There are a lot opinions out there about women who choose to not bare children. There are also women out there who have children but later feel regret. They may feel that they might have been living better, more meaningful, and possibly more exciting lives if they did not have children. There is an interesting article on this topic titled, “When Did Feminism Become So Anti-Motherhood?” published on the Huffington Post. The article argues that “It’s not the kids who are at fault for ‘ruining’ their mother’s lives. You can instead thank a feminist movement that has failed women” (Hyatt, 2016)
The term ‘feminist’ was first brought to the English language during the 1880s to seek support for equal, legal, and political rights for both women and men (Bryson and Campling, 1999). Feminism is centrally focused on eliminating the oppression of women through social, political, and economic institutions. It is a group of social theories, moral philosophies, and political movements that advocate for social, political, and economic equality between the sexes (Grimsley, 2003).
Feminism is a movement where the aim is to accelerate the social role of women and it puts women’s concerns, perspectives, and efforts on the forefront so that it is more exposed and so women can be recognized as integral members of their societies (Grimsley, 2003). Female reproductive rights were brought to light during the second wave of feminism. This movement began in the 1960s and continued through the early 1980s (Grimsley, 2003).
Betty Friedan, an American writer, activist, and feminist, wrote her first piece that helped to spark the feminism movement titled, “The Feminist Mystique” (Hyatt, 2016). Other feminists may have interpreted that her words hinted that feminism was defined as freedom from men, marriage and/or children. Many feminist have the idea that getting married and losing your single status or getting pregnant could be the ultimate death of your career and sense of freedom. Two of the heroes of the current feminist wave, Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL, and Cecil Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, have received praise for proudly sharing their choices to abort their children because it just wasn’t the “right time” (Hyatt, 2016).
This article argues that feminism may be leading women to believe that in order to be independent and equal to men, they are better off not having children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, in 2014, 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 had never had children. This number was up from 46.5 percent in 2012. These statistics represent the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau started tracking that data in 1976 (Gray, 2015). It is not known exactly why these numbers are so high and we don’t know each woman’s individual reason. However, the article by Huffington Post makes an interesting claim that feminism may be one of the culprits. One can easily understand how the pressures of the modern world and the pressure to be an independent, working woman may affect these numbers.
“As Mic Senior Editor Elizabeth Plank argued, for many women, not having kids may simply be the most rational choice. Given the economic fallout of the 2008 recession, the gender wage gap that just won’t quit, the sheer cost of raising a child, and the double duty demands put on women both professionally and domestically, are we really surprised that greater numbers of women are simply opting out of childrearing?” (Gray, 2015).
In the modern world, women may be faced with the pressures of feminism and this may be the reason why less children are being brought into the world.
By Tanisha Lazarre
Bryson, V. and Campling, J. (1999) Feminist debates: Issues of theory and political practice. Basingstoke, Hampshire [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gray, E. (2015) A record percentage of women don’t have kids. Here’s why that makes sense. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/09/childless-more-women-are-not-having-kids-says-census_n_7032258.html (Accessed: 16 December 2016).
Grimsley, S. (2003) Feminism: History, ideology, and impact in politics – video & lesson transcript. Available at: http://study.com/academy/lesson/feminism-history-ideology- and-impact-in-politics.html
Hyatt, J. (2016) When did feminism become so anti-motherhood? Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanna-hyatt/when-did-feminism-become-_b_13666536.html (Accessed: 16 December 2016).