Feminism Politics

Women are more than their Reproductive Systems

Maternal instinct: the natural desire for a woman to become a mother. But what if you don’t have this?

Since the beginning of time women have had one main purpose in society, to have children and be the caretakers for the family. But more women than ever are coming out and admitting that they don’t want children. There are so many reasons as to why someone could have come to this decision: they don’t want the commitment, or the expenses; they like their independence; being the fun aunt sounds way more appealing; or they just don’t want to. All these reasons are completely valid and require one answer: “okay cool”, but unfortunately people often feel the need to either change your mind or voice their opinion. 

Gender roles dictate that men and women should act, speak, and dress a certain way, depending on your gender. The support for traditional gender roles has decreased over the years, however, there is still a significant percentage who hold these views. This percentage includes people who believe that women should stay at home to look after the children, or the more ‘generous’ vote, for women to just work part time. 

Women are consistently challenged in their careers; with their employability threatened by the chance they might need to take time off to look after children. This is partly where our beloved pay gap comes from. A 17.3% pay gap to be precise, this is due to a woman’s pay effectively stops at 300 days, compared to a man in the same job earning 365 days’ pay. 

But as of January 2020, more women are working than ever, with 72.3% of women being in employment compared to 80.4% of men. Forbes said there are two reasons for this: the pension age for women has risen, so more women over 60 are working and “younger women are no longer focusing on caring for their kids—or other relatives—instead of working.”

Women have always been put under massive pressure to be caregivers, mothers, and good wives, to the point where you’re looked at funny if you don’t want these things. But it’s not the 50s anymore, women don’t stay at home serving the men and children in the house all day. We have people living in space, orbiting the earth every 90 minutes for 21 years, yet a woman who wants to live a child-free life deserves slack jaw. 

work by @libertyantoniasadler

Having been one of the people on the other end of a gobsmacked expression after proudly stating that I don’t want kids, a look of surprise isn’t the worst response I’ve been given. I have always been very open about my decision to not have kids and to not get married, and I’ve always been honest about why I decided this. Marriage and kids are expensive, I don’t want my body to change, I don’t want to only go on holiday during the most expensive time of the year (school holidays) and I don’t want to pee every time I laugh, sneeze, or jump on a trampoline! 

Mum said, when my sister and I were younger, she always had baby dolls and pushchairs and wanted to play ‘Mums and Dads’, and she said that I’ve really never been interested. Which makes it worse when, even at 21, I’m told “you will change your mind when you’re older.” I can see why people might have said that to me at 14, but hearing it on a regular basis, is just demeaning. 

It’s frustrating how an 8-year-old, can say they want a big white wedding, and two boys and a girl in that order before they’re 25 and no one bats an eyelid, but its okay for people to make £1000 bets that I will change my mind and have kids. I’ve been told some truly shocking and offensive things over the years and that is definitely top five, alongside “you will live a lonely, meaningless life” and my personal favourite “do you want to die alone?”. 

I am of course not the only person who has experienced these gruelling comments. A few people I know gave me their best quotes: “but that’s what women are there for.” And “don’t you feel like it’s your responsibility as a woman.” Being in the same category, and another woman was told she was ‘selfish’ and “what if you’re husband wants children?” What makes any rational person deem any of this acceptable to say to someone? It really is crazy. 

So, to help clear up the confusion some people must have, very simply, here are some things you should NOT say in response to someone saying they do not want kids:

“How would your husband feel about that?” or “what if your future husband wants kids?” (This one just deserves a massive eyeroll)

“You’ll change your mind” (yawn)

“But they were the best thing that ever happened to me! You’ll regret it.” (Because apparently, we are all the same)

“Who will take care of you when you’re old?” 

And next time someone inevitably asks “why?!”, here’s what I’ll say:

“I’m too competitive and a sore loser when it comes to games”

“I’m worried about the environment and nappies and plastic toys don’t benefit the planet.”

Okay… now we can have some serious ones:

“I enjoy being independent and don’t want the responsibility”

“I have never had the urge”

“I already feel fulfilled in life”

Or just simply: “I just don’t want them!”

Having children and being a mum is a dream for many women, it isn’t for everyone. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, and it’s nobody’s business but your own (just maybe don’t post too many pictures of your cheap September holiday, nobody likes a show-off).   

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