A Polish politician has blamed women’s drinking habits for the country’s falling birth rate. Because apparently, he has forgotten men are also part of the equation.
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, made the comment at a meeting with voters this weekend.
“If we see a continuation of the situation where, until the age of 25, young women drink as much as men their age, then there will be no children,” he said.
“A man, in order to become an alcoholic, has to drink excessively for 20 years on average … while a woman only two.
“We’re not going to see any babies if girls, young women, continue to drink like their equals until they’re 25.”
Kaczyński’s comments – which come after Poland enforced a near-total ban on abortion – have hit a nerve, considering women’s reproductive rights have already been repealed in the country.
It’s also worth noting that according to data from the country’s own state agency for solving alcohol problems, “on average, women drink significantly less alcohol than men and experience far fewer problems from it”.
High alcohol consumption can impact fertility – but it’s not just women’s. “Alcohol can inhibit the function of the testes, stopping sperm from developing properly and reducing the sperm’s ability to move towards an egg,” according to Drinkaware.
All this has caused women’s rights activists to call out the ridiculousness of Kaczyński’s statements, with many pointing out there are plenty of other reasons why women may be having fewer children.
“The cretinous words of an old geezer about Polish women that women do not give birth to children because they drink (and not because Poland is hell), this is only a fragment of our reality,” the Polish Women’s Strike group said, according to abc news.
The group said there were many reasons for country’s low birthrate, including a lack of access to sexual education and fertility treatment, a housing shortage and a lack of access to affordable childcare.
So, not so different to the UK then.
On social media, critics of Kaczyński have also pointed out that the rising cost of living is making it more difficult for women who want to have children to afford them. Inflation is up in Poland, like it is across much of Europe, causing food and energy prices to soar.
It’s also worth remembering that some women do not want kids – especially against a backdrop of the climate crisis. We are not baby-making machines, so isn’t it about time politicians looked at other solutions to tackle their ageing workforce?
Kaczyński is not the first man to blame women for falling fertility rates, nor will he be the last. But instead of blaming us, how about we acknowledge that men play a part in conception – and fix the broken systems that are preventing those who want kids to become parents.