Monday, June 26, 2017

What We Get Wrong About Women Who Don't Have Kids

Refinery 29
considered this subject. In 2015, Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum edited the collection Selfish, Shallow, and Self Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids, which included essays from Anna Holmes, Kate Christensen, Lionel Shriver, and Geoff Dyer. And although Daum has become a major face of the childfree movement, she isn’t a fan of the word itself. “I am sort of allergic to jargon, and it sounds like jargon,” she said over the phone from her home in L.A. “‘Childfree by choice’ is redundant.” Daum refers to herself as “childless by choice,” but she finds the phrase cumbersome and would rather keep working toward finding a sharper, snappier term. (She likes "barrenness," because it sounds like “baroness.")
Ultimately, we're each going to find what terminology, or lack thereof works for us. I think a lot of people don't like labels or jargon because we want to feel like individuals. Perhaps, then, the problem is not the term "childfree" but the assumptions we have that all childfree women are the same; that we all have an excess of disposable income, that we're all child-loving PANKs or child-hating non-breeders. If we can make room for the vast diversity within our community, we are then free to use the term to represent what we do have in common, and celebrate it.

I happen to find labels pretty handy. At the very least, it's a lot more efficient than describing my choice longhand each and every time, and it is a useful way to use a search term to find one another on social media. I don't think it makes me any less unique to accept that many other women have made the same choice I have, and many of them for the same reason. Or even that there is a community of childfree people who have made similar choices - an urban life, exercizing one's freedom to travel, opting for fewer work hours and serving the community and relishing the fact that we couldn't do that to the same extent with children. In the end, it's the combination of these choices, plus my hobbies, plus so many intangibles that makes me who I am.

But to each their own. I relish being part of a community that shares so much of my lifestyle, others bristle at being lumped together, and we each have to determine what we're comfortable with.

she adds, "One criticism that was made [of the book] is that a lot of people seem to be bending over backwards to say they like kids or feel like they have to apologize for it." That’s because Daum essentially had to reach two groups at once — she had to speak to parents who believed they’d made the right decision by having children but were curious about those who’d chosen to live a childfree life, but also be a voice for childfree individuals who felt like they’d been ignored by traditional narratives about families and relationships. That false dichotomy went back to Daum’s initial issue with the word "childfree" — it created a division that felt politicized, rather than simply identifying a group by name.
. . . .
The I-don't-have-kids-but-I-like-them community has been dubbed PANKs (Professional Aunt, No Kids). The term was coined by Melanie Notkin, who turned her Savvy Auntie blog, aimed at women like herself who were involved aunts or godmothers and wanted to buy kid stuff without the judgment, into a full-on lifestyle brand dubbed "Otherhood." She has been praised by some feminists for acknowledging all the underappreciated childrearing work done by non-mother family members and criticized by others for taking too much advantage of marketing opportunities.
. . .
Ultimately, Daum says, choosing not to have children is fascinating and controversial to so many people because it gets at a larger question about what it means to be an adult. Many of the social markers we’ve used in the past — owning a home, having a steady job, leaving the big city for the suburbs, being married — have fallen away or been redefined. The ongoing debates about whether women can “have it all” inquire whether a woman can balance a spouse, kids, career, and personal pursuits like hobbies — without stopping to ask what “all” would look like for a woman who’s not interested in one of the usual elements, or to consider what that means for women who marry other women.
I don't have any neices and nephews, but my cousin and close friend is a PANK and seems to love it (yes, childfreedom seems to run in our family). So while we forge toward more and more acceptance and new definitions, I'll be here representing the rest of the childfree. Those who don't really have children in our lives, and seek out childfree spaces to relax. The childfree community is madnotdefined by one or the other, and this divergence perhaps represents just how large we have become. At least, I hope so.
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Friday, April 07, 2017

Childfree Buildings in Edmonton

Edmonton Journal
The article here is disjointed and muddled (how are her experiences with bad adult tenants relevant?) but the comments are quite lively.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kellyanne Conway Exalts Motherhood Because She Has An Agenda

Being a feminist is actually much MORE important, more vital to human progress, and more helpful for children than all women everywhere growing up to be mothers.
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Friday, January 27, 2017

2-Year-Old Unaware He’s Basis For 6 Couples’ Decisions Not To Have Kids

The Onion
". . .the toddler has thus far failed to recognize that his temper tantrums and messy eating habits have motivated several of his mother’s friends, as well as a couple who were eating near Gibson’s family at a restaurant, to go their entire lives without ever raising children of their own."
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Monday, January 23, 2017

Q&A with 2016 Childfree Man of the Year, Vincent Ciaccio

International Childfree Day In this Q&A, Vinny discusses his Master's thesis research, his Dissertation, why he chose childfreedom, and the current status of the childfree today. His MA work included looking at the childfree demographic, including why people choose not to have children and what political views we hold. His dissertation brought to light new information regarding childfree stereotypes; they vary greatly by gender.

In my very biased view, I found his take on our status very intruiging. While the news media tends to cover us in positive-neutral ways that reflect a growing acceptance,

"Bad news part one is that entertainment media (sitcoms, movies, etc.) still generally show the childfree as selfish, hedonistic, or in the case of men who don’t show an interest in parenthood, being immature man-children. Having a kid is still portrayed as a civilizing factor. . .
I think this reflects the notion that, although society has improved in its awareness and acceptance, we still have a long way to go. I believe individuals and even communities vary greatly in their perspective on, and acceptance of, the voluntarily childless. Vinny is working on publishing his research; in the meantime I recommend reading the entire Q&A to get a brief description of his results.
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My Nephews Taught Me That I Didn't Want Kids

Everything with them requires two trips. To eat, I picked up one boy, all twenty pounds of him, and strapped him into his highchair. He started banging the chair against the floor while I grabbed the other and started the process all over again. Trying to feed two hungry one-year-olds simultaneously was rather difficult. Trying to balance the yogurt on the spoons while aiming for their constantly moving mouths while trying to minimize mess was impossible. The boys showed me their mess making skills by getting yogurt into their eyes, noses, and on the floor. Somehow yogurt got in their ears, which I still don’t get how they managed that.

Then there were the times when they both wanted comfort, whether they were sleepy or they had fallen. My arms aren’t big enough to hold both of them. I tried to switch off who got hugged first but I always felt bad. I felt like I was showing favoritism that was going to scar them for the rest of their life. Then they’d hit each other and I’d have to separate them, and they both started howling. It took forever to calm them down; when holding one, the other was crying. Set the calm one down to help the other, and the calm one started crying again. There were fun times when they both wanted to play, but they overwhelmed me.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Looking Back: Positive Childfree Trends In 2016

HuffPo by Laura Carroll
This year film, Maman? Non merci! (roughly translated as Being a mom? No thanks!) by the 2014 Childfree Woman of the Year, Magenta Baribeau, won the Best Feature Film Award at the London Feminist Film Festival ... More Use of the Word, “Pronatalism” in the Media ... More Talk about Regret
Read the article to see more movies in the pipeline, examples of these media trends, and other childfree hallmarks of 2016. What changes have you noticed recently in the way childfree people and the parenting decision are portrayed publicly? One thing I have seen is that work-life advocates have shifted more towards flexible hours for all of us, or time off for all our endeavors, where previously giving that only to mothers was the main ask. I think we're starting to see fairness as part of the equasion, and benefits to employers when all employers have their needs met.
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