The following TIME article, which an American relative sent me today, is strictly for the strong of stomach. Most distressing, for me, is the association of Prof Mark Maslin with this story. It breaks the heart that such a great scientist—and human being—would sully himself with this pure, Unsullied eco-snuff reality-porn.
I would say “Enjoy,” but that hardly seems the right verb.
UPDATE: Commenters, please stop asking for the link. Our spam-sac is swollen at the sutures! Unfortunately: (a) it was ink-on-barely-readable-glossy-paper, and (b) our policy is not to give skeptic-bashing dinosaur-press outlets like TIME a massive spike in readers. Remember, attention is like oxygen to these scum. Thanks for understanding.
‘Meet the Americans Who Are Choosing Not to Have Grandkids’ —18 May, 2017
To reproduce or not to reproduce: could any dilemma be more existential? On one side of the scales is the incomparable joy of bringing a new life into the world; on the other, the guilty awareness that that world is already at capacity.
As parents, none of us want our children to face the same gruelling decision we had to make.
“Which is why we’re increasingly opting to make it for them,” says respected Los Angeles surgeon—and father—Don Barenbaum, MD.
“This is the best gift anyone could give him,” say the parents of little Desi Kovacz, who was just wheeled into Dr Barenbaum’s anaesthesia bay. The remark is an act of self-reassurance more than anything. Their 19-month-old son is being prepped for his elective castration as we speak, but Mom and Dad are the ones suffering the nerves.
Like so many history-changing memes before it, the grandchildless movement has its epicentre in southern LA—not for nothing called the early-adoption capital of the world.
Speaking to Time in a tasteful Cedars-Sinai waiting suite, the Kovaczes admit they were leaning towards the less radical option of vasectomy at first. But it would have meant Desi wearing a plastic collar to keep him from licking himself afterwards—just at the crucial time he was auditioning for local preschools.
“Getting into a decent one is insanely competitive, and [success or failure] will affect his entire life,” says mom Elisel Mitchell, the jewelry entrepreneur. “In the end we decided we’d never forgive ourselves if Desi didn’t make the cut because of a silly bucket over his head.”
In California’s trendiest, most eco-informed zipcodes it’s fast becoming a faux pas to forget (or refuse) to desex your kids. While it’s not a hanging offence on the scale of, say, smoking—not yet at least—residents here are keenly aware that a failure to family-plan ahead has its social penalties. Many of LA’s hottest restaurants won’t even seat grandchildren. And they’re as fully-booked as ever—a reflection, it would appear, of Angelenos’ growing demand for grandkid-free spaces.
MARK MASLIN IS A climate biologist at University College in London, England. He also happens to be a world authority on the dangers of human population.
Professor Maslin says the anti-grandkid movement is “a laudable one that’s [come along] just in time, I hope, to give the planet a future—not only for our children but for our children’s children.”
With fingers in a veritable empire of businesses catering to the ecological crisis, Maslin isn’t bragging when he boasts he’s “[extremely well] paid to know what I’m talking about here.”
And he refuses to mince his words.
“Unless we drastically reduce our numbers on this planet, and do it immediately, people are going to start dying. Sooner than you think. Heck, sooner than I think.”
Maslin has met countless couples who choose to forgo grandkids, and says he envies their strength of principle. “What sacrifice could be greater than knowing you’ll never fast-bowl a cricket ball at your granddaughter in the back yard?”
These are ordinary people, he emphasizes—not monsters.
“Nobody enjoys making decisions like this. And with the cost of a hospital stay these days, especially in your country, parents are hardly jumping up and down with enthusiasm to book their little boy or girl in.
“But the very fact that they’re malthusiastic,” he adds, “only makes them more heroic, in my books, for taking the leap.”
THE MAJORITY OF PREGNANCIES in America are still caused by a white man, so it should be no surprise that most of Dr Barenbaum’s young patients are the sons of Caucasian couples.
Still, females are almost a third of the equation.
On the other side of the Valley, pediatric surgeon Henrick Wan says tubal ligations are now the mainstay of his busy roster. But he’s also bound by ethics to inform prospective customers about a range of less invasive options, most of which target their daughter’s vulva or vagina.
A technique called total infibulation—once associated mainly with Islamic Americans—is a popular alternative, explains the urogenital guru. The operation, which he says makes intercourse “prohibitively painful,” can safely be performed at any age from 12 months, when a child’s labia are strong enough to hold stitches.
“In medical terms, [infibulation] is deterrent, not definitive, surgery,” says Dr Wan. “But parents tell me they’re very happy with the peace of mind it’s given them.”
Like most States, California authorizes non-Muslim parents to consent to the procedure only if it would spare them ‘economic or emotional hardship.’ But that’s not exactly a high bar to meet in a country that seems to grow more anxious about overpopulation by the day.
SEVEN DAYS POST-OP, Desi is making a good recovery, and appears to be pain- and trauma-free already. (His little brain isn’t capable of forming long-lasting memories and resentments yet, father Gary Kovacz explains.)
But older brother Corey, 4, who is reproductively intact, hasn’t done quite so well. He had a rough time processing Desi’s alteration at first, says mom Elisel.
“He even started wetting his bed again—which is understandable. These are big themes for a child to handle.”
The Kovaczes tried every explanation they could think of. Then, at breakfast yesterday, Gary jokingly compared the situation to that of Game of Thrones’ Grey Worm, one of the nine or 10 leading characters who’ve been neutered in the HBO series.
“Theon Greyworm [sic] is Cor’s favorite,” says his dad. “I was just making a throwaway comment, but it did the trick. All of a sudden he thought Dez was the coolest baby brother ever.”
“Corey’s actually a bit jealous now,” his mom adds.
“At bath-time last night, he was waddling around the house, [genitals] tucked between his legs, insisting he was a ‘unicorn,’” she says, laughing at the adorable malapropism.
Elisel, who is expecting again, was so happy with the experience of working with Dr Barenbaum’s team that she’s already booked her next boy or girl for surgery. Despite this foresight, the family still faces a long wait. In a sign of the times, Barenbaum’s services are so popular that he won’t be able to fit the child in before its sixth birthday.
But all’s well that ends well. The Kovaczes’ favorite preschool just called back: Desi starts terrorizing the sandpits in 2019. ■