I have a comondrum (that’s obviously what a conundrum on Monday is called).
A certain group of women who have happily chosen not to have kids are up in arms about the pressure they get from society to have kids. And I completely get it – a ridiculous amount of a woman’s value seems to be solely based on whether or not she procreates. It hardly feels like it’s a choice – how could it when 99% of the time it feels like an expectation? I totally get it. I was never 100% sure I wanted kids but then just like that, badda-bing-badda-boom, I suddenly had two – but, mom or not, I completely understand the importance of bringing visibility to the fact that parenthood is a choice – an option that some are just not interested in. It’s an important dialogue to have and a fair one at that…
However, this morning I was reading this article and they touched on something that I’ve been dumbfounded (and a little irritated) by for awhile now, and it’s my comondrum. I’ve seen women and men rip apart writers for using the phrase “childless” even though the writer was championing the cause that triggered those very same people to read the blog/article/study, fighting for their right to happily live childlessly/child-free/whatever you want to call it. I think it’s the dumbest thing. If you are happy and confident with your choice to not have children, why is there such disdain around the term “childless” versus “child-free”? By definition, you are childless. You are childless by choice. You are taking a stand because you are happy to be childless, and it is ridiculous that you are expected to be otherwise when you are confident you don’t want or need to be a parent. Is it really doing any benefit to your actual cause to get caught up in semantics when you are, in fact, childless? Is “child-free” really that much more liberating or empowering that it deserves to distract from the overall point which is that women are not merely here to serve as someone’s mother and are completely as valuable when they chose not to???
In that article they say, “Helpfully, the language around these lifestyle choices is starting to get more refined. Social scientists, who once referred to everyone who didn’t procreate as childless, which speaks to trying and failing to make babies, now also use the term “child-free,” which gives more credit for choosing not to make them.” I don’t know if maybe I’m too new to understand it, but I have never once referred to anyone who has tried to have a baby but couldn’t as childless. And I never would. In fact, I wouldn’t touch that subject with a 10-foot pole LET ALONE try to simplify and define their struggles in one word, whether it be childless or child-free – and anyone who would is an absolute asshole.
As I asked a co-worker who never got the child bug and is happily childless/child-free, I realized referring to someone in person as childless or child-free is weird in itself – it feels unnatural, inorganic. We casually discussed in what instances you would even say that. For instance, I would never say, “This is Patsy, she’s childless.” I would also never say, “Oh, yeah, she’s child-free” unless I was referring to a friend who actually was child-free – as in, didn’t have her kids for the night. That’s how I refer to myself when I’m kid-free. PARTAY TIME EXCELLENT. But that’s just how my mind works. I’d be more apt to say, “He/She doesn’t have kids.” And if I didn’t have kids, I’d probably say, “I don’t have any kids/children.”
I don’t get what the big deal is and maybe that makes me a giant jerk – I have NO idea! I believe the greater conversation is valuable, I just don’t get the willingness to let semantics overshadow the point. Why do we or you or her or him care, if you’re happy with your choice, how people refer to you whether it be childless or child-free? It’s factual! And is it really doing anyone any justice?
I mean, I don’t know, call me a boring feminist if you want but…. I think this may just be one of those things I just. don’t. get.
Look! Matty’s childless and he gives 0 fucks. 😉