More than occasionally, enough times for it to be incredibly irritating, someone will roll their eyes (literally or figuratively) at someone talking about being childfree–whether it’s about their struggles with it or their excitement about it. This blog post explains, from each of our perspectives, why those people are wrong, why we personally talk about it, and why we think others should, too.
Too often we get comments from people telling us to shut up and stop posting about being childfree and the lifestyle that comes with it. They say things like, “No one gives a fuck if you don’t want to be a mother,” or, “Quit spending time defending your decision,” or, “Aww, honey, did someone make you feel bad about your choice and now you’re lashing out?”
Shut-downs come in different shapes and forms, but they all have the same objective: instead of opening up a topic and encouraging debate and healthy conflict, it shuts it off. It is done through shaming, blaming, name-calling, threats, and humiliation, among other actions. In my opinion, it all boils down to one thing: the people who are shutting others down are doing it because the conversation makes them uncomfortable.
It is more convenient for this type of people that nobody talks about these topics because giving it the time and thought it deserves makes them have to think about it. It is more convenient for these bullies to shut others down because more often than not they occupy a privileged position in the status quo of our society, therefore, to think about subjects that can disrupt that status quo is to contemplate the possibility that their place in society could change.
Well, I’m calling out these people and telling them that they are part of the problem, part of the inertness that perpetuates societal rules and codes that no longer serve any purpose. I will carry this conversation for as long as I possibly can, because I want more women to know they have a choice to live a different life, even if they don’t take this path. I am not going to censor myself to comfort their ignorance.
On the whole, magazines, TV shows, movies, and articles still—in 2020—present motherhood as a path as inevitable as death. If not inevitable, then Most Desirable, The Best Possible Conclusion to a Life.
Look at the attention any star with a “baby bump” gets, or how wild the media went when Cameron Diaz, once “the patron saint of childless-by-choice women,” announced she’d become a mother.
But we’re used to that kind of pressure. The media, church, friends, families, or friends influenced by media, church, families…it’s irritating and oppressive, but for the most part, we’ve figured out how to manage the direct opposition.
The quieter and maybe bigger problem is what I think of as Fox News dismissiveness.
When Fox News commentators don’t want to talk about a story, or when they don’t want their viewers talking about it, they’ll call it boring, treat it as a non-story. Sure, they’ll mention it, but only so they can give it the same “you’re the shit under my shoes” attention a mean girl might give the smart girl in the hallway at school.
This is what people are doing to the childfree when they say, “So what if you don’t want kids? Why bother talking about it? God, shut up. You’re so boring.”
It’s clear from the numbers flocking to childfree groups on social media that there’s a real need for compassionate and supportive childfree voices. At 45 I rarely get pestered about having children, anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important to help assure other women (and men and everyone in between) that there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to parent, that their happiness does matter, that there are people who understand the pressure they’re under, and that we’re here, even if no one else is, if they want to talk about it.
Self-expression is a marvelous thing. Soul-searching led me to acknowledge the urge to express my desire to not be a parent. In a creative, entrepreneurial sort of way. It’s not about expounding on why I don’t want kids but rather how life is satisfying without going the parenthood route. In your 20s, people label this as a phase. In your 30s, people remind you that you can still have kids at 37 but you’d better hurry because the eggs are dying!
Being childfree is often mislabeled as selfish, hedonistic, immature, etc. This does nothing to encourage someone who does not want children. Why shouldn’t there be support and entertainment for someone who doesn’t want kids? It’s something I want. The intention behind everything I do is to bring positive awareness to this choice. Creating childfree content is fun. I experience a lot of joy and satisfaction having conversations about it with others. Connections are being made, opportunities are appearing. I’ve been a talker my entire life. I’m not about to stop now.
Isabel, Kristen, and LeNora are the hosts of the web series Childfree Girls. Their book offering support and encouragement for those contemplating or living a life without children is Childfree Girls’ Comfort Food for Thought.