Or doesn’t, as the case may be.
As a woman, I’m getting pretty sick of being told that I’ll change my mind about not wanting children. That I’m selfish. That I’m going against nature. That I’m using up public money to fund my despicable lifestyle choice.
Like this woman. Journalist Holly Brockwell has won her fight to be sterilised at 30, and I salute her. Why wouldn’t I? As a feminist, I believe in a woman’s right to do whatever the hell she likes with her own body. Want kids? Great! Don’t want kids? Awesome! Tattoos? Love them! Enjoy casual sex? Fine!
And so on and so forth.
As people, we have this little thing called the right to personal autonomy. In brief, it means having the capacity to decide for yourself and pursue a course of action. This means that I, in theory, should be able to make my own decisions and go about my chosen life without interference from anyone else. But that’s not always the reality.
The fight against Planned Parenthood in the US has reached ridiculous proportions. The reports of what goes on at protests against them have been enough to turn my stomach. Honestly, why are you so concerned about what goes on inside a woman’s body? I am 100%, no-doubt-about-it, pro-choice. Because, as women, we have the right to decide what happens to our bodies. Having access to safe, free abortions is incredibly important, because blocking that access only encourages the idea that women do not deserve control over their own bodies. Which, quite frankly, is bullshit. But I can rant about abortion another time.
Let’s go through the typical responses to my being childfree by choice.
The cost of being pregnant, bringing a child into the world, and seeing them all the way through to the age of 18, is without a doubt more expensive than one procedure. As is supplying a woman with contraception for X number of years. People use the excuse of us wasting taxpayer’s money (I too am a taxpayer) as a way of shaming us into behaving how society wants us to behave. I would never be one to shout at pregnant women, do you know how much of the taxpayer’s money you’re wasting by selfishly reproducing?! Who’s paying for it’s free school meals and doctor’s appointments and your check-ups? For shame! because I am not a twat, or at least I try not to be. Maybe more people should try this out.
Not everyone with a vagina wants children. Not everyone without a vagina wants children. Not everyone with a vagina can have children. As expanded upon below, this “but it’s natural!” narrative harms both people who don’t want and can’t have children.
I actually think that bringing a child into this world simply because it’s “what’s done”, or just to fulfil the narcissistic need to replace yourself, is more selfish than my decision to not have children because I don’t want them. Just like I think it’s selfish to get a dog if you don’t have the time to take care of it properly, I think that you should be able and want to look after the children you have, in terms of time, money, and love.
This is probably one of the most bullshit “reasons” I’ve ever heard. I need to have kids for my life to be full and happy? Eff off. All I need to be happy is internet, cats, tea, and sleep. Oh, and cake. Kids literally do not make me happy; in fact, they stress me out. They’re mucky and loud.
You’re young, you’ll change your mind
I am young, I’m glad my youthful glow is evident. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want. I’m very aware of who I am, what I’ve been through, and the impact of certain events on my life. I’ve always been a very decisive person, and I’m not a complete idiot; I’m fully open to the remote possibility of me one day deciding that actually, yes, I do want children. If I’m at a point where I can’t have my own kids (see below), I can adopt, I can foster, I can get a surrogate. I can get more cats. There are plenty of things I can do to fulfil this sudden desire. And anyway, isn’t that kind of my problem? The phrase “tough shit” springs to mind. If I make a decision and live to regret it, it’s my problem to deal with.
So I’m going to tell you something, and I want you to hear me: I do not like children. Not one bit. I don’t have the patience for children. If you try to get me to hold or engage with your child, I’m unlikely to respond. There are a few children I have limited time for, but the key word in there is limited. I would not be a fair parent, I would not be a patient parent, I would not be a good parent. If, despite my best efforts, I ended up pregnant, I would have an abortion. I wouldn’t have an abortion lightly, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t care or feel sad or anything else, but I would have one, because it would ultimately be the best decision all round.
Not all childfree women would agree with me – some adore children, some work with children, some regularly care for the children of their friends or family members. But none of this means they want their own. This really isn’t difficult to understand.
And so here we change the words “don’t want” to “can’t”. Because while there’s a difference, the way people treat those without children is harmful to all of us. And, surprise! I actually fit into both categories.
I can’t have children. Well, correction, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever be able to carry a child to term, due to my health issues. I have had several conversations where I’ve been hit by so much aggression that, in my cowardice, I’ve resorted to telling this part of the story, which of course is always met with sympathy. In more recent times, I have been strong enough to stick with the “don’t want” narrative, because it’s what’s important to me. It’s not simply a lifestyle choice; it’s a part of my identity. I am childfree because reasons, and that’s all you need to know.
I’m not the first woman to write about this, and, unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be the last. But I need to join my voice to the crowd of women – and men – telling our kidcentric society to shut the hell up and let us get on with counting our money in our homes free from mucky fingerprints and 3am wailings.
If you’re childfree by choice, let me know in the comment below. If you want further support and/or information, check out this website.