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There Goes the Neighborhood

Rage against the ‘breeders.’

Sep 13, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 48 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Yet for all the Malthusian worry-warting, at the street-level, being childfree is mostly about disdain for conservative traditionalists. Thus, the childfree refer to parents as “breeders” and mothers who breastfeed as “moomies” (as in cow). Those are the nicer terms. (The site happilychildfree.com cheerfully catalogues childfree slang.) The great joke, however, is that the childfree rarely bump up against actual conservative traditionalists. One of the motivating presumptions of the lifestyle is that being childfree lets you live the fabulous life in a glittering metropolis. But real breeders can’t afford hip urban living. So the type of childfree conflicts we see in the Post are really schisms in the great urban liberal order. Childfree liberals aren’t chafing against minivan-scale, Republican families. They’re chafing against neighboring liberals who choose to have one, or at most two, children. (The Post identified three District wards where a minor “baby boom” was producing parent/nonparent conflicts. Those wards went for Obama 83 percent to 16 percent; 97 percent to 3 percent, and 99 percent to 0.8 percent.)

Last January, Ken Archer posted an essay to the urban planning website GreaterGreaterWashington.org. Archer is chief technology officer at a local tech-company and lives in Georgetown with his wife and  child. In his piece, Archer noted that one of the D.C. bus lines had recently adopted a policy requiring baby strollers to be folded while on board, making it nearly impossible for parents with small children to ride the bus. Archer suggested that D.C. should follow European and Canadian transit models which make special allowances for strollers in order to (1) cut down on car use and (2) make city cores more accessible to families.

It’s hard to imagine a more politely liberal solution to a politely liberal problem.

But the comment board erupted in childfree rage. “Why do people with children always think that they should be catered to? Fold your damn giant stroller,” replied one typical correspondent. 

Archer attempted to sooth his critics by explaining that he wasn’t an entitled breeder and that he really just wanted to make sure that urban families could be carless and still do necessary trips, such as grocery shopping. But the mob was not mollified. “People should think about how they’re going to get their food once they have a child BEFORE they have a child,” said a perturbed reader. “Maybe have your neighbor watch your kid for an hour or two. .  .  . Maybe move closer to a store so you can walk. .  .  . Maybe don’t have kids.”

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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