18 June, 2009

I am NOT selfish because I don't want to marry or have children. Quite the opposite!

I don't want children.
I first said this in conjunction with "I don't want to get married" at the age of 8. I am now 31 and not only do some people (not my Mum, bless her) STILL not believe me, I am being actively critisized by the Daily Fail for not breeding - in the past few days we've had:

"Women should have babies between the ages of 20 and 35 or risk missing out on motherhood, doctors have warned."

This came complete with several of the usual understanding, sensible comments such as:

Thanks but no thanks. I will have a child when I am good and ready. At 18, 25, 35 or 45. No later, as I see it morally wrong, just as I see no right in any government to tell me when and how I should have a child, manage my life, etc.
- Simon T., Right here, UK, 16/6/2009 6:39

Errr Simon, they mean women, you twazzock.

Swiftly followed by this gem:

"Baby, you left it too late: Two women reveal how they gambled on late motherhood...with very different results "

And this is one of the comments that actually greatly upset me:

I am so glad to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and to know that there is a Divine Design, and that marriage and families are part of it, and that children are to welcomed into a marriage, not postponed because of a career. Selfishness. So often, we do reap what we sow, don't we.
- Donna, Calgary, AB Canada, 17/6/2009 5:24

I am not bloody selfish, and I'll tell you why:

I have no problem with children. I have a niece and step nephew who I love dearly. I am always the woman children seem to migrate to at weddings and parties - maybe they like that I talk to them like they have a brain, and aren't morons, who knows - but I am not some bitter old hag who put my career first.

That seems to be the greatest myth - that feminists, and women generally who choose not to have children, are some sort of career driven, materialistic, robot monster bitches without a loving bone in their body. I don't have a "career". I have a job that I like very much, and I have been promoted a few times, but it's hardly CEO...

Also, have any of these idiotic, insensitive commenters considered that maybe, just maybe, not having a child can be a selfless act?
I suffer from severe depression, which my father passed to me. If it's genetic, which I believe it can be, there is NO WAY I am passing that to a child, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I had terrible, terrible acne that had to be severely treated, and I'm almost certified blind. I am NOT passing that on either! My parents (and a disturbing amount of my friends) are divorced - I don't want to get married because it lessens my chance of divorce quite significantly. Divorce messes kids up - I should know!
Finally, I am in a lot of debt and the Fail would be the first to complain if I was getting benefits because of a child.

I didn't know all of this when I was 8, but I was bloody right and I will not accept that I am being selfish.


  1. Fully agreed. I AM a stereotypical feminist, byt their standards at least - I don't want children because I don't like them or enjoy their company. What's more selfish, me having one anyway just to get society off my back and ending up resenting it, or living with the constant criticisms and suspicions that I'm somehow less valid as a woman?

  2. well, at least donna in calgary has SOMETHING in her life - i doubt any non-deities are queueing up for her company.

  3. Last time I checked Donna in Calgary was worst rated poster, and most comments were similar to my feelings on the subject. Ironically, maybe there *is* a god...!!

  4. I really appreciated this post. I decided in high school that I never wanted to have children or get married, and even after all these years, people still say, "Oh, you'll change your mind." Well,I think I know what goes on in my mind better than anyone else does.

    I also agree that it is selfless to be childfree. Isn't it MORE selfish to have a baby when you know that the world is already overpopulated? Isn't it MORE selfish of people who have babies because they just want to pass on their genes? Isn't it MORE selfish to have a baby because you think it will fulfill your life in some way, but really it will just be added stress? I can fulfill my life through other means, thank you very much.

  5. cancerdancer -

    fair enough that it's your own decision, but i really don't think a self-justificatory comparison of selfishness is necessary or helpful here.

    the whole point is that it's a choice, and it's just as prejudiced to have a go at women who want babies and will thus overpopulate the earth as to knock women who don't want kids for being cold and unfeeling.

  6. I agree with the above - I love it when my friends have children, as it is a good thing for them and they are all great parents. I have no issues with women who do want children either :)

  7. I think what "who knows" said above is perfect. I'm not sure you've really thought through what you've said about passing things on to the next generation. If your Dad came to you and said "wow, I'm really sorry about the depression, would you rather have not been born?" would you really answer, "yes, I wish I'd never been born"? You're not sparing a child from depression, because that child doesn't exist. I'm sure when it was born it would rather be alive and depressed than never born in the first place.

  8. Jumble - er, excuse me?? I don't talk to my father now because he's a horrible person, and if you make comments like that I wonder if you have any idea what severe depression is like. The amount of times in the past I wished I was dead is scary.
    I never said no one should have kids! Re-read my response to "who knows". It's just not right for me, and I will NOT be made to feel bloody guilty about it, least of all by someone who reads a feminist blog but clearly isn't one. I have "thought this through" for 23 years (also stated) and am incredibly insulted.

  9. Jumble - a baby doesn't have the cognitive capacity to ponder the pros and cons of its own existence.

    Not wanting to cause pain in another human being is natural, the decision to avoid passing on any kind of debilitating illness is thoroughly logical.

  10. Victoria: well I realise a baby doesn't do much philosophising, but it won't be a baby for ever.

    Let me say that I'm not trying to say that people should be made to feel guilty for not wanting kids. Lots of people don't want kids. I do, but that's the result of weighing up what I'll gain and what I'll lose, and deciding that one outweighs the other. Deciding which one outweighs which is a totally personal decision and there are huge benefits to both.

    So Jenny: you avoided answering my hypothetical question by saying that you don't talk to your dad any more. If _someone_ were to give you the option of having never been born, would you take it? Because that's what you're assuming your theoretical child would do.

    Of course, this child does not exist, and so cannot be done any harm by never existing at all. But I struggle to accept the idea that you're doing it a favour by not having it either. You're not, but I guess that at least you're not doing something bad.

    Finally, your comment about "someone who reads a feminist blog but clearly isn't one" is just pure ad hominem isn't it. So, we'll let that go I guess. I'm quite a new reader and I'm assuming that "feminism" here means equality, nothing more or less, right? If so, I can assure you I'm strongly in favour.


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