Tag Archives: Sexism

10 Uterus-Having Folks On Not Having Kids

More people than ever in the US are choosing not to have children–for a wide variety of reasons. After my (and the internet’s) overwhelmed reaction to this piece I knew that I had to see how the uterus-having non-breeders around me felt about (not) having children. I would have liked to have heard from more people of color, more people on the trans spectrum and from people of different ages… I guess it’s time to make more friends! *Some folks have chosen to remain anonymous.

blue dotMW: Female, straight, single, 33, white, live in San Francisco, from San Luis Obispo, CA, able-bodied, atheist/least religious person, Bachelors in Art, US citizen, employed full-time.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I can not remember a time that I ever wanted my own children. I’m very selfish with my time and money, and like doing whatever I want, almost all the time. This sounds immature but I’m extremely grossed out by childbirth, c-sections, and the recovery from both (and ‘the business of being born,’ and how people in the US collect disability when taking maternity leave). I think the population is too large already, I am a ZPG proponent, and world resources are strained so in my eyes, it’s a selfish act (especially having like 4, 8, 19 children). I swear I’m not a huge pessimist but I don’t like the idea of bringing a sweet little innocent baby into a pretty fucked up world.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent?
I have received close to zero pressure from my parents about having kids, including my mom who wanted not much more for herself than to be a mother. My maternal grandma will point at a young family at a restaurant and say things like “Now doesn’t that look fun?” and will inquire about my dating life. Fortunately younger cousins have gotten married and taken some pressure off of me.
Some acquaintances will say “Never? Never ever?” but people generally understand that everyone is different and has their reasons either way. Now that I’m 33, and in a pretty child-free city, the window of time is closing and I don’t think I’ll be asked too much. Close friends are married or coupled but none of them are rushing to have kids.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
n/a

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
Money talks but I personally would never do it. I feel like it’d ravage your body and I’d get too attached to the baby growing in me to give it up.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
I went to Planned Parenthood a few times in college, and other locally run health providers as a teen having secret (from parents) sex. Having free access was key (check-ups and prescriptions). I’ve never had any pushback and the thought of that makes my blood boil. I get happy when I read about free birth control for people.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
One boyfriend broke up with me (among other reasons) because he said he wanted to eventually have a family and knew that I wasn’t interested. I know other guys pressure girls into the idea but come on, there are billions of other women who want babies, be with them. There is definitely the thought in my mind, during the very early stages with a new partner, that the no-child thing could be a “deal-breaker” for him.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
Reading about things like Japan’s birth rate drastically dropping off, I think people might be scared of society coming to a halt (obviously not soon). People are little money-makers for a society. I know that most people do genuinely adore their children and want others to feel that same all-consuming love for a kid too. It does seem frowned upon to not have kids, but I think people are seeing what a true liability a child is, that it’s a huge time suck and of course expensive. It’s one of the most selfless things you can do and most people I’ve encountered in my generation and younger are not selfless. Seeing more people as carefree and focusing energy on careers or travel or other family members seems to help destigmatize lack of desire to parent.
I sincerely love children, (am the eldest grandchild on both sides, did lots of babysitting, have considered teaching young children, am attracted to adults with child-like enthusiasm) but also hand babies back to their parent when it starts crying or poops. A roommate said he’s not ready for something that he can’t control the volume on.
I feel like oftentimes people who “shouldn’t” have babies, do.
I’m incredibly responsible, stable, good at saving money, I’m a candidate for “should,” but have no interest. And, it sucks that the family name will die out with me. The whole point of life is to create more life so I feel like something is wrong with me. But I don’t care.
People think they have to, or think they should have children. Or they think having a baby will salvage their own bad relationship with their partner. Eek.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
People think it’s selfish to NOT have kids. I think it is selfish to have kids.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
Highly highly doubt it but if I met a partner that reallllly wanted kids and put zero pressure on me to do so, I might consider adoption. (That’s a whole other thing: “selecting” a kid is strange…)

11258974_10153192545376480_1870465006_nNicole Loschke: I am a 28-year-old, Caucasian, heterosexual female. I am currently in a relationship. I am originally from Parachute, Colorado and currently live in Silt, Colorado. I am spiritual and not religious, although I was raised Catholic and have been exposed to and studied as a Baptist as well as Buddhism and Islam. I have a BA in Journalism and a Master’s in Media, Peace, and Conflict Studies. I am a U.S. citizen and I currently work as a paralegal for an immigration attorney. I focus on victims of crime and hardship waivers. I have a large, loud red-nosed pitbull and I love spending time outdoors hiking, fishing, camping, and playing my djembe.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I never really had an “ah-hah” moment where I realized I didn’t want children, I just never wanted children. As I child, I never dreamed or imagined my wedding day or being a mother. As the years have passed, it hasn’t changed. That being said, the same answer can be applied to the second part of this question. It’s not necessarily that I don’t WANT to parent. I have about 11 god children and “nieces and nephews” (all children of very close friends) and I love them with all my heart. I love spending time with them and watching their minds expand. I value the time I spend with them and it teaches me a lot. I even worked in a preschool in the past. It’s not really a matter of NOT wanting to parent, but more a matter of wanting to be kid-free, if that makes any sense.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
The first time I had to come out and say it, I was at lunch with my mom, my cousin, and her daughter. My cousin lives in CA and we live in CO, so they came to visit. We never really got to know each other before this visit. While eating lunch, my cousin asks me, “So Niki, do you want kids?” I was stunned. I knew I didn’t, but I had never told my mom and I knew it would break her heart. I looked at my cousin straight in the eye and told her that I didn’t really want kids. I could see my mom’s heartbroken face out of the corner of my eye. When I broke eye contact with my cousin and finally looked at my mom, she was completely devastated. Since then, it hasn’t really been brought up. I only have one sibling: an older brother, who also doesn’t have kids, so the pressure is really intense right now. My brother is 31 and I am 28. Neither of us have the best track record with stable relationships, so my parents (who would be amazing grandparents) have been putting the pressure on us to give them grandchildren. We all just kind of brush it off without really talking about it. My friends reactions vary. Some of them tell me that I would be a great mother and some of them agree that I shouldn’t have children. Most are ultimately supportive of my decision and they know that I have a free spirit and I am terrified of commitment, so it is best for everyone.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
I’ve never really been offended by someone’s reaction. It is still pretty taboo in our society to talk about fertile women choosing not to reproduce, so I have grown a thick skin. I do have a coworker that hears me make my subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) comments about not having children. Every time, she approaches me, caresses my shoulder, and tells me something like “Oh Nicole, one day you will find the love of your life and God will bless you with the fruit of your love in a child and you will be the greatest mother and feel the love only a mother can feel.” I usually give her a half smile and walk away. I don’t disagree that this is probably true for her and could be true for many people, but it is not my ideal future or is necessary for my happiness.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I don’t think I could be a surrogate. I think that if I was pregnant, I would grow too attached to the baby to ultimately give it up for someone else to raise.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
My reproductive health was fine until I was about 22 years old. I contracted HPV and the doctors found abnormal cells after a routine exam. I was living in Costa Rica at the time and it was horrible because my mom had to open the letter from the doctor and read it to me over the phone. I had to have my cervix frozen and eventually about half of my cervix was cut out. I have spoken to doctors who tell me that I shouldn’t experience any problems if I chose to reproduce, but I have my doubts.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
I didn’t really talk about it with my boyfriends until a couple years ago. I was in a serious relationship; we were living together and had been together for almost a year. He wanted kids, and I didn’t tell him how I really felt. We actually tried to get pregnant for a couple months, and then our relationship ended abruptly. For three months after we broke up, I didn’t menstruate. I was terrified. I knew that I would be okay, because I was capable of raising a child, I had a stable home and a stable job, but the last thing I wanted was to be a single mother. Turns out I probably didn’t menstruate because of excess stress; it was a vicious cycle. My current partner also wants kids. At first when he mentioned it, I just changed the subject or passively agreed. It was weighing me down, so I finally told him how I felt. He was very sad at first, but then he decided that it didn’t matter because he loves me, so that’s the only thing that mattered to him. I think he still hopes that I will change my mind with time, and I feel horrible that he is having to sacrifice something that he has always wanted for me. I appreciate his stance and I have so much respect for him, but I still feel bad and I think it may be an issue in the future.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I think since the beginning of time, the ultimate goal of society has been to reproduce. People want to feel like they have a purpose and that their legacy will live on. If you have a child, you can fulfill these things. Societal norms have always been questioned, but those doing the questioning are usually silenced, shunned, or deemed mentally unstable. I don’t know if it is just me getting older and maybe having conversations with like-minded people, but I would like to think that our society (at least the generations my age or younger) is shifting to embrace change and accept that the norms once accepted at face value should be questioned and deviated from. Still, a fertile woman choosing not to reproduce is taboo, especially in the older generations. I do have a couple aunts/uncles that are married and have not reproduced, and I admire them and look up to them. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for them during those years. I don’t really think that older generations will change. I also understand how an infertile woman could be mad or disappointed with a fertile woman consciously choosing not to have children, so I don’t think that will change either. However, I do think that the taboo is becoming less and less prevalent. As far as campaigns to reduce the stigma. I think that if climate change and overpopulation hasn’t convinced society, nothing will.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
People think that because I don’t want kids, I hate kids. This is completely false. Like I said before, I have around 11 godchildren/”nieces and nephews” so I am around children a lot. I love interacting with them and watching them grow. Their brains amaze me and I love taking them on even the littlest adventure and teaching them something (they usually teach me something too). I do enjoy children. Just because I don’t want children of my own, does not make me some child-hating monster.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
I am never going to say that I will never have kids. I have never wanted to, but I realize that things could change. I am not sure of anything specific that would change my mind.

260160_10100207872793180_7757028_nLeslie Gordon: Female, hetero, single (never been married), 30 y.o., white non-Hispanic, currently live in Washington DC but from Cincinnati, OH.  Able bodied, not a veteran, agnostic beliefs, Master’s degree, US citizen and full-time employed.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I don’t think there was ever a single time when I decided that I didn’t want to parent, rather a decline in the number of kids I wanted.  Around 21/22 y.o. I was set on having 3, then over the years after learning about the cost of having kids and how much time it takes, it decreased to 1.  Now, I’m at 0.  I don’t want to parent because I generally have disinterest in it.  I’m also selfish, I want to spend the money I earn on myself, I want to spend my free time with my friends/family, I want to spend time making myself feel good (through working out, shopping, nails done etc.).  Travel is also a big part of why I don’t want kids.  I don’t want my vacation to be spent at Disney World or at a kid-friendly location.  As cliché as it is, I want to see the world and the best way I’ve found to do that is alone or with a small group of other adults.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
I recently told my mother that I didn’t want kids.  Luckily my parents don’t care, although I’m sure a part of them was disappointed they couldn’t tell their friends they were going to be grandparents.  I’m still holding out hope that my sister will want to parent…

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
None, yet

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
No way

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
Good

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
I think it definitely affects romantic relationships because our society puts so much pressure on having kids and a family.  I’m still in search of that person who won’t care either way.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I just think it’s expected, it’s expected that you will want to take on the identity of a mother.  For me, talking with others about their experience and choice to not parent has been the most beneficial.  It brings a sense of normalcy to the choice and it’s fun to chat about what fun activities people are doing with their free time and money.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
That they hate kids!  I like to play with kids and think they do some really cute things, I just don’t want to deal with all of the un-fun stuff.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
I’ve considered adopting an older child (like maybe 3, 4, 5).  I know for a fact that I don’t want to birth a child out of my body and that I don’t want to feel pressured by a biological clock to have a baby.  So this sounds like a good alternative (plus I don’t want to potty train or have to deal with excessive amount of crying at night).

11140403_10153225810490465_7713870024900851349_n

Briar Maverick: I’m a radical, poly, trans, queer non-binary. I share my life with four amazing partners, and I’m currently working on building a trans queer poly commune and learning ASL.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I’ve gone back and forth on having children most of my life. As a trans person, I’ve actively tried to distance myself from anything “maternal” or “motherly” and the idea of carrying a pregnancy to term makes me physically ill, but sometimes the idea of raising children in a queer and trans setting appealed to me. In college, I worked at a chain baby store, and I realized how draining children are on emotional and material resources, but I thought that I could have kids one day if I had enough money. As my future plans develop, I’ve realized that there’s probably never going to be a point in my life when I have the material or emotional resources to provide for a child, and I don’t have enough urge to procreate to overcome that lack.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
Most of my social group is fellow trans queer radicals, so even those who do want kids understand and respect the fact that I don’t see children in my future. My mom has alternated over the years from “oh, I was hoping I’d get a chance to have grandchildren” to “yes, good, don’t have kids.” Growing up Queer and Feminist, most everyone else in my family probably wrote me off for continuing the family line long ago.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
I distinctly remember being about 6 years old, talking to a family friend about how I didn’t want to have kids, and her telling me that my feelings about children would change some day, and how frustrated I got even then.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
The money is appealing to be a surrogate, but the idea of being pregnant, even if I don’t keep the child, makes me physically ill and incredibly dysphoric.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
I’ve had a lot of problems finding a service provider that I feel comfortable with because I and the majority of my partners are trans. Any time I try to talk to someone about different forms of birth control, I or my partners end up getting misgendered directly or indirectly.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
At this point in my life, and for the foreseeable future, I’m only in polyamorous relationships, so if one of my partners want children, that’s fine, they can find another partner to have children with.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
The connection between womanhood, nurturing, and reproduction is a disservice to cis and trans women alike, regardless of reproductive capability. There are lots of different ways to create meaning in one’s life and women’s value goes beyond their ability and willingness to reproduce.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
That this is an issue that only affects cis women pursuing careers.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption? 
I could see myself being part of a household/commune with someone who is raising children, and taking an uncle-type role, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to have a direct parenting relationship with a child.

HB headshotHeather Busby: I’m a straight, cis married white woman in my early 40’s. A native Texan by many generations, I was born in Houston, raised in Victoria and have lived in Austin, TX for a couple of decades, off and on. I’m a licensed attorney and currently director of a statewide reproductive rights advocacy organization. I’m happily married and we have two dog “children” that are ridiculously spoiled and our great loves.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent? 
I don’t remember exactly when I first realized I didn’t want kids. When I was a teen, I remember saying this, but I also assumed I would have children because that’s just what happens: you meet a prince charming, fall in love, get married, have kids, live happily ever after. I had a very unrealistic and idealized vision of relationships and life, basically.
When I was in my mid-20s and married for the first time, that assumption was always there, but my desire wasn’t. It was something I figured maybe one day we’d get to, but we had plenty of time. And the marriage was short-lived. After that I had a couple of brief and turbulent relationships and as I approached 30, I started facing the possibility that maybe my life wouldn’t follow the mold of love-marriage-kids and I realized that was okay. Then it really dawned on me that not only was it okay, but I really didn’t want to have kids at all, ever. Still, I thought maybe there was something that could change – like I thought maybe I’d adopt or be a foster parent – but the thought of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding was horrifying to me. I had no desire to procreate. None.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
Until maybe my mid-30’s, some family members would say, “Well, don’t you want a little Heather?” It was mostly my grandmother and a little bit my parents. One day I explained to my dad how I just didn’t have the biological desire to have kids and after that, it seems like the comments and questions stopped.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received? 
Nothing really sticks out. I guess I wasn’t overly outspoken about how I didn’t want to have kids, especially when I was younger (when people are more likely to pull out the “you’ll change your mind when you get older” line).

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate? 
No. Freaking. Way. I do not want to be pregnant, ever. Do not want to give birth. No way.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns? 
Mostly my ob/gyn experiences have been fairly positive. When I thought I might be experiencing perimenopause, my ob/gyn seemed to brush it off and just recommended I stay on the pill because I didn’t want to get pregnant, so it wasn’t an issue. Despite my disinterest in my fertility, I still wanted to know what was happening with my body and I dwelled on that visit until the following annual visit, when I insisted that I wanted to know. This time the doctor took the time to talk about the symptoms I was experiencing and she actually recommended I think about getting off the pill, which, as it turns out, was causing my issues.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all? 
I think there were bigger issues in my previous relationships, but all my long-term boyfriends are married with kids now. In my mid-30’s, I was concerned about dating and being able to find someone who was on the same page as me about no kids. I was somewhat okay with dating someone with kids from another relationship, as long as they didn’t want any with me. Fortunately, I met my husband and he wants kids even less than I do.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children? 
Although I haven’t gotten the pushback some others have gotten, it’s still been difficult. And I think that stigma is specific to those with uteruses – I don’t think men get the same pressure. But I think there’s still this nuclear family ideal, regardless of the genders of the parents. US society is definitely geared toward settling into a monogamous relationship and then rearing children. And those of us who choose a different path – especially females – are viewed as unnatural.
I don’t have the answer to what we could do to reduce that stigma. Maybe when someone gets married, don’t start asking them right away when they’re going to have kids or don’t ask women, regardless of marital status, when they’re going to have kids. It’s always “when,” not “if.” Don’t assume.
Also don’t assume that people who don’t want to have their own children won’t love and be wonderful with your own. Sometimes I feel like some of my friends just assume I wouldn’t be interested in being around them with their kids or that I’m not happy going to the playground or their child’s activities or birthday parties. I feel like I’m often written off, even if I express that I want to see them at a time and place that’s convenient for them. But still, the only invites I get from many of my friends with kids are on the rare occasion they actually make it out to a bar. I don’t expect them to conform to my life and only do “adults-only” activities with me, but they also don’t hear me when I say, “Hey, I want to be in your AND your children’s lives and I’ll come do your family thing.” I’m not in the club. I’m like a remnant of their pre-kids life. And it stings sometimes.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children? 
That we’ll change our mind.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption? 
I would consider adopting a gay or trans youth one day. And if something were to happen to a member of my family, I would take care of their children if asked.

Axe-WomanNT: Heterosexual, 31, First-American-born African, raised as Greek Orthodox Christian, California raised, college educated and works for a crisis hotline.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
Probably when I was a kid. I didn’t like how toys and games were gender biased/stereotypes. I didn’t want to play house and hated being assigned to be a “housewife and mommy”. Yo, I want to cut down the tree and make dining table or something. Plus, I’m the only girl (all brothers) and the baby of the family (over-protected/spoiled?).

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
They didn’t seem to care nor strongly encouraged me to reconsider. My mom is the only person that wants to see me have children, “At least one.” I respond back by telling her that my eggs are all dried up. She did not like that, ha.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
Them: “Do you have children?” Me: “No.” Them: (grasp) “Why not? You’re beautiful, God wouldn’t make you a woman if he didn’t want you to have children.” Me: “You’re right, my body is a complete waste.” Them: (Puzzled face). Me: (walk away).

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I have several friends that want to have children (they have gone through unsuccessful IVF, adoption didn’t go through, dealing with health problems, etc). There is this one great friend of mine, when I see how much it means to her and her husband to have children, it makes me want to become one for them just to see them happy and give them to chance to experience parenthood because I know they will make great parents.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
I am not sure what you are asking here… My experiences have been positive overall. The only time the discussion of becoming pregnant/preventing pregnancy comes up is when discussing birth control methods. I had to ask them about it by bringing it up otherwise they wouldn’t mention anything.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
I don’t like the pressure of having to be with someone just so we could have a family together. I’m okay not living in a house with white fence, having a dog name Spot, being an active PTA member at a school, baking cookies (I do like baking cookies though), etc. See #9

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I want to say leave us alone but that won’t work. Let us be. :) I would say the focus should not be about having your own children to fit that “American Dream” concept. You can still be part of it in a non-traditional way.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
They think we’re selfish and do not want to carry on our family legacy.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
I am not sure, I haven’t really given that much thought until you mentioned it. I’m already an aunt to 5 nieces and nephew and a godmother to three kids. No matter what happens, I know I will always have kids in my life.

jackalope1Lauren: I am a cis lesbian woman in my mid twenties and hanging out in Texas. I am white and had the privilege of going to school for Women’s and Gender Studies. Currently I work as a domestic violence advocate and hope to go back to school for a Master’s in Social Work. I dream of traveling, getting an amazing Texas/Ray Wylie Hubbard tattoo, and one day being the mother of the most amazing garden in Texas.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
In my last year of college I started realizing that it wasn’t a priority and became indifferent to the idea of having children. The two years following college I found myself not wanting children. I think that supporting myself and seeing what having a child costs just seemed too much. It wasn’t so much the financial cost as the emotional cost. I am a fan of lazy mornings, doing what I want when I want, and being able to freely move through life. I do not think I would be a great mom because the baby would take away lazy mornings, always being able to do what I want, and would make adventures more complex. Although I know I would love a kid if I had one, I think I would resent it. I want to have a life where I can travel and go on random day trips without having to worry about another human.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent? 
I haven’t had much push back from friends. I have been told by one person that as a woman I need to be a mother. That is just the nature of woman and men are the ones that can choose to have children or not. Obviously I disagreed with him. I have had a few friends say that I would be a great mother if I did want them. I have been told by older family members that they can hear my biological clock and that I am running out of time to have children. They want me to have babies within the next few years which is not going to happen.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
My friend telling me that women have babies and that men are the only ones that can decide not to have children. That is just sexism.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I am not cool with the idea of being pregnant and I am repulsed by the idea of carrying any baby. I just feel that is for someone else. With that said, I would do it for my sister if she needed it but that is family so it’s different.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
Since I do not use birth control and I am a lesbian, I haven’t had any interactions with doctors and nurses about it.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
So far, it hasn’t impacted me. I have only had one long-term relationship and we were both indifferent to children. I wouldn’t get in a long-term relationship with someone who really wanted kids because it wouldn’t be right for both of us in the long run.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I think a lot of the stigma has come from tradition. Women didn’t traditionally have the option to choose not to have children for the most part. As culture shifts to treat women as whole individuals capable of contributing to society outside of family life, I think the stigma will start to dissipate. I have read really great feminist blog posts discussing why some choose not to have kids. As more women speak up and more discussion takes place, I think it will become more accepted.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
That we are being selfish by only thinking about what is right for us and what we want. We are also thinking about what it would be like too for our potential new children. Whether our lives wouldn’t allow us to provide the proper care or the sacrifices that come with being a parent would cause us to resent having children, the child would suffer.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
If something happened to my sister and I needed to adopt her kids, I would. Other than that, nope.

11141119_10205893493670173_2504422191590383001_n

Heath Davis: I am a 39 year old, genderqueer woman. I strongly identify as poly and queer, and I am in a committed poly relationship with my anchor (female, femme-identified) partner. I am also great friends with and dynamically supported by her female, femme-identified partner and her genderqueer partner. I am white, fat, able-bodied, non-Veteran, U.S. citizen, and have two Masters degrees (with zero intent of pursuing any more education). I work full-time as a librarian at a technical college in Kirkland, Washington. I grew up in a Baptist household in Southern Maryland and have run as far away from religion as possible. I have not identified a religion that resonates with me, but I do think of living in the city as its very own religion. I currently live in Seattle, Washington in the Columbia City neighborhood and Seattle is a place I can call home. I have a ten-pound Chihuahua/Min Pin mix and share my house with a lady queer couple, one is a massage therapist and the other is a plumber.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I realized I did not want to have children when I was in high school. I was routinely humiliated and bullied for being fat and having facial hair by various classmates and on the bus to/from school. I made a conscious decision at that time that did not want to bring a child into this world because I could not handle the emotional pain of watching my child go through anything even remotely similar. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to be there for my children if/when this were to happen. I really wanted to have children when I was much younger, played with dolls, treated my dolls like they were actual babies, sat with and held the babies of other people in my Family of Origin. Another realization for me was that I didn’t want to have babies unless I was financially and emotionally stable to do so. I also wanted to be free to do whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted, and having children seemed like a barrier to that.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent?
Mostly it has been a non-issue since I have surrounded myself (mostly) with other queer folks who don’t want to have children. When I came out to my parents my mother said something to the effect of: “Well that makes sense because you don’t want to have kids.” This was really damaging to hear, but corresponded to my own assumptions that I COULD NOT have children because I was queer. Among my friends they usually get that I don’t want to have kids. My family of origin has sort of given up and I usually get exoticized as the “weird one” or the person no one bothers to really get to know because my life is so strange to them and outside of the traditional layout of family.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
The response I got from my mother when I came out to my parents as queer: “Well that makes sense because you don’t want to have kids.” Well before this and when I was newly navigating the GLBTQ community in Washington, D.C. I attended a women’s group in Dupont Circle neighborhood and there was a question or someone brought up something about having children and I shared, “I’m queer because I don’t want to have children.” One of the facilitators for the group pointed out that those two things were not mutually exclusive and not all LGBTQ folks feel that way, in fact quite the opposite. That was a bit of a revelation for me.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I have thought about that in the past. I think if a friend or family of choice/origin person was not able to have children I would serve as a surrogate. I’ve thought about this in terms of my family of choice as well, where if one of them could not have children I would offer to carry the child, but that is a moot point since adoption would be the next available option.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
I haven’t had any issues in my healthcare history. The one thing that has been HUGELY frustrating is discontinuing the conversation about reproductive and sexual health when I inform a medical professional that I am sexually active with women and queer folks. This has changed somewhat, and sometimes I’m not entirely sure if concerns for my medical treatment aren’t flagrantly disregarded because I am a fat woman (whereas I have heard stories from women with more normed body size and femme presenting detailing how medical professionals hound them about STDs and pregnancy when they tell them they are only sleeping with women). I was on birth control pills off and on for a few years throughout my 30s (mostly to regulate my very erratic periods) and I switched to an IUD in August 2012. There has never been any pushback on this and has been supported by the medical professionals with whom I have worked. I have thought about, but have never sought to have tubal ligation, but it is something I am thinking about. At my age (39 years old) I don’t anticipate I would have a problem getting this done.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
As far as past romantic relationships my decision to not procreate has had little to no impact on my romantic relationships. I was in committed relationships with two women who were not interested in having children at all. Pursuing relationships with other folks once I began poly dating served as a bit of a challenge, because it seemed like (at the time) too much to take on at one time (along with a relationship). All of that said, at this time I am in a poly relationship/family structure where there is committed desire to building a large family that will include up to three children. How this will roll out is still in discussion, but there is talk of my partner carrying a child and/or adopting children. My decision to not have children did impact this relationship with my partner greatly since this is something she and her partner wanted and didn’t know how I would fit into that. I’ve flexed on my resolve to not have children because I feel like the family of choice I am in with my partner and her partner and her partner’s partner is committed to working through hard things and is deeply committed to each other and all of the members of that unit. It gets more and more solid everyday and my fears around stability and security for co-parenting and raising a child are mitigated by the love and solidity each of these people brings.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
One thing that has been truly damaging is the discourse in US society that myself and others who actively choose not to become pregnant or have children are somehow self-centered/selfish. The idea is that I’m so overly focused on myself and my own needs, material wants, desire for a child-free life, independence, freedom, sexual autonomy, you name it. I think this kind of thinking/stigma in US society is extremely sexist and the same concerns are not lobbed at men. No one thinks twice when a man doesn’t want to have children (or at the very least there is not as much of an extreme focus on it). The self-centered/selfish piece that I have been privy too in family conversations is particularly harmful because there seems to be a disconnect (for me) between making absolutely certain I can function and take care of myself before I bring another life into this world. As well, I view the choice to have children as just as self-centered/selfish as choosing to not have them. A child is (or will be) imprinted with your image and world view, and will be brought up to carry the same values and principles as the parent(s). There are lots of aspects of pregnancy and having children that is deeply inspiring and promotes growth and deepening commitments (to family, to the world), but I give a lot of side eye to anyone who tells me I am selfish for not wanting to have children. I think the only way to erase the stigma against women who don’t want to have children (and some women physically can’t have children and there is so much stigma and feelings around this) is to burn down the patriarchy and end sexism, allow women to be whatever the fuck they want. If they want to be mothers: GREAT! If they want to not have children and pursue their careers: YOU DO YOU.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
See selfish/self-centered statement above. I would add that it is someone’s responsibility to have children (and this is disproportionately the burden of women). Thinking this about me and other women flattens their experience and the richness of women making empowering choices for themselves. Many women are perfectly happy to not have children.
Note: I recognize my perspective on this is deeply rooted in my own privileges and comes from a very white, able-bodied, high socioeconomic class.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
See answer to question 6. I love my partner and my family of choice and I am relaxing my decision to not have children because there will be a family of (at least) four to support and lend hands in the raising of children. This alone makes me want to have children because there are multiple levels of support (and doesn’t even take into consideration very close friends who will also be a part of this support). The possibility doesn’t seem daunting to me and if my child comes home from school and has been bullied for one reason or another if I’m not emotionally ready or stable for that interaction there are at least three other people who are. This is the children/babies/pregnancy I’d like to see and am excited to contribute to.

11292902_10155628670165066_1725876614_nPatricia Sánchez: I am a woman who does not feel comfortable with identifying in an exclusive sexual orientation, since I believe that it should be me who defines my sexuality, according to what I decide to feel in the moment, rather than to be defined by my sexuality instead. I am 37 years old, Latin American, able, living in Colima, Mexico. I’ve been an atheist for about ten years now. I have a Master of Arts in Gender and Peace Building and work as a journalist in my country. I’m currently living in Mexico and visiting Houston, Texas as an occasional tourist.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I realized I didn’t want to have children about a year ago. The reason I don’t want to parent is because I don’t find a reason why I should. I don’t feel a maternal urge to have children, and have no problem with being with myself and my partner in solitude for the rest of our/my life. Having children would complicate my life so much that this would stop being mine and be completely of them, and this is something that I don’t wish to give up.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent?
My parents respect whatever I choose to do with my life or my body, but some distant relatives still bring the question up every now and then.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
Offers of sex, or even semen, from some male friends that believe that my decision originates from not having a boyfriend. They never saw their offerings as an offense, but as a heartfelt gift.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I don’t have any interest in going through motherhood in any way, but I respect women who would do it for someone else. What I have problems with is with the fact that most women who would be surrogates are from undeveloped countries, that have huge necessities and are used as cheap vessels for couples from developed countries.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
I’ve been suggested to preserve my eggs by some reproductive healthcare providers, to have the option if I change my mind later in life.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
It didn’t have any effect, but I believe this should be a conversation couples should have from the beginning of their relationship, so they know they are in the same boat together.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I don’t have enough experience living in the U.S. to have an opinion on what Americans feel like about people who don’t want to have children, but I think that any stigma created about women who don’t want to have children is originated from the social construction of women as mothers, not as people with the option to become mothers or not. As Françoise Héritier mentioned in one of her books, “to use mother in the place of woman, implies assigning her a single function that nullifies the person within her.”

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
That they are making a mistake that will regret later in life, because our role in the society is to reproduce. This actually is a religious construction that is putting too much pressure over the world’s natural resources.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
I don’t think so.

DSC00373Feminist Activist (aka Heather): I am a 30 year-old white, polyamorous, bisexual, currently nondisabled, atheist cis-woman from a small town in Northern California. I live in Austin, Texas with my monogamous cis-male partner of… gosh, 7? years and am employed full-time. I’ve never been married or in the military. I have a BA in Women’s Studies, Spanish and Linguistics and an MA in Gender & Peacebuilding… and I might be ready for more school soon. I LOVE to travel, learn languages and talk to people.

1. When did you first realize, know, or accept that you do not want to have children? What makes you not want to parent?
I never played will dolls as a kid and once my sister was born when I was five I begrudgingly played “house” with her, but aside from a few times when my partners’ half-desires to have children of their own clouded my judgement, I have never truly wanted to parent. I love the idea of naming a child, and have talked about how “if I was gonna do it” I would want twins, a boy and a girl, so I could raise them as gender-neutrally as humanly possible. But it’s totally unfair to have children for a sociology experiment. And even though I would be a great mother, it would be super unfair for me and the children if they started out life unwanted. There are so, so many things that make me not want to parent, I don’t think seeing how the experiment would turn out could ever outweigh the emotional, physical, financial, temporal and especially environmental factors that have shaped my decision.

2. How have close friends or family reacted when they learned you do not want to parent?
Most of the people I choose to surround myself with accept that I’m extremely liberal and feminist, and respect my right to choose if and when to procreate or not. I haven’t actually told my grandparents I don’t want kids–they may be too old to handle the shock. I’m the only woman in my family who has never been pregnant though, so there are lots of babies around. My partner though is his mother’s only child, and his grandmother’s only grandchild, so I think they still hope he’ll have kids. My dad still holds out hope that I’ll pass on his genes, telling me I have a responsibility to reproduce even though he waited until his late 30s to start. I told my mom I don’t want kids in a really roundabout way, hemming and hawing about how hard and expensive it is to raise kids, how I’ve seen what she and my grandparents and my sister have had to sacrifice, etc. until she said to me “Honey, you don’t have to have kids if you don’t want to,” and the whole weight of the world lifted from my shoulders.

3. What is the most interesting or offensive reaction you’ve received?
Now that I’m “past my prime” baby-making years I don’t get told as often that I’m going to change my mind, which is nice. When my 15 year-old sister had my incredible nephew when I was 20 and I was holding him for the first time my grandfather chuckled at me “Practicing, eh?” and I remember my stomach dropping. My partner’s mother, when I called her this year to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, told me she hoped she could say the same to me soon–yikes! Most reactions I’ve had so far haven’t been offensive so much as people have been sad for me or lamented the fact that people who would be awesome parents choose not to have kids, but the women who tell younger women “When you’re X years old your clock is going to start ticking, you’ll change your mind,” infuriate me.

4. How would you feel about being a surrogate?
I included this question mostly to see how other uterus-owners feel about it, because I am entirely torn. One one hand I am completely fascinated by the idea of carrying a pregnancy to term and going through childbirth as a physio-social connection to all women throughout time who have carried on the human race. I would do the whole natural, midwife/doula childbirth thing, if possible. But I would have to be sure I was handing the kid off to someone/people who would raise it as gender-neutrally as possible, so there’s that. On the other hand all of the women in my family have hellacious all-day every day of pregnancy “morning” sickness, and I hate to vomit, so it’s unlikely.

5. What has your experience with reproductive healthcare been like? Have you ever had pushback from a healthcare provider over your reproductive healthcare choices or concerns?
Having been a reproductive healthcare provider for years I had the privilege of being able to pull my Nurse Practitioner aside whenever I wanted to ask questions about birth control. I’ve been the proud owner of three Nexplanon and will probably get another one next year. Before then Planned Parenthood was always where it was at, and just like any other franchise service, some experiences were better than others. I will say this, no matter how many times your provider rolls their eyes or tells you it’s unnecessary, if you want STI testing of any kind done, demand it. You are the one who has to live in your body so don’t be afraid to push for what you need.

6. How has your decision not to procreate affected your romantic relationships, if at all? How do you think it could affect future relationships, if at all?
It’s funny, my partner is one of the reasons I ever considered having kids, because when we got together he said one day he’d like to have his own offspring. I was totally against it at the time. As time went on I was more open to the idea but the pendulum swung and HE was the one who didn’t want kids. My partner is the last male with his surname, so I do feel a twinge of can’t-let-that-history/heritage-die, but he doesn’t at all, so I guess I’m off the hook. If his sister decides to procreate I may encourage her to give the kid their last name so I won’t have to worry about it. Luckily now my partner and I are on the same page that parenting is not for us.

7. What kind of stigma do you feel US society has created for people who could get pregnant but don’t want to? What do you think would help reduce the stigma for folks who don’t want to get pregnant/have children?
I think the stigma of being fertile and not having children is really closely linked to slut-shaming. Women are still berated for controlling our own bodies, sexuality and fertility. But the stigma is gradually reducing, and the more we all share our explanations of why we don’t want children I think the more society will understand. What I want to hear more of is people of color who have uteri and don’t want to procreate because, like this piece unfortunately, most of what we hear is from college educated white women. For me even if there was paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, excellent schools and socialized healthcare, I still don’t think I would want to parent, but those things would give people who do want to parent a chance to be the kind of parents children deserve.

8. What is one thing people get wrong about folks who choose not to get pregnant/have children?
What I always find missing from the conversation is that having a child is not a selfless act. People choose to have children for all kinds of awful reasons, and their motives are rarely questioned. The biggest factor for me in choosing not to have children is I don’t believe humanity can sustain life on this planet with how destructive we are, and I wouldn’t want my offspring (no matter how many generations down the line it may be) to bear the brunt of the end of the world as we know it. And as scared of death as I am for myself I can’t imagine the overwhelming fear or reality of losing a child.

9. Do you think there is anything that would make you *want* to have children, whether through your body or adoption?
I can’t think of anything specific that would make me want to have french fries in my backseat and to wipe snot and/or vomit off of every article of clothing I own. And even though genetics is supposed to take the “best genes” from both parents, what if the kid is a combination of our worst genes–illnesses, physical attributes, personality flaws? Plus you can be an awesome parent and still have your kid turn out to be a murderer…. Fostering and/or adopting an older kid isn’t 100% out of the question though, in the unlikely event I ever feel like settling down. And like Lauren and Heather if my sister’s kids needed a home I would absolutely change my life for them.

Hungry for more? Check out these 25 famous women on being child-free.


An Open Letter to White People

Dear White People,

I seriously debated the title of this post, with White Privilege & Cultural Appropriation 101 and How to Not Suck as an Ally both strong contenders. If you can’t tell just how white I am from my avatar I am of the most sunburnable variety. And that whiteness (and of course being cis-gendered), at least in my culture in the United States, brings with it enormous amounts of unearned privilege. If you, dear reader, are wondering what race/ethnicity has to do with feminism and Feminist Activism I strongly encourage you to read this article, and check your privilege at the door.

womens-plus-dia-de-los-muertos-costume

A prime example of a cheap, racist, sexist “costume” for Dia de los Muertos

I don’t want anyone to take away from this the us v. them dichotomy that this discussion may be reminiscent of. We are all human, we are all important, we are all deserving of love and respect. I just want to let other white people know that we, white people, are not the “default.” And that we have a responsibility as human beings to be just as aware of other cultures as other non-white Americans are of ours. Check out these links for a refresher on Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian, Black, Latina, Native American and Mixed-race women’s activism in the US. And check out the Other Women’s Blogs listed on the right side of the page for current voices from around the blogosphere.

El Día de L@s Muert@s is what inspired this post, and as Nuestra Hermana points out, it is no substitute for Halloween. Fall is full of celebrations and festivals from all cultures so I encourage discussions of appropriation versus appreciation of Diwali, Hanukkah, and Día de L@s Muert@s in the comments.

celia-cruz-06

The Queen of Salsa!

This year the discussions I had with many of my colleagues, as well as the numerous articles I read about racist, sexist and culturally appropriated costumes for Halloween have really stuck with me. It was a hard but humbling reality when I came to accept that it’s ok if I don’t get to dress up as Celia Cruz for Halloween, because it’s not my culture, it’s not my race and as much as I adore her, my culture has already done so much damage to Afrolatin@ culture that even with the purest of intentions I could never do justice to her because of my race and my culture. There are few downsides to being white so not being able to respectfully emulate someone of another race is something all white people should just accept.

I have made it an official rule: If you are white you do not get to dress up on Halloween (or any other day) as someone who is not white. And just as well, you’d probably end up being offensive anyway. No blackface. No hottentot Venus. Also, no feather headdresses, no geisha or dragon lady costumes, no gypsy fortune tellers, no harem beauties, no “illegal aliens” and don’t associate anything Native American with alcohol. Just don’t. Be respectful, be scary, be creative, just don’t be racist.

Racist and tasteless

Racist and tasteless

It has taken many years for me to understand my connection to the Latin@ culture. I poured myself into learning Spanish, have lived in Central America, enjoy cumbia and reggaeton, and would gladly eat Mexican food for every meal, and yet I have the privilege of turning off however Chican@ I may feel at any moment, because I am not actually Chicana. It is not my heritage, they are not my ancestors, no es mi lengua propia y no importa como elegantemente puedo communicarme en español, eso no es mío. I am and always will be white, so the stigma Latin@ children face at school for bringing rice and beans and tortillas would never be my reality. The hardship that Latina women face in the US when it comes to safe neighborhoods, fair employment, adequate child care, incarceration rates, health risks and immigration policies will never affect me in the same way.

Again, it has taken me years to learn that the connection I feel to mis herman@s is because of class, not race/ethnicity. I grew up in a trailer park and my best friend was half Mexican, half white. Because we lived in the same park we were subjected to the same disdain by the wealthier kids, but I always felt so at home with her Mexican familia that when I took a Chican@ literature class in college, studied the Nahuatl language and spent time with members of MEChA it seemed redundant for me that my classmates and professors gave me the title of “honorary Chicana.”

stigma 2But now I recognize just what an honor that was. I never have been and never will be Chicana, but because I respect and embrace all that Chican@ culture has done for and given to the United States, mis herman@s respect me, and my admiration for their culture, in return. It takes a lot of sincere interest in learning another culture to have members of that culture bestow such a title on you, and it’s something that no one should ever take for granted. I still consider myself very lucky to be able to  understand-both on an academic and a human level-Spanish conversations and Latin@ cultural events when my Latin@ friends choose to include me.

Here are a few tips I’ve been able to put together for those of you who are thinking of participating in another culture’s events or just generally don’t want to be racist:

  • Excepting an allergy, eat what is offered to you at a cultural event. Food, its preparation, and its enjoyment together are sacred in so many cultures that when white people make a face at menudo, crinkle their nose at kimchi or proclaim that curry “stinks” it kills me. That’s a whole lot of love you’re dismissing and if you aren’t participating in a cultural event to feel the love of the people you don’t belong there.
  • It is your job to educate yourself about other cultures. If you are planning to emulate someone from another culture, for whatever reason, it is entirely your responsibility as to whether your emulation comes across as offensive or genuine to someone from that culture.

    Someone else's culture should not be your costume

    Someone else’s culture should not be your costume

  • It is your responsibility to make an effort to understand the spiritual, historical and cultural significance of any holiday/celebration/festival you do not understand. If you have read everything you can get your hands on and still don’t feel like you understand it, only then would I advise asking someone from that culture to explain it to you. It is in no way their job to educate us.
  • While it is not anyone’s job to educate anyone else, if someone does choose to talk to you about their own experience or how to be more helpful in the fight for equality LISTEN!
  • Your/my/our white culture has chewed up and spit out and mangled beyond recognition so many cultures from the time Columbus invaded the Americas that we collectively as the “majority” must step back and allow the non-dominant cultures to have their own safe spaces where we may be onlookers/participants by invitation only.
    not funny
  • The other side of the coin is that you should make every effort to participate in cultural events you are invited to. If your friend or colleague invites you to join in a Lunar New Year’s celebration, attend a non-Christian wedding or break the fast after Ramadan, they want to share a part of themselves with you. Don’t forego your neighbor’s quinceañera just because you can’t dance!
  • stigmaLearn about your privilege. Make an effort to understand racism and its deep, deep roots here in the US. Think about how different your life would be if one of every three people who look like you is incarcerated. Think about how you would feel if a make-up line based their “urban  look” on one of the largest femicides in history, and that that history was of your people. Think about how hopeless you might feel if rates of domestic violence in your community were four times higher than amongst every other race. Think about how excluded from society you might feel if only 3.8% of people in the media looked like you. Just think about it.
  • Make your movement inclusive. Make it a safe space for all people. Actively seek out diversity in all its forms and never accept tokenism or expect anyone to speak for all people with whom they may share one piece of their identity. And let every individual define themselves in their own terms.
  • Get involved in (all) struggles for equality. DO NOT TRY TO LEAD movements with which you do not personally identify. But do get involved, educate yourself, follow the causes, sign the petitions, read the blogs and for god’s sake if someone wants your help then help them how they ask for it.
  • Lastly, DO NOT GIVE UP! Mistakes will be made. Learn from them. The struggle for equality is all of ours, no matter what our identity, and we are all in this together. No one is equal until everyone is equal.

Thank you for reading, my fellow whities. Now spread the word.

Love,

Feminist Activist

P.S. To my readers who identify as people of color, if I have said anything that is offensive or untrue I beg that you call me out on it so I, and the white people to whom this letter is addressed, can learn from the mistake. Thanks in advance!

 


Ode to Street Harassers

Freedom of speech?
How about freedom of the streets?
You’re free to get your dick sucked
So how am I not free to breathe?

All your “Hey babys!” are leaving me weak in the knees.

But it’s not in a good way
It’s not how you want
Because cat calls in general
Just feel like taunts

When you yell from your car
Or whistle in the street
What you’re really saying is:

“This place is for me.”

Women and girls treated like property
And your attitude towards us leaves our souls in poverty.

Everyday we face you
Everyday we hate you
Everyday we wish
We wish
We wish we could erase you!

Ok maybe not you, that’s taking it too far
But your ideas and your sexism spewed from afar.

Do you get it now, how unsafe we feel?

Street harassment is hate and your hatred is real.

So what can you do, how can you help?
Speak up!
Speak out!
Tell your boys how it felt
To know that your words
About sexy and hot
Make us feel like victims

When that’s something we’re not.

Sexism kills
In more ways than one
So stop street harassment
‘Cause this shit ain’t fun.

 


Day 24- Killing Us Softly

Violence against women comes in numerous forms and many feminists in modern America (including me) are of the belief that the media and advertising are detrimental to gender equality because sexism is used to sell everything. Now, I know there are a lot of groups in the US fighting against sexist and racist advertising in the media (like Ms. Magazine, About Face and SisterSong to name a couple) but today’s post is going to focus on the four installments of Jean Kilbourne’s documentaries Killing Us Softly and will feature some of the most offensive ads I’ve been able to find on the internet. Your submissions are welcome.

The original documentary was produced in 1979 when Jean Kilbourne got disgusted by the images she and all other Americans were constantly being fed. Obviously these two first ads are more vintage. The second installment, Still Killing Us Softly, was produced in 1987, Killing Us Softly 3 in 2000 and the newest film, Killing Us Softly 4 just last year, in 2010. Sadly, what this trend shows is that not much has changed in advertising in the past 30 years. Overt sexism declaring that women are stupid and belong in the home has given way to sex being used to sell everything from bodywash to beer.

Each and every one of these films should be required viewing for anyone in women’s studies programs (where they often are), sociology programs (where they probably aren’t), and advertising classes (where they definitely aren’t). And they are each only about 30 minutes long, so don’t waste 2 hours of your life watching a crappy Hollywood produced blockbuster, instead, grab your favorite snack and your favorite person to bitch to, and sit down for some eye-opening, and frustrating, entertainment. Jean Kilbourne handles each presentation with humor and warmth which helps diffuse the tension of the impact these destructive ads have on women’s views of themselves and men’s views of women.

The history of these films chronicles the intrenched way advertisers and the “beauty” industry deliberately encourage women’s insecurities so that they can offer up products to improve whatever perceived flaw women have. Kilbourne examines myriad issues concerning the images of women in advertising, including sexualization of girl children, violence against women, dehumanizing of women of color, promotion of eating disorders and plastic surgery, encouraging women to be submissive and childlike, and the literal objectification of women’s bodies. Newer advertisements promote an unhealthy beauty ideal for all women and erroneously teach that women can only be attractive if they are young, thin, white, able-bodied, big breasted and submissively sexy.

Here are a few other ads I find disgusting.

Promoting violence against women:

Sexualization of children:

 

Infantilizing adult women:

Promoting homophobia and transphobia:

Animalizing women of color:

And objectifying women and girls:



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 625 other followers

%d bloggers like this: