4484Re: Why VHEMT? Why Not Having Kids Is Admirable, Not Selfish
- Aug 20, 2013I like that story, but does it really reflect the VHEMT worldview? I took
it as "it's okay to have kids if you want to, or not to have kids if you
don't want to", and I agree with that. I thought the VHEMT paradigm was
just plain "not okay to have kids"...?
On Sun, Aug 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM, Augie <augie1015@...> wrote:
> Why Not Having Kids Is Admirable, Not Selfish
> By Jill Filipovic 
> August 16, 2013
> To the child-free women out there: thank you.
> Contrary to popular media narratives and the critiques of those concerned
> about the continued supremacy of the white race, women who don't have
> children  are not selfish, emotionally stunted or inadequately grown-up.
> In fact, they're the opposite: they're women with the self-knowledge and
> maturity to buck enormous social pressure and choose a life that's right
> for them.
> The increased visibility and acceptance of women who choose not to have
> children is just one part of a social evolution away from the limited
> "traditional family" model, and into a world where human beings with a
> diversity of needs can create family arrangements that work for them.
> That's not just good for the child-free; it's great for feminism  � and
> even better for society and families.
> Bring up the possibility of educated white women choosing not to have
> children  and you'll be met with intense hostility. The desire to forgo
> childrearing is a "banal fantasy "; having kids is the only way for
> adults to avoid "destructive self-absorption". The photo of the child-free
> couple on the cover of Time Magazine this month showcases "lazy yuppies
> " whose "matching swimsuits reek of self-satisfied, in-your-face Dinks
> [double income no kids]." The cover model's smile "is supposed to
> communicate her disdain for her uterus and her utter satisfaction with her
> size-4, cellulite-free, vacation-filled life".
> As for the actual words of child-free women, "the reasons couples give for
> avoiding parenthood are deeply, deeply lame"; remaining child-free by
> choice "is most definitely selfish", not to mention "anti-religion,
> anti-family, [and] counter-cultural". Few people make a child-free
> lifestyle sound more appealing than people (presumably parents) who are
> bitter and resentful at all the alleged freewheeling, responsibility-free
> fun that child-free people are having.
> Of course, that same level of vitriol isn't leveled at single women who
> decide to remain child-free, or poor women, or women of color. Thosewomen
> aren't selfish; they're rational, even commendable. Single women who have
> kids, and women who are poor or of color see their choice to have children
> criticized as irresponsible or indulgent.
> Yet, a married white woman saying "no thanks" to mommy-hood? She's a
> selfish narcissist, putting her life of fancy vacations and spotless white
> carpets ahead of her social and biological duty to reproduce.
> Most girls grow up in a culture of assumed motherhood. I was raised in a
> liberal, tolerant household, but into early adulthood, I never
> questionedwhether I was going to have kids � it was always how many and
> when. That wasn't borne out of a deep, inherent desire for children. It was
> simply how I understood the definition of "family": of course, you have
> kids, just as you move out of your parents' house, and you get married, and
> you die. That's the natural course of life.
> If you don't have kids, you're a lonely spinster, wiling away your days
> knitting booties for your many cats.
> To see some nebulous, grainy, other potential for which there are few
> mainstream models and say, "I want that," takes courage and imagination.
> That vision is behind many of the struggles for social justice in America:
> a vision of a gender -egalitarian world that has never before existed; a
> vision of living as one's true self, including one's true gender, when you
> were labeled something else at birth; a vision of equal rights and
> opportunities regardless of skin color; a vision of public and private
> spaces accessible to those whose bodies are deemed outside the norm.
> That isn't to equate child-free people with freedom fighters, feminists
> and other activists, or to say that the discrimination child-free women
> face is anything on the scale of systematic racism, homophobia, sexism or
> other bigotries. It is to say that creating new norms and models is
> powerful, and stepping outside the status quo often brave.
> Substantial numbers of people choosing not to have children also makes
> clear that having children should actually be a choice for everyone.
> Encouraging women and men to really assess their own lives, circumstances,
> values and desires, and evaluate whether a child is an addition they want,
> not only helps individuals to make more informed and affirming decisions,
> but sheds light on the many factors that make reproduction so fraught.
> Hopefully, it offers insight into how to make childbearing truly a choice
> for everyone. Recognizing that having children is staggeringly expensive
> doesn't mean that individuals shouldn't have kids unless they're
> financially well-off. It means that we need better social and political
> mechanisms to ensure that families at every income level can raise children
> who are healthy and who have access to good food, a decent education and
> the prospect of social and economic mobility.
> Recognizing that having children is more often than not detrimental to a
> woman's career and professional aspirations doesn't mean that women who
> want to succeed shouldn't have kids. It means that we need a variety of
> both policies and cultural changes to end discrimination against mothers,
> equitably share child-rearing tasks between partners, and make sure that
> the value of an employee isn't measured by hours spent at the office, but
> by productivity and effectiveness.
> And parenthood is difficult in very particular ways. It should only be
> entered into entirely voluntarily. There is no "voluntary" in a culture
> where parenthood is a required part of adulthood.
> Parenthood is, at its best, also really fun (or so my parents tell me).
> Many parents choose to have kids not because having kids is a
> socially-required slog, but because the process of raising a tiny human
> into an adult sounds challenging, exciting and transformational. For lots
> of other folks, though, the very real challenges and difficulties of
> child-rearing outweigh the benefits.
> And that's a legitimate position that should not just be accepted, but
> fundamentally understood without issue, since it's true in many other areas
> of life. I get a lot of pleasure and excitement out of trying new and weird
> foods; some people get pleasure and excitement out of skydiving; some get
> pleasure and excitement out of long periods of reclusive meditation. And
> others only want to eat things that are familiar, or not risk their life
> jumping out of a plane, or feel anxious when alone. Newsflash: people are
> different and need different things. For some folks, childrearing is a
> wonderful challenge; for others it sounds awful. For still others,
> parenthood is entered into involuntarily or even angrily; too often,
> children suffer the consequences.
> Romanticizing parenthood as beautiful and life-affirming obscures the
> reality that for many kids, a "parent" is someone who physically hurts
> them, belittles them, damages them or makes them feel small and worthless.
> Compulsory parenthood doesn't just limit those of us who are agnostic about
> having kids or don't want them at all; it breeds resentment and anger
> toward children, who are ultimately innocent in their parents' decision to
> bring them into the world. And it assumes that because parenthood is both
> paramount and natural, parents should have enormous levels of control over
> their kids, too often at the expense of those kids' personal safety and
> individual rights.
> Extremes like child abuse aside, the normalization of a child-free
> lifestyle would simply give us a wider variety of acceptable lifestyles to
> choose from. There is, of course, always peril in choice, as there is some
> psychological ease in just going with the assumed flow of things and
> accepting one's circumstances as inevitable. Choice means knowing there are
> doors left unopened and paths not taken; choice always offers the potential
> for regret, or at least wondering what might have been. But working through
> that, and owning the choices we make, are how we get to happiness, instead
> of simple satisfaction or complacency.
> We all have one life on this planet. Seeking happiness selfishly, at the
> expense of others, isn't laudable. But seeking happiness and pleasure for
> oneself by making choices that serve one's needs and values, which don't
> harm other people? A society in which members collectively decide that
> their own needs are important, and that creating social structures to
> support a diversity of needs is a path to prosperity?
> A society that prioritizes pleasure and self-worth sounds a whole lot
> better than one that valorizes denial, unnecessary sacrifice and general
> resignation at the way things are (at least for women).
> The "selfish" narrative about child-free people also sheds light on many
> of our cultural dysfunctions. There's little angst over the many men who
> choose not to have children, and little social condemnation. Consider
> simply the difference in meaning of "bachelor" versus "spinster". Women who
> don't have children are particularly offensive because part of our cultural
> understanding of the ideal female hinges on being nurturing, emotional and
> care-giving. To reject childbearing pushes back on the basic assumption
> that women have an obligation always to make their lives about someone else.
> There are 7 billion people on the planet. It seems unlikely that all of
> them would be inherently and necessarily more fulfilled, more mature and
> better-off if they all made the exact same choice � whether that's to run a
> business or start an organic garden or practice yoga or do any other
> particular thing. So, why do we assume that having kids is the universal
> choice of the unselfish and the personally transformed?
> Normalization of being child-free is a gain for all of us, whether we
> choose to have children or not. It reminds us that kids are people, who
> deserve to be raised and nurtured by adults who proactively want to have
> them. And it reminds us that women are people, too � that we exist once on
> this planet, and we have one life in which to seek happiness and pleasure
> and goodness. Making choices that center on our own needs and desires isn't
> selfish. It's radical. It's transformational.
> See more stories tagged with:
> parenting ,
> children ,
> family ,
> normalization ,
> status quo 
> Source URL:
>  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/
>  http://www.alternet.org/authors/jill-filipovic-0
>  http://www.theguardian.com/society/children
>  http://www.theguardian.com/world/feminism
>  http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2148636,00.html
>  http://www.theguardian.com/world/gender
>  http://www.alternet.org/tags/parenting
>  http://www.alternet.org/tags/children-0
>  http://www.alternet.org/tags/family-0
>  http://www.alternet.org/tags/normalization
>  http://www.alternet.org/tags/status-quo
>  http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B
> Live Simply So That
> Others May Simply Live
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- << Previous post in topic