People who call themselves "childless by choice" are gaining visibility — so why are we still treating them like aliens?
Danielle Friedman of The Daily Beast profiles Kristen Bossert, who made the decision not to have children early on. Friedman writes,
In her early 20s, she told her then-boyfriend plainly that she had no interest in being a mom. As a little girl, she'd never played with dolls, preferring to paint instead. She liked kids, but couldn't imagine herself birthing one. She valued the freedom to spontaneously travel the world or sleep in on Saturdays, to hone her skills as an artist. Twenty-three years later, the happily married couple has no regrets about their family of two.
Hardly shocking, and Friedman notes that Bossert is not alone — those who call themselves "child free" or "childless by choice" are a "growing community." Still, Friedman treats them as a bit of a curiosity:
Surprisingly, given how fundamental the question might seem to the perpetuation of the human species, the reasons for why some women want children and others don't remain fuzzy. Few scientists have actually studied women's so-called biological drive to reproduce, so no universal explanation has emerged in the literature. Some attribute it to basic genetic variety; some women are into kids, some aren't. But with relatively few women falling into the "aren't" category, the question of why these few women aren't interested in kids becomes even more interesting. The only consistent biological theory is that women with no desire to parent either have a high testosterone level or were exposed to above-average testosterone in the womb.
Sure, the desire to procreate may be, for some, biologically ingrained. However, we all do lots of things that don't contribute to the perpetuation of the human species — is it really surprising that some of us might want to opt out of childbearing as well? And what about the men who are childless by choice? It's a telling sign of our double standard that we don't seem nearly as surprised about them. Friedman writes that "many scientists believe the seemingly biological drive some women feel isn't triggered by biology, so much as culture." Isn't it time the culture changed to accept everyone's reproductive choices, including the choice not to reproduce at all?
Childless And Loving It [Daily Beast]
Image via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.com