Throughout history, there have always been women who pushed back against the roles society set for them. Suffragettes fought for the right to vote; lesbians fought (and continue to fight) to have their relationships acknowledged publicly and treated equally under the law. But it’s still somewhat taboo for women to push back against the role they have occupied the longest: mother.
Childfree and childless have just one syllable’s difference, but they are a huge chasm apart. To treat all women who do not have children as a single, monolithic group is to ignore the most critical of all questions: why? To parse this, let’s think in slightly longer phrases: childless (by circumstance) and childfree (by choice). A woman who is childless-by-circumstance may want to have children, but could be coping with fertility issues, waiting until her financial situation is different, or trying to find a partner first. Childfree-by-choice women do not have children because they simply have decided not to.
Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert has said that she believes there were always women who knew they had no maternal desire; historically, these women would become nuns, governesses, or whatever option was available to women of their era and status. Often, …read more