“Know what keeps a community going strong? More babies.”
Or so says the billboard I pass on my commute to work. I must’ve driven by this sign a hundred times without ever paying much mind. I suppose this is a bad thing if you’re a billboard considering getting noticed is literally your only job. As I became more resolute in my decision to be childfree, the more the words on this advertisement stood out.
So just what is this advertisement trying to sell? Specifically, a brand new maternity ward at an area hospital. But in a more general sense, this billboard is pushing something else. It’s something that really shouldn’t even be up for sale: motherhood. And the method of choice? Pronatalism.
Pronatalism? What is the meaning of this word that even predictive text cannot compute?
It’s the idea that parenthood and raising children should be the central focus of every person’s adult life. Pronatalism is a strong social force and includes a collection of beliefs so embedded that they have come to be seen as “true.”