There was a time once when you couldn’t criticize anything George W. Bush, or is criminal comrades did, for fear of being accused of being “unpatriotic.” See, the Republicans have been terrifyingly successful at branding themselves as “patriotic” even as they lied to the American public, started pointless wars, and stomped all over the Constitution. What they were doing was not at all patriotic, but they declared it so.
As a feminist, it bothers me quite a deal when people mischaracterize feminism. Anti-feminist do this quite a deal, blaming everything they can on feminism no matter how absurd. But what is worse, I think, is when people who call themselves feminist attempt to misappropriate feminism for their own agenda. Feminism means gender equality. It does NOT mean that women (or mothers, specifically) deserve special privilege. Some people who advocate for such a thing do so under the guise of feminism, apparently not knowing or caring about what that term actually means.
I could list off countless examples of this, but what is really getting to me lately is the way self-proclaimed feminists have reacted to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s support of work policies that do NOT treat mothers as special beings. Mayer herself does not call herself a feminist, even though she very likely actually is by definition. It’s just as well, since people who do call themselves feminists but actually are natalism-worshippers out for special treatment now accuse her of being un-feminist.
Here’s the thing, moms don’t deserve paid leave, flexible hours, or work-from-home privileges any more than anyone else. They just don’t. They may WANT those things and find it advantageous to have those things, but that doesn’t mean that they are owed such special treatment. I might find it advantageous to be given 1 million dollars for nothing, but that doesn’t mean that I actually deserve it or that anyone is un-feminist to anyone who does give it to me. Bring your kids to work? Unless it’s a daycare, NO! Be responsible and get a sitter!
Maternity leave? Save your vacation time and save your money, just like anyone else who takes time off. Nine months is plenty of time to prepare and plan. If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t be reproducing anyway.
Flexible hours? Work from home? Yeah, everyone (except the employers who would likely suffer from the decline in productivity,) would like that, but it’s not always practical and no one deserves it more than anyone else, not by virtue of being a woman or a mother.
“But it’s haaard to be a mom and work!” No kidding. It would also be hard to hold a regular job while also running a farm or doing anything else that consumes a lot of time. PLAN ACCORDINGLY AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES, LIKE REAL ADULTS!
Contrary to popular belief, employers are not babysitters for grown-ups. You have to be responsible for your own “work-life balance.” The business is paying you to WORK, not to have a personal life. Set your own goals and priorities and be aware that they are not always fully compatible and CHOOSE RESPONSIBLY!
Special treatment for moms just for being moms is NOT feminist. In fact, fear of lost money and productivity by catering to every absurd fake-feminist, natalism-worshipping demand HURTS WOMEN. Employers sometimes find themselves reluctant to hire women of reproductive age for fear they’ll turn entitle-mommy and completely screw them over. I seem to recall this very risk being one of the arguments against the feminist push to normalize women being allowed in the workplace. I really wish interviewers were allowed to ask about a female applicant’s reproductive plans, but they don’t seem to have that legal ability.
So thanks, fake-feminist natalism-worshippers. Your attempts to garner special treatment for certain women for their lifestyle choices is creating a huge step backwards for gender-equality, real feminism.
My dream skipped pregnancy. It skipped how it progressed, how I dealt with it, and how it could have even happened in the first place. My dream also skipped the violence of birth, which I am thankful for. In my dream, I was already a mother. My boy was already here with me, in my arms.
In my dream, I was seated, on a city bus, of all things. I haven’t had to ride one of those in years. I hate them. And I love my sports car. The seat beside me was conspicuously absent. My boyfriend has always said he doesn’t want to be a father. Worst of all, I was also in my home-town, the place I grew up and where my parents still live. I had long ago grown out of this town and left it behind me as I started my own life. And now I was back.
These details alone pretty much told me everything that I needed to know about my living situation. It seems my life had been blown far off-course. I was alone, dependent upon my parents, and quite broke.
I sat there and lost myself in thought. What happened to my goals of perusing an education and bettering myself through learning? What happened to traveling and seeing the world? What happened to my future with the man I love? What happened to living the life I want? What happened to my freedom? What happened to my bright future? It was all gone. I’d apparently traded it all for motherhood, and I couldn’t imagine why.
How could this have happened? I never wanted to be a mother. I realized and announced this proudly from an early age and had never waivered. I had always been responsible with my birth control and my planning. I’d even recently had myself surgically sterilized. I even had a sound back-up plan in the improbable event of an accidental pregnancy – an immediate abortion. How is this even possible? How could I have let it come to this? What had I done?
What about my friends? What will they think? I’d been so adamant about not wanting kids, and prideful in my promotion of my childfree life. They’ll roll their eyes and never believe another thing I say. My elders who had always insisted I’d changed my mind would look at me smugly and say, “I told you so.” And what about my younger siblings? What kind of example am I setting for them, being so irresponsible and quitting on my goals?
I sat there, miserable and lost in despair. I hated myself. I hated everything. My life was over.
I felt something squirming against me. I looked down at my baby boy as I held him in my arms and he looked back at me. He looked like any baby, I guess. Small, pudgy features. I suppose he resembled my brother as a baby, with a pale face, blue eyes, and wispy tufts of blonde hair. He was quiet, not screaming at the top of his lungs as I imagine babies often do. And he didn’t smell either, requiring no diaper change. He just stared back up at me with those big, round, uncomprehending baby eyes. As far as babies go, this one wasn’t so bad, at that moment. It seems like, in my dream, babies were shown in the best possible light. Quiet. Un-demanding. Non-smelly. Content. Sweet. Innocent. It’s like he was the perfect child.
I remember what people used to say to me, when I was young and not yet sterilized and breeding was still an option. They’d make arguments which I called “bingos” because they were so cliché, I could fill out a Bingo game card with them. Arguments like: ”You say you don’t want kids now, but you’ll love them when they’re here,” and, “It’s different when it’s your own.” I gazed upon the child inexplicably in my arms and considered these words. The boy cooed and reached one clumsy, stubby arm up at me, trying to touch his mother’s face.
I pulled my head away from him, repelled. No, it wasn’t different. I still didn’t want him. At all. I felt absolutely no love for him. I didn’t even like him. In fact, I resented him for existing, even though I knew I had only myself to blame for that. He was just an uninteresting object to me, representing a burden I never wanted and thought I had long ago rejected. He was everything that went wrong in my life. I never wanted to be a mom. And in this dream, my nightmare, in which I had what seemed like the most unnaturally peaceful baby in the world, I still didn’t want to be a mother.
I signaled for the bus to stop at some random point along the route. I stood up, turned, and laid the baby back down on the bus seat. I left the baby behind, stepping off the bus and into the sunshine, a free woman. And I didn’t look back.
Then I woke up, glad it was over. I lifted my shirt and checked my tubal ligation scars. Still there. Still sterile. Still safe. People have insisted that childfree women secretly, perhaps subconsciously, desire children, despite our vocal insistence to the contrary. It seems my own subconscious disagrees. Relieved that the nightmare was over and would never and could never become reality, I resumed my rest and slept in late, as I often do. I was never awoken by a baby, real or imagined, ever again.
I’m very happy in my new home. I’m especially happy with my large yard. I’ve already picked a small patch for gardening, and may try to weasel my way to expanding the borders if I can get the BF to cooperate with my plans. As spring planting time is nearly upon me, I’m gathering all my supplies. Reclaimed wood, containers, seeds, and information.
As I’ve been researching for things to plant, I’ve found that some are being claimed to have special properties. For instance, I’ve often heard it claimed that marigolds repel aphids and that nasturtiums repel rabbits. Such a thing is incredibly useful to gardeners, if true. And even if it isn’t true, there’s no harm in pretty flower borders decorating the veggie patch, is there?
Still, I would look very silly if I said to someone who knew better that this magic flower over there kept pests at bay, only to have him turn around and tell me that it’s doing no more to ward of pests than it is to ward of tigers. Just because the pest isn’t around doesn’t mean my plant actually put up an effective force field. Why did I think it would? Because someone told me?
When I first heard claims of pest-control plants, I was eager to accept it as truth. After all, I heard it from gardeners, people who have been working the land longer than I’ve been alive so I’d think they know a thing or two. It would certainly benefit me if the claims were, indeed, accurate. But just wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so, nor does hearing it from a perceived authority. This is something I gave little though until I considered another kind of plant use claim, on that I doubt, that being medicinal plants.
I’ve always found the effects certain plants are said to have for humans very interesting. Some flowers and herbs, I am told, have medicinal properties and can cure things like headaches and stomach upset, can promote healing, or can help you lose weight. I’ve even heard such lofty claims as this or that plant can prevent or cure cancer.
Do some plants really have the medicinal effects claimed? Maybe. I mean, it’s known that some plants can have an effect on animals. I mean, as an example right off the top of my head, the effects (medicinal and otherwise) of cannabis on humans are well known. And if I’m not mistaken, the developers of pharmaceutical have been known to look to plants, on occasion, in the development of new drugs. Plants can affect people as more than just a source of nutrition, and sometimes do so in some pretty strange ways.
I’m not questioning whether or not plants can possibly have medicinal uses. It’s whether or not the specific plants claimed really work as claimed, and whether or not they are really more effective and safer than commercial drugs. I’m not one to just believe whatever I’m told. Not without proof.
Sadly, I’m finding research on the matter a bit difficult. Actual scientific studies on such matters are hard to come by, and definitive conclusions harder still. Meanwhile, there remain so many claims out there, and it seems like more are sprouting up all the time as the “alternative medicine” movement gains steam online. It is therefore difficult for me to determine which claims are true, or at least plausible, and which are just “alternative medicine” hogwash. Honestly, I’m inclined to doubt “alternative medicine.” I doubt that any plant is medicinal until I can verify that it is.
It would be nice if I could grow my own personal pharmacy. However, until I can find proof that the herbs and flowers I’ve been told can do this or that really do as advertized, I will have the lingering and uncomfortable suspicion that I’d just be doing the gardening equivalent of superstitiously throwing salt over my shoulder, getting, at best, a placebo effect.
This doubt in herbal medicine makes me also wonder about the pest-control claims of companion plants. These claims too would be nice if true, but are they really? I don’t know.
This feels like an odd post to write because I’ve basically proposed a problem and then didn’t follow with a solution, making this post seem somewhat incomplete. The truth is, as of right now, I don’t have an answer.
Dear Natalist World,
Guys, I need to rant. A friend of mine wrote a post on FaceBook complaining about something unrelated to my rant, but did so while making a comparison along the lines of: “If you were childfree, you wouldn’t tell an infertile person that you envy them.
I commented that yes, I actually would say that. Getting fixed wasn’t easy. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish. Society and the medical establishment at large like to throw up all kind of barriers to permanent sterilization (hell, even just temporary birth control. )I WISH I was naturally infertile. And I’m betting she wouldn’t have had a problem with infertile people have no problem saying that they envy the fertile (CF or not.)
Am I the only one who has no patience for infertility whining? These people aren’t martyrs or victims or anything of the sort. It’s not like anyone needs kids. I mean, what’s the worst real affect of not having kids? No macaroni pictures? Too much money to spend? OH, boo-fuckity-hoo. You know, if someone really wants kids, they could still adopt. What does that tell you if they won’t?
People like to get all dramatic and say that these people are “suffering.” No, no they’re fucking not. People which chronic pain are suffering. People who are starving are suffering. Not getting some petty want in NOT suffering. Who would say that I’m suffering because I can’t have a Ferrari? (at least transportation is actually a practical need.
The way I see it, anyone who bitches about being infertile has some serious growing up to do. They remind me of toddlers throwing tantrums in stores because mommy won’t buy cookies. Seriously, it’s more than just the infertility that I envy. It’s the ease of existence someone would have to have to complain about it. If not being able to breed is really all someone has to complain about in life, then I’d envy them for having no real problems.
And anyone who actually gives these people undeserved sympathy is feeding into the drama. You’re not helping. In fact, you’re making it worse. Stop feeling sorry for people who aren’t actually suffering and maybe they’ll stop feeling sorry for themselves and maybe even realize breeding is not actually as big a deal as our natalism-obsessed culture likes to pretend. Maybe if you stopped pretending that there was anything wrong with being infertile infertile people wouldn’t get so dramatic about it.
I would say this whether I was CF or not, but apparently, saying this while CF makes me the devil.
Juliewashere88′s note: This is a guest post by the wonderful and talented Rayne, writer of the blog Insufferable Intolerance, published here and here with permission from the original author.
For further reading on this topic, see JWH88′s post, Childfree = Selfish?
Childfree maybe selfish but at least we aren’t insecure
(Note: I’m Australian and write in British Standard English – there are less typo’s than you think).
I had a troll come onto my blog recently and post this gem:
“Don’t pretend you’re childfree for any other reason than selfishness. You want time for yourself. You want money for yourself. It’s all about you. I don’t care that you are childfree. It’s your choice. Just don’t pretend that it’s not about self-absorption. Also acting like your pets are the greatest is just as annoying as bragging parents.”
The age-old “Childfree people are selfish” line, the bane of the childfree individuals existence.
Over the years I’ve asked numerous parents exactly how are childfree people selfish? And to no-one’s surprise, they haven’t been able to give me an answer. So unfortunately I don’t have any insights into what the statement means to a parent when they throw it at us but I can give you an insight into what it means to a childfree person.
When a parent says “Childfree people are selfish” all I hear is “Parenthood made me selfless and self-sacrificing! I’m such a great person. That must mean childfree people are selfish because they don’t want to give up anything for anyone”.
I will concede and agreed, yes I am selfish – I don’t want to give up my lifestyle. My partner doesn’t want to give up her lifestyle for a half-formed dependent human being. Our purpose in life is to be happy with each other and to live our lives according to how we want. We don’t want to live according to the life script that others think that we should. Our happiness to us means saving money by not having to spend money on children, we can spend money on Playstation games, books, restaurants, books, holidays, clothing and books. We are able to sleep at night and go wherever, whenever we want. As a consequence of our rebellion against the life-script; we get individuals constantly attempting to police our lives.
So yes I am incredibly selfish but why parents attempt to use that as a weapon against the childfree is beyond me. Those same weapon wielding parents forget that being a parent is a choice; you chose to be a parent and live with the consequences of that – you don’t get to play the selfless martyr card. Remember you chose to A) not have an abortion and B) not to give the child away. You chose to put yourself in the position of sleepless nights, limited travel and debt.
Parenthood is as much of a choice as being childfree is. We’ve elected to not raise children meaning we’ve rejected the massive responsibility that comes with raising a completely dependent human to ensure its survival. While I concede and admit my decision has degree of selfishness (and disinterest in children), it also has a large degree of maturity attached to it. I don’t want the responsibility of a child so I’ve elected not to do something that would make me miserable and ultimately make the child miserable because I am miserable. Childfree take precautions not to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, we use birth control (or in my case lesbianism) and get vasectomies. We’ve thought a lot about our decisions and came to a conclusion. Yes we are selfish but it comes from a place of maturity, honesty and courage – honesty with ourselves and society at large and the courage to rebel against the imposed life-script and do what we want with our lives rather than living in the safety of a nuclear family where we will never be questioned. I would also argue that bringing a child into the world but not looking after it or using the child as a weapon in a custody battle or using it as a way to get things – is quite selfish on the part of the parent.
Thinking about it over the years, the best I can come up with is that the line “Childfree are selfish” is yet another vain attempt for parents to convince themselves that their decision was a good decision and that despite all the difficulties that childrearing brings – it’s still the greatest thing they’ve ever done. It’s nothing more than a validation tactic. Let me just say that if you need to justify your decisions that badly to reassure yourself that what you are doing is right – you probably didn’t make a good choice.
Numerous parents over the years have attempted to validate their life choices via the steaming pile of emotional blackmail that is the “Childfree are selfish, you don’t want to be selfish do you?” line and the fun breeder bingos we’ve all grown to loathe and despise. In my experience there are two types of parents – those who bingo and those who don’t when presented with your childfree status.
Those who bingo you (and bingo they will) seem to be quite insecure about their status as a parent. If they weren’t insecure about their choices – why would they need validation via bingoing and attempting to convince the world around them to make the choices they made? These types of parents don’t care whether being a parent would make you happy as long as you make the same choice they did. My favourite childfree anecdote is when I was attending university; I had this conversation with a pregnant friend of a sibling:
Them: So when are you going to have kids?
Me: I’m not.
Them: Why not? Don’t you like them?
Me: I don’t want them because I’m not interested in raising children.
Them: It’s all worth it in the end! It’ll be different once you have your own.
Me: That implies that either I need to get pregnant which I don’t plan on doing since I’m gay or fork out money to foster or adopt which I don’t want to do. Even if I did want them which I don’t, I’m a poor university student with no money and I’m not in a position to raise a child.
Them: You can just drop out of university and get government money
You heard it first here readers “You can just drop out of university and get government money” I can just drop my career plans in order to appease a random woman and validate her decision to keep an unplanned child. There’s nothing more that annoys me than someone attempting to police my life according to their thoughts as to what I should do with it. Whose life is it again?
On a side note: I really do hate when parents go “It’ll be different when you have your own”, this implies I need to acquire a child, which first implies I need to make the decision to acquire a child. The best I can come up for as an explanation to the above statement is that those who say this believe you’ll be acquiring a child without thinking about it or that a child will just suddenly appear in your life one day much like herpes (both never ever leave). This statement should be amended to “It’ll be different when you have your own when you have an unplanned pregnancy”, even then this statement is pointless because it implies that everyone who has an unplanned pregnancy needs or should keep the child.
Have these people never heard of adoption or abortion? I highly doubt it. The above statement implies that adoption or abortion as a valid choice never entered their minds because those types of people are so wrapped up in the life-script that they can’t see any other way.
And that is why child-freedom freaks them out.
About the authour: Rayne is a constantly hungry, bruise-prone atheist goth bibliophile living with a black cat with a fetish for eating iPhone cords if she’s left alone for too long. Rayne blogs on a variety of issues including atheism, religion, being childfree, gay & lesbian issues, feminism and general queerness while drinking peppermint tea and listening to metal. Rayne is Australian who writes in British Standard English who gets confused for an American who makes a lot more typo’s than she actually does.
Rayne currently has a few projects going on at her blog Insufferable Intolerance:
The Self Harm Experiences Project: Insufferable Intolerance is a looking for submissions from individuals who have had experiences relating to self-harm/self-injury/eating disorders/depression/anxiety/mental health issues.
The Atheist Coming Out Project: is looking for submissions from individuals who have come out or need help in coming out or coming to terms with losing faith, questioning their faith or having de-converted to atheism.
The Childfree Experiences Project: is looking for submissions from childfree by choice individuals about their experiences coming out childfree.
The Abortion Stories Collection: has been created to help combat stigma and decrease the taboo of a women’s right to choose to have an abortion.
The Queer Outreach Project: is looking for submissions from queer individuals whether they be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, pansexual, asexual, genderqueer to submit coming out stories.
The purposes of the projects (posted under pseudo-names if requested) is to create a network of stories and individuals for those who need to know that they aren’t alone and may be need some support in a safe environment.
Feel free to send you submissions to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org