June 14, 2007

Book Review: Women without Children; Nurturing Lives

By Twiga92 Former PW&F Contributor
Blogs: Caught Between Worlds, Twiga's Book Reviews, "Something About Me" Reading Challenge

"What is the meaning of childlessness in women's lives, and how do they construct lives challenging the expectation that all women are, or should be, mothers?"

For those who haven't read any childfree literature, then this book may be somewhat informative. It felt repetitive to me partly because I'd read it all before, but also because the author selected interview subjects who say the same things over and over, just from different perspectives.

Women without Children: Nurturing Lives by Yvonne Vissing gets a 3.5/5 star rating for me. Though the book had good information, it seemed rather bland and repetitious to me. She interviewed a number of women, some of whom were childless by choice, others not by choice.

There was a chapter on infertility, miscarriage and infant death. This would probably be a good book to promote discussion on the whole topic of women without children and on how being a mother is not what defines a woman.

"For women, childlessness has fundamental implications for their identity. Motherhood to them is a club that you cannot belong to unless you have a kid."
Chapter titles include:
  1. Childlessness in America
  2. The Pushes and Pulls of Childlessness
  3. Impact of Body, Mind, and Family Interactions
  4. Consequences of Partnerships
  5. Lifestyle Choices
  6. Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Death
  7. Choosing to End Family Dysfunction
  8. Processing Childlessness
  9. Child Haves and Have-Nots
  10. Nurturing Others
  11. Childless Women Growing Older
  12. Reflections on a Childless Life
Overall, I came away a negative feeling from this book. It focused on the down side of being childfree, portraying women who were infertile and thus regretful, and women who were concerned about getting older and what they should do with the things they leave behind.

The nurturing chapter gives one the impression that women who don't have children can still be nurturers in other ways. This is true. But just because I'm a woman doesn't mean that I'm also a nurturer. The two don't necessarily go hand in hand.

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Shelley said...

I love that you said being a woman doesn't necessarily mean you're a nurturer. A woman can be loving, generous and kind WITHOUT being a nurturing or motherly. I wish more people could make the distinction!

LauraS said...

I agree with shelley. There is a distinction to be made. I've met many purple women who are very kind and loving but they do not preceive themselves as nurturing or motherly, nor would they want others to perceive them as such.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are generous and kind but I would not describe them as "nurturing" either. It's a gender-tinged term.