One of the things single women in their thirties are often asked is “when will you have children?”, sometimes the so-called advice is “at least just have a child”. In an article by ABC Everyday, writer, Kellie Scot starts of by stating how, “I don’t want to have kids” has become the kind of statement that often prompts total dismay and that it’s known to end conversations, leaving behind confused blank faces and dropped jaws. Especially when coming from a woman. sources: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/more-women-are-choosing-not-to-have-kids-and-society-cannot-cope/11160788?msclkid=009a25b4bb0e11ecb50818eec37042aa
I often ask myself, besides the fact that I do not wish to have children, how exactly do these people expect me to do this? Often, the suggestion or advice is hardly given with options outside the traditional way of having kids. Which, for me would be to conceive with a man. Adoption, or other forms are not seen as real child-having experiences. You are expected to physically go through it, or at least desire to do it. Furthermore, as a black woman, even when you choose not to have children, you hardly ever go completely without mothering. Zoe-Krupka, in an article on Australian women who choose to be childless Source: https://theconversation.com/child-free-why-women-who-choose-not-to-have-kids-are-given-such-a-hard-time-58068?msclkid=0099f5f9bb0e11ec8be87615711ecf25 , notes that women who are childless by choice often mother in other ways, either by being aunts, foster care givers, stepmoms etc.
In one of my favourite books by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love, she takes us through her emotional turmoil with coming to terms with the fact that she did not want children. She states “I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to live in this big house. I don’t want to have a baby”. Her husband, on the other hand, expected that this would be the case. Needless to say, that marriage ended. Like many women, my refusal is therefore always followed by, “what if you meet someone who wants children?”, and my response to that is always, they are always free to go and have with someone else.
A friend recently asked if I would be interested in having my uterus removed, since I am adamant about not having children. I told her that I would be, but as far as I know that option is not available for women under the age of 35. According to https://nwhn.org/age-can-get-hysterectomy/ , the procedure can be performed on any woman between the ages of 18 and above. However, between the ages of 18- 35 it must be justified for health reason. This shows how much society has control over women’s reproductive choices. One cannot just choose to have such a procedure.
To conclude, the number of women choosing not to have children is growing. In Western countries, this number is said to be over 7%. There are various reasons why these women make this choice. These reasons range from lack of access to basic health care, climate change, global poverty and more. However, whether single, married, or in a relationship, whenever a woman makes a choice not to have children, they are deemed to be selfish. And above all, the world polices womens’ choices to have or not to have children. When they do, how are they having them.
Sinovuyo Sitinga is a P.hD candidate in elaborate Town Planning related things. A Town Planner for the bills, a baddie for the streets. A runner, reader, beer guzzling feminist and kind heart! (I am still single).