Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carrying the Cross (anonymously)

It's funny sometimes how things can really make you think. It's even funnier when it's your own blog post that makes you think.

When hubby read my previous post, he said he really liked my declaration of childfree honesty and my call to childfree people to stand up and shout childfreedom from the rooftops - say it loud, say it proud and all that. Then, being the wise guy he is, he cracked, "is that why you are anonymous on your blog?"

Hm!

Well, I explained, of course I am anonymous on my blog! I have to be careful. What if I am job searching someday and a prospective employer does a search on my name? Given the likelihood that she will be a parent, do I really want her to stumble on my rantings about how parents are so entitled? How our entire culture and media are unreasonably child and family-obsessed? How I zip into stork spots like Daisy Duke and rob pregnant women of their God-given right to primo parking? What if my family Googles me and finds this blog? Do I really want them reading my rants that essentially state that I think their lifestyle sucks and that parenthood is nothing more than a glorified pile of doo-doo? No, I think it's better I keep these expressions safely disassociated from my name and my interactions with people who can make judgements about me that can have a serious impact on my life and well-being. Childfreeeee I shall remain.

Besides, I explained to my wisecracking husband, being anonymous allows me to be really truthful and to really let it all hang out with no fear of personal repercussions. Sure, I may not use terms like breeder, Moo, crotch dumpling and the like, because frankly, I am not a big fan of CF hater-speak. But I do like to let the truth out - exactly what I feel and think, exactly when I feel and think it - and being anonymous gives me the personal freedom to let loose with abandon and without worrying how my image and reputation might be tarnished or who might find out and be offended. Because I am anonymous, I never have to censor myself. And boy is it fun to write uncensored stuff that you know others are reading (and hopefully finding validation in).

Wiseguy nodded in agreement. He gets it. He was just yanking my crank.

But he did get me questioning myself about how courageous and truthful I really am. Sure, I have this blog where I pontificate about pronatalism and childfreedom while I hide behind the screen name of Childfreeeee like the elusive Wizard of Oz . And I did do some serious academic work on the subject and even presented it to classmates and faculty (many of whom are parents). That was courageous, right? Oh, and there was a time when I was interviewed briefly for a local newcast story on DINKS. I certainly had to muster up some courage for that.

But am I courageous in the mundane moments of my day-to-day life?

My answer is yes and no. Yes, I tell people I am childfree and I use the term openly. I tell them why too, if they ask. And I challenge people from time to time - sometimes gently nudging them into identifying their pronatalist bias; other times delighting in shocking people with childfree candor. But no, if I am speaking with someone who is a parent (or who wants to be a parent) I generally do not go into my deepest and more controversial viewpoints on the issue - the things I know they would not be able to absorb or comprehend; the viewpoints that would send their heads spinning like the girl in the Exorcist and gaping at me like I am a 3-headed alien. When push comes to shove, sometimes it's easier to just let it go and be one in the crowd. Who wants to walk around with their neck sticking out all time?

I look at it this way - if every childfree person and sympathizer does something to further the cause, to open peoples' eyes and illuminate the shortcomings of our society, to lessen the prejudice and bring us a little farther out of the margins, the collective result will be massive. I feel hopeful that I am contributing in a meaningful way. I might not be willing to climb onto the crucifix for the cause, but I'll help to carry it. Will you?

12 comments:

firefly said...

Actually, based on your earlier post, I just today answered a newsletter e-mail from the National Wildlife Federation from a childfree perspective.

The e-mail was about National Wildlife Week and how the NWF has all kinds of fun activities aimed at kids 'n' families on their Web site.

I read it and thought, HUH? Why did I get this? So I went to their site to check my e-mail preferences, and sure enough, not one of their "family" oriented subjects was checked for me.

??? So I wrote to them and asked why I had gotten it. Maybe because I am a woman? I then proceeded to tell them exactly what I thought: that when kids are around, whooping and hollering just the way the "author" of the e-mail presented her frolicky "outdoors" childhood, any wildlife in the area disappears PRONTO. That I didn't think it was wise to present getting out into nature like some mini-Disneyland Happy-Meal childfest.

And that, most of all, I had not asked for nor did I want any kind of family oriented news, that not all women had nor wanted children, and if they weren't going to bother targeting their e-mails according to expressed preferences, I wasn't going to register my backyard habitat with them and pay the fee.

It was unbelievably freeing. If it hadn't been for discovering your blog and Britgirl's, I probably would have just cringed and deleted the e-mail.

MyPetsRule said...

Thank you for your wonderful and insightful words! There is definitely a double standard when it comes to the childfree. We are judged very harshly by our pronatalistic society. So you should absolutely keep your anonymity. It would be foolish not to at this point. And yes, I will do my part to help dispel the myth that parenthood is a superior plane of existence that we all must aspire to. I will be one drummer in the growing drumbeat against the belittlement and degredation of the childfree.

Ms. Poly Theist said...

I am so happy to have found this blog! I often feel like an underrepresented minority, because at least in the US, the entire society is geared towards people with children. Most ads, sales, news features, just about everywhere you look, the assumption is that if you are a good, consuming American, that equals two parents and a handful of kids. My husband and I (and our two cats) are very happy being childfree, but sometimes I feel a blush of shame because of the grandchildren I'm denying my parents (I'm their only surviving child). It took me until sometime in my 30s to realize that providing my parents with grandchildren was NOT a good reason to have children. I know that my parents -- and many others -- look at us like we are not normal for living this way (happily childfree), but I think about what the addition of a child or children would do to our lives, and it makes me shudder with fear and resentment. My suspicion is that many people who do have children feel this way, too, but the societal pressure, and the burning need to be just like everybody else is simply too much for them. Hooray for the growing number of us who aren't simply unthinkingly breeding, and adding to this world's many problems. And hooray for this blog.

Childfreeeee said...

Firefly,

That is so awesome! I can only imagine the reaction of the Wildlife place reading your letter. Bravo!

I am so glad our posts inspired you!

MyPetsRule,

Thanks for your comment and your commitment to be a drummer for the cause. I think we CF people have been quiet for too long.

Ms. Poly Theist (love that name),

Welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment. Like you, I cannot imagine having a child simply for the purpose of providing grandchildren to your parents. People refer to CF as selfish, but what is more selfish than pressuring someone to have a child they don't want just so YOU can have grandchildren?

I always say this - if a person wants grandchildren so badly and you aren't providing them, maybe they should adopt a child. There are plenty of unwanted children who would love to be adopted. Next time they get on you for not providing a grandchild, why don't you suggest this?

marin said...

Childfree,

in my case wanting a grandchild has nothing to do with wanting a "common" child. My mother clearly said she want to see "our" face, "our" dna in that baby and adoption would just cause endless trouble.

I'm getting tired to be questioned about it, but I think I must be open and make people know that procreation, as any other lifestyle, is or should be a choice not a formula suitable for everyone.


Ms.Poly Theist,

I perfectly understand your feelings about be a minority, especially when you are pressed by your own (beloved) parents.

Anyway I'd like to remember that most of the women on this planet are in worse condition than in our society, they are traded through "marriage" as working and breeding material with no rights on their body and, if ill or not fertile, they can be rejected by their husband and left with no job or shelter.

eyemandy said...

Being anonymous online isn't only smart, it's polite. You wouldn't confront an acquaintance (assuming your "friends" know where you stand) and tell them you whole-heartily disagree with their choice of lifestyle, so why then would you direct them to, or allow them to find, a blog in which you are openly critical of it? Public blogs are the internet equivalent of 'mixed company'. The difference is that you attract those who want to know what you have to say, effectively making the 'company' not-so-mixed. Aside from a few angered moms now and then, no one who doesn't have similar views is going to read it. Still, it's a private party. No people who could be hurt allowed.

I, for one, appreciate that you aren't hateful like many other child-free people are. I have left several child-free online communities because of the vitriol that makes them no better than any other radical zealot who is really just inwardly angry.

I don't think any child-free person is carrying any sort of cross. There is no cross to carry. We have an opinion? So does every other human in the world. People with strong beliefs of any kind run the risk of starting to believe they're special in some way; they have something to teach or wisdom to impart. For me, being child-free is the way I want to live my life. It's no different than choosing to live in a high-rise apartment in spite of the number of people who think houses are superior to living in an apartment while I prefer a high-rise lifestyle (though I miss having a private pool). I'm not baring any crosses for the high-rise-loving folk even though there are many arguments to make as to why it's better. Sure, I scoff inwardly as people complain about mortgages, lawn care, maintenance and so on, but I don't presume that my lifestyle would be better for them.

To pontificate means to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner. There is nothing dogmatic or pompous about a child-free lifestyle or opinion that living this way is wonderful. Pontificate is what many people do on all subjects, but not you. Not yet, anyway. I'd like to see it stay that way. :)

djmist said...

"Wiseguy" should get his own blog. I mean to say that it is really great when childfree men get to hear a like-minded male voice weigh in on childfree topics. Not that I don't enjoy your blog (because I do), not that I find the woman's perspective less enlightening (I find it more so) but it's rare to find a man's view on the subject. It is, after all, a decision which either positively or negatively influences a woman more than a man. While both the man and woman become parents, women suffer more societal judgment on the way they mother (or IF they mother) plus they suffer the physical consequences of child birth. However, men have a stake here too but don’t really think about the issue at young age so, many men such as myself, are forced to contemplate and form opinions on childfreedom later in their lives (assuming they “thought” about it at all before hand).

Childfreeeee said...

djmist,

Thanks for posting and welcome to Childfreedom...I love having men here! The more, the merrier. Bring friends!

As for Wiseguy, I encourage him to post here as a guest writer and sometimes he takes me up on it.

Here's one of his recent posts:

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2009/01/culture-of-too-much-life-epitomy-of.html

And here's another one:

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2008/06/my-hubbys-take.html

(The second one was an elaboration on on this post of mine):

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2008/05/bucolia-interrupted-and-plan-hatched.html

Enjoy!

Ocean Girl said...

I love not having children. I am very happily married with the same man for 10 years. We are both in our early 30's, successful, social, happy. I feel so free. Love this blog, I plan on visiting it regularly!! :D

Camille Linton said...

Yes you are making a difference. I am 29 and up until two days ago I had planned on having kids even though I had no reason. It was reactionary. My boyfriend, who loves me to death, always said from day one that he didn't want kids but will do it for me. However, as of late (I.e past 3 months and uncorrelated to my boyfriend's musing regarding kids), I found my self entertaining the idea of having kids less and less. Granted, I never had the same idealism as other women to get married and have a baby with a baby carriage. Essentially, marriage and baby making was never an aspiration of mine. I just assumed I had to have kids because that's what you do combined with I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers and had the best childhood. I associated that childhood happiness to what I would also experience as an adult. But I never thought about what my mother endured even though I can vividly imagine the pain in her eyes and, even til this day, she still provides for her kids including my oldest brother who is in his 40. So lately, I have been entertaining the thought of having just one child down from three (again this stemmed from me having 3 sisters and 2 brothers and saw a big family as the only option). And then, I finally thought of my boyfriend and him not wanting children and asked myself: "what if I had no kids." I didn't entertain it much, but it was enough to plant a seed. Up until this point, I said I need five good years with my husband before we have kids. My boyfriend also plead with me to wait a couple of years after marriage before we think about kids, but I was already on board. He just finally finished fellowship and essentially spent his entire adult life going through med school, residency, fellowship and never for the chance to enjoy life and live, so it was clear to him how having a child could ruin his chance to live becaus he hasn't lived yet, in a matter of speaking. I, on the other hand, have traveled extensively, have great friendships, and have lived life so the consequences of childhood weren't as evident combined with the fact that I was brainwashed with society's expectation of married couples.

I am about to finish my MBA, going to move to an awesome city, finally earn a six figure salary,and I want to live in the midst of it all, but somehow I could never see how I could work kids in the mix. So I kept entertaining the idea of not having kids--at least not seriously. Until I told one of myngirlfriends that I am considering having one kid and even sometimes none at all. She then said, I feel you but you know people consider it selfish when two successful people decide not to have children. I was completely baffled. I tried to understand how such a rationale could come about. So I decided to research this selfishness of people not having kids because I was genuinely confused. My research led me to dinklife.com and this website. I had no idea what I was about to encounter but my entire life is changed. My viewpoint on motherhood changed and I am completely convinced that I do not want kids. I told the bf and he was over the moon!!! I feel like my eyes are wide open and I see things so much differently. I want to thank you and dinklife.com for changing my perspective on things. I am undoubtedly a childfree person and so is my boyfriend.

I apologize if there are a lot of typos because me and the bf had a few glass of wine to drink. Which adds to my point for not wanting kids, someways I want to get inebriated and say whatever we the heck I want.

Thanks...and just to keep you encourage, please keep doing what you are doing because you are changing lives.

Camille Linton said...

Yes you are making a difference. I am 29 and up until two days ago I had planned on having kids even though I had no reason. It was reactionary. My boyfriend, who loves me to death, always said from day one that he didn't want kids but will do it for me. However, as of late (I.e past 3 months and uncorrelated to my boyfriend's musing regarding kids), I found my self entertaining the idea of having kids less and less. Granted, I never had the same idealism as other women to get married and have a baby with a baby carriage. Essentially, marriage and baby making was never an aspiration of mine. I just assumed I had to have kids because that's what you do combined with I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers and had the best childhood. I associated that childhood happiness to what I would also experience as an adult. But I never thought about what my mother endured even though I can vividly imagine the pain in her eyes and, even til this day, she still provides for her kids including my oldest brother who is in his 40. So lately, I have been entertaining the thought of having just one child down from three (again this stemmed from me having 3 sisters and 2 brothers and saw a big family as the only option). And then, I finally thought of my boyfriend and him not wanting children and asked myself: "what if I had no kids." I didn't entertain it much, but it was enough to plant a seed. Up until this point, I said I need five good years with my husband before we have kids. My boyfriend also plead with me to wait a couple of years after marriage before we think about kids, but I was already on board. He just finally finished fellowship and essentially spent his entire adult life going through med school, residency, fellowship and never for the chance to enjoy life and live, so it was clear to him how having a child could ruin his chance to live becaus he hasn't lived yet, in a matter of speaking. I, on the other hand, have traveled extensively, have great friendships, and have lived life so the consequences of childhood weren't as evident combined with the fact that I was brainwashed with society's expectation of married couples.

I am about to finish my MBA, going to move to an awesome city, finally earn a six figure salary,and I want to live in the midst of it all, but somehow I could never see how I could work kids in the mix. So I kept entertaining the idea of not having kids--at least not seriously. Until I told one of myngirlfriends that I am considering having one kid and even sometimes none at all. She then said, I feel you but you know people consider it selfish when two successful people decide not to have children. I was completely baffled. I tried to understand how such a rationale could come about. So I decided to research this selfishness of people not having kids because I was genuinely confused. My research led me to dinklife.com and this website. I had no idea what I was about to encounter but my entire life is changed. My viewpoint on motherhood changed and I am completely convinced that I do not want kids. I told the bf and he was over the moon!!! I feel like my eyes are wide open and I see things so much differently. I want to thank you and dinklife.com for changing my perspective on things. I am undoubtedly a childfree person and so is my boyfriend.

I apologize if there are a lot of typos because me and the bf had a few glass of wine to drink. Which adds to my point for not wanting kids, someways I want to get inebriated and say whatever we the heck I want.

Thanks...and just to keep you encourage, please keep doing what you are doing because you are changing lives.

Childfreeeee said...

Hi Camille

Thanks for your post and I am glad this blog has helped you get off the fence. The fence is not a comfortable place to sit!

I am 47 years old and not only do I not regret being childfree, I am more and more grateful for it every year. It does get easier to endure as we age because the pressure from others to have kids eventually diminishes (and in my case has finally disappeared) and people finally accept that you are NOT changing your mind.