Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why Don’t All Women Want Kids?

Posted by: Michelle Haimoff

Cross-posted on genfem.com

In college when a friend of mine used to say that she didn’t want kids, it sounded outrageous to me. Of course she wanted kids. All women want kids. I figured she was just in her own college headspace and would grow out of it when she got older.

Then then she got older and I got older and I’m the one that grew out of my limited notions about what a woman’s role should be.

Of course all women don’t want kids. The same way all men don’t want high-powered jobs. We’ve been so socialized to think that stereotypical gender roles (male breadwinner, female homemaker) are the natural order of things that we think something is unnatural about not fitting into those roles.

It doesn’t help that we see these messages everywhere. The example I always use is that you never see an ad for a household cleaning product with a man in it. Seriously. It’s always a woman. Usually white. If you see one with a man in it, send it to me (and Mr. Clean doesn’t count. He’s a supervisor).

The revolutionary thing happening in our generation is that we’re realizing that the difference between individuals is more significant than the difference between genders. There are Type A women and Type A men. Straight women who can’t keep homes clean and straight men who do the holiday gift wrapping. And gay men and women that make their own rules entirely.

Popular culture has yet to catch up. Shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock are a good start because they make fun of convention, but the humor is in the weirdness of a quirky character like a Liz Lemon who does not act like the married woman she should.

At this transitional point in our culture, it is important to go against the grain, despite the messages everywhere warning us otherwise. Being a woman that doesn’t want kids or doesn’t want kids yet isn’t unnatural, it’s unconventional. And unfortunately we live in a society where convention and nature get confused.

As an aside, I really want kids. It’s something I’ve felt strongly about for as long as I can remember. To me, that only confirms the diversity of women’s aspirations. We all don’t want the same thing. Of course we don’t. Neither do men.

1 comment:

Jerin said...

Thank you, Michelle, for this thoughtful post. I was recently at a feminist event when I was asked when I would "settle down" and have kids. I was a little taken back, considering the surrounding. Unfortunately, even within the feminist world, not wanting to have kids seems like an unnatural choice for women.