antinatalism in the anthropocene

Dženana Vucic

 

you can’t say much good about climate change and don’t get me wrong it’s not like i think it’s a good thing but have you noticed how it just makes conversations about not wanting children go that little bit smoother? which is to say not go at all. derail, is the word for it, i think. because you know, the thing with before was, once you [twenty something, white, female, bi but really straight because bisexuals are just women looking for attention] said oh i don’t want children it became all a matter of changing your mind & growing up & hitting thirty & finding the right person & biological clocks. and then why was thrown out like some accusation of supreme cruelty, all squinting and suspicion, and you couldn’t very well say well i don’t really like kids, you see [because it’s different when they’re yours, you know] or well i want to focus on my career [because a woman can have it all now, didn’t you realise] or look honestly i just want to spend my time and money on me-stuff? [what the fuck is wrong with you, you selfish bitch?] but then along came climate change in a way that meant we really couldn’t ignore it anymore. i mean, the eu banned single use plastics and david attenborough started doing docos where it was a thing throughout and not just, like, in the last episode? not to mention all the school kids going on marches and getting shitty with us for destroying their planet and disrupting traffic with their walking and their chanting. anyway, what i’m saying is that it’s really hit home now and everybody knows about it and look, i don’t want to sound didactic [actually i was specifically told not to be didactic] so let me go for dogmatic instead: climate change is real & recycling won’t fix it. and see, the great thing is that everybody knows it but is doing this thing of pretending like they don’t because double consciousness is really in right now and also if we had to face the reality of the humungous changes we’d need to engender to meaningfully impact anything, we’d probably just throw in the towel on humanity altogether. i mean, who wants to live in a world where you can only buy avocados when they’re in season?? we didn’t exploit our way through the age of imperialism and the industrial revolution to put up with that shit. [though at least we’d be able to afford houses with all that saved avo-money]. which brings me back to not having children and the bright side of the whole doomed-earth thing which is to say: it really takes a lot of pressure off the whole kids situation, y’know? why becomes such an easy question and also the perfect opportunity to virtue-signal and otherwise peacock your incredible selflessness, which, you’ll note, is the exact opposite of what people thought of the choice before. i can’t do much, you can tell your nosey aunt, but this is something i can do. cast your eyes around her well-furnished, air-conned loungeroom. let your eyes linger on the two sets of car keys sitting on the table. shrug [sadly] and say: we need to make sacrifices for the good of our planet. maybe look down at your hands but don’t overdo it because she might do something radical like install solar panels or sell a car to offset the impact of your unborn. interestingly, there’s only two degrees of separation between selfish and selfless which is also the maximum degree of difference allowable between temperatures now and temperatures in the future coz anything above that will render the whole question of self kinda irrelevant. but anyway. i can’t do much but this is something i can do.

 

Dženana Vucic is a Bosnian-Australian writer and editor. Her work has been published in Going Down Swinging, Australian Poetry Journal, Scum, the Australian Multilingual Writing Project, Rabbit, Lip Magazine and Junkee.com.

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