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Daum has some excellent points and has significant experience on the topic, including as the author of the ironically-titled and well-reviewed Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers On The Decision Not To Have Kids.
I’d like to share why I don’t fully agree with her derision of the term “childfree.”
I don’t think the word “childfree” is as celebratory or has as bad connotations as Daum does. I think it’s a simple label, and as humans, we try to categorize everything, including ourselves. It’s a simple thing, but we all do it. The world is crazy and chaotic and humans try to categorize and we try to neatly label things so they are easier to understand, digest, and relate to.
“Childfree” is a short, easy-to-use and understand label defining what the person has chosen. To me, it is an appropriate label — because it is true. Either by choice or by circumstance, the person is saying they are free of children and not having any. The reason why doesn’t really matter.
Though I agree wholeheartedly with Daum about terms like “breeder,” which seems to be unnecessarily derogatory.
MOST people who are childless don’t hate kids, which is a terrible misconception. I think it mostly started as a reaction to the backlash that many women get when they say they don’t want to have kids.
When young women say they don’t want kids, there is immediate backlash from the people around them and from society. They claim women who don’t want kids are “going against biology” or “aren’t real women” or “hate kids” or are “selfish.” This is insanely ridiculous to me. People have kids all the time that they don’t want, can’t afford, or resent — how is that less selfish than people who know themselves and their lives and simply choose not to bring a life into the world that they are fully responsible for for the next 18–22 years? I think it’s a responsible and selfless choice.
“Childfree” gets a bad rap because a vocal minority online is loud about their hatred of kids — those who have co-opted the term to mean exactly what Daum says.
A vocal minority loudly proclaiming their views online and ruining something for the rest of us — sound familiar these days?
I also think “childfree” is a fluid term. You can be childfree for years and then decide to have kids and no longer be a childfree person.
Another term you see floating around is DINK. — double income no kids, which I also have no problem with.
Why do I feel this way?
Like I said — whether by choice or by circumstance.
Like my circumstance.
I love kids. I WANT kids.
But I am physically (so far) unable to have any, despite trying for years and many medical interventions (IUIs, 3 rounds of IVF).
I have shared some of my very personal journey of infertility and IVF in an effort to put my thoughts and feelings out there and try to make the topic less taboo in an open forum. (You can see part 1, part 2, part 2.5 [not the IVF process itself, just my feelings], and part 3 here.)
In my case, I am both a DINK and childfree.
Do I celebrate it? No. Do I mourn it? In many ways, yes.
Does it define my reality? Yes.
Much like the terribly-overused and hideous term “bossbabe” (ugh), people add their own feelings onto different terms and labels others use.
I personally dislike “bossbabe” A LOT, despite the fact that that particular label ALSO defines me (a female entrepreneur). It’s unnecessarily flowery and silly, it has significance to the predatory MLM industry, and I think it’s dumb. Personally, I think the word “boss” is genderless already.
But I also know that no one cares what I think and others will use the label as they see fit.
Even though personally, when I see someone call themselves a bossbabe, I immediately assume they are going to try to shill their snake oil essential oils and tell me vaccines are bad.
That is my negative interpretation of the word, despite many users of it not at all being like that.
And to me, that is a PERSONAL failing and interpretation, not the fault of every single woman who uses the word.
We all label ourselves and many others around us. It is a common way to try to have order and make sense of an often orderless and chaotic human existence. We are all many things and have tons of facets, but it is easy to label ourselves, to define ourselves with labels.
Labels like “mom,” “wife,” “CEO,” “adult,” “expert,” whatever they are.
We use labels to define parts of ourselves.
Who or what am I?
I am a wife, a sister, a friend, a daughter, an entrepreneur, a writer, an editor, a reader, a weirdo.
I am also currently childfree.