The Choice To be Childless

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Yesterday Jennifer Aniston released an intelligent op-ed on why she is sick of people asking if, when and why isn’t she yet pregnant. The conjecture around the state of her eggs and if she plans to fertilise them is really none of our business, yet we are made to care, because it’s constantly in the media, which has become a place for inane bullshit to nest so we can avoid the real issues of life. If we see something enough, we end up caring because of repeated exposure. (E.g. The Kardashians and Gigi Hadid.)

Also, this week, Andrea Leadsom quit the Tory leadership in Britain, after her comments in which she suggested that being a mother gave her more of a stake in the future than Theresa May, who does not have children, were made public.

Why is it assumed that a woman is better at life because she’s a mother?

I know a woman, a smart woman, who once said to a friend of mine, that she wouldn’t understand real empathy and pain because she doesn’t have children. I also know women who are mothers, who are pretty bloody bad in their role, and their empathy to their children isn’t something that crosses their radar.  Being a mother doesn’t make them better at life.

A part of me believes that some (most) in society desires women to be mother’s so they can be controlled. The more freedom women have, the more they threaten men who hate them. The more babies they have, the less they will threaten males in the workplace, and start demanding equal pay and in some countries, a right to vote and drive.

Just because a woman chooses not to have a child doesn’t make her less able, or less compassionate. One of the most compassionate people I know chose not to have children, and instead uses her natural nurturing skills in her role as a doctor.

Am I more capable because I’m a mother? No, I don’t believe so. Years of my brain atrophying from reading Spot the Dog books nine times in a row, and sleepless nights when I could have been learning another language, or how to code JavaScript instead of getting through the day on endless cups of java, has dulled my edge somewhat.

Years ago, I heard someone announce they were pregnant again (fourth child). This was someone deeply artistic and yet lacking in confidence in her talent. My immediate thought was, there are other ways to create than to just make a baby. Of course,  I never said such a thing, but I believe her choice to have a baby was to avoid growing her talent or committing to work, and even responsibility in some ways because she was fed the myth that all women need to be mothers to be worth something in society.

The woman I know who chose not to have children are brave and wise, and immensely capable and compassionate. They are also tired of having to explain and defend why they made a very personal choice, or sometimes their body made the choice for them.

You have a right to have as many children as you want, and you have a right to have none. What we do not have a right to do, is assume a woman is better when she’s been planted with a man’s seed.

My capacity to love my kids is enormous, but I love my dog with the same intensity.  I do. Not going to lie about it. I also love my nieces and nephews the same way, and my friends, and partner and family, and  friend’s kids and so on. Love is love. Having kids doesn’t make me better, and people not having them doesn’t make them better. There is no better. There is only choices, and respect and love.

I will leave it to the great Claire Underwood to put the full stop on this opinion.

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