August 31, 2006

Finding Your Voice

Thought for the day:

“It’s okay to stand out in your field; but God forbid you stand out in the crowd.”

A lot of childfree people I’ve met act this way, myself included. Men certainly don’t want to talk about it. It’s a guy thing mostly. Women just go more naturally to an intimate subject. Blame Oprah, everybody else is. Thank goodness we are not really Purple. If we simply keep our mouths shut, no one will know we are different.

Hmmmmm. Our more vocal of purple contingent wants to know, “Why all the anonymity?” Have we committed a crime? Why are we so apologetic for not being parents?

You may know someone like this. They’ve been on the front lines longer. They are the pioneers of our movement, the ones who found their anger and who faced the music before us. Their anger is their strength. They’ve been online in chat rooms and forums a lot longer than Purple Women™ and they made it easier for us to follow in their childfree footsteps.

Okay, I may be stretching it to call childfree people a “movement”. That truly implies agreement on something, a united front. We are far from that. But we are getting harder to ignore, as the trend to remain childfree is up globally, as evidenced by this week's Newsweek feature story, despite America's burgeoning birth rate. We are not alone and the Internet is here to connect us.

My gosh, people are blogging about it. They are writing books; we’ve reviewed some of them here. Popular media and news outlets are getting curious about what it is to be childfree. They often get it wrong or show only one extreme. There’s only so much you can do within the constraints of a sound bite. We’re controversial, on a personal, social and political level – whether we like it or not.

Might as well learn to talk the talk. How well prepared are you to handle “The Question”? How comfortable would you be if a news person wanted to interview you? I’ve been asking myself the same questions as I write my book.

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Elise said...


What a wonderful article from Newsweek...not necessarily because it's the best one ever written, but because it will gain a very wide audience.

I feel very strongly that in a couple of hundred years, the late 20th and early 21st centuries will be viewed as a time when parenthood became a choice. What a glorious new development in human events. I am sure that as more and more time elapses between the development of the pill (1960) and other, more recent deveopments in contraceptive choices (Plan B), we'll have a better idea of what percentage of women *inherently* simply do not want children. I wouldn't be shocked if it climbs to a third or more of all women.

This shift won't occur only because more and better contraceptive options become (hopefully) more available, but also because the stigma CFs encounter will lessen as our effect on the environment's limited resources become clearer.

ChrisR said...

Teri, looks like this article is flavour du jour in the CF World. But hey, bring it on!

Dr Band, I hope you're right. I would love to see a world where parenting is genuinely a choice.

I do wonder though, with so many books and things starting to appear, why am I still being asked dumb questions? How long will this process take?

Elise said...

Hey Chris,

I think it could take a long, long time. Automatic parenthood has been the default for eons. We are still the narrow, narrow edge of the wedge.

A lot of the students I teach (high school age) seem to view parenting as the choice that it is. Hopefully by the time they're well into adulthood, this kerfuffle will have died down a bit. Meanwhile, articles in large-circulation, mainstream newsmagazines (like Newsweek) are probably one of the fastest ways to get to word out.

Robin said...

I would always be happy to discuss it but then again I'm not in a place where I can stand up for childfree like others are. I can't say to a reporter I've made my decision 100% but whenever I am I'd be happy to tell anyone who asks.