(Left to right: Katrina, Sophie (vavaviolet) and Shona)
I'm sick to death of my life choices being insulted and judged and so are other women who have kindly shared their stories and opinions with vavaviolet.com.
I'm sick of the questions, the stares of disbelief and I'm done with fellow women judging me. It is fascinating watching someone's face crumble when I say, ‘I don't want children’. Watching their expression change as they analyse me as a person, the words 'selfish', 'foolish' and 'you'll change your mind' roll of the tip of their tongue. Well, swallow your words back up, shut up and listen to why some women don't want children - and it's perfectly acceptable.
People say to me, ‘without having children your life will be empty’, ‘you will be lonely one day’, ‘it's a woman's job to produce children’. NO, my job is to write stories and put them in a newspaper. I don't care what you say having children is not a job. Having children is a lifestyle choice. Children are something you love and something you deeply desire, you love that child with all your heart and you would do anything for them - that's not a job, that's love. I may be a woman but I am so much more than just a human who has a womb. Women don't need to have children to be successful, women don't need to give birth to become a woman and women CAN find happiness elsewhere. The same goes for men. Just because a man doesn’t want to have children doesn’t make him any less of a man. Becoming a father doesn’t make you a ‘man’.
You could call me selfish for not wanting children and I say you may be right - I love my own company, I love my independence, I only think about myself but that's because I only have myself. I simply want to live my life, the one life I get on this planet, as I want to live it. I like being able to go out whenever I want, I like being able to yes to opportunities as I like without having to think about anyone else, I love my own space and company and having children who depend on me 24/7 is just not for me. Not every woman wants children and that’s perfectly fine – stop making us feel guilty for our lifestyle choice.
I interviewed two other women who do not want children to find out their opinions on the controversial topic. Shona Cobb, aged 19, who is unemployed due to her disability, from Hertfordshire and Katrina Drake, aged 25, who is a Digital Marketing Manager, from Essex.
When I asked Shona ‘Why do you not want children?’, she said ‘For a few reasons but the biggest reason for me is medical based. I have a genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome and it affects the connective tissues in your body which means you can get problems literally throughout your whole body. I've needed three surgeries so far and I have more on the horizon including a second hip replacement and open heart surgery. Both I and my boyfriend have the condition which means the risk of us passing it on to any children is 50% and there is an extra 25% chance that the baby would not even survive. Unfortunately, these risks are just too high for me. Also, the dangers would be high for myself as well due to all the surgeries I've had and my ongoing problems pregnancy would not be an easy task and would put my health at risk. Also, I'm just not very maternal and never have been.’
Can you really argue with that? Can you really say Shona is selfish? Would you tell Shona she will regret her decisions? – no, I don’t think you would have the nerve.
Shona told me: ‘Anyone who thinks that a women's main job is to have children is living in the dark ages. I'll create meaning in my life through the experiences I've had and my charity work. I've worked with a few different charities before to help raise awareness of Marfan Syndrome and other secondary conditions that I have and it definitely feels like that is what I'm meant to do with my life, help others and raise awareness. I really am sick of seeing people assume that a women's only job is to have children and any women that choose not to are wrong or not as much of a woman as anyone else. I've known I don't want children from a young age which people have found hard to accept and I'm constantly being told by family, friends and even strangers that I'll ‘change my mind'. It frustrates and angers me. I don't understand why people cannot just accept decisions that others make about their body. It is no one's business but mine what I do or don't do with my body and I'd appreciate it if people accepted my decision without fuss or questions. You worry about your life and I'll worry about mine.’
When I asked Katrina, why she doesn’t want children, she said: ‘To put it simply, I have never felt that want/need/desire for children. That part where young girls pretend they are a mother with their baby dolls or the way that later teens and those in their 20’s coo over their friends latest arrival. When a baby is presented in my vicinity I do my best to avoid it, smile sweetly at scan photos and hide updates on Facebook from friends that are expecting. I have never understood the fascination and obsession with children, and I suppose that is partly why I do not want them.’
Her words could have literally spilled out from my own mouth. The minute you announce you’re pregnant on Facebook I’ll hide your posts from my timeline. I lack a maternal extinct and there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t need to be ashamed if you share our thoughts.
Katrina said: ‘People have such archaic points of view when it comes to children. It seems even in 2016 we are stuck in a mentality of 60 years ago when women knew their place was the kitchen and were there to have as many children as her husband expected. You can’t possibly decide not to have children. That is surely our only duty. There seems to be such a massive lack of understanding, and perhaps education too, around the issue of women not wanting children. I would never once question or reply with surprise if my friend told me they wanted a child or were pregnant, yet it seems that is the natural reaction to me (at best) when I announce I don’t want to have children. Why should I feel guilty or afraid to tell people that is my decision? A woman is much, much more than just a vehicle to bare children and provide the world with an increase in population. Women have time and time again proven their strength industry and in making the world a better place. Whether they are fighting for our country against the men in our army, becoming the CEO of top financial firms in the city or saving lives every day as a surgeon. Women have such a world of possibility open to them and whether they have children or not, this remains true.’
So, the next time a woman or man tells you they don’t want children don’t insult them and judge them like you would if they turned down a perfectly good McDonald’s. We all have different preferences’. Some of us would jump at the chance of getting a free Big Mac while others will happily turn it down and like everything in life, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
What is your opinion on this topic? Do you feel the same as us or do you completely disagree? Comment, tweet (@JournalistSoph) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your say!