This was originally published on Liberal America on April 13, 2016.
Throughout history, there has been a lot of debate around the issue of women having children or not having children. Many women nowadays are making the choice to not have children at all. Almost half (49.6 percent) of women ages 25 to 29 are not having kids.
This Christian blogger, Brit Tashjian, has written a nasty post against this valid choice women are making: “Childless-By-Choice Women Are A Big Part Of Society’s Deterioration.”
Seriously?! Not every woman has to have kids to have a fulfilled life. There are a multitude of reasons women choose never to have kids, and we are not deteriorating society.
Tashjian goes on to say that women who don’t have kids are selfish as well. She even says you have to sacrifice and have kids to be a person of worth. Having a family is not the only way to contribute to society.
But, why are we still debating this issue today in 2016? Why do people put pressure on women to have babies with comments like “you’ll change your mind” or “you’ll regret it”? Just because we own uteri doesn’t mean we have to procreate to feel complete.
Some people are still stuck in the same gender roles of woman = mother, and man = breadwinner/authority. Women get SO much pressure to have children. Societal pressure, family pressure. It can be very frustrating.
There are some mothers out there who pressure their children to have children because “they want grandchildren.” Some young girls see all of their friends getting married and having babies and think that they are supposed to do the same thing. But, you don’t have to have kids just because your friends are. It helps to find friends that are also child-free. Hanging out with friends who have kids could make you feel left out of the loop if you don’t have any.
How do we deal with this pressure? Simply stick to your guns; know yourself and know the reasons that you are not reproducing. If you don’t want to talk about your personal life, don’t! You don’t owe anyone an explanation. We can’t do everything in our lives; we have to make choices about which path we choose.
In her essay, Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich wrote about women overcoming the “mind-body split.” Men have always controlled women by forcing them into the motherhood/stay-at-home wife role. Some women like Mrs. Tashjian are fine with having that role, but not everyone has to do that. Rich advocates equal roles in parenting.
Until recently, women were expected to be the housewives at home with the children. The women who had jobs only did things like secretarial work or teaching or nursing. We have come a long way, but women who defy these gender roles are still being ridiculed.
Here is the end to Mrs. Tashjian’s ridiculous blog post:
“But what you’re really saying is that you’re an island, the only one worth serving, that your offspring are not worth your blood, sweat and tears. Which is your call to make. Just make sure you find something that is worth it. Because blood, sweat and tears? That’s what life is all about.”
I’m glad Tashjian enjoys her children, but not all of us have to sacrifice anything to be happy. As women, we can and should be able to do anything we want to without these negative comments. We are definitely not destroying society, either.