Why do people have children?

  • Diana Gittins
Part of the Women in Society book series (WOSO)


Just as patriarchal ideology in western society has prescribed and proscribed appropriate behaviour for marriage, so it has done the same for reproduction. Bearing children — and bearing them with much pain — was God’s alleged curse on Eve for her sins. Mary, by being a passive and obedient recipient for God’s will, was able, through immaculate conception and motherhood, to play a minor part in the redemption of humanity through bearing and mothering Christ. Sexuality has always been an evil in the Judaeo-Christian symbol-system, albeit a necessary one. Its inherent evil can be tempered, first, by being heterosexual, second, by restricting sexual relations to marriage, and third, by limiting sexual relations exclusively for the purpose of procreation. Heterosexuality, marriage, and having children are thus all part of the western patriarchal parcel of rules for appropriate sexual relations and behaviour between men and women. Indulging in one without accepting the rest of the ‘parcel’ has been, and still is, widely condemned.


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  1. 1.
    For a full discussion of the decline of family size see J. Banks (1954) Prosperity and ParenthoodGoogle Scholar
  2. D. Gittins (1982) Fair Sex: Family Size and Structure 1900–1939.Google Scholar

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© Diana Gittins 1993

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  • Diana Gittins

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