Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Being Childfree in Australian politics

A couple of weeks ago some woman from America got all whingey with me on Twitter for using the word ‘childfree’. Apparently it’s not nice to use the word childfree, because it implies that we’re not burdened by something negative. I think we’re meant to carry on using the word childless, to reflect the gaping chasm left in our lives. Well I guess many childfree people definitely see their state as pretty liberated, but in addition this lass seemed totally incapable of understanding that maybe some of us also want to emphasise the positive nature of our choice in the face of tedious amounts of social disdain and disapproval. No, she insisted, it’s a free world (oh God, with a system as fucked up as theirs how do Americans cling onto this bizarre notion of total free will and meritocracy?) and no-one gets a hard time for making the choice not to have kids.

So, as if dropped in my lap to prove she’s talking bollocks, we have a comments from Mark Latham, former Labor (yes, they do spell it like that. Even more of a Yank colony than Britain) PM in Australia: “Anyone who chooses a life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.” He is, of course, referring to current Labor PM Julia Gillard. Husband beat me to blogging this here and I don’t have much to add, except Husband’s comment that Latham probably wouldn’t have said this if Gillard wasn’t female, because men are allowed to not want children, or at least it’s not a matter of note, whereas women who don’t are obviously unnatural and freakish. More on the Australian media and polity’s attitude to women and their childbearing status is in Natasha Stott Despoja’s article for the Adelaide Advertiser, here.

4 comments on “Being Childfree in Australian politics

  1. Dwight Towers
    February 8, 2011

    What a wise and progressive man your husband sounds like. How lucky you are to have him…

  2. Melissa
    February 8, 2011

    I am childFREE and quite happy about it. The woman who doesn’t like that label can kiss the fattest part of my ass because I will not use the term childless to describe me. :)

  3. Suzer
    February 20, 2011

    Ditto Melissa 100%

  4. presactly
    May 21, 2013

    Well, gee, I always thought we used the term childfree out of respect for those who want but can’t have (childless due to infertility or otherwise).

    And yes, because it is a positive choice, in the sense of an action taken rather than just going along with what’s expected.

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