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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:52 pm 
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I am still interested in the conversation as well, so I hope this thread stays open.
Here is an interesting thing that I have run into. At a recent (and at previous) job interviews, I wear wedding rings, and though I am 35 I look younger. Employers are not allowed to ask your marital/family status as it's illegal. They can tell by my rings I am married. They may assume by my gender and age that after they hire me I may go out on maternity leave soon, or even immediately. This does happen. I tell potential employers up front that I do not have kids and am not planning on having kids, so I will not be out on maternity leave in a month after they hire me. I worry that when being sized up by a potential employer, even though of course it is illegal, they will look at my age, my wedding rings, and decide to go with someone who is not so prone to have a kid at any moment, knowing nothing about me.

Also, in pricing out health insurance recently my husband was quoted a much lower rate than me even though he is a little older. I asked why my rate was so high and the salesperson informed me that it is because I am of childbearing age. I could need maternity care at any time and they need to account for that. I asked if there was any discount for women who have been sterilized, and she said no. (I knew the answer would be no and couldn't help myself)

Finally, there is often insurance offered by employers as only "individual" or "family" - no "couple" (though some employers do offer this option, rarely) and people who are only a couple end up paying for more than 2x the individual rate. People with children, regardless of how many, only pay the set family rate.

The above items can become frustrating for childfree individuals and seem unfair. Now I don't mind paying taxes for schools an whatnot, I certainly want society to be comprised of educated people. But sometimes it can seem that those without children can get the short end of the stick with the above items, and as mentioned before about expectations about putting in more time at work than their childed coworkers.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:52 pm 
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rhelune wrote:
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can we knock it off with the comics?

unless we're done discussing the actual topic. in which case, i'll go ahead and lock the thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:58 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
But there is a big difference between a community that provides support and a place to talk about shared experiences and a community that uses derogatory language to refer to every one who doesn't make the same choices as you.

It strikes me as analogous to the difference between the PPK and some nameless vegan forum where you have to write an essay and promise your first-born and use words like "omnivore" to refer to meat eaters.

One is building up community for those who want it and the other is insular and divisive.


I'm willing to bet that some people who eat meat, upon reading the PPK or other not so nice vegan forums, may certainly come away thinking that the terminology and or the community itself is insular or divisive or offensive.

Childfree forums do indeed provide community and support, but, just as vegan communities may vary, so do childfree communities. Some are more extreme in their views than others.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:59 pm 
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I agree with Erynne936.

J-Dub, I also agree with you, but I don't think this entire thread fits the label you are putting on it. Some people in this thread are using derogatory language to refer to others who don't make the same choices. More people are not doing so. Some others are coming in to snark and poke fun of this fumbling conversation as it tumbles forward.

Things were bumpy in the first half of the thread when some people were posting about their experiences as parents--both Isa and Jordan came in to clarify why and how that wasn't working in this particular conversation. One poster in the thread wants this to be a place to talk about "childfree" in a very dogmatic sense, which some (many?) of us didn't know existed, and some have made clear they don't think should exist. I agree that no one should be posting anything derogatory to a whole group of people in any of these threads (though, people on this board do so regularly about meat eaters.)

There remain some people who are invested in this conversation, and it would be nice if it could roll forward.

I think the cartoons are dumb too, Esme. Rhelune, I don't think they are helping the conversation, and are at the core of what is threatening to get this whole thread locked. Given that people with kids have a whole room, I would value having a space for those of us who want to talk about living outside of the mainstream in this particular way can talk about it and share experiences. As Erynne and Lutin's comments demonstrate, there are people still invested in continuing this conversation.

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Last edited by molasses jane on Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:09 pm 
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I'll pipe up and say that I'm also definitely still interested in the conversation. The cartoons are definitely not helping to promote a constructive dialogue. Neither is the extremist/derogatory language on the one side, nor the snark on the other.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:15 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
But there is a big difference between a community that provides support and a place to talk about shared experiences and a community that uses derogatory language to refer to every one who doesn't make the same choices as you.

It strikes me as analogous to the difference between the PPK and some nameless vegan forum where you have to write an essay and promise your first-born and use words like "omnivore" to refer to meat eaters.

One is building up community for those who want it and the other is insular and divisive.
Yes, yes, a thousand times YES!


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:18 pm 
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*snort!*

It's been way too long since I last saw Young Frankenstein!

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:20 pm 
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I wasn't trying to be snarky earlier, I just didn't appreciate being told "you aren't this, you are this" being given a label that I do not identify with. Although I have no problem backing away from the thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:22 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:
I agree with Erynne936.

J-Dub, I also agree with you, but I don't think this entire thread fits the label you are putting on it. Some people in this thread are using derogatory language to refer to others who don't make the same choices. More people are not doing so. Some others are coming in to snark and poke fun of this fumbling conversation as it tumbles forward.

I am not putting any label on this thread. I think there are some amazing conversations happening in this thread.

I was responding explicitly to Erynne936's response to Jigglypuff re: making a community with terminology. And it's not the fact of terminology itself I object to (obviously "childfree" makes a lot of sense for a lot of people) but things like "childless by circumstance", "childless by choice" vs "childfree by choice", "fencesitters", "breeders", "breeders not parents", etc.

Which is to say, I suppose, that I was responding to a certain thread of thought in this larger thread that I find by turns not helpful and offensive.

Edit: I will also say, as an activist for not terribly popular things (reproductive justice and ending violence against women) that in my experience it is a lot more useful to the cause to invite people in than to slam the door on everyone who isn't in lockstep.

And that I do my activism (and I think most people do their activism) out of some form of optimism that the world can be a kinder, safer, more joyful place. I don't think we do that by making our activist (or social) communities insular and mean-spirited. Who the hell wants to join that revolution?

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Last edited by j-dub on Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:25 pm 
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I am definitely interested in keeping the thread open, if we can keep sharing thoughts and experiences in a non-judgemental way.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:27 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
molasses jane wrote:
I agree with Erynne936.

J-Dub, I also agree with you, but I don't think this entire thread fits the label you are putting on it. Some people in this thread are using derogatory language to refer to others who don't make the same choices. More people are not doing so. Some others are coming in to snark and poke fun of this fumbling conversation as it tumbles forward.

I am not putting any label on this thread. I think there are some amazing conversations happening in this thread.

I was responding explicitly to Erynne936's response to Jigglypuff re: making a community with terminology. And it's not the fact of terminology itself I object to (obviously "childfree" makes a lot of sense for a lot of people) but things like "childless by circumstance", "childless by choice" vs "childfree by choice", "fencesitters", "breeders", "breeders not parents", etc.

Which is to say, I suppose, that I was responding to a certain thread of thought in this larger thread that I find by turns not helpful and offensive.


Thanks for clarifying. Again, I do agree with you! I think I said this earlier, but one of the things that has been most interesting to me so far was that I didn't know this vocabulary existed, and that the terms were as loaded as they are. It seems that the lexicon is part of the problem here: I hate the word "childless", and defining myself in relationship to lack of kids, as if that were the only norm....

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:28 pm 
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linanil wrote:
I wasn't trying to be snarky earlier, I just didn't appreciate being told "you aren't this, you are this" being given a label that I do not identify with. Although I have no problem backing away from the thread.


I didn't notice any snark from you, linanil!

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:33 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:
Thanks for clarifying. Again, I do agree with you! I think I said this earlier, but one of the things that has been most interesting to me so far was that I didn't know this vocabulary existed, and that the terms were as loaded as they are. It seems that the lexicon is part of the problem here: I hate the word "childless", and defining myself in relationship to lack of kids, as if that were the only norm....


I hate childless because it seems historically to be used in a derogatory or pitying way. "Oh, she is childless". Well fork that. For some people, having children has been part of their life goal but it hasn't been mine. When I was younger, I think I thought I'd follow the norm in having children because it is what you do, but the idea scared me even back then.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:34 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:
j-dub wrote:
molasses jane wrote:
I agree with Erynne936.

J-Dub, I also agree with you, but I don't think this entire thread fits the label you are putting on it. Some people in this thread are using derogatory language to refer to others who don't make the same choices. More people are not doing so. Some others are coming in to snark and poke fun of this fumbling conversation as it tumbles forward.

I am not putting any label on this thread. I think there are some amazing conversations happening in this thread.

I was responding explicitly to Erynne936's response to Jigglypuff re: making a community with terminology. And it's not the fact of terminology itself I object to (obviously "childfree" makes a lot of sense for a lot of people) but things like "childless by circumstance", "childless by choice" vs "childfree by choice", "fencesitters", "breeders", "breeders not parents", etc.

Which is to say, I suppose, that I was responding to a certain thread of thought in this larger thread that I find by turns not helpful and offensive.


Thanks for clarifying. Again, I do agree with you! I think I said this earlier, but one of the things that has been most interesting to me so far was that I didn't know this vocabulary existed, and that the terms were as loaded as they are. It seems that the lexicon is part of the problem here: I hate the word "childless", and defining myself in relationship to lack of kids, as if that were the only norm....

I guess I'm wondering if the majority of people need a term. I just don't have kids. I'm not childless nor childfree. Partially because I don't seek freedom from children (I think that's sort of silly--seeking freedom from hypothetical beings you have chosen not to bring into existence), and because living in a society you aren't free of children. You may not have your own, but presumably your neighbours or siblings or friends may have them.

Admittedly, I am young enough that I am only getting questions from family, and I feel plenty happy to tell them they are being rude and that it's none of their business why I don't want kids and that telling me "I felt that way at your age too" is incredibly condescending.

I guess what I am trying (inelegantly) to say is that I don't feel my choice to have or not have kids defines me. It's one of many, many facets of my identity, and I would like society to get to that point rather than having a clear delineation between childfree and childed that still paints women's identities as dependent upon their relationship with their kids--whether real, potential, or prevented from existing.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:38 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
But there is a big difference between a community that provides support and a place to talk about shared experiences and a community that uses derogatory language to refer to every one who doesn't make the same choices as you.

It strikes me as analogous to the difference between the PPK and some nameless vegan forum where you have to write an essay and promise your first-born and use words like "omnivore" to refer to meat eaters.

One is building up community for those who want it and the other is insular and divisive.


I had no idea that some people would find "childless by choice" or "parent not breeder" offensive (it's another member who calls parents breeders). Since I obviously can't write one sentence without offending somebody here, it's for the best that I leave this thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:55 pm 
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can't we just call the majority of us "childfree" and those who won't keep an accidental pregnancy or know for a fact that they won't change their mind "hardcore childfree" (or "childfree for life" to parallel "vegan 4 lyfe")

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:58 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
I guess I'm wondering if the majority of people need a term. I just don't have kids. I'm not childless nor childfree. [..]
I guess what I am trying (inelegantly) to say is that I don't feel my choice to have or not have kids defines me. It's one of many, many facets of my identity, and I would like society to get to that point rather than having a clear delineation between childfree and childed that still paints women's identities as dependent upon their relationship with their kids--whether real, potential, or prevented from existing.

I have avoided posting in this thread so far because I didn't feel articulate enough to say what I meant without being misunderstood. Thankfully, j-dub has said it for me.

(and I think it was said very elegantly)

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:01 pm 
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esme wrote:
i think it's very revealing that you can't tell the difference.


Mockery noted!

molasses jane wrote:
Since at least some people are finding some community in this thread, I wish the conversation could continue, but that is looking less and less likely. Too bad.


It is too bad. Oh well.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:11 pm 
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With rhelune having left this thread... yeah, I don't have much hope for this thread now :/

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:23 pm 
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I definitely relate to lots of the things that have been posted here, and I’m not sure if this adds much to the discussion, but for me the decision to not have children does feel like one of the major components of my identity and while it contributes greatly to my quality of life, it can feel very alienating at times. I experience this most in my working life, since the organization I work for is located in an area with a pretty homogenous population where being white, straight, Christian and conservative is the norm, and most folks past their late 20s have children. Without going into too many details, a large part of my job involves frequent interactions with the public and being “on”, friendly, agreeable, etc. Because I work for a cause-based agency and on the surface probably appear to fit the profile of the demographic mentioned above, I find that people often jump straight to the conclusion that since we both support the same cause and look alike that we must be just the same. Most conversations that veer into personal subjects quickly start to feel like a minefield; I’m white and I wear a wedding ring, but I’m also an atheist, vegan, left-wing socialist who has made the permanent decision not to have children. I find that people tend to word questions in kind of presumptuous ways such as, “Where do you go to church?” and “How old are your children?” Never mind that these things aren’t really their business anyways – I can deal with that – but it adds an extra level of awkwardness to my response that wouldn’t be there if they had just worded the questions or sought out the information in a broader way. Even the question “Do you have children?” is almost always completed with “Yet?” Combine these interactions with a setting such as a lunch buffet where my plate will also almost certainly become a topic of conversation despite my best efforts to draw as little attention to it as possible, and it becomes a pressing goal to get out of the weeds as quickly as possible. Which is a shame, because I’m generally an “I’m okay, you’re okay” kind of person who doesn’t mind talking about semi-personal stuff with all types of folks, but it’s tough when you feel like every detail you reveal just creates a deeper rift between you.

I’m starting to ramble, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really appreciate that this discussion is happening on a vegan message board, where the participants who are addressing the topic of being non-parents are also members of at least one other “non-normative” group, since I think that having layers of these identities can sometimes compound the feelings of exclusion that are experienced in various spheres of life. I know that this is the case for me, and even though I am really happy with who I am, what I believe and the choices that I make, it can still be damned hard sometimes when I’m just trying to get along and make nice with the general population. Thank you to those of you who have shared your experiences, and I look forward to the continued conversation.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:38 pm 
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That sounds like a really interesting/tricky environment, Roo. I'm fairly lucky because my post-college/grown-up experience has so far been in graduate school, where most of the people I had to make small talk with were more likely to ask me where I'm from or something than if I have kids. I'm sure it will change a lot as I'm transitioning out of my 20s, and I'm not looking forward to having those kinds of conversations. I'm so awkward as it is that I'd probably just be like, "Uhhhhh" out of sheer nervousness/inability to launch into a whole explanation with someone I don't know well.

Side note, one Mother's Day, I got on the bus and the bus driver asked me if I was a mother (wanting to wish me a happy day if I was, I guess). I think I was 19, and to date that's the only time I've ever been asked that question.


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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:39 pm 
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Yes, Roo, exactly! As a military wife, there seems to be the assumption of kids and church. Once I add vegan into it, I begin to feel very peripheral.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:50 pm 
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j-dub wrote:

Admittedly, I am young enough that I am only getting questions from family, and I feel plenty happy to tell them they are being rude and that it's none of their business why I don't want kids and that telling me "I felt that way at your age too" is incredibly condescending.

I guess what I am trying (inelegantly) to say is that I don't feel my choice to have or not have kids defines me. It's one of many, many facets of my identity, and I would like society to get to that point rather than having a clear delineation between childfree and childed that still paints women's identities as dependent upon their relationship with their kids--whether real, potential, or prevented from existing.


I think some of this becomes more pronounced when it's not just family pressure any longer (at least for me, this is true). I'm responding so vociferously in this thread in part because I'm 36, and just at that point where, in the milieu in which I live--and within in my urban families in three different cities--I am now one of the only people who does not have children. I agree, I'm just ....me, I don't roam around defining myself as with or without children. I like being single right now. I love not having kids. But once I found myself overwhelmingly in the minority and being questioned about it *all the time*, the difference becomes glaring (at least to me), and in terms of social and work related situations, people really are divided into those who have kids and those who don't. Those who are partnered, and those who aren't. I wish like hell this weren't true, but at least in my world, this is the basic reality of it. Especially when we get to talking about financial implications, benefits, insurance, work duties, etc...

I want society to get to the point where it doesn't matter too. It's not there yet. So, yes, I'm trying to make it that way. This thread has been a great place to fumble through my thinking about this, vent, and find others who feel some of this too.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:52 pm 
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linanil wrote:
molasses jane wrote:
Thanks for clarifying. Again, I do agree with you! I think I said this earlier, but one of the things that has been most interesting to me so far was that I didn't know this vocabulary existed, and that the terms were as loaded as they are. It seems that the lexicon is part of the problem here: I hate the word "childless", and defining myself in relationship to lack of kids, as if that were the only norm....


I hate childless because it seems historically to be used in a derogatory or pitying way. "Oh, she is childless". Well fork that. For some people, having children has been part of their life goal but it hasn't been mine. When I was younger, I think I thought I'd follow the norm in having children because it is what you do, but the idea scared me even back then.


I agree with this. I hate the term for the same reasons.

Also, Linanil, I didn't mean you re: snark. I've really appreciated your voice in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Women who have chosen not to have kids
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:02 pm 
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Hey everyone-I'm the original poster and have really benefited from the insights and feelings shared here. I could do without the semantics and cartoons, but I don't want to own this thread as it belongs to all of us. I'm just simply not reading the posts that I know I wont personally benefit from. Just hoping it can still continue in a constructive manner. Thanks so much for sharing all that you have!


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