February 08, 2008

The Environmental Motive

Are we motivated by environmental concerns to remain childfree? Some of us are. The Daily Mail recently published an article titled:Meet The Women Who Won't Have Babies - Because They're Not Eco Friendly.

These women, living in the U.K., were compelled to seek sterilization to ensure they would never give birth to another consumer. They felt this was one thing they could do to help reduce their environmental footprint and save the planet.

Toni, 35, who works at an environmental charity, had to go doctor shopping to get sterilized at 27 years old. She did so with the full support of her soon-to-be husband and she has no regrets:
"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

Not everyone can understand this rationale, as Toni came to realize: "a woman like me, who is not having children in order to save the planet, is considered barking mad."

So, are we nuts to point to environmental concerns to justify our choice to remain childfree?

Flickr photo by patty_colmer (cc)
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5 comments:

Longing for Home said...

I took a look at the article, and this part really sounded familiar: "'I'd been on the Pill for five years and didn't want to take hormone-based contraception indefinitely.
'I went to my GP, but she wouldn't even consider the idea.
'She said I was far too young and told me I could 'absolutely not' be sterilised, and that I was bound to change my mind one day.'"

That is exactly what my doctor said to me when I asked him to give my husband the ol' snip (safer than having it done to me)... now after being married 8 years and at the age of 29, my doctor still won't entertain the idea that this is really the way it's gonna be. No kids for us, please! It's so condescending to exert power over people that way. My hubby's not excited about being operated on, but he'd choose the knife over kids any day of the week.

And yes, even in my childhood when I thought of whether or not to have kids, I NEVER wanted to have my own, I always thought that if the maternal instinct ever struck, I'd adopt a kid that no one wanted. The instinct is still missing in action, and now that I've learned more about who I am, I realize that all kids are much happier not having me as a mom. God bless them with good parents, all.

Now the question is, did God really intend me to feel this way, do I get to accept the way I am, or should I be praying for Him to change me into someone who can stand to be around kids?

meg said...

I found the tone of this article quite condescending - how many times did it say "most young girls dream of marriage and babies?" How insulting. This certainly was not true for me or the other young girls I grew up with - we were too busy dreaming of becoming doctors, marine biologists, or writers. Even if it is true that most young girls do dream of marriage and babies, it's very frustrating that the author accepts this status quo unquestioningly, rather than seeing it as a sad state of affairs that girls are being socialized this way, while boys are taught to aspire to learn and better themselves!

LauraS said...

Both of the previous posts make very good points. In the examples they provide, there are two assumptions at work:
1) The childfree will regret their decision to remain "childless."
2)Women value the experience of being a mother over everything else.
Perhaps this is true for some but not for most of the women who hang out here.

Gumby said...

This is a very interesting conversation - and blog for that matter.

I read this line "So, are we nuts to point to environmental concerns to justify our choice to remain childfree?" and think how sad is it that people feel they need to "justify" their not wanting children.

I'm probably a bit different from most people who participate in this blog in that I desperately want to have a couple babies with my husband but due to a Y chromosome microdeletion which causes severe male factor infertility, we've been told our only real chance is IVF. Being that I also have elevated FSH which makes me not a great responder to the fertility drugs, I don't know if our efforts will be successful.

It was nice to find this blog in helping me to come to terms with living a child free life if things don't work out. Just as I don't/shouldn't need to feel I have to justify why I want kids or especially why I'm going through high tech treatment to try to accomplish the goal (rather than "just" adopting - don't even get me started on that one), anyone who knows they do NOT want to have kids shouldn't be made to feel that way. It's a personal choice PERIOD, regardless of the reasons.

I can't help but be a little disgusted by this society that treats getting married and shooting out babies the end all be all - like a woman is of lesser value or somehow defective if she doesn't have kids. I think about that in relation to my struggles with infertility treatments - and all the women in the IF community and it makes me angry for the added pressure that puts on some.
I also think of my friend who is now 31 (I'm 36) and doesn't have a husband or even a boyfriend - actually has never had an intimate relationship with anyone (and so has no kids). Does that make her less than anyone else? I think not. That doesn't mean her life is any less full or meaningful than anyone else. She has a career, friends, family, volunteers at an animal shelter (with me), plays cello in a local symphony, and more! But yet society's stupid rules or expectations make her feel like there is something wrong with her - just like the women who do not have chilren, whether by choice or chance. I find the whole thing rather disgusting.

Sorry for the rambling, and thanks for the insightful blog!

LauraS said...

Hi Gumby
Just wanted you to know that many of us who hang here at the Purple Women blog assumed children for ourselves--until we didn't. Then a whole new way of "expecting" and living opened up to us. This is the childfree life. IMHO, it's a pretty nice life.