September 23, 2019

Childfree Chicks

Childfree Chicks is a Facebook group set up by Tasmanian Tori Hodgman for “women who have ended up without kids” for various different reasons including:

  • childfree by choice (couples who decide not to procreate)
  • childfree by mistake (couples wait until its too late to procreate)
  • childfree by biology (baby making bits and pieces compromised, etc.)

The popular group is open to “blokes” as well as chicks, and it provides a place to connect with other childfree couples. It’s absent the vitriol and activism often present in other childfree forums and childfree blogs, offering a refreshing place to share stories among kindred spirits.

In a family-oriented community like Tasmania, not having kids can present social, emotional and professional challenges. Tori Hodgman and friends founded Child Free Chicks, a Facebook that has over 300 members, including some passionate blokes. Here’s what she had to say… (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Despite the fact that Childfree Chicks welcomes men, the catchy-if-somewhat-risque name of the group highlights the fact that so much of childfree discourse is woman-centric. Undoubtedly this is due to the disproportionate bias against childfree women, but I’m curious to understand why this imbalance exists. Men often flaunt their childfree status as a badge of honor, but women are frequently derided. It’s as if society expects women to procreate, but willingly allows men to shirk responsibility.

The decision to have a child with a romantic partner isn’t one most adults take lightly. There’s usually quite a bit of discussion involved, and generally both parties have to be into the idea of procreating before they try to conceive together. However, a Daily Mail article published this week suggests that in many cases, one partner — the driven career woman, specifically — is making the decision for both people involved, and she’s deciding to deprive her husband of the joy of fatherhood. (Huffington Post)

Perhaps this disproportionate emphasis on women’s responsibility to procreate is echoed in the disproportionate numbers of single mothers versus single fathers. Now that I’ve wandered well into wild generalization, it’s worth noting… No, I’d better rein it in. Another time, perhaps.

If you compare the terms “childfree chick” and “childfree bloke”, the former sounds vaguely derogatory or dismissive and the latter sounds practically complimentary. Or at least lighthearted.

Just because a woman has a womb, doesn’t mean she should have to use it. That is the opinion of former Waikato University masters student Theresa Riley… who interviewed 10 childfree couples in the course of her year-long research, said people did not have to justify the decision to have children, but couples who chose not to have children often faced cruel judgment for their decision. (Stuff.co.nz)

I agree with Ms. Riley that women’s biological endowments shouldn’t obligate them to procreate, and yet I’m becoming increasingly conscious that society’s expectations and behaviors don’t always agree.

 

From Birth Rates to DINK Perks

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Bill og Melinda Gates unde...

Bill and Melinda Gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you haven’t been active on the Why No Kids? Facebook page lately, then you’ve missed out on some good childfree reads. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s the recent hit parade:

  • Melinda Gates’ New Crusade: Investing Billions in Women’s Health “[Melinda] Gates made a decision that’s likely to change lives all over the world… she has decided to make family planning her signature issue and primary public health a priority. ‘My goal is to get this back on the global agenda,’ she says.” (The Daily Beast)
  • Teen Birth Rate Hits Historic Lows “The teenage birth rate declined 9 percent between 2009 and 2010, hitting an all-time low, according to new data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.” (US News and World Report)
  • Growing Number of Women Want to Become Moms to Get Out of Work Apparently pregnancy is looking more and more appealing to British woman, who, according to a new survey, are more likely to want to get pregnant these days so they can score the 52 weeks of maternity leave that is standard in England. Yes, you read that right: Women want to have babies to avoid working for a year. (Glamour)
  • Procreation vs. Overpopulation “In ‘Fruits of Philosophy,’ Knowlton took up the subject of sex… Knowlton was worried about the hazards of fertility… Unlike Malthus, who saw no remedy except plague or abstinence, Knowlton believed that a more agreeable solution was at hand. What he called the “reproductive instinct” need not actually lead to reproduction.” (The New Yorker)
  • Why I Love Being A DINK Although this article trots out rather inane seed answers to to the following question, we know that you can do better! Why do you love being in a dual income no kids relationship? (Business Insider)

Thanks WNKers for your reading recommendations. Please keep them coming!

Childfree Women Lack Humanity

Childless women lack an essential humanity. (Miriam Schaer)“Childless women lack an essential humanity.”

Embroidered across the front of a delicate white toddler’s dress in scarlet letters, this searing slander offers a 21st century modern twist on the proverbial “scarlet letter”. Miriam Schaer a multimedia artist and teacher (Columbia College, Chicago), directs her creative wizardry on childfree women in her online installation for the International Museum of Women‘s MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe.

New York artist, Miriam Schaer, has created a series of almost disturbing pieces about the perceived value of a woman who chooses not to reproduce… I think you’ll find Schaer’s toddler dresses embroidered with expressions of both confusion and disdain, hurled at women who choose not to have children, both unsettling and thought-provoking. (Strollerderby)

Almost disturbing? I’d suggest that these images are disturbing.

But they also are provocative in their simplicity and their “scarlet letter” resonance. No audio guide is needed to engage the viewer or to invite reflection. These quotations are familiar to the childfree, and they drip with prejudice and downright hostility. But rather than hurt or defensiveness, they trigger a more profound (and more important) question: Why? Why are childfree women threatening? Why do childfree women lack humanity? Why do childfree women meet with intolerance?

Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, addresses the question of why the existence of women who choose maternal independence over child-rearing angers or offends so many people and institutions. The work presented here is part of a continuing exploration of our culture’s pejorative views about women without kids. For Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, I hand-embroidered representative negative comments on baby dresses using red thread to create scarlet letters. Gathered from interviews with childless women, online research, and personal experience, the statements taunt and accuse, and are typical of an endless flow of critical statements that seem to be growing bolder even as non-traditional families are gaining greater acceptance. (Miriam Schaer)

Each image vibrates with smug intolerance, but collectively the images tell a different if somewhat elusive story.

I detect a theme of fragility, of an almost desperate attempt to denigrate and disempower women who have not chosen to be mothers. I detect fear, fragility, urgency, desperation and intolerance. I detect an unquestioning, un-curious, bullying theme. And why? I suspect it is because childfree women are actually gaining respect and acceptance.

Prejudice increases in proportion to the perceived threat, and the perception that more women are choosing not to have children threatens the beliefs and biases of many. In short, the prejudice is a barometer of the increasingly mainstream conversation about a woman’s reproductive freedom. Childfree women are increasingly visible, respected and vocal, so it is inevitable that their detractors will grow louder, angrier. But underlying these images of intolerance is a message of hope, a message of tolerance and perhaps even growing acceptance.

Do you share my optimism? What is your reaction to Miriam Schaer’s images?

Child Photo Christmas Cards

American card, circa 1940

You're darned tootin' (Image via Wikipedia)

Are we all getting an abundance of holiday cards right now?  Are many of those cards pictures of our friends’ very cute children?  We must admit that they are, oftentimes, very sweet photos, but is anyone else but me wondering why more parents don’t put their own images in their cards?  Admittedly, kids photograph much better than the rest of the aging population, but it seems to me that cards with pictures only of the children sends a negative message.  It negates the importance of the parents, like they are non entities.

It’s obviously harder to find photos we like of ourselves as we age but do we need to look like models to our friends?  It is interesting to see how the children grow and resemble their parents in different ways each year but I like to see photos of my far away friends, not just their children.  Even grandparents seem to be sending pictures only of their grandchildren these days.  Of course they are proud, but they should have more to show for themselves in their golden years than the offspring of their offspring.

News of my friends also seems to be vanishing in their letter updates.  So much verbosity is wasted on the excruciating minutia of their children’s lives that little or no room seems to remain for me to learn of the parent’s lives.  Okay, so little Bob likes soccer and his sister is excelling in ballet.  Enough, that’s all I need to know of them.  Are their parents still at their same jobs, traveling, or still  skiing avidly?  Are they happy?  Hard to know.

Parents:  We do enjoy pictures of your kids.  Even when they are in their awkward stage we still like to see them because they are products of you, our cherished friends.  But, really how are you?  What do you look like? What rocked your world this year (other than something your kids did)?  By the way, the picture of your baby with food all over his face – so adorable to you – not  so well translated into a holiday card.

Doomed Parenting

Cover of Parenting

Image via Wikipedia

Ah-ha! My suspicions all along…

A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while  overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood… [and] anything between those two extremes is equally damaging…” (The Onion)

And this doesn’t even take into consideration the inevitable unhappiness of the parents! 😉

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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Shake your Babymaker – Virtual Babies!

Okay I’ll admit it I don’t want kids, but I still have imaginary baby names in my head and I’m curious about what my baby would look like. Just not curious enough to find out for real. For the other childfree and curious there is a place for us, or rather several websites that will take pictures of you and your significant other and mix the virtual, visual DNA to create, TA-DA – a baby!

Luxland Babymaker has the tagline, What will your baby look like? And promises that it’s not like the other sites because it can see the future:

Have a lust for someone? Eager to see what your baby will look like? No need to wait nine months to see your baby’s face — BabyMaker will accurately produce a picture of your baby. Satisfy your curiosity and peek into the future!

There are even baby maker apps and celebrity baby maker sites in case you want to see what your baby would look like if Ashton Kutcher is the baby daddy. I hear he’s available!

I tried Makemebabies.comwith mixed results below:

It is very entertaining if you want to laugh some milk right out of your nose. Amazingly my baby looks just like the baby on the ad and nothing like me or my mate. Baby G even has blue eyes and blond hair which is genetically impossible! This is kind of addictive and I can totally see why the Duggar family is eagerly expecting their 20th real child. It’s fun to make babies! But I will stick to virtual kids.

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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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Fast Forward

fast type

Image by mightymoss via Flickr

Wednesday already? I keep bumping the fast forward button!

Seems like only yesterday Susan, Amy, Brian and I were bumping along the highway from Costa Rica‘s Papagayo Peninsula to Lake Arenal psyching each other up for windsurfing with crocodiles, slurping up coconut milk from roadside vendors, and brainstorming a blog about our childfree lifestyle choices. Fast forward and we’re entering our 9th month and 107th post. Wow!

Thank you for making it possible. Thank you for reading our posts, commenting, sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and submitting guest posts. You continue to inspire us, and we’re enjoying every minute of it. Even when I bump the fast forward button…

While everything’s zipping past in a blur, there are a couple of quick snippets I want to showcase, sort of a “Wednesday WNK Digest”. First up, Brian nailed it in a recent post about how taboo a topic the childfree choice remains. Though he focused largely on celebs (a category that I’m thoroughly unqualified to address), the following excerpt about gender distinctions is oh-so-spot-on:

when a mother DOES speak out against mothering… she’s entering taboo territory, a place where people overreact and use the word “crazy”… Because these are words that mothers aren’t allowed to speak. “Don’t have kids” or “I wish I didn’t have kids” are somehow heard as “I wish they weren’t alive” or “I hate children”. It seems… From where I stand, men are given much more room.. to vent, admit, complain or translate their desire for silence and freedom and fresh air into advice or comedy… Mothers seem to police themselves, vigilantly. (Celebrities, WiNKs, Taboos and The Childfree Apology)

Another highlight? The clever crew over at The Onion nailed it with ‘This Is The Happiest Day Of My Life,’ Lies Man Holding Baby. Just to tickle your childfree fancy:

Looking out at a sea of expectant faces, new father Dan Rudloff commemorated the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, by holding the small, vulnerable child in his arms and blurting out a series of lies and half-truths about how happy he was at that moment.

“Oh my God,” said Rudloff, staring down at the squalling, vernix-covered infant who will depend on him for everything from eating, to bathing, to keeping her head upright. “She’s beautiful.”

Realizing he was now forever tethered to this utterly helpless new life… Rudloff rattled off a series of patently false pleasantries about being overjoyed with his new baby girl. (The Onion)

For overly sensitive readers who sometimes miss humor, farce and send-ups, this is funny. Not snarky. Or cynical. Okay, maybe it’s all three!

Onward. Julie, The Hiking Humanist, took a protracted and reflective look at the term, childfree, in a recent post that’s worth passing along. She explains why the word is necessary descriptor to distinguish those who choose not to have children from those who are unable to have children.

We don’t want to be encouraged to have kids, or pitied for not having them, or seen as lonely or sad, or as selfish and hateful. The word we identify with exists to legitimize our choice, and to be a word for the lifestyle that we’re keen to talk about among ourselves and encourage acceptance of in the public sphere… This word is “childfree.” The word differentiates us from the childless, and from parents. More importantly, the word communicates that the absence of children is a positive thing for us, something we’re happy about and do not wish to be pitied for. (Defending The Word “Childfree”)

Julie’s a little huffy, but many of us have been at one point or another when slighted bingo’ed one time too many.

As a follow-up to Amy’s recent post on “Childfree Getaways” and my post on “Childfree Dining Tips“, I’d like to pass along a few childfree travel suggestions from Child Free Nation:

Here are a couple quick tips for avoiding the diaper set during your getaway:

  • Spring for Luxury
  • Consider a Private Resort
  • Enjoy a Bed and Breakfast
  • Read the Reviews

(Seven Tips for Child Free Travel)

That catches me up a little bit… Of course, I’m liable to bump the fast forward button again before long. Sorry!