The Decision Not to Have Children: Yes, It's Worth Talking About!
30 June 2012
There are few guarantees in life, but one of them is that women writing about their personal experiences will almost instantly trigger a cascade of gripes about their narcissism, their privilege, the hubris that's inherent to the sharing of personal details and feelings. Writing about parenting often has that effect. Writing about not parenting nearly always does.
Before Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic cover story "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" swept in and effectively blew all other conversations into great, desiccating piles by the curb, a series of articles in the online magazine Slate entitled Childfree Women Explain Themselves was drawing lots of attention. In response to a rather inflamed reaction to Katie Roiphe's theory that parents secretly pity the childless, Slate's Double X editors invited happily childless readers to share their reasons for not reproducing.
The result was six testimonials that drew thousands of comments (the kickoff piece by Soraya Roberts has more than 3200 to date.) Many of those comments were from people who shared or at least understood the choice not to become a parent. Some, predictably, took it upon themselves to set the writers straight and enumerate the reasons that you can't know what real love is--or live a real life--without raising children. Along the way, of course, there were countless remarks about how no one cares. "If you don't want to have children don't," wrote one commenter. "But please stop yammering about it to the rest of us."