Why I Don’t Care If You Wouldn’t Have Existed

Content Notice for not-very-detailed mentions of abortion, sexual assault, genocide, Nazis, and sexual harassment.

One of the most odious yet versatile arguments is one where the person in question offers their own existence as a justification for the objective value of something or other.

Forced birthers use it — “My mom was poor / raped / abused / young / unhappy with being pregnant, are you saying that I should’ve been aborted and not exist today?”

Status-quo warriors use it in their passionate defense of sexual harassment — “My dad once wolf-whistled at and complimented a woman’s tits on the street. That woman later became my mother. Without what you sensitive SJW snowflakes call ‘harassment’, I wouldn’t have been born.”

Using this twist of logic, it’s a very easy way to basically frame the other person in the argument for the theoretical murder of the concept of you. Too bad it doesn’t hold much water as an actual argument.

There are a lot of things that only exist because of horrible acts committed by someone or someones in the past. Modern medicine owes a lot to blatantly racist attitudes towards non-whites, including but certainly not limited to the actions of German Nazi scientists. Technological advances are often result from military needs and funding. Every non-Native resident of Canada, Australia, or the US is living on stolen lands marked by the blood of attempted full genocide.

That doesn’t make any of that OK. No matter how many cute little babies or nice old ladies are saved by the resulting research data, Nazism was and is a terrible, harmful ideology and treating black Americans worse than lab mice is unethical. Technology may be a needful and useful tool, but its military origins and thoughtless thought-leaders are still a problem. The continued disgraceful treatment of Native peoples is wrong.

More personally, most people don’t have to go too far back in the family line to find marriages that were made by nothing resembling agency or choice. Some of us are the direct product of known abusive relationships.

I would’ve rather all the probable-rapists and definite-abusers in my family line not have existed — or at least not have gotten people to make babies with them — even if it ultimately means that I wouldn’t have been born. Who cares if that means I wouldn’t exist? Not me. It would be impossible for me to care. In that timeline, I wouldn’t exist in the first place, let alone exist enough to care about my own existence. I’m not that deluded about my own importance.

So yes, forced birthers and SQWs, if you’re going to play it like that, I am OK with the idea of a world into which you, personally, were never born. I am equally as OK with the idea of a world where I don’t exist, either. Neither you nor I personally matters that much in a universe so vast and a sea of human experiences so rich. You and I both are accidents in our existence, possibly unhappy ones.

I would’ve rather your mother not have been forced to carry a pregnancy she didn’t want to term. I would’ve rather your father had approached your mother respectfully in an appropriate setting, or not at all. I dare to love your mother as a fellow human being more than you do and to dream of a better world for people like her. It’s rank misogyny and not very humanist at all to think otherwise.

Why I Don’t Care If You Wouldn’t Have Existed
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5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Care If You Wouldn’t Have Existed

  1. 1

    I’ve said almost these exact words many times. Yet I’m surprised by how rarely you hear this argument online. In fact, this might be the only time I’ve seen it, can’t remember for sure. It’s kinda funny that this is the best atheist argument against forced birth, but again, who’s saying it? Only you.

  2. 2

    People don’t consider that their existence depends on a vast number of things happening throughout history, and that some of those are going to be awful things. For example, World War 2 changed peoples’ lives in many parts of the world, and many, perhaps most, people alive today wouldn’t exist if WW2 had not happened. I’ve never, however, seen this as an argument that World War 2 must have been a good thing. Yet people use this kind of argument to justify bad things on a more personal scale. It just doesn’t make much sense as an argument.

  3. 3

    Hear hear. My mom once told me I was conceived ten years earlier than planned, she´d found out about the pregnancy very early and her gynecologist had offered to take care of the problem right away* but of course she NEVER would have done something like that! I think she expected me to be appalled at the idea I might not have existed but… meh? I wouldn´t have existed to be harmed or worry about it?

    *Not in any kind of illegal way, I´m just skipping unimportant detail.

  4. 5

    A version of that is “Look at what Great People might have been aborted”, like classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven. But it can be turned around. Like this:

    In the little town of Braunau am Inn, Austria, near the German border, a certain Klara Poelzl has discovered in the fall of 1888 that she is pregnant. She and her husband, a minor customs official named Alois Schicklgruber, decide that they don’t want to have a child at that time, so she gets an abortion.

    I have prepared a list of similar scenarios, but this one should give the basic idea.

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