Let’s talk for the right to choose not to have children
More and more women around the world are choosing not to have children. The reasons are different, but more importantly, they do not owe an explanation to anyone. However, it is still difficult for society to accept such a decision by a woman – the claims: “You will change your decision”, “Your time will come”, “You have not met the right person yet” are familiar to many of us to the point of pain. Women who choose not to have children are judged, misunderstood and entrenched with stereotypes such as “a woman should be a mother.” In Bulgaria we need to start a conversation on this topic – openly, calmly and with empathy for women’s personal choices. This has already been done by the creator of the Facebook page “I don’t want to have children“. We from the Bulgarian Fund for Women decided to talk to her.
- Hello! Could you please, introduce yourself.
Hello! First of all, I want to apologize for remaining anonymous. I hope that the day will soon come when I will be able to stand in front of the audience with my name and face. The people like me, would understand me. I am still a young woman who is able but does not want to have children. I have a university degree, I work. I am a physically active person. Also, socially engaged and with voluntary participation in several socially significant causes.
- How did you decide to create the page “I don’t want to have children”?
I was provoked. Less than an hour after reading another article that said, “Every woman sooner or later becomes a mother,” the page was created. Every statement like “Everyone wants to be a parent,” denies my existence. Mine and that of thousands of other people – both women and men. Having a child can be the greatest happiness, BUT for the ones who want it.
- Support or rather condemnation did you receive from the Facebook audience when the page was created?
What I see on the page is rather condemnation. I expected it – in my ambition to find others like me, I reached more people. They were very shocked to say the least. Sounding educated and not so people, they do not want to believe that a healthy and capable woman may not want to have a child. The majority directly condemned my position in life. They do not try to understand me; they do not have even a drop of desire to accept the different point of view. While personal messages were mostly written by people with a benevolent tone. That was nice – I met a lot of support and understanding. I met like-minded people, we had interesting conversations.
- What do your acquaintances and relatives think about your project? Do you have support or not at all?
The few people I’ve told about it are really close to me. Even if some of them do not understand me, they support me. They know me and they know what kind of person I am. They do not look at me through the prism of the unwillingness to have a child, which is still perceived extremely negatively worldwide. Social norms impose this way of thinking, but history shows that norms do eventually change.
- Where does the biggest resistance come from and why? Who is afraid of independent and emancipated women?
In my opinion, being independent and emancipated is not necessarily synonymous with childfree, I see this from the people I meet online. It is a pity that there is no good equivalent word in Bulgarian of the term (in Bulgarian childless and childfree are the same). But we are clearly perceived as such. The percentage of rudest and initial-reaction statements definitely come from men. But the most cynical comments are from women. The biggest resistance I believe comes from people who are unsure of their own decisions. In trying to defend their point of view – they attack and insult.
- Why don’t you want to have children?
I have tried many times to explain to people who are not like me and I have rarely been understood. Many women dream of becoming mothers from an early age, they imagine what they will learn their children, etc. etc. I don’t have that desire. I don’t need to have a child to be happy. If one day this desire of mine changes – something I firmly believe will not happen – I would consider adoption. The absence of a child does not mean a lack of life satisfaction. For some people, health problems, unhappy childhood, financial worries, fear, and more are really reasons not to want children. But believe me, many of us do not have and will not have children, because they simply Do Not Want to.
- What would you say to other girls and women who do not want to have children? In our eyes, announcing your choice is extremely empowering, and each voice on the subject contributes to achieving gender equality and overcoming the stereotypes that women suffer from.
You are not alone! Motherhood is a choice and I am glad you realize it. It is not for everyone, and the fact that you don’t want it, does not make you a bad person. It is not common, but completely normal. Congratulations on not being enslaved to stereotypes. There are enough examples of people who do not have children, but have contributed to making the world a better, more interesting place. Be at peace with yourself and live without harm. I am satisfied with my decisions and I live a fulfilled life, I hope the same goes for you.
- What would you advise any girl and woman who feels like you?
To those who do not have a conflict with themselves on the subject, I want to say “Well done, stay the same!” To the others, I would like to encourage them not to doubt their own desires. If you haven’t already, find the thing that ignites the spark in you! Be happy and do not bend under the pressure of society. It will sooner or later accept us.
- And what is your advice to women who want to be mothers?
To become mothers if they really want to. Not because it should be so and that is how it is expected. And when it happens, try to do it well. Try to raise a good person who thinks about the world around them. I have girlfriends who are mothers and by whom I am fascinated. I am proud of them. But there is also the opposite…
- How does gender equality looks like in your eyes?
Men who do not want children are also subject to criticism. It is way less harsh with them, with the ladies there is a widespread opinion that almost until you become a mother, you are not a real woman. The conclusion is that complete equality is missing.
Visual: Alberto Roggieri