Caitlin Moran and the text "Think you want kids? Read this!"Caitlin Moran in Grazia magazine. The accompanying article is not online. Boo.

Leave it to a wiseass mother of two to make the best case I’ve ever read for not having kids.

Caitlin Moran is currently having an American media moment as she marks U.S. publication of her book How to Be a Woman, a memoir-slash-manifesto that’s been a massive best-seller in the U.K. She’s been described as the British Tina Fey, the next Nora Ephron, and an occasional Lady Gaga bathroom companion. Everyone’s talking about her fervid defense of feminism. (“Do you have a vagina? and Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”) But not enough people are talking about her fervid defense of the childfree life — so I’m going to.

Thing is, Moran loves being a mum (in addition to being many other things, like a columnist for The Times of London). She has a sweet and honkingly funny chapter called “Why You Should Have Children.” But she follows that with a whip-smart chapter entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Have Children.” The latter case so rarely gets vocalized, and Moran vocalizes it so damn well, that I want to block-quote the entire chapter. But that would mean a lot of typing for me. So instead I’ll just block-quote a big chunk, and then you’ll have to go buy the book to read the rest. Which you should do anyway.

[I]f a woman should say she doesn’t want to have children at all, the world is apt to go decidedly peculiar: “Ooooh, don’t speak too soon,” it will say — as if knowing whether or not you’re the kind of person who desires to make a whole other human being in your guts, out of sex and food, then base the rest of your life around its welfare, is a breezy, “Hey — whatever” decision. …

[T]his injunction for all women to have children isn’t in any way logical. If you take a moment to consider the state of the world, the thing you notice is that there are plenty of babies being born; the planet really doesn’t need all of us to produce more babies.

Particularly First World babies, with their ferocious consumption of oil and forest and water, and endless burping-out of carbon emissions and landfill. First World babies are eating this planet like termites. If we had any real perspective on fertile Western women, we’d be jumping on them in the streets, screaming, “JESUS! CORK UP YOUR NETHERS! IMMUNIZE YOURSELF AGAINST SPERM!” …

Because it’s not simply that a baby puts a whole person-ful of problems into the world. It takes a useful person out of the world as well. Minimum. Often two. When you have young children, you are useless to the forces of revolution and righteousness for years. Before I had my kids I may have mooched about a lot but I was politically informed, signing petitions, and recycling everything down to watch batteries. It was compost heap here, dinner from scratch there, public transport everywhere. … I was smugly, bustingly, low-level good.

Six weeks into being poleaxed by a newborn colicky baby, however, and I would have happily shot the world’s last panda in the face if it made the baby cry for 60 seconds less. The cloth diapers … were dumped for disposables; we lived on ready meals. Nothing got recycled … Union dues and widow’s mites were cancelled — we needed the money for the disposables and the ready meals. …

Let’s face it, most women will continue to have babies, the planet isn’t going to run out of new people, so it’s of no real use to the world for you to have a child. Quite the opposite, in fact. That shouldn’t stop you having one if you want one, of course …

But it’s also worth remembering it’s not of vital use to you as a woman, either. … I don’t think there’s a single lesson that motherhood has to offer that couldn’t be learned elsewhere. …

Every woman who chooses — joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of her own free will and desire — not to have a child does womankind a massive favor in the long term. We need more women who are allowed to prove their worth as people, rather than being assessed merely for their potential to create new people. …

How’s that for being in charge of your vagina? Plus she’s got a bracingly frank chapter about having an abortion and never regretting it.

How to Be a Woman also hits on masturbation, menstruation, breasts, bras, bikini waxing, and lots more woman stuff. Moran’s righteous ranting is aimed at implementing “a Zero Tolerance policy on All the Patriarchal Bullshit.” And that includes “Zero Tolerance over baby angst.”

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For more on being green and childfree, read: Say it loud — I’m childfree and I’m proud.