I’ve heard that, back in the day, Rita Mae Brown once tried to convince fellow lesbians to abandon their children in order to join the movement. But, generally speaking, even in the most radical-feminist and/or lesbian-separatist circles, there have always been children around (Cherríe Moraga, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Karen Finley, Pussy Riot … the list could go on and on). Yet rather than fade away with the rise of queer parenthood, the tired binary that places “femininity, reproduction, and normativity on one side and masculinity, sexuality, and queer resistance on the other” (Susan Fraiman) has lately reached a kind of apotheosis, often posing as a last, desperate stand against homo- and heteronormativity, both. In his polemic No Future, Lee Edelman argues that “queerness names the side of those not ‘fighting for the children,’ the side outside the consensus by which all politics confirms the absolute value of reproductive futurism.” He continues: “Fuck the social order and the Child in whose name we’re collectively terrorized; fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Mis; fuck the poor, innocent kid on the Net; fuck Laws with both capital l’s and with small; fuck the whole network of Symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop.” Or, to use a queer artist friend’s more succinct slogan, Don’t produce and don’t reproduce.

I know that Edelman is talking about the Child, not children per se, and that my artist friend is likely more concerned with jamming the capitalist status quo than with prohibiting the act of childbirth. And I, too, feel like jamming a stick in someone’s eye every time I hear “protecting the children” used as a rationale for all kinds of nefarious agendas, from arming kindergarten teachers to dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran to gutting social safety nets to extracting and burning through what’s left of the world’s fossil-fuel supply. But why bother fucking this Child when we could be fucking the specific forces that mobilize and crouch behind its image? Reproductive futurism needs no more disciples. But basking in the punk allure of “no future” won’t suffice, either, as if all that’s left for us to do is sit back and watch while the greedy and gratuitously wealthy shred our economy and our climate and our planet, crowing all the while about how lucky the jealous roaches are to get the crumbs that fall from their banquet. Fuck them, I say.

Maggie Nelson, “In the Pain Cavern”