North Texas Daily

Stop asking women why they don’t want children

Stop asking women why they don’t want children

Stop asking women why they don’t want children
April 22
00:34 2021

In most respects, it can be said that the feminist movement has progressed a great deal since its initial inception. Obviously, we still have a good way to go in terms of achieving gender equality, but I think it’s at least safe to say that strides have been made since the 19th century. But there is one particular area in which I feel that we as a society have progressed surprisingly little.

Every woman I’ve ever met who has expressed a desire to remain childless has also had their decision scrutinized, dissected and critiqued — sometimes even by people who self-identify as feminists. I am speaking as someone who actually does want to have children at some point in the future when I say that this is both deeply annoying and entirely rooted in misogyny. People who don’t outright badmouth or patronize women who don’t want to have children still often fall into the trap of thoughtlessly pathologizing childlessness, asking “why not?” and feel entitled to an answer.

There are far too many reasons not to have children: the economy, climate change, expenses, a traumatic childhood, kids themselves, the list goes on seemingly forever. But that is not the point. Women should not be made to feel as though they need to justify a very personal decision. And sometimes, there is no reason, other than simply not wanting children.

Even the feminist movement, to an extent, enables this societal norm. Pushing the idea that women should strive to “have it all,” (i.e. children and career), just puts another unrealistic expectation on our collective shoulders, and is also ableist in that anyone who can’t juggle both is made to feel self-conscious about their own limitations. It serves as a way for capitalism to monetize what is supposed to be a social justice movement and does not entertain the idea of self-empowerment being extricable from a life lead as either a broodmare for the patriarchy or a worker for the capitalist system. So, a life leads in the service of anyone other than the woman living it.

We see this not just in intrusive questions posed by rude people, but in laws that limit abortion and birth control access, in policies that prioritize the life of the fetus over the mother, in doctors who will refuse to tie the tubes of a woman unless her husband signs off on it. This is a very serious issue that even feminism is neglecting to address, an issue that, like most issues on gender equality, affects women of color to a disproportionate degree. We need to change the way society thinks about childbirth and childrearing in order to make any headway in gender equality and revisit feminist theories that may not be applicable to the modern day.

Women who don’t want children are valid. Not just when it isn’t the right time, or because they’re too young, or unmarried, or want to have a career first, but because that is the decision they have made for themselves. They don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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