December 24, 2007

The Common Ground

Purple WomenTM new to this blog and parents alike may be surprised at its tone when they first discover it. We have been blogging on a controversial topic of "being a childfree woman" for going on three years now. It's a topic that draws extreme points of view on a very personal and sometimes controversial choice, to child or not to child. We explore the topic with tact, reason and some grace and we hope it supports and enlightens those who land here. All are welcome, that's why we call it Purple Women & Friends.

It's perhaps too easy to focus on what separates us.
Women empower themselves by acknowledging their choice to remain childfree, regardless of what circumstances, or at what age they make the choice. As time goes on we realize we must arm ourselves against the thoughtless comments of others, and sometimes our own family. If we are really skilled, we develop a sense of humor about it (I truly believe it's the best defense of a lifestyle choice that should need no defending.)

As our friends have kids, we have to change our expectations about those friendships and put some thought into the structure of our social life, one that will not revolve around the school year, unless we enroll, or become an educator ourselves.

Parents deserve our respect, support and understanding. Sometimes they just need a "wider berth" to get through the difficult years with younger children. Have patience Purple WomenTM, because it's really fun to reconnect with parents who have older kids. They are ready to socialize and have some adult fun again. They have served their time, focused on their kids and now they are ready to explore who they are again. People really connect on their common interests, not their family status, though parents of young kids are in a totally different social state.

My husband and I moved to his home town in Northern California one year ago. I'll admit, I was a little nervous about being back in mainstream suburbia, (read my post about it: Purple Haze) but things are really working out okay. I started a No Kidding chapter for my area and have also made a lot of friends by getting involved with the local opera company. We just hosted our first ever holiday party combining these two groups of friends in our new home and we were very pleased that our mix of interesting, artsy childed and childfree friends found each other so fascinating. It left me with the feeling that really we have more in common than not. It's perhaps too easy to focus on what separates us.

The childfree path is the one we walk, but we are not alone, there are lots of potential friends along the way and they are not all childfree. On this topic, I would like to turn your attention to a beautiful post written by AlphaGirl about her best friend and mother of three grown kids: Maria. It is buried in the archives, and one of our best contributions. Please take a moment to read it.

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December 22, 2007

Another Tip on How to Survive the Question

c H/H&C Coffee I L D
F R E glowing E Caution!
I always love it when someone new discovers our blog. A new Purple WomenTM reader blogging as Longing for Home has left a new comment on our post titled "Top Ten Tips":
I know this is an old post but I just found your site...I'd love to use this response, but I doubt my sarcasm would be appreciated:

"We're planning on starting on kids when the padded, sound-proofed nursery is ready and we've finished interviewing nannies. Do you have any leads?"
Thanks for sharing. This is L.O.L.!

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December 19, 2007

Oh, Just Grow Up!

People have told me I’m 'young at heart' and I take it as a compliment. But according to Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, it’s a moral flaw.

When the media needs a quote from someone inclined to denounce the choice to remain childfree, they go to Mohler. Two years ago Dr. Mohler appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360˚ in a debate with Madelyn Cain, author of The Childless Revolution, following a video segment of people talking about their reasons for remaining childless, including one childfree woman who was working as a nanny.

In the debate, moderated by CNN correspondent Heidi Collins, Mohler had this to say:

MOHLER:…this is really about avoiding the responsibilities of parenthood. And I find that profoundly sad. You know, obviously, there is a tremendous moral point to be made here. These couples -- well, they have to be very thankful that their parents didn't make the same decision. And society depends upon parenthood and the raising of children being seen as a norm for married couples and as something that is of social value.

COLLINS: But, Albert, isn't it -- pardon the interruption. Isn't it dangerous to assume that everyone can be a good parent?

MOHLER: Well, you know, I think what is more dangerous is to assume that we're going to say that people can be adults, and be recognized as responsible adults, who don't even aspire to grow up, to be mature enough to have children. I mean, parenthood is a part of helping to create adults. We grow up by having our children. Without that responsibility we have a generation of perpetual adolescents, just growing old.

Click here for the full transcript of this show.

Mohler’s not the only one who believes we need to have a kid or two to "be recognized as responsible adults." As Laura C pointed out in her post on, policy wonks and social scientists are struggling with the fact that the three steps to adulthood—employment, marriage, and procreation—are increasingly being delayed in the United States, forcing a reassessment of what were previously considered the normative milestones to adulthood.

So what happens when you skip the having kids part?

You tell us!

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December 18, 2007

An Unlikely Childfree Zone

by Shelley
Regular Contributor

Just when you thought there was nowhere left to escape the kindergarten crowd, there’s one place that’s drawing the line between where children do and do not belong. And believe it or not, it’s a church.

That’s right – NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina does not allow children under the age of 11 to attend its worship services. How did the church come to enact this policy? In a post, titled What – No Kids in the Worship Service? – Part Two, (June 14, 2005) on his widely read blog (Perry Pastor Noble explains:

“I realized that when it comes to kids in the service that the pastor is in a no win situation. If they cause a disruption and we address it then some will consider us mean. If we let it go unnoticed then others will consider us to be passive.

So our team…finally decided that our church was going to strive to provide a distraction free worship environment for adults and a creative, relevant environment for kids–that way everyone wins.”
“But wait a minute,” you might say. “Didn’t Jesus say to let the children come to him?” Noble writes:

“I once had a father yell at me over the telephone, ‘Jesus said bring the little children unto me.’ I completed the verse for him and said, ‘and do not hinder them. It is my belief that by taking a child and placing them in an environment where they are not engaged in a way that they can understand that they are being hindered. That is why we refuse to hinder kid’s spiritual development by asking them to surrender an hour of their life to boredom.”

Additionally, Noble has no tolerance for parents who assert that it’s important for children to see how Mommy and Daddy behave in church:

“It is my conviction that you have Monday through Saturday to worship God as a family. If you are not being a true worshipper on Monday through Saturday and then you try to come to church and fake it on Sunday then I promise that your child does not view you as a spiritual giant–but rather a hypocrite who is leading by example that it is ok to live one way inside the walls of the church and another way outside the walls.”

So, in today’s parent-dominated society, how has NewSpring been rewarded for bucking convention? Approximately 4000 people attend services each Sunday, and it was recently named the 21st Most Influential Church in America. I think it just goes to show what
Purple WomenTM already know – where children are concerned, some traditions deserve a second look.

Flickr photo by criana (cc)
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December 12, 2007

In the Company of Men

I started a scriptwriters group a number of years ago. We meet once a month to critique each other’s work and offer support and to enjoy the camraderie.

I walked into last nights meeting and found I was the only female in the group. We talked about the new generation of video cameras, our recent travels, and how we might share our work online. We critiqued one of the member’s musical numbers and we caught up with each other, exchanging news, advice, and ideas.

It was just like a meeting I might have had with my other writers group, a nonfiction group composed entirely of women, except that the subject of children never came up.

That got me thinking. The men I hang around with (most of whom have grown children) don’t spend much time talking about their kids, yet the women do, even long after the kids have left the nest.

Is it a gender identity thing? Given that most of the women I know took on the bulk of the child-rearing tasks, is it more difficult for them to make the transistion from parent to empty-nester than it is for their husbands?

I don’t know. However, it appears, based on some of my recent social interactions with empty-nester women, they are more likely than their husbands to continue to initiate and forge social connections by bringing their kids and grandkids into the conversation.

Where does that leave me, the childfree woman? Talking about the nephews, and the grandniece, I confess. Guilty as charged.

Or, more often, drifting off to join the cluster of men in the room, the ones talking about movies, golf, and politics.

Flickr Photo
by JennsJournal cc
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December 06, 2007

Dog Ready?

The childfree are supposedly pet-friendly. We all have pets as substitute children, right? Maybe not.

My husband and I have been talking about getting a dog for a year now. We finally have a house with a yard. It truly seems the perfect setting. Lots of room to roam, except for the poisonous plants that the previous owner planted, it seems ideal for a pooch or two. I have read that a puppy will put anything in its mouth, not unlike a toddler. I am loath to even think about pulling out the well-established hydrangeas, camellias
and azaleas. Yes, all those lovely plants are poisonous to dogs.

Since puppies are a lot of work, we thought we'd have a starter dog and adopt one from a local shelter. Of course, we'd want two dogs eventually as they would keep each other company when we were not around, and, as the thinking goes, how much more work could two be if you are already taking one for a walk?

A dog-owner reading this post might think that last sentiment sounds naive. My betrothed and I are both working full-time, and right now we are having a hard time just keeping our chickens happy and well-adjusted. With the shortened daylight hours, they are not getting to forage outside the coup as much. Egg production has been greatly reduced. The birds are a little stressed by the change. They make a racket in the morning trying to get me to let them out. Honestly, who needs a rooster when four hens can be that loud? They lay eggs regardless, and yes, fresh eggs are fabulous, but they do not give adoration and affection like a "man's best friend."

We learned from talking to our dog owner friends, that adopting a dog is not so easy. You have to pass a test. One of the questions is, "Do you plan to let your dog sleep in the house?" If you answer is "no", then no dog for you. Apparently, with these rescue organizations it's their way or the highway. When we think this one through, it's a pretty big pill to swallow. Both of us grew up with dogs when dogs slept outside.

With all the poisonous plant, free-time issues we already have, the "where does your dog sleep" question seems like a deal-breaker. Lately, we've come to realize that we are not ready for a dog. It just wouldn't be fair, plus our cats would be mortified if we brought a dog in the house. They tend to "express" themselves on the carpet when they are not pleased. Maybe when we retire, but, then we'd want to travel.

I suspect my friend and co-Contributing Editor, LauraS, will be smiling and nodding her head as she reads this. See why in this post: Meet LauraS.

[Photo: Buttercup, Rosie, Sally and Brenda in the background.]

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December 05, 2007

CF eZine December Issue

Both of our Contributing Editors at Purple WomenTM have written for this online magazine targeted toward a childfree audience especially. I really hope they make it to a second year.

Why not take a look at the December 2007 issue of Unscripted: A Childfree Life, that was just published?

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PW Button Links

Here are some Purple WomenTM buttons (they should also be links) to wear on your own blogs as promised. My favorite is the one with the catty sunglasses as I think it is easiest to read, but I didn't see any reason not to offer all three.

BTW, how are you doing in your holiday planning? What's your strategy? Family, friends, parties?

Are you armed with some good come backs when you get asked The Question? If you are planning to go to an office holiday party or other such affair unarmed, I suggest you read this post first:

Cheers & Happy Holidays,

Teri Tith
Creator & Contributing Editor
Purple Women & Friends
(where the childfree women are)

I will send you the GIF file for the images above if you send me an email.

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December 03, 2007

Raising the Girls

Okay, I’ve never breast fed, haven’t even lactated. So the girls are pretty much what the guys with vasectomies might call sport models.

However, I can identify with moms like Patricia Heaton, the actress who played the Ray’s wife Debra in the TV comedy Everyone Loves Raymond. She did breast feed. She has five kids. She had cosmetic breast surgery because, as she once said, she had to become adept at origami to get her boobs into a bra. I’m younger than Heaton by a few years. I’m not ready to go under the knife, but gravity has become the enemy. I practically have to go into downward dog pose to get into the iron maiden the bra manufacturers call "the underwire."

So I have to give shout out to Belinda Luscombe who made a plea to billionaire entrepreneur Warren Buffett to build a better bra. Her entreaty was published in Time Magazine’s Nov 12th edition, which also featured the best inventions of 2007.

I saw the irony. If we can build a robot that will lift a beer out of the fridge and fling it to the slug/football fan in the LazyBoy, surely we can build a better bra?

Luscombe pointed out that cup sizes were invented 80 years ago and haven’t been modified much beyond the first four letters of the alphabet. Nordstroms and Victoria Secret expert bra fitters take only two measurements to determine our bra size. Luscombe noted that a team of Hong Kong researchers took 98 measurements in their effort to explore the breast sizes and shapes of Chinese women. The Chinese win, again.

But we have the technology. If Levis can do custom fit, laser cut jeans, North American women can get a bra that fits. We just need someone with leadership, someone with money, someone with a history of investment in the undergarment industry. Someone with man boobs—someone who can share our pain.

Warren, where are you?

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November 26, 2007

The "No Kids" Household

This week Time Magazine published some interesting statistics in a special report titled "America by the Numbers."

According to the stats, there are 31.4 million married couples with no children at home, outnumbering the 24.2 million married couples with children under eighteen. To be clear, the first figure includes empty nesters, but if you add the 8 million single households with no kids, that makes close to forty million U.S. "No Kids" households.

So why is it everytime I turn on the news, the top story is "What can I buy little Johnny for Christmas this year if I can’t buy Chinese toys?" or "What can parents do for a sick child now that cough syrup is not recommended for children under six?"

I guess we know what heads of households with children are doing: Worrying about lead paint and cold remedies.

What are "no kids" households doing? Sleeping peacefully, and longer.

"13 Percent of parents slept with their infants in 2000, up from 5.5 in 1993." According to the Time stats, these kids sleep one hour less each night then kids did 30 years ago.
Whether you sleep well or not usually depends on whom you are sleeping with. Since 67 percent of Americans share their bed with another person or a pet, we may be able to blame our lack of sleep on our baby (both the two-legged and four-legged variety).

Households with no kids are likely to have more disposable income than do households with kids. The latest estimates say it will cost close to 300,000 to raise the average American kid to the age of 17 (college costs excluded). So what are we doing with all that money? Travel, luxury goods?

According to a Canadian study, we are buying books; households without children make 64 percent of new book buys. We are also buying hybrid cars; according to a survey conducted by Vertis Communications, 58 percent of hybrid shoppers are childless/childfree.

But on sleep we can all agree. Of all the childed and unchilded households in the United States, 17 percent spent as much on their mattress than they did on their last vacation.

What’s your sleep number?

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November 19, 2007

Review: The Crowd You're In With

I think a better name for this play is: You are Your Peers.

Rebecca Gilman’s play will be with me a long time, but it will only be at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco through December 9th. Like a good book or a really excellent film, a powerful artistic work that moved at least one audience members to tears, it will be with me a long time.

The setting: a backyard BBQ. The dialogue centers around family planning and family choice. I remember writing about my own backyard experience in this post: The Question. I had no idea that such an interaction could be turned into a stage play.

The main characters in this play are one pregnant couple, one not-pregnant-yet couple, and the landlady and her lord, and you guessed it, they are a childfree couple. Let me just say the odd couple didn’t mix so well. The BBQ is a total disaster.

I think the scene, one long act that will keep you riveted to your seat for 80 minutes, is a bit extreme, the treatment of the childfree couple was not at all far from reality. Close enough to the mark; we are all easy marks because we are living such non-traditional lives, to be uncomfortable. I casually mentioned to one of the ushers at the theater that my childfree group attended the play and that “we get that kind of reaction all the time” her reaction was cool and not at all sympathetic. She probably thought I was as freakish as the stage characters thought of their childfree counterparts.

I met a woman who teaches art classes in a studio adjacent to the theatre and she said, in an unrelated conversation as we were mingling in the lobby area prior to the show, “No tolerance is actually a form of intolerance.” That applies to so many things.

The Purple Woman portrayed on stage was particularly vilified. I think the writer took it a bit to the extreme, perhaps to make a point, but I couldn’t help wondering how the childed vs. the parents in the audience were reacting to the scene. I remember, at one point, I was agreeing whole-heartedly with the dialogue on stage and a woman in front of me was shaking her head in sympathetic scorn.

Ms. Gilman did Purple Men a favor by focusing on their ability to make a conscious choice about becoming a parent. Our society focuses on women so much, possibly because we are the ones who actually get pregnant. Men have revealed that they feel pushed aside in the equation as the mere sperm donor who will just go along for the ride, as if they are not part of the decision. “Oh once your child is born….fill-in the blank reason,” to pacify the unsure male.

In the middle of the act, thank goodness for the single friend who drops by with a cheap six-pack of beer, as he provides much needed humor. His jokes about waiting on tables with parents and young children had everyone laughing heartily. Who knew Cheerios are just for tossing and not for eating? His arrival and delivery were perfectly timed.

This morning I was reading the morning paper about how whaling how international pressure has greatly impacted a small Japanese town’s traditional catch. I was surprised to learn that it was the Americans after WWII, who encouraged whales as a food source. Now we, as leaders in the world (bullies to some), and the international community have changed our minds. A spokesperson for the small whaling town of Taiji pointed out, “They just completely reject people whose thinking isn’t the same as theirs.” This reminded me of the kind of interactions that the childfree often have with parents and perfect strangers.

The Magic Theatre has a run of 25 shows for The Crowd You’re In With. I plan to go back for one of the Friday evening performances because the writer and director come out to talk with the audience, and more than anything, after seeing something like that, you want to talk about it. I am very grateful to Nicole, the promoter of the show, for a couple of reasons. First, she had the savvy to contact me, as the leader of a childfree social club, to promote the show to our members. Moreover, she arranged for members of my club to have a special ticket price at a $7.00 reduction. This marks the first time I have ever had a discount on anything for being childfree.

I will be thinking about this play for days if not weeks, and the more I think about it , the more title of the play seems perfect to me. It alludes to the kind of “group think” mentality that I suspect is often the basis for starting a family with children.

Rebecca Gilman is a Pulitzer-prize nominated play write. I hope she wins big for this one.

Update to post: Read Robert Hurwitt's review in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

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November 18, 2007

A Legacy for the Childfree?

A good friend of mine posed an interesting question to me over dinner a few nights ago: Do the childless by choice think, or do, more about about leaving a legacy because they don’t have kids?

Her parents felt that their legacy, or their purpose, was to give their kids a better future and more opportunities than they had. Parents by virture of procreation leave a legacy. So what about the childless and childfree?

This question comes up a lot when I talk about the childless and childfree. My response to her was: "It depends on how you define legacy? Is it genes, philanthropy, creative contributions, good works? Do we even care if we leave a lasting legacy, or do we focus solely on the here and now?

Personally, I do think about leaving a legacy. I hope my volunteer efforts will benefit the next generation. I hope something I have written will encourage someone to expand his or her thinking on a topic. I hope there is something left after I pay for eldercare so I can leave something to charity. But there are no guarantees.

Earlier that evening, this friend had thanked me because that week, for the first time in her thirty-some years, when asked if she had kids, she had felt empowered to respond: No, I’m childless by choice.

To me, that was enough. That’s my legacy.

What about you? Do you think about your legacy? Does it matter?

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November 17, 2007

Shoulds and Shouldn'ts

Guest Post by
Purple Woman & Mental Health Advocate
Gainseville, Florida

I have a mental illness.

There. I said it, got it out of the way. It's relevant to Purple WomenTM, though, because being mentally ill puts me in a category all its own -- society thinks I shouldn't have children.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, thousands of women with brain disorders (including the non-disease "hysteria", a label slapped on some women who didn't meekly obey her menfolk) were given involuntary hysterectomies because it was thought such women shouldn't breed. While the eugenics programs are done and buried, the mindset still persists
among many doctors.

I've been wanting a tubal ligation since I was fourteen or so, although I've never had the money to follow through. I've brought it up with various doctors, though, and the response is always the same. Their first reaction is the one most childfree women get -- "You'll change your mind when you're older." But then they find out that I have a mental illness, and suddenly they can't wait to schedule the surgery for me.

I don't want children, and never have. I'm lucky that I feel this way, though, because pregnancy and motherhood would be very hard on my mental stability. Yes, I could have a kid if I really wanted to, but I'd have to do it under a doctor's close supervision, and I'd have a lot of issues that other women don't have to deal with.

Lots of women with mental illnesses -- including both my sisters -- make great mothers. They each have a daughter, and my middle sister has a son on the way. Having a brain disorder does not automatically make a person a bad parent. There is medication. There is therapy. There are support groups.

You should value your ability to choose, whether society wants you to have children or not.
A hundred years ago I wouldn't have had a choice. I can't ever forget that. And neither should you.

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Meet SteffO

Purple WomenTM have really come out of the woodwork this week -- um, or should I say closet? I was so pleased to correspond with several childfree women by email. I encouraged SteffO to elevate our dialogue and contribute the next post.

Her topic is unique, though her situation may not be.

Steff Osborne, 31, lives in Gainesville, Florida, and is a counselor and activist in the local mental health community.

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Purple Women Count Every Day

Thank you my fellow Purple Sistahs for your generous comments (they truly are gifts!), and for your willingness to take on our proposed topic on your own blogs. This is just one topic of many that we face. This is a good beginning.

Let's do this again, with a different topic in January. My thanks to Tanya for a clever work-around to share the button link graphic code on the front page here:

< target="_blank" href="" title="Purple Women & Friends Blogroll">
< border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5131592579227145730" alt="" src="">< /a>< style="color: rgb(51, 0, 51);" width="80" height="15">< language="javascript" src="YOUR BLOGROLL URL" type="text/javascript">< /script >< /span >

[Instructions: Just cut and paste, and to make the HTML magic happen you must remove the spaces in next to these < > brackets. Removing the spaces in this string of code will fix it and allow it to appear properly in your sidebar!
When I have the PW Blogroll of Honor ready to go, we will simply insert the URL where it says "YOUR BLOGROLL URL". Ta da!]

I really hope this works, or I will not be able to keep up with the activity, our very own PW movement!
Please consider attending BlogHer's 4th Annual Conference in summer 2008, which happens to fall on my birthday. Meeting you in person would be the best present ever! I have been encouraged by BlogHer to coordinate a panel on childfree women bloggers. The brave women who join me up there will need your support from the audience. We have an opportunity to carve our own niche. You have already helped by putting up your posts for Purple Women Count Day.

To M's point, we have more in common with these women than not, (blog hoes?), and there is much to be learned by coming together and finding the common ground. When I attended in 2006, I came away with a profound respect for the women I met. It was a high level of exchange.

I have posted on the topic of childfree women identifying themselves on BlogHer's site. Please take a peek, Childfree Women Bloggers, and leave a comment there, so the women on their board know we are out here. Heck, there may be an invisible Purple Woman or two in their midst!

Purple WomenTM,
let us no longer be invisible, whether online or in our families, social circles or communities.

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November 15, 2007

Purple Women Get Bloggy on November 15

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
Purple WomenTM Count, and they blog about it. Thanks to the following childfree women who put up leading posts and helped me get the word out about our staged online event:

BritGirl Childfree and Invisible

Philadelphia Bunnyface Not as Purple as I Should Be

M Are the Childfree Invisible in our Society?

Shelley End of Tunnel: Purple Women Count

The articles above are great commentary. They are long and well thought out, so get your cup of tea or coffee and pull up a chair.

  • M points out that in the end, we really have more in common than not, and perhaps that's what we should focus on.
  • Philly Bunny talks about the pain of family pressure and why she does not like to reveal that she is childless by choice.
  • BritGirl puts a fine point on just how excluded we are, and explores whether or not we represent a true social movement. (She also does a follow-up post, see links below.)
  • Shelley, a Regular Contributor at PW&F, explains why she would prefer to read childfree women bloggers...and where are they anyway?
Your comments would be most appreciated on their posts. That's the beauty of the blogosphere. It's all about the dialogue!

Big news, we have their attention my fellow Purple Women:
I contacted the organizers of BlogHer's 2008 Convention to be held in Chicago and suggested they consider having a panel of childfree women bloggers. They replied favorably and asked me to get back to them with names of potential panelists and a list of questions. Who's in?
I am also working in the background to develop our very own PW blogroll. Yes, I think we should point out why, and asked to be included as Women Without Children in other supposedly inclusive women-centric sites, and we can also get organized and do it for ourselves. We will probably never be mainstream, but we are getting harder to ignore.

Also check out these Purple WomenTM to see what they write about on our day...

Dani Purple Melange

Neda A Childfree Choice: A Purple Letter Day

Escape Brooklyn Top Ten Reasons I Don't Want Kids

Beany Being Purple

Angry Grrrl Childfree Women: Blog and Be Counted on 11/15!

CalliGrafiti Childfree Blogger

Ravan Another Ravan Perch

Addy CF Unscripted

BritGirl Childfree ... Do We Count?

Amanda Jayne Purple Women Count

LunarKitty Purple Women Count Today

My thanks to all those who have contacted me, who have inserted a button, and posted notice of our staged online event on childfree forums and groups lists. If you'd like the HTML code for the PW button that links to this blog, please email me directly (I love to hear from readers).

Wear it with pride

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November 14, 2007

One Size Does Not Fit All

by LynnS
Regular Contributor
Ireland, UK

I can vividly remember an older cousin giving me an annual one Christmas. The annual was called "Misty" and it was based on a horror comic (now sadly defunct) aimed at girls aged about 10 - 14. I was thrilled and being a bookworm even then, I immediately sat down to read it. My mother was dismayed and tried to take it off me, insisting it was too scary and it'd give me nightmares. I stubbornly refused to hand it over. (In fact, I think I sat on it). "I don't care if it gives me nightmares," I wailed. "I didn't get a Glow Worm last Christmas so I'm keeping this. I like spooky stories and I kinda like being scared, so there!" Did I mention I could be a brat?

Joking aside, it would be years before I understood the subtext and significance of the conversation. My mother wasn't attempting to spoil my fun; she was trying to protect me. There was an assumption back then that girls (of my age, anyway) just didn't like horror. In retrospect, I can see that the real danger and damage lay in the assumption that all girls are the same. In other words, that one size fits all.

Except it won't. How could it?

At school, it was drilled into us that we were all unique, that there is no one else on the planet quite like us. True. Yet society seems to say one thing and do another. As I entered my teens, I was bombarded by conflicting messages which ultimately seemed to say "yes, you're an individual and you can be yourself - so long as you still toe the line." Toeing the line, I would soon discover, meant having children.

One of the great victories of the feminist movement was the recognition that women are people in their own right and that women are entitled to the same choices and opportunities as men. Doesn't it stand to reason, then, that as unique individuals we won't want the same things in life? Is it so surprising, therefore, that some of us will make the choice not to have children?

Why is this so hard to accept in the 21st century?

It strikes me that, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a feminist (and I do) that choosing not to have children is a very feminist statement. Think about it.
Feminists fought tooth and nail so women would not be defined by their wombs. As a childfree woman, you're saying, “Okay, so I have a womb but that doesn't mean I have to use it. I won't allow myself to be defined by it either.”
You're rejecting the societal script and opting for a road less traveled, and that alone can make people nervous.

Some women have or will have children. Their business. Their decision.

Other women (we Purple WomenTM) will not have children. Our business. Our decision. One that's equally valid.

Let's embrace and revel in our differences. The fact that Purple WomenTM are childfree unites us, but we're also unique individuals. Think how unbelievably boring the world would be if we were all carbon copies of one another.

I'll finish by thanking my cousin, first of all, not just for giving me an annual I still love! Whether she realized it or not, she did so much more than giving me an annual. By doing so, she was really saying “I know you don't like or want the same things as most other girls but you know what? That's okay.” What matters is not what people may think. What matters is finding out who you are and being true to yourself.

Those nightmares my mother was worried I'd have? I had plenty. There was one story about a severed hand that scares me even today. But I was able to examine my fears and I survived and came out stronger as a result. There's a lesson to be learned there, maybe. . .

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Purple WomenTM everywhere. You know that Sesame Street song "It Ain't Easy Being Green"? Well, sometimes - let's be honest - it ain't easy being Purple either. But you make all the difference. Constant, inspiring reminders that one size does not fit all.

Flickr photo taken by Franz66's Dad, shared by franz66 (cc)
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November 11, 2007

Steal This

Purple WomenTM I cannot figure out how to make the code to have this button link to our blog. Not much time to fiddle with HTML these days.
Feel free to wear this badge of honor in your own sidebar! (Just right click and save as a JPG file, then upload according to your blog hosting instructions as you would any other image.)

Update to post: I asked for help from Annie at BlogU, and she sent me the proper code, as below:

The identical-looking button (the lower one) actually links to this blog's home page! If you'd like the HTML to use this on your own site, just send me an email. I plan to turn this into a bonafide PW Blogroll as we go boldly go into our third year of this team blog. Now, who can help me write the javascript?

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November 10, 2007

Letter to a Purple Woman

From time to time, I hear from a Purple Woman. I have been encouraging women to connect with me by sharing my email, with promise of a PW button mailed in return. One reader inspired this reply:

Dear Susan,
Thanks for writing to me. I really enjoy hearing from a reader directly. It motivates me. You are lucky to have found a Purple Man, of course, I assume. He could have children from a previous marriage. You mention that your retort to those who ask The Question (Do You Have Children?) is an innocent, "I was blessed with infertility!" That is a very safe response, and can engender pity. I too discovered myself unable to have kids in my early 20s. I didn't want to travel that path, but it took me a long time to embrace the happiness that can be found in walking the less traveled childfree path.

When there is not a reason, like a fertility issue that childed others can get their minds around, it is difficult for them to grasp the idea that an adult would choose this life. The mainstream media has focused on these individuals first, but now the coverage is starting to broaden. Their questions are getting better. I was contacted by a grad student reporter who claimed to be doing an article for the New York Times and he wanted to focus on those who we call the early articulators. I tried to tell him there is way more to the story than that. We didn't do the interview.

Such a foreign idea, that one who is able to have kids and does not wish to do so, can make a person of strong faith, regardless of denomination, defensive of their scripture. Not everyone has the same grasp on religion; interpretations can vary. There are childfree church-goers, to use a convenient Christian term. We have had two bloggers associated with our blog who have covered this religious aspect of our existence. In fact, Shelley, our Regular Contributor, leads a bible group for childfree couples at her congregation.

The misunderstanding is not just founded in religious belief. The concept that an adult can and would choose to take a step away from "what we were put here to do," as one relative put it to me, goes against their personal belief in the rightness of their actions, and reveals that they believe their "truth" applies to all others.

I did not mean to write so much. But, in truth, there is so much to talk about. That's why I started this blog two years ago!

Be well,
P.S. I really only meant to say, yes, we still have more Purple Woman! buttons and I am mailing yours today.

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November 09, 2007

Childless and Mormon

Oprah recently did a show on fundamental Mormon polygamists. The majority of women featured on the show appeared very pleased with their plural marriages and most had over five children each. I did the addition and realized there were over 20 people living together in one home. Whew…

Of course this type of marriage is rare and illegal. One notorius leader, Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and husband to over 50 wives, is currently in jail awaiting his sentence after being found guilty of accomplice to rape for coercing a 14-year-old girl into a marriage with her elder cousin.

The mainstream Mormon Church no longer sanctions polygamy, and there are only a few communities of polygamists left in North America. However, the Church continues to actively support and endorse large families, so I wondered: what is life like for childless or childfree LDS couples?

Kathryn Kidd, a childless Mormon author from Virginia and a contributor to Meridien Magazine, an ezine designed for Latter-day Saints, explored this question in a article titled Other Avenues for the Childless after being contacted by women who wrote about the challenges of childlessness.

Barbara, reflecting on her experience of a life without kids in the LDS community, had this to say:

The biggest problem was lack of any suitable role or role model for women in my position in the Church. There were no childless married women I could relate to, and a lack of friends or peers with whom I could share experience. Church meetings and classes and talks inevitably involve teachings on the family.

Many of the childfree and childless of all beliefs and faiths experience a sense of isolation and some exclusion. However, I suspect this must be harder in a community where having kids is what a contributor to the Latter-day Saint Liberation Front website called one of the "most profound and fundamental mortal obligations."

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Purple in the Military

Purple WomenTM,
This message is forwarded by one of No Kidding's Official Spokespeople, Vincent Ciaccio:

A journalist from Military Spouse Magazine is looking to interview childfree military couples for a piece she is writing. If you know anyone fitting this description and they are interested, please ask them to contact the reporter directly. Her message is below.

I found your organization through a military spouse blog forum and I would like to ask you about military couples in your chapters who choose not to have children for an article in Military Spouse Magazine.
Monique Rizer
I will post a link if there is an online version. I hope she gets a handful of people to talk to because it sounds like an interesting story: service, not selfish.

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November 05, 2007

Purple Women Count on Nov. 15

I cannot tell you the number of women bloggers, let alone the number of chilfree women bloggers. Even the experts don't know. We do know that in the U.S., 42 percent of all women in the United States 15-44 years old are childless, according to the 2000 Census. (Likely many of them are still undecided about their family status.) Institutions tend to assume that we are all "future mothers", doctors tend to treat women as if they are forever "pre-pregnant". (Have you ever tried to get a permanent solution?) Childfree women bloggers are even more difficult to measure. I believe speaking out is more important than being counted literally.

Americans do not hold the exclusive on the trend of more women remaining childfree. The availability of contraception plays a role in this global trend associated with educated women.
The issue of childfree women has reached all time highs in Canada, Italy, New Zealand, and England. At home and abroad, we draw the unwanted attention of reporters, sociologists, feminists and institutions alike.

Thus, we bring you the Purple Women Count Campaign: an effort to have childfree women bloggers included more appropriately in women-centric websites, and in the long run, improve how we are treated by institutions from mainstream media to the doctor's office. Changes start with dialogue. Surely if we start with other women, our voices will be heard.

Have you experienced being invisible as a childfree woman? Do you self-identify as a chilfree woman?
1) For those of you who have your own blogs, please write a post on this topic, or contribute a Guest Post here to be posted on November 15th. Let's all post on the same day and link to each other. Send me your URL/link and I'll add your blog's name to the Purple Links in the sidebar and compile a list of all participating blogs in a separate post.

2) If you are a member of a chilfree forum or discussion group, please post a notice to them about our blogging event on November 15. Let me know if you do so, so I can track our outreach. I posted the campaign announcement to all 90 of the No Kidding clubs asking them to participate. No kidding is the international social club for childfree adults. I run a chapter here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

3) Don't be shy about joining these women-centric sites and requesting a place for Purple Women (childfree). I recommend we work towards a category called Women Without Children. We can avoid the hyphenation consternation problems of child-free vs. childfree.

4) Let me know if you want a Purple Woman! button to wear. If you send me an address by email, I will send you one for free, until supplies run out.

5) Consider placing the Purple Woman button graphic link in your sidebar. Wear it with pride! It is in development now and I will post the code here as soon as it is ready.

Let's no longer be invisible Purple WomenTM! It's easy, just
tell a friend, send us your blog's URL if you have one, and write about it on November 15.

Teri Tith

Creator & Contributing Editor
Purple Women & Friends

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November 03, 2007


If you read my personal blog, you know that I am a volunteer with our local, regional opera company. I don't know a lot about opera, so my education to this live form of art is part of the fun. It has been a successful social strategy to make new friends in my new hometown. My talents in copy writing, marketing and fund raising do not go unappreciated. I was recruited last minute to work backstage for our recently completed run of La Boheme and it was the first time I have ever been on that side of a production.

Having performed for 15 years at the local high school, the set was richer, bigger and better than ever before because the opera company moved into the new performing arts center that was just completed in our quaint little downtown. Just a 500-seater, but not a bad seat in the house. Our local children's chorus supplemented our all-volunteer adult chorus and together they really created magic in the Second Act.

The parents who's children participate in such activities are a very dedicated lot, going back and forth to rehearsals, waiting patiently behind the scenes. This year, a few
even allowed themselves to be recruited for non-speaking, non-singing roles that were critical to a scene. Many of them helped with set changes, moving furniture and props, in the cramped rehearsal space when we were still waiting to move into the new theater.

I appeared backstage late in the game because the "opera house" was so large our crew needed supplementing, especially for the "Olympics of set changes" that we had to do between the First and Second Act, without an intermission. I remember introducing myself around to one of the Dads, one of these special parents who gives 110%. He asked me, "Are you a Mom?"

I knew what he meant, and I simply replied, "No, I'm just a Teri."

There's not a lot of room in the wings, and a friend standing nearby giggled a little when she heard that. Well, this made him curious. Why was I there then? How did I get involved? I told him that I was the opera company's newest board member and he inquired politely about the responsibilities. I was rather please about the direction of the conversation, considering how it started!

As childfree women and men, I suspect we have a lot more time to volunteer in such capacities. We are not all driven career women. We are not even really purple, we are all the colors of the rainbow. It felt good to be in the company of those who know me, my status and appreciate me. I think I will be with this group for a long, long time. They are already becoming like a second family to me.

Purple WomenTM, do you volunteer your free time? What are your causes? How is your social life? What mark will you leave in your community?

Flickr photo courtesy of
aussieSkiBum (cc)
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Quote From A Reader

Purple WomenTM , I know you will appreciate this pull quote by Judy, a reader of this blog, reflecting on her status as a childfree woman:

"Socially, I feel has been the hardest part of all - which is probably why I'm writing this. You do look for people who think like you or have been through similar experiences. Motherhood is glorified and it was difficult to take the road less traveled."
You can read the rest on the comments that LauraS received on her thought-provoking post titled Been There, Done That on October 17.

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October 30, 2007

Is Marriage Good For You?

Generally, yes, according to David Popenoe, a sociology professor and co-chair of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. In an article posted on the Discovery Health website, Dr. Popenoe exposes the benefits and myths around marriage.

So what are the benefits?

More wealth for women and better health for men, and more frequent and more satisfying sex for both genders, compared to unmarrieds.

What about the myths? Well, here’s one Purple Women™ can identify with:

Marriage Myth 2: Having children typically brings a married couple closer together and increases marital happiness.

Fact: Many studies have shown that the arrival of the first baby commonly has the effect of pushing the mother and father farther apart, and bringing stress to the marriage. However, couples with children have a slightly lower rate of divorce than childless couples.

Currently, divorce rates hover just below 50 percent of first marriages in the United States.

So how do modern marriages compare to those of our parents? Popenoe observed that modern marriages are not any happier: "Some studies have found in recent marriages, compared to those of 20 or 30 years ago, significantly more work-related stress, more marital conflict and less marital interaction."

Flicker photo by Pencils and Pixels (cc)

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October 24, 2007

Purple Kudos

Purple WomenTM,
My thanks to you all. Our blog has made the top 100 of syndicated blogs with BlogBurst -- rank #63 out of 100! BlogBurst is a blog syndication program, wherein major daily papers with online content feature interesting blogs on their websites. I signed up for this program and our content was accepted by their editors after the BlogHer '06 conference last year.

Life has a way of changing when you least expect it. Keeping up with the maintenance of this blog has not been easy as I transition household locations and jobs. Real work that is attached to a paycheck always has to take priority to a hobby of blogging that pays nothing is lots of fun or I wouldn't do it.

The cash reward of $75 is a nice token, my first true earnings, but the greater honor of being in the top 100. My only true expenses, other than the donated time to run this blog, are for proofreading and the official PW buttons. Let me know if you want one by sending an email to me directly with your name and a mailing address. (No I don't sell your address, nor am I building one for any other purpose -- trust me a little!)

I am grateful to our extended team of current and former Regular Contributors, as well as all our featured Guest Contributors. When I created this blog two years ago, I was not sure our topic was broad enough to keep it going this long, but it seems there is always a unique perspective or some new controversial aspect to our existence as Purple WomenTM, and we do a pretty good job of keeping the dialogue going about it. My thanks especially to our readers for keeping it clean, not mean -- and for keeping it real.

Blog on my Purple Sistahs & Be Well!
Teri Tith
Creator & Contributing Editor
Purple Women & Friends

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October 17, 2007

Been There, Done That

What do you do? Do you choose the man, or the baby?

What happens when the man you fall in love with is over the baby thing and you aren’t quite there yet? A woman named Candace posed this question to me in an email forwarded through my website:
Hello- As a childfree women, I am very interested in your project. I am also interested in doing some research on women who basically chose marriage over motherhood; ie, they wanted kids and thought they would have them, but then fell in love with a man who already had kids from a prior marriage and didn’t want or couldn’t have anymore. So, they had to choose between marriage and a child. What did they choose, how did they come to that choice, and are there any regrets?
I couldn’t offer a response. I haven’t met many women who have been in that situation. Most of the men and women I had interviewed for my project were childless…by choice. So what do you do? You anticipated children of your own and the man you love can’t, or won’t, sign up for the deal.
What now?

Flickr photo by Monceau (cc)
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October 13, 2007

Missing Out?

by Shelley
Regular Contributor
Purple Women & Friends

Tell a parent that you’re childfree, and chances are you’ll hear the timeless retort,

“You don’t know what you’re missing.” This comment exasperates me to no end, usually because I take it for what it is: a thinly veiled, critical judgment of my choices.
But as much as I dislike this loaded statement, I have to admit, there is a good chance I really might be missing out on something.

Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to love my own child. I love my husband more than anyone else in the world, so I try to relate how I’d feel about a child to how I feel about him. Our connection is so intense that sometimes it overwhelms me, and I think that losing him would be like losing myself.
Would my love for a child be similar? Or would it be even stronger, since the connection would be both physical and emotional?
I tend to think I couldn’t love my husband as fervently if I had to share my devotion with a child, but what if it doesn’t work that way? What if I was able to have two great loves in my life, and could have twice as much joy? Unfortunately there’s only one way to find out, and that’s quite a risk to take.

As much as I dislike society’s mystification of the bond between parent and child, I can’t deny that there must be something uniquely special about that connection. After all, even God used the father-son relationship to explain His love to the world. There’s something powerful there that I’ll never be able to experience.

Yes, I know that part of what I am “missing” involves loud unpleasant noises, in-depth contact with various bodily fluids, and a terrible restriction of personal freedom. No big loss there, that’s for sure. And for me, I don’t think there’s any other loss either.
I know that God doesn’t want me to have children, so that must mean He’s got something better in store for me. There must be something pretty special that parents are missing out on too.
Flickr photo by (cc)

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October 11, 2007

Consider "Child Free Living"

Consider "Child free Living."

This from two of the top infertilty doctors in Mombai, (formerly, Bombay) India.

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani, MD and Dr. Anjali Malpani, MD have an infertility clinic in India. They wrote a book titled How to Have a Baby: Overcoming Infertility.

How do you overcome infertility? According to the Malpanis:

Choosing not to have children at all is an option which you can select - to live childfree. Remember, childfree living is a choice you can make - choosing not to have children isn't the same as having childlessness thrust upon you.
This is a quote from chapter 31 of a their book, which can be read (free) in its entirety on the Malpani Infertility Clinic website.

Here’s what they have to say about how infertile couples can "adapt to the decision to live childfree":

Remember, there can be real advantages to life without children: more personal freedom, more time to spend on your own interests, and more emotional energy to invest in your emotional relationships. Start enjoying your time with your spouse more - remember the early heady days of your marriage before you were striving for a child? Try to recapture those magic moments again.
Kudos to these two compassionate people who dedicate their work to helping infertile couples but recognize that childfree living can be a viable and sustainable option for couples who are ready to get off the fertility treatment treadmill.

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October 09, 2007

White Picket Fences

I have from time to time advocated for speaking out. Too often, Purple WomenTM are invisible and blend into the crowd. After two years of blogging here in this topically focused blog about being a woman without children, I have been approached by reporters who are interested in the subject.

My most recent interview was conducted on my cell phone, which got very hot in my ear, while I was sitting in my car in the grocery store parking lot. The story was published today in the TimeOut section of the Valley Times, a publication of Contra Costa Times. I am not in it, thankfully. The story is about regret. The self-identified "childfree" women that I meet here do not identify with being childless, they embrace their choice, whether it is circumstances or health reasons, or adamant super-conscious decision-making alone.

These empowered, self-defined women are not what this article is about. The reporter focuses on those who miss out on the American dream of the car, the house, the 2.5 children and a white picket fence. "Gimme a straight jacket!" It's a depressing read:

Childless by Fate, Choice: Coming to Terms With What Might Have Been by Jessica Yadegaran
I guess I should not be so surprised by the piece. I am living in the heartland of the East Bay suburbia. They have to cater to their readership. The burbs are where people go to raise children. So Purple Women will remain invisible. This newspaper probably has no idea how many of its readership are confidently, childfree or childless by choice. It all depends on your perspective.

Flickr photo by roujo (cc)
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October 05, 2007

Single, Straight, Male, w/ Vasectomy

Would you respond to someone who described himself this way in a personal ad?

According to Toby Byrum, he fits this description and he’s never been worried about meeting Ms. Right. He’s a single professional in a small community in Wyoming but he hopes to marry one day. He came to the conclusion, in his mid-twenties, that he didn’t want kids. He made the decision to have a vasectomy at 28 years old.

His story was featured recently on NBC’s Today Show. Today Show host Matt Lauer asked Byrum, with regards to dating, "How do your bring this up and how quickly do you bring this up?" Byrum responded: "The first date, if not before," he said. "I live in a small area, so some people are already aware of this. I bring it up quickly. There’s no reason to waste anybody’s time. If someone has a different idea for themselves, I don’t want to get in the way."

Lauer also asked if he ever thought about the fact that, as an only, male, child he might regret not leaving a legacy. Byrum admitted he had thought about it but thought that procreating for the sake of legacy "was too vain a reason to have kids"

As is usually the case, the viewer comments that followed the posted video clip on MSNBC are as interesting as Toby Byrum’s story. One comment in particular, disturbed me, because it came from a pychotherapist who felt compelled to do some armchair analysis, based on the 5-minute interview clip. The self-described "licensed psychotherapist in MA" wrote:

[I] can't help but wonder how much a toxic dose of narcissism fuels Todd's choice. (Baggage from childhood too much or not enough mirroring by his parents??)His choice has set the groundwork for him to focus his energy on pursuits and achievements at the expense of meaningful (and sometimes messy) relationships, but what about generativity (giving back to the world)? His choice and apparent lack of ultruism can result in a lonely old man, with nothing meaningful to review when it comes time to do his end of life stage of life emotional reflection. I do not see his sense of he spiritually bankrupt?
It irks me that the choice to remain childfree is still, so often, misunderstood, even by those who claim to know more than "the average bear" about the inner workings of the human psyche.

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