In her book, The Baby Matrix, Laura Carroll describes Pronatalism “as the idea that parenthood and raising children should be the central focus of every person’s adult life.” Pronatalism is a strong social force that glorifies parenthood and includes a collection of beliefs deeply embedded and have come to be seen as “true.”1
This research paper and comic series takes a hard look at pronatalism and its assumptions. While the paper reflects on some major societal dogmas that’s mentioned in The Baby Matrix, with the help of a series of single paneled comics narrated by the character Ruth, the project blends humor and design to create a manifesto that ignites a transition into our society; to respect and support true reproductive freedom and choice. The comic narratives urges people considering the childfree lifestyle to refuse to “follow the pack” because the society expects us to conform to tradition. It speaks to parents, childfree, and the childless to carefully consider the long-term implications of creating new lives.2
Framed in the current pronatal society, this project is not against people who choose to become parents. It’s only proposing to take a closer and critical look at the pronatal situation at hand in order to see the truth about parenthood and reproduction. Alongside research, in-person interviews were conducted that not only contributed vastly to the content of the comics but continues to spark a dialogue about social and cultural norms and challenges the values and lifestyles of a child-centered society.
1,2 : Carroll, L. (2012). The baby matrix: why freeing our minds from outmoded thinking about parenthood & reproduction will create a better world. United States: LiveTrue Books.
‘I Am Not Kidding’ comics were presented at The 13th International Conference on Design Principles and Practices in St Petersburg, Russia and at CDM Research Colloquium in Chicago, Illinois.
Find all of Ruth’s comics at:
Limited edition Zine available upon request.
Role: Concept & Ideation + Illustration + Design + Research Paper