First comes love, then comes marriage—then comes the couple with the baby carriage!
From the moment they are born, women are groomed by society for motherhood. Easy-Bake Ovens, pretend kitchenettes, and tiny baby dolls that cry, drink formula, and wet themselves are the toys marketed to young girls by companies such as Mattel and Fisher-Price.
In movies and television, fictional characters—particularly those that are female—are often shamed for not having children, and they either become a parent by the end of the narrative or wind up alone.
Right in the middle of this cesspool of baby carriages and minivans is a group of men and women that have broken tradition and rebelled against the life-cycle. They have proudly adorned themselves with the moniker: childfree.
To begin with, there is a difference between someone who is childfree and a person who is childless. Childless describes a man or woman that wants a child, but due to certain circumstances, they are unable to have them. This can describe a teenager who plans to have children in the future, or a couple who cannot reproduce due to infertility.
Childfree, on the other hand, refers to an individual capable of having children but still chooses not to.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to raise children and participate in the cycle of life, there is also nothing obscene in dedicating your life to animals, travel, a career, or anything else that fills you with purpose.
Unfortunately, harassment and abuse at the hands of individuals who refuse to understand this simple reality is common. Childfree men and women are often referred to as selfish, immature, and above all else, child-haters.
As a childfree woman, let me set the record straight: I do not hate children; I detest a society that worships children and reproduction.
As a woman, it is expected I should desire children over anything else, and the only reason I should get married is to procreate.
Since I am over 30, I am often cruelly and mercilessly taunted with the infamous “biological clock”—a metaphor for the end of a woman’s fertile window.
Family members and friends feel entitled to my body and demand I sacrifice my autonomy so they can have grandchildren or because misery loves company and they need more “mommy friends.” Upon learning of my childfree status, they also have the right to make disparaging comments, believing they know what is best for me. This includes threats of disownment and questions regarding my mental health.
Any attempt to “tie my tubes” is met with hostility and invasive, personal questions from physicians. After passing their tests and jumping through their hoops, I will almost assuredly be denied. Even if my reproductive parts are crippled with cancer or other conditions that make life unbearable, securing a hysterectomy is often delayed because “what if you want children later on?”
This obsession with reproduction is also why adoption, a selfless, wonderful act, is spoken of in hushed tones because “it’s different when it’s your own.”
It is the reason why backhanded statements such as You don’t know love unless you’re a mother or You’re not a real woman until you’ve given birth are seen as appropriate.
Worst of all, it is why some childfree men and women are forced to say they hate children simply because they are tired of defending a choice that is theirs to make.