfree across the Curltural Divide, or a talk about activating your chapter's membership would be valuable, maybe even important to do.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

I read Ellen Peck's book, and I believe she makes some great points regarding the advantage of being child-free (in particular the opportunity to enjoy more adult experiences).

On the other hand, I don't buy into arguments that are based on population control. In North America, particularly in Canada where I live, we're increasingly becoming aware of our nation's 'baby debt'. Even with immigration, Canadians aren't producing enough babies to replace ourselves and the aging baby boomers.

Just a few months ago (May 2007), Maclean's Magazine ran an in depth coverage of the impending population crisis. Canadian women are having fewer than the 2.1 babies needed for population stability, and in some parts of the country like Quebec, they are already facing a birth deficit thanks to the 1 in 4 abortion rate and increases in contraception use.

We are already seeing the effect of the baby shortage of the previous generation (constantly hearing of shortage doctors, nurses, blue collar workers etc needed to care for and replace the retiring population).

Like it or not, babies are good for the economy. It's one thing to choose to postpone or avoid childbirth out of desire for personal satisfaction (I'm 29 and childless myself, and would not be able to enjoy the travel and inter-city dance events I do, with children in tow), but lets not kid ourselves that we're doing it for the planet or the good of society.