Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Childless Women - Lacking An Essential Humanity??

I found a link to this really interesting and thought-provoking exhibition on a blog I follow Edge of Everywhere. Moved by the negative reactions to her and other women’s decisions not to have children, Miriam Schaer embroidered real quotes onto white baby dresses with red thread, creating a shocking visual representation of the societal prejudice against childless women.

The artist writes:

“Selfish… Neurotic… Irresponsible… Immature… Unfeminine… Unfulfilling… Materialistic… Uptight… Deviant” — all words I have heard to characterize my decision to not have children, a decision transforming me into a target of one of society’s remaining and widely held prejudices.

Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, addresses the question of why the existence of women who choose maternal independence over child-rearing angers or offends so many people and institutions. The work presented here is part of a continuing exploration of our culture’s pejorative views about women without kids. For Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, I hand-embroidered representative negative comments on baby dresses using red thread to create scarlet letters. Gathered from interviews with childless women, online research, and personal experience, the statements taunt and accuse, and are typical of an endless flow of critical statements that seem to be growing bolder even as non-traditional families are gaining greater acceptance.

These pictures really touched me, as a woman who for most of her life has been uninterested in having children. I've most definitely had that decision questioned, sometimes almost vilified, even though I have the "excuse" of being physically unable to easily bear children and probably having to have had IVF or similar if I had been keen on having children. I just have so many reasons why kids can't and won't be a part of my life, not the least because of my mental illness. I have nieces and nephews I adore, but in general I find children uninteresting and irrelevant to me and my life. Why is this so horrifying to people?