Amy Wellborn offers this insight from a mother of four children under two years of age:

"It's as if my triplets, my abundance of baby, brings a new breed of female hysteria crashing to the surface. It seems to me as though we have developed a very unhealthy attitude to child rearing...It fascinates me."

Fascinating indeed. This is one of many outcomes Paul VI predicted would happen in a Contraceptive society: making babies has become odious in the eyes of so many young women. Professor Janet E. Smith discourses memorably on this subject in this article, available through the EWTN document library.

One of my co-workers is a young woman of 26. She was complaining of the amount of weight she has gained in the past year (it doesn't show, but women frequently obsess over the status of their weight, so I humored her). I said, "Well- you are at the peak of your childbearing years." She argued the point, claiming that the weight gain had everything to do with poor diet. But the fact remains that physiological development in women naturally results in increased weight-gain through the Twenties, regardless of food intake.

What interested me most in her reaction was the way she wrinkled her nose at the very idea that she might be in her childbearing years-- as if this was a totally ludicrous proposition! Nevermind the fact that her next-door neighbor is four years her junior and happily raising a robust baby boy!

I've encountered such disconnections among so many of my female peers. "One day I will have a family," they sigh wistfully as they look with envy at those young mothers who successfully balance careers with breastfeeding, as if such a thing were beyond them. But in spite of the advancements of women's liberation, the technological advancements for in-vitro fertilization, the emphasis in universities to place career before motherhood, the unprecedented societal approval for and corporate policies in support of working moms, and the relaxation of sexual tabooes that required that pregnancy occurs within marriage, so many of my female peers believe they a.) are unable to have children until they finish their degree and succeed in their career field or b.) have to forfeit their careers goals in order to have children.

[And, of course, with careers becoming harder to establish until later in life, more and more women aren't even ready to start having kids until their Thirties, when conception usually can't occur without the assistance of fertility treatments.]

Why the apparent contradictions? One answer: the Contraceptive mentality. In either of the two cases stated above, the emphasis is on contra-ceiving, 'not having' or 'not being open to' children. In other words, kids aren't an option right now. In fact, they are viewed problematically, as an inconvenience or as a misfortune. Children are the accident of a sexually vigorous lifestyle rather than the intended result.

In the case of my co-worker, the idea that her body might be readying itself for pregnancy and birth seems absurd. Children have become so far removed from young women's perception of themselves that their own bodies no longer make any sense to them. And if you raise this question, you are disdained as a misogynist rather than an adorer of the Genius of Women. Couple that with the unmitigated horror with which so many young women my age contemplate labor and delivery, and you have quite a healthy Contraceptive mentality on your hands.


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