In reference to impoverished African families and child brides, French President Emmanuel Macron exclaimed in September, “I always say: ‘Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children.'”
Macron’s remarks finally hit social media this week, and hell hath no fury like moms with big families on Twitter. Whether or not he believes his maxim to be true outside of the third world, it clearly struck a nerve in the United States, where the stigma against big families is real.
Catholic University of America professor of social research and economics Dr. Catherine Pakaluk inadvertently sparked the flame when she posted a picture in response to the comments and, thinking it looked something like a postcard, made the hashtag #postcardsforMacron.
It exploded from there.
— Catherine R Pakaluk (@CRPakaluk) October 16, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of parents, children, even priests, began sharing pictures of big families headed by a college-educated matriarch. Here are just a few examples:
— Eric Kigozi (@ekigozi) October 17, 2018
— MCSabol (@MaryClareSabol) October 17, 2018
— Katie (@kpete16) October 16, 2018
— Pater Edmund (@sancrucensis) October 18, 2018
— Matt Federoff (@federoffm) October 17, 2018
— Cindy Lathwell (@LathwellCindy) October 17, 2018
— Margaret Kalb (@mkkalb) October 17, 2018
Bachelors degree. Masters degree. 26 years of homeschooling. Kids have gotten into some of the top schools in the country. But I guess I’m an uneducated breeder. #PostcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/8kW7lgxo5e
— Whitney Hetzel (@WhitneyHetzel) October 18, 2018
So Emmanuel Macron says, “Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children.” Mom of 7, Master’s in English, teaching at a university, wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for the opportunity to show off my family. #postcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/Id6FrxTtkW
— Jackie Hollcraft (@pjh797) October 17, 2018
Some news outlets covered the events, implying that the hashtag representes a misunderstanding and overreaction. After all, a few minutes after his initial statement, the European president clarified that he believes many young brides and impoverished mothers do not choose their family size, but are coerced or forced into it. “I’m fine with a lady having seven, eight children if this is her choice, after education,” he continued.
But, Dr. Pakaluk argued in an interview, “I don’t think it’s a completely different context.”
After all, it doesn’t take college or even high school education to love children and respond to the call to motherhood. To claim that impoverished and uneducated mothers of big families only gave birth because they “didn’t know better” is fallacious and untrue. Child brides, on the other hand, are unethical for reasons totally unrelated to family size or education.
Dr. Pakaluk’s interview on Sacred Heart Radio’s Son-Rise Morning Show can be heard here.
— Forest Hempen
Marketing and Communications Associate