On not giving birth

First off, I like other people's children. In great part because they are not mine and I do not have to take them home with me. Long ago I realized that I did not want to give birth -- and I haven't changed my mind.

So, I was interested to see Helen Mirren's comments about remaining childless. She explains that as a young teen, she watched one of those films that explained the process of childbirth (including the requisite pictures of the crowning). She found this rather traumatizing.

I have a similar recollection, but that's not yet my point.

Anyway, Mirren didn't want to have children, so she didn't.

I read through the comments on the Huffington Post. Most of the comments are either about how beautiful and/or miraculous childbirth is or about how disgusting children are and/or overpopulated the planet is.

The comments that stuck out for me, though, were the ones that suggested that Helen Mirren must have "other issues" that led to her choice of remaining childless. One commenter even explained that "I think the idea that seeing the birth of a child could keep someone from ever having a child is a bit, how shall I say, overly dramatic... I think there are other issues she perhaps has not identified."

This grates at me. A lot. In part, because this commenter has the gall to presume that Helen Mirren -- a 62 year old woman (and one presumably past menopause) -- must have some issues that she has not yet identified. But it bothers me so much more because this commenter assumes that the choice to be childless -- or the choice to avoid giving birth -- means that a person has some "issues."

I hate when people essentialize womanhood in this way. Having a baby or not having a baby doesn't mean a person has issues. Having a baby doesn't "make" a woman a woman any more than not having a baby prevents me from being one.

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