April 21, 2014

Childless Woman Taboo

When a woman reaches a certain age, she is expected to start thinking about having children. If she doesn’t, society demands an answer. (Telegraph)

Childless Woman Taboo

Childless Woman Taboo

Sarah Rainey recently took up the much discussed and debated February Vogue article in which Dame Helen Mirren “confronts the final female taboo“: childlessness. Like many commentators, Rainey finds Mirren’s candor refreshing in a media maelstrom prone to condemning childless celebrities (or at least badgering them to explain and justify why they are childless.) Regarding her own experience, Mirren explains that women never judged or harassed her. Men did.

[It] was only boring old men. And whenever they went ‘What? No children? Well, you’d better get on with it, old girl,’ I’d say ‘No! F— off!’ ~ Dame Helen Mirren (Telegraph)

Female childless celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Kylie Minogue are relentlessly interrogated. Pregnant? Baby bump? Just pudgy? Why no baby bump? When will you become mother? Why aren’t you a mother?

“The expectation is that they [women] will marry and have children,” explains Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Childless by Marriage. “If they don’t, everyone wants to know what’s wrong with them.” (Telegraph)

What’s Right with Them

Sure, once upon a time, looong ago childbearing was an almost essential and unquestioned connubial responsibility. Make babies to chop firewood, grow crops, protect us from marauders, care for us when we are old. I get. We get it.

But one of the really groovy perks of living in the first world in the dawn of the 21st century is that we’re no longer locked into this breed-or-bust marital model. Here’s a telling statistical arc.

An ONS study in 2010 found that just one in nine women born in 1938 remained childless, rising to one in five women born in 1965. It is projected that a quarter of 45-year-olds will be childless by 2018. (Telegraph)

Who are these disreputable, irresponsible scallywags? It’s time to expose them, to reveal them for who and what they are!

“You will find them among the higher educated, the ambitious and the high-flyers,” explains [author Fay] Weldon. “They, like Mirren, have a different but equal service to make to the community. They should be praised, not condemned.” (Telegraph)

Oh.

Right. Different but equal. Ambitious, highly educated high-flyers.

Childless Women: From Taboo to Equality

A Strong Woman

A strong woman stands up for herself.
A stronger woman stands up
for everyone else. (Credit: Quoteswave)

Yet, as Mirren articulates, women are frequently derided when childless. And while she lays the bugaboo at the insensitive feet of men, it seems that she may be oversimplifying the equation.

‘s post “Childfree: All Women are Created Equal” sees women as the primary culprits, perpetuating the medieval childless taboo upon their female contemporaries.

It was mostly women who were negative about my decision… I saw that it’s often women who don’t support other women’s life choices; it’s often women’s stereotypes of what we should be and do that get in our way. (Flurt!)

We’ll let Dame Mirren and Ms. Anderson debate whether men or women are more to blame for reinforcing long stale judgments and condescension toward childless women. What is evident is that the taboo endures despite statistical shift and more widespread recognition that motherhood should be a decision, not destiny.

Men, women, society. Something is stuck. Or clinging. Either way, it is high time we move forward. There’s a bright future ahead. It is a Technicolor tomorrow where equality reigns and we encourage and celebrate diversity of all flavors. Moms respect dads. Dads respect moms. Let’s start with that! And parents respect childless couples. And childless individuals. And childless by choice respect parents. And all of us embrace and support those who wanted to be parents but couldn’t. We might even discover that it is pretty fascinating to hear each other’s stories about why we are the way we are, to listen without judging or sneering or condescending or belittling. Sounds great, right?

To all women with children who unfairly judge those of us who have decided not to follow in your motherhood footsteps, I say, “accept every woman for who she is. Respect the decisions she has made for herself. Just because her choices are not the same as yours is no reason to criticize or belittle. She is not any less a woman than you are because she chose not to have children. Women need to support one another and to encourage one another to be who and what we each want to be.” (Flurt!)

Transform Childless Taboo into Folklore

In truth, it is “boring old men” and myopic mothers who perpetuate the breed-or-bust stereotype for women. But it’s also true that many of us in the childless by choice camp perpetuate “breeder” stereotypes that offend parents. Sometimes it is unintentional. Sometimes not. Often we are just as guilty of judging and sneering and condescending and belittling. Perhaps it’s a defensive mechanism or a way to vent after absorbing yet another breeder bingo. But it is not helpful. And it too reinforces the divide between parents and childless couples.

Let’s stop. We can. I challenge us to transform childless women taboos into folklore. Trite, amusing folklore. Yes, we can.

Can’t we?

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Photo Essay?: Childfree Celebrities

Celebrities

Celebrities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you recognize these faces? Can you tell who’s missing, based on previous Why No Kids stories about childless or child-free celebrities? Are there any celebrities without kids missing? Do you recognize anyone who has recently had a baby?

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Dr. Seuss: “Celebrity No Kids” Funny Follow Up

Cover of "Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read ...

Cover via Amazon

WNK readers were amazed to learn that the guy who wrote the most notable kid’s books of all time, Dr. Seuss, never had kids of his own.

We recently stumbled upon a funny blog post from our friends at “I Kid You Not” waxing in Seussian rhyme about the argument to be or not to be child free:

(From www.choosingkidfree.wordpress.com)

“Except in this version, Sam-I-Am is a chick named Mindy Sue who believes everyone should procreate and green eggs and ham are the little buggers themselves.

I’m Mindy Sue.

That Mindy Sue.
That Mindy Sue.
I do not like that Mindy Sue.

Don’t you want a kid or two?

I do not want one, Mindy Sue.
I do not want a kid or two.

Do you want one in a year?

I do not want one in a year.
I’d rather shove glass up my rear.
I’m happy being childfree.
Now take a hike and let me be.

But don’t you like kids when you fly
Even though they scream and cry?

I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Don’t you like them where you eat?
Don’t you think they’re cute and sweet?

Not where I eat.
Not at the beach.
Not at the park.
Not on an ark.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Do you like them at the store?
I’m sure you would if they were yours.

I do not like them at the store.
I don’t want kids.
But wait! There’s more:
I do not like them where I eat.
I do not like them at the beach.
I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE.

But every little girl and boy
Is a precious gift, a joy!

Holy balls, give me a break
I just don’t think kids are so great.
I like to fly and eat in peace.
Now please go take a flying leap.

  • http://whynokids.com/uncategorized/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://americanvision.org/975/dr-seuss-had-no-children-of-his-own/

Celebrities Who Don’t Want Kids – Marie Claire

This story from Marie Claire spotlights a long list of quotable childfree celebrities, including, Jennifer AnistonCameron Diaz, Winona RyderEva Mendes, Jessica Biel, Rupert Everett, Helen Mirren, Taylor Hackford, George Clooney, Margaret Cho, Jacqueline Bisset, Janeane Garofalo, Jay Leno, Kim Cattrall, Kylie Minogue, Lara Flynn Boyle, Lily Tomlin, Oprah Winfrey, Renée Zellweger, Ricky Gervais, Robbie Williams, and Rachael Ray.

It came out last year and the list is just dated enough to also include Beyonce And Jay-Z; but it is worth revisiting. If not because people are googling “childfree celebrities” and finding “Why No Kids?” daily, then because we are nearing year end and the anniversary of this story, “2010: The year childfree went mainstream (thanks, Oprah!)”, which also has some good videos and lists and links.

Here are a few select  quotes from the Marie Claire piece to temporarily quench your curiosity:

Cameron Diaz: “Having children changes your life drastically, and I really love my life,” she has said. “Children aren’t the only things that bring you gratification and happiness, and it’s easier to give life than to give love, so I don’t know. That kind of change would have to be either very well thought out, or a total mistake — a real oops!”

Eva Mendes: “I don’t wanna have kids … I love the little suckers; they’re so cute. But I love sleep so much, and I worry about everything,” adding, “I feel like the institution of marriage is a very archaic kinda thing. I don’t think it fits in my world today.”

George Clooney: “Even one kid running around my villa makes me nervous, so I’m definitely not a candidate for father of the year! If I need to surround myself with children and feel like I have this big extended family, I can always call Brad and Angie and ask them to stay with me, just to remind me why I’m so happy without.”

Margaret Cho: “I do not want children. When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct. I am barren. I ovulate sand … I look at children and feel no pull toward them, no desire whatsoever. Actually, my fiancé and I have seen some very interesting personal ads of 50-year-olds that like to wear diapers. So we’re thinking of adopting one of these guys. A baby by choice.”

Kim Cattrall: “I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood. Being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience this time around.”

Renée Zellweger : “Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that,”

Robbie Williams: “I don’t believe that to be fulfilled you have to have kids. What’s the point? I can’t guarantee my child won’t suffer pain because that kid’s going to be in pain at some point in their life. I don’t want to see that. It’s too much.”

Read more: Celebrities Without Children – Celebrities Who Don’t Want Kids – Marie Claire.

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George Clooney not interested in kids

According to Canadian news and George Clooney, he does not intend to make any good looking babies because he is dedicated to movie making or

George Clooney

Image by manfrys via Flickr

something. But who cares? Let’s focus on the real newsy part of this news story:

George also revealed he has no plans to dye his greying hair and is embracing it instead.

How’s that for shattering taboos and expressing one’s (actorly) individuality? We get it George. You’re intelligent and independent and won’t sell photos of your beautiful offspring because you don’t give a shit about what Hollywood or the Celebrity ‘zines think; but grey hair…? Seriously? What’s next, no more teeth whitening?

Okay. Clooney is a good talker and is committed to being childfree and child-proofing his house in Italy would destroy its architectural integrity and… grey hair. The man seems to know what he wants.

“I’ve always known fatherhood wasn’t for me. Raising kids is a huge commitment and has to be your top priority. For me, that priority is my work. That’s why I’ll never get married again.”

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Ten Celebrities Give Their Reasons For Being Childless By Choice

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

Here’s a good piece of celebrity eye candy coupled with some intriguing answers from some that are childfree: Ten Celebrities Give Their Reasons For Being Childless By Choice | Mommyish.

We promise to post some more celebrity and childfree intrigue soon. Some of these things are old news, but never dated, and still an interesting reads or resources maybe…

From Mommyish:

Celebrity reproduction is a huge industry. With websites devoted to Hollywood pregnancy and starlet offspring, celebs are constantly pressured to explain their choices about having children. We here at Mommyish feel pretty sympathetic towards these celebrities, because hey, awkward questions suck! Unfortunately, actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz seem to be regularly harassed about the contents of their uterus and just when they’re going to procreate.

The slideshow and quotes are worth examining. Here are a few highlights:

Simon Cowell:

“At my age, definitely. The reality is, with the way I live my life, I wouldn’t have the patience. I’d sort of want people born at the age of 10, I think.”

Fergie:

“I don’ t want anything clouding my focus.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30:  Actress Portia d...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“We thought about it. We love to be around children after they’ve been fed and bathed. But we ultimately decided that we don’ t want children of our own. There is far too much glass in our house.”

“I love the little suckers; they’re so cute but I love sleep so much and I worry about everything.”
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No Kids for Kim Kardashian?

With her mulitmillion dollar wedding and now, after only 72 days, her impending divorce in the news, Kim Kardashian, 31, is rethinking her fairy tale dreams.

She famously stated that she would have four children before she was 35, but her more recent comments on having children is a complete 180:

“At first I was like, I want six kids. Then I went down to four, then I was down to three, and now I’m like, maybe I won’t have any,” she says glumly. “Maybe I’ll just be a good aunt…at this moment in my life, I feel like maybe I’m not supposed to have kids and all that,” Kim says in a December 6 Glamour Magazine article (source Us Magazine)

The self proclaimed hopeless romantic plans to be a little more realistic in the future.

Perhaps, Kim, you should consider the idea of not having kids as genuine option and discover that being child-free can also be a happy ending.

English: Kim Kardashian Fragrance Launch, Glen...

Image via Wikipedia

2 Videos: Childfree Chelsea Handler

For those of you that saw our previous FB post of childfree Chelsea Handler and asked for more, we borrowed this one from Alvaro and our friends on “Happily Childfree“.

Ms. Handler is one of the few female comics (that I know of) with the balls to twist her own taboo baby bashing into thought provoking and funny. Louis C.K.’s “Kids Suck” rants are touching and funny and Aziz Ansari’s take is hilarious too, but the first is a parent and neither would seem to risk the wrath of mommies like a female comic does when she says

“I could have been a mother too okay, three times, but I made the right decisions.”

What do you think? Do you have examples of other women doing this kind of comedy?

Here’s Chelsea Handler’s interview that we posted on Facebook in May:

I’m not sure if the interview occurred before or after the Laugh Factory routine.

1) Video: Aziz Ansari Is Afraid of Babies

2) Kids Suck?: Deadpan and Deadspin Daddies are FUNNY

3) Video: Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children

4) Video Vasectomy Shocker: A Survivor’s Tale of Survival

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“Pregnant Women Are Smug”(?)

And “Garfunkel & Oates” are cute. Who knew? They can carry a tune and smile and condescend at the same time. And while their song is topical in a way that kinda fits them on our page, I am already making apologies, starting with my friend Sarah, who is not smug at all lately. Thanks to Rochelle for posting this on Happily Childfree.

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Video: Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children

Amy Poehler 2011 Shankbone 3
Image by david_shankbone

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO of Amy Poehler’s Tip For Traveling With Children.

SNL alum and Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler has an effective strategy for traveling with babies. DRINK! This one is from a direct post to our “Why no Kids?” Facebook page, where you can find more compelling clips and stories that have not (yet) appeared in the Blog.

Poehler’s P&R co-star Asiz Ansari also chimed in about his own baby strategies earlier this week. And check WNK archives for comedy clips and print from the likes of Louis C.K., Jason Jones and Drew Magary.

 

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