Via Shakesville, I found this article on Hoyden About Town, referencing this article at the Guardian.
Here’s the thing: Carl Djerassi, Austrian chemist and one of the developers of the birth control pill, now apparently blames said pill for the population imbalance/decrease. Of course, the Catholic Church jumped on that like a lion pounces a zebra and gleefully announced – again – how completely bad (female) sexual independence, sexual security and family planning is. Specifically Cardinal asshole Schönborn sent out a heartfelt, “We [The Catholic Church] told you so!”
The Guardian article says that all this comes from a commentary Carl Djerassi wrote for the Standard, probably the best Austrian newspaper. Unfortunately, I cannot find it online, nor do I have the newspaper [must have been from last week]. Even googling doesn’t bring any results – by the looks of it, either the Guardian made this up, or, which is much more likely, nobody in Austria cared to react to that. [Why the Standard would print such drivel is beyond me.]
So, even though Hoyden About Town made basically all the points I want to make, I – as an Austrian woman – felt it necessary to react to it myself. Which is what I’m doing now.
[Following quotes from the Guardian article]
All of this started last week, when some idiot or other in the Vatican decided that the pill not only was the Anti-Christ,
(…) it had also brought “devastating ecological effects” by releasing into the environment “tons of hormones” that had impaired male fertility.
Oh yes, they do go there. Literally, when women use the pill, it destroys male virility. Nevermind that the “science” used in this argument is so laughable, even I know it. Isn’t that the most desperate thing you’ve ever heard?
Apparently, this rang in the Catholic Week of Pill Bashing. Come on and join us all! Because after that, the whole Djerassi thing happened.
First of all, it doesn’t help that Djerassi refers to all of it as a “demographic catastrophe” — the demographics are changeing, but surprisingly, it’s not the end of the world. It just means that changes will be necessary in the future to accomodate our style of living.
Anyway. Here’s what Djerassi said:
Djerassi outlined the “horror scenario” that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction”. He said: “This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete.”
Excuse me while I laugh in your face for a bit.
Okay. a) What would be so bad about the seperation of sexuality and reproduction? Having sex is natural and hopefully very satisfying act that cements and speaks for the relationships that we have. And one’s sexuality is a big part of one’s identity and may or may not be linked to having children. And b) this is so not happening. Even if that statement was socially true, biologically it definitely isn’t. When last I checked, people still had sex in Austria to have children. But also socially, it’s not true.
Yeah, on average, Austrians have 1.4 children. But the problem is not the pill, it’s the social stigmata associated with being a mom-or-dad. If you work – “what about the poor kids, being raised by teachers?” If you don’t work – “don’t you have any ambition at all? Setting feminism back that way?”/”are you a man or a pussy?”
It’s the lack of social infrastructure for people with children. While Austria’s social system is rather strong – compared to other countries, the child support system is rather backwards. In fact, women are actually being punished for having children, at least if they want to have any work at all.
It’s every time someone frowned at me when I sat in a café with my nephew/niece/atheist-child because they were loud. Or cried. It’s everytime that my friend asked me if we could meet at her home because people are unfriendly when she has to navigate the pram and isn’t fast enough.
But mostly it’s the societal changes that have (thank Goodness!) happened in the last 100 years or so. We don’t define ourselves by our children, we do it by our work, our accomplishments etc etc.
That are the reasons that the birth rates drop. Not because of the pill.
The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an “epidemic” far worse – but given less attention – than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to understand the necessity of an “intelligent immigration policy”.
Dang, that paragraph has it all: Sensationalistic language (an epidemic, seriously?), fat hating (not going into that, not the point now), blaming the youth, racism. I guess, they couldn’t fit in the bad terrorists any more.
I’m 23. I’d say I’m a young Austrian. I don’t have children (yet). OH NOES! I KILLED AUSTRIA!
My grandmother had ten kids. She had the first six in six years. When the use of birth control reached the remote part of Austria she lived in, she only had a kid every two years. I guess, she didn’t kill Austria yet, but at least she mortally wounded her. I mean, she could have had 14 kids and saved us all!
And I’m all for an intelligent immigration policy. I’m afraid that I don’t define it the same as Mr. Djerassi, but still – all for it. But the problem is that appararently, he thinks that immigrants are too stupid to use birth control. At leat, he obviously believes in the old stereotype of the foreign birthing machines. *headdesk*
I think that there are a lot of valid reasons to have immigrants in a country – which can be beneficial for all parties involved. But I don’t believe that shepherding them inside to repopulate Austria is one of them.
And as if that wasn’t enough nonsense, of course the Catholic Church has to pipe in and point out that the pill is the work of the devil as it pollutes the environment with all those low-flying hormones, defertilises men, can induce abortions and now such an authoritative figure like Djerassi agrees with them.
The head of Austria’s Catholics, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, told an interviewer that the Vatican had forecast 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west. [See: I TOLD YOU SO!] “Somebody above suspicion like Carl Djerassi … is saying that each family has to produce three children to maintain population levels, but we’re far away from that.”
Guess what, Djerassi is not above suspicion. Nobody is. He may have made great discoveries and has at one point been a good scientist, but he isn’t any more. I suspect. I suspect that Djerassi let his personal views become more important than the science in his work. He’s not above suspicion. No, he’s under suspicion.
And he’s an asshole.