I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but something I’ve read recently brought this back to mind. Something like a year ago, I was on a pro-choice, feminist (there’s no such thing as an anti-choice feminist) blog. I forget why it came up, but I remember mentioning that I was planning on getting sterilized. It was then that I was reminded that not all pro-choice people actually are, but many are only pro-choice to the extent that it is still assumed that every woman will and must eventually have children at some point. For it was in a response to my comment where I received one of the weirdest bingos I’ve ever heard in my life. I have yet to be able to locate the post in question, my comment, or the comment of the bingoer. So, here I can only paraphrase what was said.
“You shouldn’t get sterilized. Maybe you don’t want kids, but what if one of your gay friends needs a surrogate?”
Even after all this time, I’m still just astounded by this particular bingo, and not because it’s sensible or convincing at all, far from it. Whereas other, more common bingos are stupid in predictable ways, this one takes a completely different, yet none-the-less ridiculous , approach to reducing me to a mere person-factory, rather than an actual person.
Well, this person first assumes that I have gay, male friends, which it just so happens that I do, not that this person would have had any way of knowing that. The following assumption is that my gay male friends would, first, want children, and, second, view their female friends as vending machine wombs for such a purpose. Not only am I expect to actually consider such a person as a friend at all, but I, as a woman, a friend to gay males, should agree that I am, indeed, a vending machine, and keep myself open for business just in case. The sexism on display is astounding, and especially so when coming from the keyboard of someone who claimed the title of “feminist” who, evidently, didn’t see the glaring problem with his/her words. That is just sad.
I am no stranger to vending-machine-type bingos. I remember that the first time I spoke with an OB/GYN about getting a tubal ligation, he made a point of asking about my partners. I write “partners” plural because he wanted to speak both about my actual boyfriend, as well as a hypothetical “Mr. Right” who could not have been my boyfriend. I was insulted that any man, real or imaginary, should even be considered at all when it came to my body. Yet, I was asked if I was married, then, when the answer was “no,” if I had a boyfriend, “yes.” “And how does he feel about this?” As it just so happened, by boyfriend doesn’t want children either, not that it matters, as it isn’t his decision what I do. Then the OB/GYN asked “What if you meet the right guy, and he wants kids?” As if someone who wanted kids could ever qualify as “the right guy” for me in the first place.
In these bingos, it’s always what he (whoever such a “he” might be) wants that matters most, and I’m a silly girl for not considering him first. The presumption was that what a man, any man, real or not, wants to do with my body is always more important to consider than what I want with my own body. Worse still, this argument is handed to me smugly, as if I really should agree with such a sexist denial and dismissal of my own autonomy. It’s bad enough when this bingo is offered with the man being a hypothetical partner of mine, but now I’m even expected by the bingo first mentioned to find even a hypothetical man who is only even a friend to have more right to my body than I have myself. As a woman, I am to view what I want for myself as less important than what any man wants to do with me, even in the case of men who aren’t even real.
What an awful, misogynistic world.
Edit: My boyfriend read and shared this post. When he and I discussed it, we talked about how to accompanied me to an appointment with another OB/GYN (not the one spoken about in this post.) He was expecting this doctor to ask him what he thought about me getting a tubal ligation. He supports my decision, but would have firmly told the doctor, had he been asked, that what I do is entirely my own business not his (my boyfriend’s.) Happily, this doctor never did asked and was the one who ultimately provided the tubal ligation procedure for me.
Last month, Theresa Cisneros of The Mom Blog asked her readers, Why are people choosing pets over kids? The post in which she asks the question seems to be in response to a survey conducted by human and pet supplement company called Flexcin International, Inc., which found that 54% of respondents admitted that pets were a better fit for their lives than human children would be, with only 46% claiming the opposite. I’m immediately inclined to be skeptical of the survey, until I can see the methods by which it was conducted. If it was polling people with pets, specifically the kind likely to care enough to give their kids supplements, I would think they’d be more likely to get a pet-friendly answer by such people than they would the general public.
But never-mind that, it doesn’t really much matter. What does matter, it the question posed by Cisneros’ post:
Readers, I’d like to hear what you think about this subject.
Tell Me: Have you ever considered (permanently) opting for pets over kids?
False dichotomy. You’ll never get a real answer until you ask the right question. I’m childfree and have one dog, but I did NOT choose pets over kids any more than I choose driving a sports car over being slapped in the face. That is, the two things have little to nothing to do with each other. Sure, I prefer one over the other, but that doesn’t mean that I chose one over the other.
I like dogs. Even if I had kids (which I never want) I’d still have dogs. Many people who do have kids also have pets. It’s not like people can only have one or the other. On the other hand, even if, for some reason, I had decided to never have pets, I still wouldn’t want kids. It’s not like I’m required to have either.
I like pets. They bring me a lot of joy and enrich my life. They’re a lot of work too, if the owner is responsible. If I had kids, it would likely negatively impact my ability to adequately care for my dog, as well as diminish that dog’s quality of life. It would be unfair to my dog to bring children into my family, which, again, I would never want to do anyway.
I don’t much care for children. Pets or no, children would be nothing but an unpleasant burden to me. I shudder to think of how much I would miss out on in life if I ever became a mother. Short visits from the children of my friends is about all that I can tolerate. It’s not that I “can’t handle” parenthood, it’s that it’s totally undesirable to me. There are lots of things that I could handle, if I had to, but would rather just avoid entirely. I can’t imagine wanting to ruin my life (and having kids would ruin my life,) and contribute to the continued destruction of our already overpopulated world, by breeding like some unneutered stray animal (overpopulation is not just a problem for cats and dogs!).
I chose to have something great for me. I chose not to have something horrible for me. But to say that I chose pets over kids is ridiculous
Getting sterilized isn’t easy, especially if you’re young and/or have no children. But it can be done, if you’re persistent. I got my tubal ligation at the age of 22, and with no kids.
- Be sure sterilization is what you want.If you’re anything less than 100% certain, don’t bother. For one thing, if you’re not totally convinced that sterilization is right for you, then you aren’t likely to be successful in convincing anybody else of this. Everything about you from your words to your body language needs to communicate with absolute confidence that you are done birthing kids or never want any at all.Another reason this certainty is important is because you do not want to be in that small (I stress, very small) minority who actually do regret their sterilization. Not only is that bad for you, personally, but your unrepresentative situation will be used against other men and women seeking the same procedure.
- Research your options.There are many sterilization options (for women/for men,) and it’s important to figure out which one will be best for you. It’s important too to know as much as possible about the procedure you choose, both from a medical perspective and from the perspective of the patient. You need to know what to expect, for your own comfort and peace of mind. It’s also helpful to be able to communicate clearly with your doctor, making sure your both speaking the same language, when it comes to your request for a certain procedure, and also to demonstrate to your doctor that you are knowledgeable about the procedure and understand exactly what you’re asking for.Don’t be suckered in by anti-sterilization scare-tactics. There are a number of unhelpful myths about sterilization procedures, and they’re easily debunked by honest and earnest research and understanding of the procedure. Don’t let medical myths perpetuated by the regretful minority dissuade you.
- Be prepared to stand up for what you want.You should never have to justify your actions, but a doctor will ask anyway. Be ready to give reasons, good ones, for your decision to be sterilized at that time. You should be able to go on and on all day about all the reasons you want to be sterilized, however small and ultimately inconsequential some of those reasons may actually be to you. If it helps, prepare a list.It’s also important to familiarize yourself with popular bingos, and be prepared to counter them. You do this not only to dominate the conversation, but also to demonstrate that you’ve given the matter a lot of though and are completely serious about it.
- Research doctors and hospitals/clinics.
Who even does sterilization procedures? You’ll be wasting your time if the doctor or hospital you go to doesn’t provide sterilization at all, or the particular procedure that you want.It’s also important to check reviews for doctors and hospitals/clinics, just as you would for any other medical care that you seek. You want to know that you’re in the hands of medical professionals that you can trust with your health.
- Know how you’ll be paying for the procedure.Cost varies by type, as well as other factors. How will you afford sterilization? Does your insurance cover it? Does the government? Can a non-profit organization assist you? Can you afford to pay out-of-pocket? If not, you may have to find a way to get insurance that covers the procedure, and/or set up a savings fund. You might even get creative, organizing a fund-raiser or accepting donations from charitable and supportive friends (think of the opposite of a baby-shower.)NOTE: Someone on FaceBook said that this list works well for civilians, but not necessarily military. That’s when I pointed out that I was active duty US Army at the time that I got my tubal. Yes, it’s more difficult for military, but it can be done. And, as it just so happens, TriCare pays for 100% of it.
- If you have one and he/she is supportive, bring your partner to the consultation.It will help you to have support, someone in your corner to lend encouragement and assistance. Additionally, bringing your partner will keep a hesitant doctor from bingos appealing to your partner’s hypothetical intentions (“What if you meet the right man/woman?”) Your doctor may be more convinced if you can demonstrate that you and your partner on the same page, not that you ever need anyone else’s permission to seek whatever medical care you want for yourself. Best off, now there are two people arguing for the procedure, and the doctor is out-numbered.
- Be polite.It’s easy to get angry and defensive if a doctor refuses to cooperate, this refusal often involving unintentional rudeness and condescension as well as sexism and ageism. But yelling at the doctor won’t get you anywhere, except ejected from the building. Be firm, but not hostile. You may still be able to convince this doctor yet. If not, you may be able to at least get a referral to another doctor who might be more helpful.
- Don’t back down.Don’t let a doctor, or anybody else, talk you out of sterilization, or convince you to delay your pursuit until you’ve met some arbitrary requirement like age or marriage or number of children. Don’t let a doctor talk you into other forms of birth control instead (I did take a deal to use an IUD for 6 months before my doctor would agree to give me a tubal, but that was a bargain to get a tubal, not something I accepted instead of a tubal.) You decided on sterilization, and you mean to get one. It’s your body, don’t let anyone tell you want you can and can’t do with it. It’s your mind. Don’t let anyone else make it for you.If your doctor refuses to help, don’t wait for him/her to come around. Find someone else.
- Remember that you’rethe boss.You aren’t seeing doctors to ask permission to be sterilized. You’ve already decided to be sterilized, a decision which is exclusively your own decision to make. You’re simply looking for doctors to hire for the job. With that attitude, no doctor can deny you sterilization, but simply refuse to take the job. It’s the doctor’s loss then. Take your business elsewhere.Keep the trail warm. Every time you’re told “no,” by a doctor, try to at least get a referral. Don’t be discouraged. For every time you’re turned down, you build a history of pursuit. It’s hard for new doctors you see to deny your certainty when they see appointment after appointment with previous doctors in quest for sterilization. Giving up certainly won’t help, as doctors won’t just come to you.
- Whenyou do eventually find the right doctor, celebrate!Revel in your impending infertility and all the benefits it will bring you. And rejoice that all the time and effort you spent on your hunt, all the arguments and aggravation, has finally paid off for you. And don’t let anyone rain on your parade. Don’t rain on it yourself with nervous worry. Everything will be fine.Have a plan for when the day comes. If you’ve researched the procedure, you know how it will affect you. You may miss work for a few days, or you may just have to sit on some ice for a day. Make sure that you’ve made arrangements for a ride home, if you’ll need one, as well as someone to help you out for a day or two, if needed. It might also be a good idea to have easy food and entertainment prepared at home if you need to spend a few low-key days recovering.
Update: Dr. Berger has assured me that he has nothing to do with the spam bots.
I recently checked my blog’s automatic spam filter. It seems a number of not spam comments were falsely flagged as such. They are now up. I apologize for the delay to those comment authors. But as I was checking my spam notices, I discovered something weird. I have a disproportionate amount of spam related to infertility, including IVF and tubal reversals, the latter of which specifically advertising one, Dr. Berger. Yeah, kind of barking up the entirely wrong bush on a childfree blog. What’s weird is a lot of these spam comments are on posts completely unrelated to my tubal ligation, or fertility, or childfreedom, or children. Weird! This was on my Sticky: WARNING! OPINIONS AHEAD! post. It contained no pictures and no mention of children. And yet:
Hi Julie,I found your blog via Wendy’s class. I’ll be in it also.Love your photos. Such an aalodbre little boy you have. You have so much good info on here. I’ll come back frequently to check it all out.-Carol
I’m not currently in any classes and I don’t know any Wendys. I’m no photographer, most of the pics on this site are from my phone or just taken from random sites. I certainly don’t have any children, let alone any boys. Imagi-Gary is not real. I can’t think of who she might be talking about, or what photo. WTF?! It gets weirder. This was on My Childfree Rules Re-Write: About Being Childfree. Anyone who read that would have no doubt about my childfree status, and yet this was posted, apparently to me (and not to anyone else.)
Congratulations on your beautiful bludne of joy and the relief of problems from your tubal ligation. I too have have so many problems of the same nature since my TL 13 yrs ago. I received my TR surgery on my birthday 4/28/2009 and turned 41. I did it due to having the same problems and to also be able to conceive again if possible. I am kind of skeptical due to my age, but I am very healthy otherwise. My husband was concerned due to my problems and is hoping I will be better than before. He is more excited now than he was before my TR surgery to be able to conceive. He is so anxious he can’t hardly wait for me to heal to try and conceive. We both have children from a previous marriage but none together. We believe it will be wonderful to have a child together and raise it together. Thank you for your encouragement.Annmarie M.Tennessee -Gina
My only “bundle of joy” would be my adorable dog, Molly. And I have had NO problems with my tubal ligation as “post tubal ligation syndrome” is likely not even real. I’m sure as hell not encouraging anyone to pollute this already horrendously overpopulated world with more children, especially when they already have some, and especially when their advanced age is likely to result in children with health problems, because such actions are selfish and stupid. On the note of not giving a crap about any Infertile-Myrtle’s non-problems of infertility, I got these two nonsense spam messages. Both of these were on Sterilized On World Population Day, which, as you might guess, was about how I finally triumphed in obtaining permanent sterilization, and just happened to do so on a day that serves to remind us of our growing overpopulation crisis.
I am so glad to see this post. I’m 45 yrs old and had my tubes tied (cauterized) 11 yrs ago after my third child was born. Same as Penni, the fertility cilnic I went to would not perform the reversal because of my age. IVF is apparently my only solution. I’ve gone through all the hormone test (FSH, sonohystogram, etc.) and I was told that there’s follicles we can work with.I have finally decided to go ahead with my original plan to have my tubes reversed. My current partner doesn’t have any children while I had 3 with my first marriage. I would really love to have another child and I hope that someday, I can have another one. I am planning my reversal for September of this year. -Austin
Weirdly, this comment was in response to Beth, who wrote:
Just wanted to say a very sincere thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences pre- and post-TL; honestly, several of your posts have been the most helpful things I’ve read so far. I’ve got a TL scheduled in a couple of days, and was doing a bunch of web surfing to try to make sure I have a thorough understanding of what it will be like and what (if anything) I need to worry about for afterward. I found it refreshing to read something that’s not borderline hysterical. -Beth
Yeah, I don’t think Beth and Austin are on the same page here. Here’s another comment on the same post, evidently posted to me.
What an inspiration to read your story. I will be 46 in Sept. Had my fsh tsteed and it came back 2.9! Thats when I really beleived maybe my eggs werent to old yet -like all the other websites statistics and Dr. tell us they are at our age! Like many of you I already have 4 wonderful boys 26-11 yrs old and my fiance has none. I am torn between invtro and TR. I also want to experience getting pregnant the natural way not through invitro. Thanks for posting your story of encouragement for all of us. Many blessings and prayers to all!! -Auth
Not only is this, again, a story bout a happily childfree person joyfully obtaining a tubal ligation, and doing so on World Population Day, but his is also the blog of a borderline anti-natalist and outspoken atheist. Ok, now I start getting ads for Dr. Berger tubal reversal. Oddly, they don’t even seem to be on the post where I dismiss “post tubal ligation syndrome,” as little more than a medical myth, according to current medical research. This was on Sterilized On World Population Day.
I just finished the first and prlobaby last IVF treatment that resulted in 45 shots over 10 days, surgical retrieval of eggs, only 2 fair to poor embryos that were transplanted, and a negative pregnancy test. I was told because of my age 45 that IVF was my only true hope of having another baby (I have 3 children already and my husband has 1 from a prior marriage). My husband is 12 years younger than me and we both want children together. After getting a phone call today from my doctor on the heels of the bad news, she doesn’t think I should try again because of my age. While devastated at this news, I am taking heart and hope from the testimonies on this page that all will be well for us. We will get pregnant the old fashioned way after a little help from Dr. Berger and his team. It certainly should be a heck of a lot more fun than what I just went through. -Miranda
IVF, it’s selfish, stupid, narcissistic, wasteful, and disgusting. I hope it fails every time. Stop breeding more people into this overpopulated world and adopt if you really must have kids. And stop wasting medical resources so your narcissistic asses can have your genetic replicants. This was posted to me on the post, Kids and Soldiers, which is about soldiers in my company, including myself, volunteering to help out in child-related activities. The comment below has nothing at all to do with the content of the post.
I just want to thank Dr. Berger and staff for helping my couisn Pamela and her husband to having a baby. She tried for the longest time after she had the surgery to have a baby and had 2 miscarrages(sp) and then she got pregnant with Baby Jesus (aka Porky as we call him) he is the sweetest lil baby. Pamela and Jesus are the loving parents of this beautiful baby boy. I speak for the whole family when i say THANK YOU for helping them get pregnant and having this miracle baby. We are greatful for what you done for this family. To all the women that want to have babies beileve in Dr. Berger and his staff at Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center they will help you in anyway possible to make a miracle come true for you!!THANK YOU GUY!!!! -Sachin
This next one was posted on A Kid Visited My Home. Nothing Broke. I’m Not Surprised, which is a diary post, which is mostly about how I actually don’t hate kids, and how the stupid advice given in various child-proofing articles is completely unnecessary when parents actually parent. So, again, the comment has nothing to do with the post.
Dr. Berger, I am a 28 years old woman hoping for anohter chance to have anohter baby. I have two boys and they are 14 and 11 years old. I had my tubes tied when my youngest was 5 years old Now I am with someone that doesn’t have any kids he loves my kids and is very good to them, but I would like for us to have our own .he is a good guy and at the beginning I was afraid to tell him about my tubes tied, but god helped me and I told him ..he was sad but then we found your website and we are very excited about meeting you and hoping you could help us !!!
I am not Dr. Berger. If it were up to me, none of these idiots would get reversals. If they can’t be bothered to think through decisions like permanent sterilization, then they aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with children anyway. Think through your actions, bitches! Worst of all, these thoughtless idiots make obtaining sterilization harder to obtain for people who actually are responsible enough to think their actions through very carefully. So thanks a fucking lot, assholes. As for infertility, get the fuck over it. It is not a tragedy, or anything anyone “suffers” from. No one needs children, especially not in an overpopulated world. If infertility is someone’s biggest complaint, I’d like to congratulate them on having no real problems in life. If you really want kids, adopt.
Wow, I never thought my post, My Childfree Rules, would be so popular! I got a lot of “hell yeahs”s and other praises, for sure. That was certainly nice to see. I also seemed to earn a lot of haters too, many of which didn’t seem to have any real point of contention that they cared to name, but were nonetheless still certain that I was wrong anyway. That was at least entertaining. And within only a few days of being published, the post even managed to be plagiarized! What a turn-out!
I’ve decided to re-write my original list. Partially to kill some time, I admit, but mostly just to do it better. The original list that I wrote was pretty much farted out, something I added to now and then whenever I had a few minutes of spare time between tasks, and then decided to publish more or less as-is. I liked it quite a lot, but it was really only meant for me so quite a few people didn’t really “get it.” Looking back, some portions seem to have been just ambiguous enough in some for people to manage to read things into what I wrote that simply aren’t actually there.
I’m not rescinding or watering down any of my original rules. You can compare this post to my earlier one to confirm this. Every single rule translates over and to an equivalent degree of certitude. I stand by my words.
The difference is that here, I’m writing more clearly and specifically, and going into more detail in some places. Additionally, I found that I had a few more rules to add that weren’t part of my original list. As such, this list is significantly longer, written out, and so I’ve decided it would be most prudent to divide the list into multiple posts, rather than one super-long, page-eating one.
So here they are again, with some additions:
About Being Childfree
1. My first rule is that I am certainly childfree, meaning that I choose to never have children.
Indeed, I will never have children either by my own body or by adoption. This is what it means to be childfree. I might temporarily take care of the children of others, if extreme circumstances call for it (I am a “god(less)mother,” after-all,) but I will never play the role of mother in any sense. I could only be, at most, baby-sitter.
I do not accept being told that I could still have kids, either by changing my mind or by becoming accidentally pregnant. I will not change my mind. Some people are able to make solid, informed decisions and stick to them. I count myself as one such person. Moreover, I do not accept that kids “just happen.” They don’t – there is always a choice. In the highly unlikely even of an unintentional pregnancy, I’ll have an intentional abortion. My life is controlled by myself, not by chance.
I’ve heard people complain that the term “childfree” is “loaded” or “aggressive.” I don’t think that it’s either, I simply think that it’s unambiguous, straightforward and unapologetic and serves to make a clear distinction between people who choose to never have children, and people who are childless in general who may or may not also be childfree.
The biggest argument against use of the word “childfree” is that it paints having children (parenting) as undesirable. This argument is 100% correct. Yes, having children/being a parent is undesirable for me. Yes, having children/being a parent are negative things to me. That’s exactly why the word “childfree” is such a perfect term. And when I speak about being childfree, I stress the suffix “free” because that’s exactly what I am – free of a childed life. It’s impossible for me to talk about my childfree life without also referencing the alternative.
3. And yes, the word “childfree,” when referring to a person (rather than a place like a restaurant that bans children, for example, which would be more accurately labeled “child-free,”) does mean a person who has chosen to never have children, and no one else.
Making this distinction between such people and the childless in general seems to be the reason that the word was coined in the first place decades ago. And so when a parent hears the word, can’t be bothered to know the real meaning, decides it sounds hip, and wrongly uses the word to describe themselves after dumping the kids, or themselves prior to having kids, I will correct them. Being childfree is not a temporary state, but a permanent one. A person can no more be “temporarily childfree” when away from the kids that they have had than they can be “temporarily a virgin” if they’ve had sex before but aren’t screwing away at the given moment. (And yes, I understand the virginity myth issue, but it’s not a topic I’m trying to explore here as I’m just trying to make an analogy.)
A parent is the opposite of childfree, and they will always be. A parent is a parent no matter where the kids are. (And really, it seems a sad commentary on their opinion of their own children if a parent would describe themselves with a label meant to refer specifically people who never want to have children.) So upon correction, a parent can then either throw a hissy fit, declaring me to be some kind of dictator who thinks that I “own” words (because obviously, one must own words to know what they mean,) or they can take correction like mature adults and benefit from the learning experience, and thereby be good examples to their children.
4. I won’t be shy about being childfree either.
I won’t make a point of being careful not to let the cat out of the bag. No matter what the situation, I am very openly childfree. I won’t necessarily offer such information to people out of the blue, but I won’t hide the fact either. I am not “in the closet.” I’m quite proud of my decision and I don’t give a dirty diaper what anyone thinks about it. So if the topic comes up, I will be straight-forward about my decision.
If an awkward situation follows my disclosure, it won’t be because I spoke up about being childfree, it will be because another person failed to accept that.
5. I will speak up about childfree topics where appropriate in conversation and here on my own blog.
Because there IS something to talk about. Being childfree is not simply an absence of children, but is a completely different lifestyle from that of an adult. There is A LOT to talk about, because there is a lot going on in my life that is affected by this particular decision. I will not be silenced as if only topics related to parenting deserve discussion. Additionally, the harassment and downright discrimination faced by childfree people simply for not having children needs to be pointed out and addressed.
It seems common for people to say that there is nothing to talk about when it comes to being childfree, as if any topic must involve children to be worth discussion. This is nonsense, obviously, as a non-parent’s life is no less valid a topic. Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why people who make a point of commenting on CF articles, saying “who cares if your childfree?” bother to read and comment at all if, indeed, they do not care?
6. I will not try to appease people by appearing uncertain or unsteady about my decision to be childfree in the slightest.
I won’t let people think that children are a possibility by saying things like “I’m not ready,” “not yet,” “maybe someday,” nor will I give any hit that there is any chance at all that I might one day change my mind, or regret my decision. It is for this reason that I won’t even try to quell someone’s “concern” by saying things like I might adopt if I decide I want kids, because I will not make such a concession for the sake of someone else’s comfort.
When I was trying to get my tubal, as I was trying to convince the doctor, I told a lie. I said that if I ever change my mind about having kids, I’d adopt. It’s true that I think adoption is far superior to breeding new children for a plethora of reasons. But it isn’t true that there’s actually any chance at all I would want kids and adopt. I only said that to put the doctor at ease so that I could get what I wanted. I will never make such a concession again.
7. I am happily childfree, and will not pretend otherwise in order to make other people more comfortable with me or my decision.
I won’t say things like “I’m sorry, but I won’t be giving you grandkids,” because I’m not sorry in the slightest and won’t even use those words in the “I obviously don’t actually mean “sorry” literally and am just using a figure of speech” sort of way.
I won’t pretend to envy anything about parenthood. I simply don’t. Some CF people do claim to envy certain aspects of parenthood, and for all I know they could actually mean it. However, when asked about “pros and cons” of parenthood, I honestly can’t think of a single thing that I would consider a “pro.” I am not swayed by the unrealistic, fairy-tale portrayal (“Kodak moments”) of parenthood as is so popularly promoted in popular culture.
Not only do I not wish to be a parent, but I honestly can’t see why anybody ever would. Simply, I can no more relate to the appeal of parenthood, as a childfree person, than a strictly heterosexual person can really relate to the appeal of homosexuality. We can accept it for others, but do not “get it” in a personal way.
A “bingo” is a cliched argument. Arguments made against the childfree life are often referred to as “breeder bingo.” These arguments are so common and vacuous as to be nauseating, yet the people spouting them always seem to cave the conviction that they are both original and convincing.
So I will call someone out if they “bingo” me, and slap that bingo down. I won’t even pretend that they’ve made a valid point and I will shame them for their presumptuous attitude towards the goings-on my my uterus. Bingos are rude, so I feel no need to be polite in return on such an occasion.
9. I won’t use my sterility just to shut people up.
It seems common for childfree people to say “I’m sterile,” to make others feel awkward enough to drop the subject when the topic of breeding comes up. Indeed, I am sterile and will openly say so, but I won’t use that as an excuse. I am damned proud to have finally gotten my tubal ligation. I’m happy about it. I don’t want anyone to pity me in the slightest for it. And if I really want to end a conversation, I will be considerably more blunt about that desire.
If I do choose to mention my sterility at all, I will point out that it is a choice, a testament to how serious I am about my childfree position. And I would be childfree, sterile or not.
10. I will not offer my career or other ambitions as an excuse for being childfree.
It’s true that my major goals in life are likely incompatible with child-rearing, but that’s entirely besides the point. I do not have to be too busy to have kids. I do not have to have an excuse to opt out. My decision to never have kids can be fully independent of any other life goals that I might have.
The truth is, I’d be happy living out my days as a slacker, while never having kids. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life. Breeding isn’t a required complication in life that I need the excuse of a significant conflicting and equally consuming interest to opt out of. And really, having kids simply out of having nothing much better to do with one’s life is kind-of pathetic.
11. I will not allow anyone to press me for an explanation for why I am childfree as if I owe them any justification.
I have many, many reasons for deciding to be childfree, and I’ve written about them here before. However, I don’t owe anyone an explanation of any kind just because they want one. It is not for other people to judge whether or not my reasons are good enough. Consider this: who finds it acceptable to demand to know why someone wants to have kids, and argues against those reasons? Arguably, one would be more justified in this hypothetical scenario, I believe. Someone should have to have very good reasons to have kids, not to remain without them (the default.) Not only is having kids, as opposed to not having them, the major life change, but it’s the one that carries far-reaching consequences for everyone, including the new person to be forced into existence.
Some time back and not long after my tubal ligation, my boyfriend’s parents came to our home to visit us. It was a lovely visit, all things considered, and I’m glad they came by. However, at one point while I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and alone with BF’s mother, she asked me out of nowhere, “So why don’t you want children?” I told her that she was asking the wrong question. I don’t need a reason to not want children, but a reason to want them. Sufficed to say, I have never had one single reason to even consider having children. None. And as I recall, she didn’t have any convincing reasons to offer.
Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why she even bothered to ask me that as she knew that I’d already had a tubal ligation by then. Seriously, what was the point?
12. I will not refer to being childfree in a self-deprecatory, natalism-worshiping way in order to make others feel more comfortable.
I often see the choice to be childfree referred to in depreciating ways that seem engineered to give parents a big pat on the back. It’s like saying, “See how much I bend over backwards to praise you? I’m not threatening! Can I have some respect now, pretty-please?” I don’t play that game. “I’m not ready to have kids,” “ I don’t have what it takes (patience, sense of responsibility, etc) to have kids,” “I’m too selfish to have kids,” are all things that I’d never say. Simply, they aren’t true. The only thing that makes me someone who would not be a good mom is simply not having a desire to be a mom. I am not less as a person, in any way, than someone who happens to be a parent. And I won’t pretend that I am.
On a related note, nor will I pretend that parents are in any way superior beings, or that they necessarily posses the traits of selflessness, responsibility, etc, any more than anyone else. Arguably, breeding new children is a selfish action, and doing so in an overpopulated world is irresponsible. Note: I’m only referring to the action of breeding as being considered selfish and irresponsible, not the people themselves. There’s a difference.
13. I will not act as if being childfree is something that I should have to make up for in any way by involving children in my life in other ways, especially ways that go beyond what’s normal for the average person.
I don’t have any need to get a “kid fix,” nor do I feel a need to prove that I don’t really hate kids by having excessive involvement with them. It’s true that I like some kids, just as I like some adults. But that doesn’t mean that I have to be very interested in every single one that exists ever, or that I have to act like I absolutely need to have minors in my life somehow.
I’ve heard people talk about the childfree women needing “outlets” for our intrinsic maternal desires and “need to nurture.” I call bullshit. I am not defined as a woman by being a servant to others, but I have my own life. I try to help people, but that’s out of my nature of not being a prick, rather than any subverted mothering impulses. Seriously, the notion that the childfree or childless people must find alternative ways to be “mothers” in order to still be women is misogynistic and stupid.
14. I will not write the disclaimer, “I love children, but..” before expressing an opinion that sits in contrast to the natalism-worshipping sentiments people are used to encountering.
As it is, I don’t hate children, nor do I love them, in general. (I neither love nor hate adults in general.) Regardless, such a thing would likely be irrelevant to whatever statement follows anyway. Honestly, if someone is set on painting me as a childfree, child-hater, then it won’t matter much what I actually say or write anyway. That’s their problem, not mine. I really don’t give a fuck.
15. I will not concern myself with building bridges to the point of making concessions and generally being fake.
I will not censor myself, sugar-coat my words, feign interest or reverence, or in any way be fake for the sake of making others more comfortable. I will speak my mind openly, exposing discrimination, calling out entitlement-minded behavior, committing the grave sin of mentioning the elephant in the room – overpopulation, and ranting about general failures to parent. Indeed, although I consider this list, both what I’ve already said in this post and what is to come in future posts, relatively tame. Yet I’m sure people will find offense with my view that one must have a good reason to breed new children, my refusal to predicate statements with “I love kids, but…” as well as my refusal to degrade myself for the sake of congratulating parents (“I’m not X enough to be a mom.) I don’t go out of my way to be needlessly hostile, nor am I what any other unapologetic childfree fold would refer to as a “breeder-pleaser.”
Well, anyone who doesn’t like what I say is free to argue on the merits of my statements. However, anyone who simply doesn’t like that I have the audacity to challenge the pro-natalist status quo and has no valid points of contention about what I say but none-the less is offended that I’ve said it is free to grow a thicker skin/bugger right the fuck off.