It doesn’t matter how far we’ve come when it comes to women’s rights and equality. We’re consistently regressing when it comes to views on femininity. A woman’s biological susceptibility to bear children makes those who chose voluntary childlessness considered, well, not so great.
It also makes women who can’t conceive children a perceived anomaly in the greater context of womanhood.
But we know this. It isn’t something new.
Jennifer Aniston’s brazen statement on her maternal status is an example that women who stray from tradition constantly have to answer for their choice.
A woman’s uterus and what she choses to do with it is nobody’s concern but hers. Her choice to not have a child doesn’t mean that she dislikes babies, is power-hungry, or that she lacks an emotional quotient.
And, hey, if she hits all the checks on that list, so what? Why are women obliged to like children and somehow place their aspirations second to motherhood?
The number of women who choose not to have kids is increasing in many parts of the world. In 2014, nearly half (47.6 per cent) of American women between 15 and 44 surveyed in a census did not have children.
It’s time to change the rhetoric around motherhood. Women who choose to not have children aren’t selfish. They are selfless. It’s easy to follow the norm and do what’s expected. It takes courage, and true introspection to accept your truth.
The decision to have a child when you aren’t willing to give selflessly and endlessly and tirelessly is irresponsible. If more people were honest with themselves, there would be happier, more pronounced children in the world.
Giving birth doesn’t merit an award of excellence, especially if your eventual shot at parenting is less than stellar.
And there is nothing admirable about being a mediocre parent.
Ironically, much of the judgement that childless women face comes from women themselves. It almost points to a subliminal regression toward patriarchal norms, where women oblige to the ideas put forth before them. There’s a covert entitlement that dictates the way that females with children interact with those without.
Unfortunately, women who don’t have kids are outcasts, not rebels. It isn’t a choice that evokes admiration or acceptance. It’s a choice that invites assumptions.
At a time where political correctness and hypersensitivity tiptoe around major issues, we are barely considerate when it comes to women without children.
Yet childless men are unlikely to face the same levels of scrutiny as women. Men who don’t have children are perceived “silver foxes” with independent, exciting and ambitious lives.
Ironically, though, men who are fathers can often earn more in the workplace.
A study done by the Trades Union Congress found that working fathers get paid a fifth more than men without children in similar jobs. Full-time working fathers have a 21 per cent wage bonus.
The ability and choice to reproduce almost epitomizes what it means to be a real, complete woman – one who has fulfilled her “biological obligation” to procreate. A woman’s choice is not on display for your perusal. She doesn’t need you to buy into her decisions because they are none of your business.
To all the mothers – I respect you, but I shouldn’t have to celebrate you. This is not to demean or devalue you. But valuing motherhood begins with valuing womanhood, and the right to her choice.