Why Tolerance Is Important When You Don’t Understand
We all know how it feels when parents criticize our lifestyle. It is something we have in common. Therefore, it really makes no sense to have the same kind of criticism between divisions of childfree women. If you are like me, my guess is that you also get frustrated by the obscene reactions from women who themselves should know how important it is to be acknowledged for who you are, and not judged by what you are (not) to someone else.
I am really sad to read about the protest reactions from childfree women who obviously don’t give a damn about their Not Mom sisters, when Marcia Drut-Davis was announced as a keynote speaker at the 2017 Not Mom Summit. It is not only a problem because most of the reactions are based on reading only two-and-a-half sentences from Marcia’s book.
What’s next: Women working with children are not considered childfree or childless anymore? Or that you have to be a menopausal woman to be considered a childfree woman, because as a younger woman you can still change your mind about motherhood (and some women do).
Mostly, I am sorry to see that Karen Malone Wright feels that she has to defend the decision. She should not have to according to the definition where every woman without children is embraced by The Not Mom community.
We always have to remember that childfree women are not the same. Our reasons are as varied as they are personal. The same goes for how we choose to live our lives. We still want the same thing, but if we cannot be open and inclusively minded within our own community, how can we expect or want (m)others who are even more different to show acceptance and respect for us?
Here I have made a suggestion of three things for us to keep in mind to avoid a similar situation in the future:
1) Think about how you choose to express yourself
Practice in rejecting your negative thoughts or at least think about how you approach the sisters within your own community. Even though it might be comfortable and satisfying for you to express your rage and anger, ultimately all your are doing is corrupting the perception of who we are by only showing what you are. After all, the purpose of a community is to support and comfort each other in our mutual challenges.
2) Try to avoid your own prejudices running away with you.
Or as Laura LaVoie says: “Remember that having more support for your own identity isn’t about negating other people’s experience”.
Most of the time we are criticized by parents for our lifestyle simply because it is different. I believe that criticism within our own minority, is based on the exact same thing: a lack of understanding. In such a case it is particularly important that we don’t react based on prejudices.
Many childfree and childless women feel caught between dimensions and definitions. By showing each other respect and acceptance it will be possible for us to embrace not only the women without children, who legally are stepmothers, but also all the women who find themselves somewhere in between child-haters and child-lovers, because they don’t seek the company of children and at the same time they don’t have particularly strong feelings against children.
3) Let us get to know each other better
The solution must be to get to know each other better. Simply because friends don’t fight. The chances are less that we want to pick a fight with someone we have come to know or like.
One way of doing this is to share more personal accounts on our individual perspectives on how we choose to live as childfree and childless women. If you want to share your childfree story one place to do this is at the Nonparents.
What I realize by reading about the unfortunate reactions to the choice of Marcia Drut-Davis as a keynote speaker is that it seems like we have to learn to embrace and show tolerance to other women within our own female minority before we can ask or expect (m)others to show us the same social acceptance.
We are often like two socks that have a lot in common, but are sitting on each foot. Therefore, we must focus on the main thing we have in common: That parenthood is simply not for us.
Most of all, showing the world another and more nuanced picture of what it is like to be a woman today, will help all of us to get rid of the stereotypes and stigmatization of women without children, and hopefully eventually also change the cultural norm that every woman should want to be a mother.
Originally published at Childfreewoman.com on 7th of May 2017.