The idea that white-haired old men maybe shouldn’t be who decide what we – as women – are ‘allowed’ to do with our bodies has become something of a hot topic recently. We’ve all seen, heard, and shaken our heads at the debates surrounding abortion and the Tampon Tax. We’ve all closed our eyes and said a silent prayer asking for the strength to get through another mansplained argument basically telling us that just because it’s our vagina doesn’t mean we should really get a say. And we’ve been doing this over thousands of different topics for thousands of years. I know, I know, #NotAllMen. Now isn’t the time, Nice Guys. Sit down.
Thanks to women becoming more vocal over issues that have real and lasting affects on women we have reached a new level of rights and acceptance. One topic which has been hotly discussed recently is the idea that some women don’t want children. I know, shocking right? How dare they?! It’s a woman’s job they…NO. Shut up. I support everybody’s right to choice, in all senses. I’m not going to write a list of reasons of how I understand why somebody wouldn’t want a baby, because it doesn’t matter why. If they don’t, they don’t. This subject has been in the press a lot recently, with Holly Brockwell finally (and rightfully) winning her battle for sterilisation on the NHS, and the obvious, pathetic Twitter trolls launching their followers at her. This has also led to a number of articles giving reasons each writer doesn’t want children of their own, something I would be more than ok with. But…
I do have a problem with many of the articles that I’ve seen shared on social media recently. Not because people don’t want children of their own, but because by making this point, they feel the need to put down and criticise those who do.
Anybody who follows me on Twitter probably will have seen my slight rant about this very topic this week. And last week. And quite possibly next week. Because it’s not going anywhere. Because journalists I look up to and respect decide to publish words such as ‘they will not have proved their worth as humans until they have cleaned 10 metric tonnes of poo from a perfect baby bottom’ to back up their argument of not wanting children. To me this doesn’t strengthen any argument, it does the opposite. It pits women against each other, creates another divide between us that we just don’t need.
Yesterday I read a Guardian article which in a nutshell puts every single problem people face in life down to having kids. There are studies that show children put a strain on a marriage, making those who are married with children less happy than those who are married without. Fine. Sure. Whatever. What irritated me is that this article, like many others decides that those who have children give up on every other part of their lives. Now some do, some women have a baby and all they are from that point onwards is Mother. If they’re happy with that then fine (personally, I never could be). But many, many more mothers still have a life completely separate from the small person we made. I still have a wonderful social life, I still have a sex life, I still have a life that doesn’t just include soft-play and Petit Filous. When I was pregnant my mum said something to me that rang so true, ‘you don’t change your life to fit in to the baby’s, the baby adapts to fit in to yours’. I honestly could not agree more with this statement. Of course there are times that nights out have to be cancelled and meetings have to be pushed back because kids love a bit of spontaneous sickness, but generally life can still happen. Baby or no baby.
The fact that choice is now being discussed when it comes to parenthood is an amazing step forward for women everywhere. Nobody should be judged for loud-and-proudly declaring ‘kids? Nah not for me.’. Feminism has kicked arse to get us to this point. Lets not ruin it by turning it into another school playground bitch fight.
Choosing not to have children does not bring you any closer to being the perfect feminist. Just like choosing not to shave your armpits doesn’t. Or choosing not to wear make-up. Or not cook your husband dinner. Choosing the traditional options don’t make you less of a feminist either. We want to built women up, gain more rights, and feel truly equal. To do this we need to stop criticising each other’s choices – without going too Tina Fey – and understand that feminism is choice. By getting bitchy and judgey about the way another woman chooses to live her life makes us all take ten steps back on this mountain we’re climbing.
Whether you want six kids or none, that choice is yours. I will never criticise a woman for deciding that children aren’t in her future, so don’t criticise me for deciding they are.