Society forces a certain set of expectations on us by default. Grow up, pay taxes, become a productive member of society, get married, buy a house, have children. While there is room for variation in each of these steps, the one that remains almost unquestioned is having children. Reproduction is just something that inevitable comes along as a part of the aging process – or at least, that is the impression given to most women.
Those who choose to remain childfree – not childless – push against societal norms, and sadly deal with a surprising amount of backlash for their reproductive choices. This is why August 1st, International Childfree Day is an important day for those who opt to not reproduce. Those who choose to not have children are in the minority, and it is comforting to find that there are communities of people who have chosen the same path as you, especially when that decision is an uncommon one.
Despite great efforts towards gender equality, women still face issues of being seen as the lesser sex. This is very evident when it comes to reproductive rights. Women’s pain is taken less seriously than men; there is no guaranteed coverage or access to affordable birth control; the United States has the worst maternal death rate in the developed world; and coupled with the fact that a minimum wage worker in the US cannot afford a two bedroom apartment anywhere in the country you might think that the choice to abstain from having children would be understandable. Despite all of this, society still looks down upon women who express that they do not want kids.
Instead, the choice to be childfree is met with moral outrage, and people who opt to not reproduce are considered “less psychologically fulfilled than people with two children.”
Don’t believe me?
- Childless-By-Choice Women are a big part of Society’s Deterioration
- The Selfishness of the childless couple
- The self deception of the intentionally childless
- I don’t need science to tell me I resent the childfree
I could continue, but I think you understand my point.
Women such as myself who do have any desire to birth or raise children are consistently looked down upon. Those who seek permanent sterilization measures are regularly refused, with excuses from medical professionals ranging from “wait until you are married to decide” to “what if your husband dies/you divorce and your new husband wants children?” It is not uncommon for women to have to undergo psychiatric evaluation to prove good mental health prior to permanent sterilization; or have the partner sign off on sterilization procedures. Meanwhile the average adult male can get easily get a vasectomy with no spousal approval required (and for a fraction of the cost).
Not all women want children. That doesn’t make them “selfish”, “unfulfilled”, “lonely” “destined to die alone”, or any other of the shockingly common descriptors applied to childfree women and men. Toys R Us actually blamed childfree millennials for killing their business: “Most of our end-customers are newborns and children,” writes the toy chain’s management. “Our revenue [is] dependent on the birthrates in countries where we operate. In recent years, many countries’ birthrates have dropped or stagnated as their population ages.”
It is 2018 and women are still looked at as vessels for future life – we are not recognized as individuals with our own goals and purpose. The mentality that everyone must reproduce and that if you choose not to you are failing your biology and your species is deeply rooted in patriarchy. Have you ever heard of the “husband stitch”? It’s just as horrifying as it sounds – when fixing repairs that happen during the childbirth process, doctors will add in an extra unnecessary stitch to make the woman tighter for her husband. This stitch only exists for the pleasure of the male counterpart and often has lasting detrimental affects for the women.
There are many reasons why a woman may choose to not reproduce. Physical health, mental health, limited finances, limited access to quality medical care, concerns about passing on genetic defects; all of these and more are reasons to not have a child. In a society that praises and uplifts those who choose to follow the status quo and have children, there is an undercurrent of dismay and disgust on those that opt to remain childfree. Any form of social media will quickly show the outright disgust and disdain people have for those that choose a childfree lifestyle.
All of the above examples are real screenshots taken from two posts on Facebook discussing not wanting to have children, and a voluntary sterilization procedure for women known as a bilateral salpingectomy.
Today, on International Childfree Day take a moment to pause and reflect. Do you have a childfree person in your life? Think about the last time you discussed children – or lack of – with that person. Acknowledge that oftentimes they are berated for their life choices and perhaps next time it comes up, mention that you respect their decision. At the end of the day, how someone else chooses to live their life and whether or not they have children, has no bearing on how you choose to live yours. If you are a parent that supports your childfree friends and family – I salute you. If you are a reader who judges those who choose not to have kids, I have to ask:
What does it matter?