Monday, September 10, 2007

French Childfree are Fighting Back: More Responses to Forty Reasons

Just say non: mother nurtures French revolt over baby mania
FRENCH women may be top of the European league when it comes to producing babies, but a young mother-of-two and author is spearheading a rebellion against what she calls an oppressive “baby mania” that makes a pariah of anyone who does not want children.
. . .
Partly thanks to government incentives, France has managed to reverse a decline in its birth rate. Its women have an average of 1.94 children, compared with 1.78 in Britain.

To encourage women to work as well as having babies, the French have increased municipal childcare facilities and introduced family allowances that rise with each subsequent child. But women must have two or more children to receive non-means-tested child benefit.
. . .
Maier’s book is the most visible sign that France’s cult of motherhood, fuelled by generous state subsidies, is far from unanimously popular. Another recently published book was called Being a Woman Without Being a Mother.

The groundswell of discontent has also made it to the silver screen, with the release last week of a comedy called I Hate Other People’s Children. It shows how the friendship of three families is ruined when, on a month-long holiday, the parents criticise each other’s offspring.

Edith Vallée, a psychologist, argues that women who choose not to have children are the victims of insidious pressure in France. “Society tells them, ‘You have the right to make that choice’, but it adds or implies, ‘You’ll never be completely fulfilled’,” Vallée said.
I'd love to hear from any of our French readers who have seen the movie. Perhaps we should start a writing campaign to get a subtitled version released in the US!

Have Your Say

The BBC was looking for responses to the book (judging by my voicemail, they still are) and there are a wealth of responses to the questions below.
We'd like to know what your thoughts you have children? If you do, do you regret having them? What do you think about women who leave it too late? And do you think women who choose NOT to have children are selfish?

Corrine says "there are moments when I bitterly regret having kids" - does this sound familiar or can you relate to this? Or do you think her message is too provocative and possibly unfair because she is a mother and has had the chance to at least enjoy that experience?
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