Global population is expected to hit eight billion around 2025, which is to say about ninety-five years later than Knowlton predicted. No one in his right mind supposes that it could reach sixty-four billion without horrific consequences, except perhaps a few economists.
The decision to have a child, or one more child, or yet another child may seem to be a personal one—a choice about how many diapers you want to change in the short term versus how many Mother’s Day cards you hope to receive later on. But to see it in these terms alone is to be, as Caplan points out on the cover of his book, selfish. Whatever you may think of Overall’s and Benatar’s conclusions, it’s hard to argue with their insistence that the decision to have a child is an ethical one. When we set the size of our families, we are, each in our own small way, determining how the world of the future will look. And we’re doing this not just for ourselves and our own children; we’re doing it for everyone else’s children, too.”
On December 24, 2011, feminist writer Hugo Schwyzer was banned from participating in Feministe, an influential feminist site. The outrage was sparked by an interview in which Schwyzer discussed his own checkered past, including consensual sex with his students. Underneath the post, Feministe commenters drew attention to an even more astonishing admission — in a year-old post on Schwyzer’s own site — that in 1998, while intoxicated, he had attempted to kill himself and an ex-girlfriend.
“Why are you giving this animal a platform?” demanded one Feministe commenter. “There are three-and-a-half billion women on this planet with inspiring, thought-provoking stories and insights to share, and you choose instead to promote the self-serving rhetoric of a narcissistic sexual predator.”
Oddly enough, this outrage came just days after Schwyzer had proclaimed his solidarity with the feminist movement by withdrawing from an online magazine called The Good Men Project. As its name suggests, the site was built around a simple question — “What does it mean to be a good man?” — and Schwyzer had welcomed the opportunity to preach his brand of feminism to a mostly male audience. But on December 14, 2011, the site’s founder, Tom Matlack, published a piece called “Being a Dude Is a Good Thing“ in which he argued that men and women were fundamentally different, and that women refused to “accept men for who they really are.” It wasn’t “ethically possible,” Schwyzer wrote on his site, “to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance.””