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Being childfree: critical, or a personal attack?

“Women who don’t have children are particularly offensive because part of our cultural understanding of the ideal female hinges on being nurturing, emotional and care-giving. To reject childbearing pushes back on the basic assumption that women have an obligation always to make their lives about someone else.” (Why Not Having Kids is Admirable, Not Selfish)
“There is just no logic attached to questioning childfree people as to why they didn’t have kids – it’s all cultural expectations. A third of births in the U.S. are unintended – that’s fucked up. That’s what we want to get away from. We don’t ask parents why they had kids – even though we’re the ones bringing new people in the world. Childfree folks are just maintaining…the only reason to question them is that as a culture we simply cannot fathom the idea that a woman (men get a lot less shit) might not crave kids on this intense biological level.” (An Interview With Jessica Valenti | The Hairpin)

i wrote this as support to terfect who thinks breastfeeding is gross (although she does support doing it). it seems that radical feminists are forever stuck between being critical of femininity/heterosexuality and traditional gender roles under the patriarchy vs. supporting everything women do just because they’re women.

i don’t see what is so morally wrong and taken as a personal attack about childfree women posting on their own blogs about how they hate to see breastfeeding and children and disagree for whatever reason. it’s not like they are chasing women into bathrooms; they know it is their problem and not that of mothers. disagreeing with something doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s wrong or in this case, that breastfeeding or children is wrong. being childfree is literally just one step beyond abortion. it’s not only a matter of “i don’t think i’ll be a good mother” or “i don’t want children right now” but “i don’t want children ever.” some mothers have even written about how they regretted having children, and others choose formula for health or other reasons, one of them being they think breastfeeding is disgusting. some of the women telling women they’ll change their mind when they have their own are themselves mothers. there are overlaps.

yes, being childfree is expected to be offensive. but it is not a personal attack against mothers. while motherhood and breastfeeding are certainly feminist issues, so is being childfree and all the hate childfree women get. motherhood, like makeup and prostitution, and every other feminine or traditional female role under the patriarchy, is not a feminist choice.

i’m aware that this might come off like i personally endorse that certain things are “feminist choices” but not others. actually, i don’t believe there can be a “feminist” (i.e. truly free) choice under patriarchy. i just don’t think all practices are equally harmful to women as a whole because it is a hierarchal system. i.e., when men say wives are just prostitutes even though they have certain privileges over prostituted women, or that one type of woman is ‘better’ than another. women should not be defined what they do or don’t do.

This is from redhester:

no child will ever be my master. i am no slave. i am no mother. my body is my own. my hips will be my grave.

undercoverradscum got offended by this and wrote:

Slavery’s effects are still around its not cool to appropriate it as a metaphor for choosing to have children.

Did you enslave your parents? I didn’t.

to which I replied:

does forced pregnancy mean anything to you?

how about women believing their worth is based on having children? that children give more value to them and that value should dictate their lives?

because both of these are forms of reproductive slavery. “pro-lifers” prioritize fetuses over women; that’s making the fetus the master. and there is overlap between pro-lifers and mothers; they are not mutually exclusive. it’s expected that even if not all women have children, they must at least personally like them. i hope you see where this is going: that they are encouraged to like children in order to have them, themselves. and it implies that all mothers love their children.

i can’t tell you how many times my mother told me, as a child, that she was my “slave,” when in reality i was slave to her emotional abuse and manipulation. guess what, she is “pro-life” herself. her believing that she was my slave, did not mean it was true, but she clearly regretted motherhood and all the responsibility it entails. she was afraid of being alone and birthed me (and my younger brother) to keep her company and then it was sibling rivalry over who she favoritized, although in the end she always favoritized him and males in general. the OP does not want to have children. instead, she is avoiding such a scenario and is going one step beyond the common arguments for abortion; she not only does not want children right now, but does not want to have children ever. she can’t be abusive to a child that hasn’t even been born, much less her hypothetical children.

childfree

redhester went on to write: 

[…]  modern motherhood is a tool of oppression and a means of draining women of their time and energy. i wrote about this, if you care to take a look.

– as a radical, i do not believe in the liberal illusion of “choice”. just as heterosexuality is compulsory under the patriarchy, i believe that motherhoood is also forced on women. my view is that motherhood is against the best interests of women, and therefore not a choice because it is impossible to choose something that harms you. and i disagree that “motherhood is not a requirement”. under the patriarchy, motherhood is indeed a requirement and that is why PIV “sex” is imposed as the only “real” sex act.

– i refuse to have children, not out of spite, but because i see them as parasitic and an invasion of my bodily and overall autonomy. this is in addition to my view that children are a means of destroying women’s resistance. i believe it is cruel to force another being into this world. many who have children do so from purely selfish motivations. my childfree life is an act of compassion and liberation that comes from inside of me.

– as long as we are creating more men, by having male children, we cannot be free of male supremacy. as long as we are creating more children the capitalist machine will have more human lives to crush as grease in its filthy gears. i was in a very dark place last night and wrote of a desire for our species to non-breed ourselves into extinction. as i said in that post, if children were the answer to our oppression, we would already be free. another sister rightfully responded to that post in protest of its victim-blaming implications.

children have become women’s new slave masters. modern motherhood is another head of the hydra that sucks women dry. the hydra knows that without women’s reproductive work, there would be no more human fodder for their factories and wars. the hydra knows that without women being drained of life and liberty by child masters, that women would have time and energy to revolt.

women are already wise to men’s lies, but still vulnerable to the myth that control and domination is the same as love. it is impossible to love and control at the same time.

motherhood has been made even more deadly and suffocating by the hydra in order to squash the rising rebellion of those who are making the connections and tracing their gazes down below the hydra’s heads – to see its body. many heads. one body.

motherhood is the death of women. it is an institution that kills the soul and leaves the body intact to raise a new generation of hellspawn patriarchs and their captive women.

if this makes you angry, then you are still alive. congratulations.

Relevant:

Having kids will ruin your life

I hate motherhood

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3 thoughts on “Being childfree: critical, or a personal attack?

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this entry. Some scattershot thoughts…

    “if children were the answer to our oppression, we would already be free”
    Ding ding. You win the prize. The whole worship of motherhood, the power of motherhood thing is a surrender to patriarchal values. “Well, since we have to be mothers, we might as well feel powerful for it.” When actually having children weakens women, makes it harder for them to accomplish anything, and think their way out of the trap.

    For many women, having children is quite literally a disaster.
    http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/secret-confessions-how-great-is-it-to-have-a-child/

    See, they always think we hate children. I don’t hate children, I hate parents. It is not the CHILD enslaving the MOTHER. It is the FATHER and the PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY enslaving the MOTHER. The CHILD had nothing, nothing to do with it! They didn’t ask to be born!

  2. There are all sorts of reasons why someone remains childless. Sometimes it’s tragic, sometimes medical, sometimes circumstance, sometimes choice, and sometimes luck — dumb and otherwise. Judging it is ridiculous. I personally rejoice in others’ children. Then I go home and take a nap.

    • Hey, having children being the default is precisely the thing I am criticizing. You say you don’t judge them, but you use “childless” as if they are less for being without; we have a word already for women who willingly don’t have kids and that is “childfree.” Accurate language matters and yeah, it is childfree women I am referring to in the post, no doubt about it. I don’t consider it a tragedy that a woman ends up without kids, either.

      Btw, even if my circumstances were ideal, I still wouldn’t have them.

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