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Jennifer Wight is correct when she says in her May 3 letter, “Birthrate should be wakeup call,” that “women are not the problem” when it comes to the declining birthrate: Bad ideas are. And the No. 1 bad idea is Wight’s assertion that the “patriarchal society” is the cause of fewer babies. Actually it was the dismantling of patriarchal hegemony that facilitated the declining birthrate. Is there a country where feminism and gender equality have taken hold without a concomitant reduction in fertility? I think not.

The fact is that in modern societies, children become an ever greater financial and psychological burden and are thus aborted, not had, or had in limited numbers. What we need is not more dismantling of “patriarchy,” but a change of heart, a willingness to sacrifice for children — whether that means that mom stays home or dad stays home. Until we stop staring at our own belly buttons, we will continue to see fewer new belly buttons.

trey hoffman

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