If ever a piece of writing summed up the bleakness of 21st Century North American feminism, it is an essay I happened upon the other day while poking around various Canadian Broadcasting Corporation websites looking for podcasts to listen to.
The April 7, 2022 piece, entitled, I created a gift registry to celebrate my future as a child-free woman is a study in self-centeredness and it is astonishing that a national broadcaster would feature it given its nihilism.
Let’s start with the odious term, “child-free.” That is a giveaway to the writer’s misanthropic worldview. She regards children as a contagion. After all, what other things are given the term “free” that way? Well, let’s see. Cancer-free. Odor-free.
The writer seems to miss the irony of her elimination of the possibility of having children while in the same sentence celebrating the future. Hard to visualize a future in this world if there are no children in it.
Now, mind you it is perfectly acceptable to be a childless woman. I am one myself. But I don’t rejoice in the fact—nor do I expect strangers to send me presents because I do not have children. What next—abortion gift baskets?
The article’s subheading asks:
Why are only some life choices such as marriage celebrated?
Hmm, maybe because marriage is an avowal of love and commitment whereas being “child-free” is a proclamation of self over others.
This woman is drearily, disturbingly disconnected from the rest of humanity and seems to expect plaudits and indeed actual presents for choosing to cut herself off from other people:
I know I don't want to have children. As I enter my late 30s, I've become more confident sharing my goals and desires, which don't align with what women have traditionally done in the past. But I'm starting to think about why only some lifestyles are celebrated. Similar to those who choose marriage or pregnancy, I want to shout from the rooftops about my choices because I'm proud and excited about them. So, to celebrate the road less travelled, I set up a gift registry for myself.
As a single woman myself, I have a healthy sense of self esteem. But I do not feel like shouting from the rooftops, “I am not experiencing the joys of motherhood! Aren’t I great! Send me gifts, world!!”
Rather, I honor the women, both full-time moms and those who are forced to be or choose to be in the workforce, who have children or hope to. I don’t demand from them validation of my lot in life—and when I am old and helpless and in need of care, I will certainly be glad that other women chose to raise the children who are being born today who will become the nurses and caregivers who will look after me—and the writer of the essay we are examining here.
One particularly sad passage in the essay shows how insecure the writer is in her supposedly empowering decision not to have children:
I knew I didn't want a life of parenting, but there is little representation in media of women who don't want to have kids.
If you need a movie or a TV show to cement you in your life choices, maybe you need to rethink those choices and talk to people who are raising children.
The self-importance, narcissism and materialism of the writer’s life project are nicely summed up here:
Making art about my experience is how I make sense of the world.
This child-free gift registry is going to be part of a larger body of work that I am creating to help me move forward — to celebrate who I am, where I am going, and the choices I've made.
The registry contains items I can use while travelling alone, books by women who have chosen to not have children, art supplies, and a few household items like an air fryer and milk frother.
I'm photographing the registry items along with the personalized notes that people have sent me.
I have been astounded by the response so far. I have received gifts and notes from some of the closest people in my life and also from complete strangers. The gifts are fun and amazing…
She quotes one such stranger as saying:
…enjoy your childfree life and the adventures you take and the art you make. Can't wait to see the results!
So far, the results are quite depressing. This essay is an exercise in emotional barrenness. She claims to celebrate the diversity of the female experience—even as she draws on the sexist stereotypes that mothers are cut off from adventure (what could be more challenging than raising a child and experiencing life through a child’s eyes?—beats a milk frother) and that only childless women can succeed as artists.
The author also seems to be living in a cultural time warp and ahistorical bubble:
I'm encouraged that I'm not the only one who thinks it's important to loudly and publicly celebrate women for more than getting married and having babies.
Who can plausibly argue at this point in history that female achievements are not lauded—what planet is this woman living on? It is stay-at-home moms and home-schooling parents who are not recognized, not self-styled “artists.”
We are given a glimpse of the writer’s lonely life and “art” in this caption:
… photographs herself with her cat