No Kidding: What We Talk About When We Talk About Not Having Kids
I'm not going to have children. In fact, I can't. I had my tubes tied last year just to be sure of that. I've always known I didn't want to have children of my own, but in an extremely pro-natalist culture, being childfree is not as simple as it sounds. There are plenty of women just like me, though childfree women aren't a homogenous group in any sense of the word. And though studies show that childlessness is on the rise, not having kids is still often seen as going against cultural, religious, and even biological imperatives.
Over the next eight weeks, I'll be reprising my Bitch blogger role (see last year's ecofeminist series, The Biotic Woman) to discuss what it means to be an intentionally childfree woman in Western culture. Why are some famous women (Oprah) relatively unscathed by the media when it comes to childbearing, while other famous women (Jennifer Aniston) can't shake pregnancy speculation? Why are families with a dozen children featured on television when parents of only children or non-parents are arguably just as interesting? Why is it so tough for childless women to access permanent birth control? If you have something in particular you'd like to discuss or have me analyze, please let me know!
A couple of notes: I like children. If you don't, please respectfully reserve those thoughts for another time and place. Bashing kids is akin to kicking puppies in my book; it's unnecessary and outright cruel. Don't do it. Comments like "I hate children" will be moderated, as will anything more inflammatory.
I'm also not interested in bashing parents or people who choose to have children. Childfree people get a bad rap—which I intend to discuss—and it's time some of us pushed back against that. Words like "breeders" will be moderated, as will anything more inflammatory. There are plenty of childfree blogs and message boards where people use rather frightening language to demean people who have kids as well as children as a social class. That's not what I'm about, and that's not what we're going to do here.
In other words, hate enormous prams that take up the whole sidewalk? Fair enough. Just don't hate on the occupant or the worn out parent pushing it, OK? Don't hate the game—hate the merchandise.
I'm here to talk about social pressure to procreate, media attention on multi-child families, tabloid obsession with childless women and pregnancy, and voluntarily female sterilization. I hope you'll join me.
Some reading to get you started:
All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine
Why I Don't Want A Baby by Polly Vernon, Marie Claire
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