Friday, June 26, 2009

Huffington Post: Are the Childless Weird?

Cameron Diaz on her Childfree Status and Why the Planet Needs More Non-breeders
When it's still okay to ask "are the childless weird?"

While Diaz added that she thinks attitudes are changing, there are still plenty who fail to see a choice to not have children as one of the most selfless things a woman, or man, can do for the planet (one U.S. person= 20 tons of CO2 per year).

The same magazine that published her interview turned around and asked in an online poll: "Are women who don't want children weird?". While there was plenty of support for non-breeders, there were the inevitable comments like "isn't [it] natural for women to have children?" and "as women we are or should be born with a natural instinct to have children".
I have to admit, I'm predisposed to HuffPo right now, and for reasons completely unrelated to being childfree. When the traditional news media blew coverage of the Iran Election so badly that "CNNFAIL" became a top Twitter trending topic,, the Huffington Post picked up the slack and sorted through all the Twitter, Flickr and Facebook chatter to keep us updated. In other words, they acted as journalists. So even in an opinion piece as this, I was not surprise to see the pregnant writer escape the bias of her fecund state with the following paragraph:
For me, having children -- and adding to our planet's ecological footprint is a matter that deserves conscious thought, and shouldn't be treated as a duty or simply an instinctual act. When considering that every American requires 24 acres of productive land, according to Harvard ecologist E.O. Wilson, all my eco-diapers and vegetarian meals seem a bit trivial (see my videos demo-ing a flushable diaper and our daily beans & rice).
This is not news to many of my readers, especially the childfree majority. But while the environmental impact of having a child has been pointed out by neutral sources before, I love to see it pointed out that a granola lifestyle by no means cancels out that impact. I do not own a car, eat vegan, recycle, and all that crap, but I'll be the first to point out that I cancel out all of that when I have a child with free will. (because yes, us crunchy types like to pretend that teaching our child our values both guarantees they will live them and somehow transmits them further to the world).
Not breeding as an "unacceptable crime."

It's a shame, for both our planet and reluctant potential parents, that too many people still see having children as something we all should do, or should at least want. When UK journalist Polly Vernon wrote an editorial about not wanting kids, she discovered that "voluntary childlessness is an unacceptable crime to cop to" and she was "denounced as bitter, selfish, un-sisterly, unnatural, evil".

Filmmaker Nancy Rome agrees, telling Harper's Bazaar that the childless, like herself, are outcasts. "We are doing something that is viewed as un-American, unfeminine, un-Christian, uneverything."
The article goes on to rehash some recent trends (the views of employers, kids on status symbols) and other topics in a way I could not do justice to with my usual quotes or justices. I suggest you read it for yourself.

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