Womanhood ≠ Motherhood

Why women don’t need children to validate their existence

We grow up with these ideas put in our head from a young age, from tv shows, movies, friends, or family, that being a woman will eventually result in being a mom.

For people who still believe this is true, its time to wake the f*** up.

Photo Courtesy of The Odyssey

Women today who don’t have children or express the lack of desire to have children are automatically put into question. Women without kids are called “immature,” “selfish, shallow and self absorbed” and many recognize being a mother as “the most important job in the world.”

What many fail to recognize is the double standard applied to women when it’s just assumed they want children, if not in early adulthood, at least in their 30's and 40's. If a man expresses that he doesn’t want to have kids, at any stage in his life, there is no stigma attached to him for having possible outside motives. Instead, he is recognized as being independent or has a strong work ethic.

To elaborate, here is a list of COMPLETELY VALID reasons as to why a woman would not want to have children:

“I don’t like the thought of being around small people I have to raise to be productive citizens of the world while cleaning their boogers and snot and poop. No thanks.”
“I never saw myself as a mother and don’t really have that natural maternal instinct. I also wanted to have freedom in my life to choose how to spend my time. My husband and I are happy, healthy, financially secure, and childless by choice.”
“I am selfish when it comes to my career. I am not great at compromising. But I acknowledge these things. And it would not be fair to a child to be my second or even third priority in life.”

There is no biological gene women carry to make then natural born caretakers or the desire to be a mother. We carry this ideology that since women have been primarily only recognized for being wives and mothers in the past, that this is how we should continue to think and act. Think about it for a second: what do you imagine of when you think of your own mother? Is she defined to you by her career and her own accomplishments, or is she defined by who she is to you? A mother’s entire life shouldn’t be dismissed and only recognized in relation to her children, just like a women without children shouldn’t be called selfish for deciding that having kids isn’t for her.

Famous and empowered women have been asked why they haven’t had kids yet, or if they plan on having kids in the future. A few of these women have powerfully responded with:

Talk show host, actress, producer, Oprah Winfrey: “If I had kids, my kids would hate me… They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”
Feminist icon, Gloria Steinem: “Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.”
Comedian, Chelsea Handler: “I definitely don’t want to have kids … I don’t think I’d be a great mother. I’m a great aunt or friend of a mother … I don’t want to spend that kind of time. I don’t want to have a kid and have it raised by a nanny. I don’t have time to raise a child.”
Singer, Stevie Nicks: “It’s like, ‘Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover?’ With kids, your focus changes. I don’t want to go to PTA meetings.”
Actress, Marisa Tomei I’m not that big a fan of marriage as an institution, and I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.”

There are so many women who are viewed by society as strong and successful, like Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem; however, that doesn’t take away from the fact that women who aren’t famous are just as validated regardless of their reason, whether it be because of their career, life aspirations, not liking kids, or being content with life without kids.

Photo Courtesy of Bravo / gif-weenus.com

ALL women are legitimate and valid, with or without children. It is our job as a society to recognize what is no longer tolerated. If we continue to accept and institutionalized and stereotypical things just because they’ve been around forever, are we really getting anywhere?