A strong yes about a strong no.
I’ve been pretty open about my desire to not have children. Over the weekend, while we were all lapping up every morsel of life not spent at work that we owe to centuries of fallen soldiers, Michelle Wolf’s new show The Break came out on Netflix. Apart from being positively hilarious and making use of an entire TV show set, it made more good points than I thought possible in a half hour. The point that was, in my opinion, the most good: Hey, maybe everyone could stop treating women who chose to be child-free less like actual garbage. Just a thought.
Amber Ruffin joined Michelle on stage, and I definitely hope she always does, for a segment about not wanting kids. There hasn’t been nearly enough discussion about not wanting children as a valid, shame-free life choice, but Michelle has been one of the public personalities calling for more, and I was thrilled to learn that Amber is, too. Because they’re both really cool and talented and I like them.
I hope you understand how huge what they just did really is.
I have never, ever ever, ever ever seen two women on a talk show (or literally anywhere else) publicly advocate for the child-free choice and/or so flawlessly point out how nonsense the negative opinions about it can be. I have never felt more understood or seen by women in media. I’ve also never stared at a TV screen with my mouth agape for good reason this much. This segment was the very best kind of shocking, and long overdue. They get it, they get me, and they want to help other people get it together.
Getting shamed or ridiculed for both not wanting kids and being open about not wanting kids is a problem well solved with humor. Who knew? The pair nailed the reactions to child-free + happy women with playful comedy that I hope will help other people realize how genuinely trash their behavior toward us typically is.
Here’s my favorite part: “If you’re a woman, and you don’t want kids, people want reasons.”
They sure do Michelle! They sure do. And while both Amber and Michelle had awesome reasons for not wanting kids, I hope that this charming and informative segment will take us a little further down the road toward child-free women not having to explain themselves at all. I’m hoping that instead we can just be people doing things without having to explain them to other people who think we should be doing other things.
Another gem Amber and Michelle got into, which is I guess an explanation for not wanting kids even though nobody ever makes moms explain why they did have kids but I digress. They pointed out a few totally terrifying truths about being a mom. Ex: the woman who was looking forward to giving birth to her second so she could have a night of sleep away from her first. Or the woman whose nipples changed in size and shape following the birth of her kid. No.
Those examples barely scratched the surface, but here’s why they’re important: They’re typically only called out by women who are moms themselves. Ex: Ali Wong goes into the horrors of motherhood in her most recent Netflix special Hard Knock Wife, and they sound horrendous, but they wouldn’t be as accepted if a child-free woman was relaying them to audience about her friend who’s a mom. There’s an inherent ability for women who are moms to point out the horrible things about being a mom, judgment-free. Child-free women can’t really point out how awful motherhood sounds without being seen as criticizing those who have chosen to be mothers. Yet nobody minds harshly criticizing those who chose not to be. Child-free women are allowed to both respect your choice as a mom while simultaneously thinking it sounds like the worst thing ever.
Amber also called out one thing I have a really hard time being cool with, and I’m so grateful for this: Women who don’t want kids are less categorizable than women who do want kids. And how dare we be. Because everyone has to be able to categorize women, all women, all of the time, or shit hits the fan. Because uncategorizable women are unfamiliar and scary and people don’t know how to deal with us. But you know what’s harder to deal with? A fucking baby.
In sum, the real answer, if you need one, to why I don’t want kids, is the same as Michelle & Amber’s: I like my life the way it is. Apart from one thing: More of these two, and less shaming and negativity around child-free women, please.