Saturday, 28 May 2011

Hey Lindsay Fox: The economy is no excuse to compromise on women's rights

Lindsay Fox's encouragement to women to have 6 babies in 7 years reflects an outdated view from an old generation.  His economic objective makes sense - grow our population. It's the social element that is two generations out of date.

Fertility rates in the developed world are permanently lower since women's liberation

This chart shows the fertility rates for Australia and the US since 1950.

As you can see, the numbers of children born per women plummeted since the availability of the pill. It wasn't that women actually wanted 3 or 4 children each - they simply had no way to plan their family.

Lindsay Fox would need to turn Australia into Burundi

But take a look at this map of fertility rates around the world. It's only the poorer sub saharan African nations where fertility rates are above 5.0.  Those countries lack the same liberties for women that developed and even developing nations enjoy.
Except for sub-saharan Africa, almost all of the world has lower fertility
rates than Australia in the 1960s

To populate Australia the way Lindsay Fox advocates would require the wholesale rejection of contraception, and decades of feminism. We would need to have a culture like Burundi, where a woman's primary role is to breed boys for agricultural labor.

Obviously that isn't going to happen.

We can import population, Lindsay, so hopefully you support that as well

The first half of Fox's suggestion sounds like a great idea ...  "go home and make love tonight and create another baby for Australia.". But I'd strongly encourage safe sex, and remind Lindsay that you don't have to create a baby when you make love.

The economic premise of Lindsay Fox's suggestion makes a lot of sense - more people in Australia has a whole raft of economic benefits. But there's an obvious alternative to 1950s fertility levels. Let's just increase migration.  I've written a blog on migration here, so won't go over that again.  However, I would call on Lindsay Fox to support that option.

The key issue is that a suggestion to achieve a valuable economic solution by reducing women's options is just not acceptable. It's even more of a concern when it is said in humor or by a well respected citizen like Fox, as it softens the blow, and entrenches very old-fashioned attitudes.

We cannot condone any comments that suggest women should comply with any set of behaviors - especially those that reduce their equality

Let me know what you think

Mark S

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