On Saturday, the UK’s You magazine ran a pretty intimate interview with Tracey Emin, the insanely hard working artist who might be best remembered for her soiled bedsheets. Emin has no qualms about being unflinchingly forthright about her personal life, and she spares few details about her anxieties about aging, her artistic production, and her body image over the course of the interview.
Speaking about her decision to forgo the ordeal of raising children and getting married, Emin explained that she has satisfied her creative urges by making art, then offered the somewhat dubious claim that women who choose to have a career and have kids can never be truly, 100 percent devoted to their work. Take it away, Tracey:
It’s not [getting married, having kids] because I didn’t meet anyone; if I wanted to have a baby, I could’ve.
I didn’t want to because the creative yearning and wanting to be an artist far overrode the physical feelings of wanting to be a mother. The mother who is the CEO of the company or whatever can’t wait to get home and see her children. The mother who’s in the studio painting will resent going home to her children.
When people have children, they have a sense of purpose. When you don’t have children you have to define and make your own purpose, and make your own reason for being here.
While having kids may give some women (and men) a completely fulfilling sense of purpose, procreation clearly isn’t an existential salve for everyone, and splitting the female population into Mothers and Professional Women is unfair to all those women who’ve chosen to be both, perhaps because raising kids and managing a career are two components of a fulfilling life. For someone else, maybe it really is just one or the other, which is fine too — only one person has to live your life, and that’s you. Emin’s explanation of her choices make sense for her, but its hardly true that professional moms idle their working hours away throwing darts at pictures of their career-devouring offspring tacked to the office door.
Image via AP, Thomas Lohnes, dapd