Society today still largely defines a woman’s success in life by her reproductive performance, attributing varying degrees of worth to her person based on her ability or inclination to procreate. If we can't have children, we're failures (pitying arm pat). If we don't want children, we're unnatural (suspicious side-eye). If we can't have children and we're not upset about it, or we've made our peace with it, we're masking our pain with pride (knowing nod).
A childfree woman's self-awareness, priorities, and good judgment are regularly called into question and subjected to unsolicited moral commentary, demands for justification, and the automatic presumption of her less valuable and less purposeful existence. With such pervasive social conditioning, and without positive representation in the media or a means of publicly identifying in a way that is safe, relatable, and empowering, even the most confident and fulfilled childfree woman can feel ostracised in basic social situations and isolated in her path. Society's normative lens and the semantics of negativity are all too present in this discourse, and the script needs to change.
Childfree Women UK & Ireland is a positive community of childfree women, where we define ourselves by what we are, rather than what we're not.
Whatever your age or background, and whatever the reasons that a life with children isn't for you, you have intrinsic worth as a woman and as a human being. Your choice - whether the choice to intentionally not have children, or the choice to identify as happily childfree even where not having children is beyond your control - is valid.
Normalising this choice is only one aspect of the battle for reproductive justice for all women, but it’s something that needs work. Young childfree women are still patronised and trolled. As we get older, our social circle may diminish, while invasive questioning about our childbearing plans simultaneously increases. Throughout our lives, we can expect both subtle and not-so-subtle pressure to procreate, coming from loved ones and strangers alike. Given the stigma still attached to being a happily childfree woman, we don't always feel safe to declare ourselves, which makes it harder to find friends who feel similarly. Whether childfree by choice or by circumstance, our sense of self-worth can take a hit, and we may suffer feelings of loneliness and exclusion, which could be avoided. Some of us may even abandon our aspirations for fear of being left with no support system if we pursued them.
But we aren’t alone, and by coming together we can draw strength from each other, and ultimately shape the world for the better in a direct way, if only by being our best selves. In a society that isn't built for us, that in many ways still excludes, silences and shames us for living out of line, it is vital to have a space where we can find strength and friendship, claim our own narrative, and support each other in our daily lives. Childfree Women UK & Ireland is that space.