I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Oh yes. Obviously. We are unnatural and strange human beings who must be motivated by self-centredness, immaturity and self-absorption. We cannot possibly have made considered decisions about the welfare of our putative offspring, our families and communities, or the wider world and environment. Whereas all those people who squeeze out babies because they ‘want someone who’ll love them unconditionally,’ or they have fantasies about living a celeb yummy-mummy existence one up from having a Chihuahua in a Marc Jacobs handbag, or as some kind of self-fulfillment project once yoga and meditation and Madonna-inspired Kabbalah haven’t worked, or to cement their faltering relationships (which then founder on the stress of having screaming infants around 24/7) are all unselfish and rational human beings. Absolutely.
Whilst it is wrong to label those women who choose to be childless, as selfish; it also lacks a certain amount of grace to label all mothers as love-seeking, relationship-shoring, environment-ruining superficial smug and spiritually empty.
Rather than pit woman against woman, is it not better to find common ground with other women, not denigrate their choices?
That’s interesting, KF: you assume that I’m only talking about women when I criticise the smugger end of the ‘breeder’ community. Actually, only one of my stereotypes (and I admit they’re stereotypes) is gender-specific. Dads are just as capable of being smug biological determinists about parenting, in some cases more so because they don’t go through the physical ups and downs of pregnancy and childbirth. Also, I don’t necessarily denigrate *all* other women’s choices, just those who *choose* to be elitist and patronising about their *choice* to breed. I’m politically interested in issues around motherhood and childbirth> I love my niece and god-daughter. I just get fucked off with some of the smug, patronising ways that some breeders present their choice as the only valid and meaningful one, and I found this cartoon an amusing illustration of that.
I am a feminist. I fully acknowledge that mothers have some disadvantages in society and that they face discrimination in certain arenas. But I don’t necessarily agree that I have anything in common with women occupying certain positions in the current public discourse around childrearing and motherhood, just because they are women. I believe that gender is one locus of oppression in society, but I believe it isn’t necessarily any more significant that other loci of oppression and discrimination – race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. I don’t *always* think I have interests in common with other women, though *often* I do. And women who choose to patronise me and my choices, and to portray theirs as inherently more fulfilling and meaningful (when I think they may well be helping to wreck the planet), piss me off. Excuse me for that.
Surely those women who portray their reproductive choices as the `only` valid and fulfilling path are just self obsessed, self aggrandising cretins? My choice to have children does not define me as a woman, or a human being.
I really enjoy reading your work, and perhaps would just seek to ask you the question, does your choice not to be a mother `define` who you are?
Isn`t the term `breeder` somewhat dehumanising? It is a term generally used for animals! Your language and idiom in this matter is full of loaded works and images. Mothers are not all idiots, or airheads touting their offspring like a chihuahua. Mothers are not all, or even generally trying to hang desperately onto `their` man with the tie of a child.
Denigrating the choice of women who mother does not make your choice more valid. Perhaps if the whole issue was seen less as a battle ground and one choice being more valid and worthy than the other, then both sides might get a lot from the discussion.
I would be interested in reading your proposed book about women who choose to be childfree, to read about a path I did not choose to take; to put my own choices as a woman, into perspective. Perhaps to get a glimpse of what might have been.
For what it is worth being a mother has fulfilled me on one level, but I remain convinced that I am not all I could have been as an individual because my time has been devoted to educating and caring for others.
Anyone mother who calls a childfree woman `selfish` has issues regarding the amount she is called on to put her own needs and desires last. That is not being `unselfish` it is voluntary martydom and not something to be put on a pedestal and idolised.
As for the issue with men being as much `smug breeders` as women, I cannot say I have really seen anything to prove that. Men are not invested in the whole pregnancy-birth-caring process as women. They cannot be, being at a remove from the whole process. Male full time carers are in a minority. Nobody wants to feel as if their life is meaningless, or inferior to another persons. The `my choice was better than your choice` dialogue helps nobody.
In the interests of mutual understanding, and helping young women comprehend the options they have open to them, I think your proposed work has a lot of potential and am looking forwards to reading it. I sincerely hope it is not marred by the loaded rhetoric of the childfree wanting the denigrate the choices made by those with children.
Apologies if I misread your intent as being mainly a diatribe against mothers. I saw the words `squeezing out`, comparisons to chihuahua toting airheads who are generally female, celeb `yummy mummies`, and `Marc Jacob handbags` lead me to believe you were talking about mothers, women, not men. The yoga and kabbalah could be either gender, of course…
Apologies for the rambling nature of my reply, Im trying to type with a small boy hanging from my skirt. There are advantages to being child free!
I used to know you a long time ago and have now and again come across your work, since you write about things I am interested in!
I did not think it right that I write on your blog and not `out` myself.
Congratulations on the marriage and all the marvelous work you have been doing. I am somewhat in awe of everything you have achieved.
I won`t bore you with details of my somewhat mundane existance.
I really am interested in the whole child-free vs mothering debate, and look forwards to reading your book. My efforts are spent trying to convince my daughter to have a career and a life, instead of children. I adore my two, but would not want the life I have for my daughter. I would love to read a book which shows women can have fulfilling and positive happy lives without being a mother, or necessarily a wife.
Right, Im going back to my quiet little exile out here in Tokyo and cease the nostalgia! You probably barely remember me!
Very best wishes
Calling women ‘breeders’ (if that is what they are) isn’t wrong. It is a term for animals and we ARE animals!
Still, some women are parents, they do their job properly, they discipline their kids (etc) but there are certainly more ‘breeders’ out there nowadays. Breeders are those that expect the rest of us to take care of their kids (because we are working in the cafe they are in, because we run the shop they are in, because we happen to be within a mile of where their child is getting itself into danger. Breeders are certainly rife nowadays and they think everyone is responsible for taking care of their child. Well, everyone but THEM!