Women should not face judgment, ridicule for opting out of motherhood

Opinions Columnist | Journalism Sophomore

Women should not be met with opposition when choosing to have a career in lieu of children— the choice is a personal one and should not be defined as good or bad by society.

Too often am I met by agape stares and gasps whenever I reveal my choice to not have children in order to pursue a career. Some people react as if I have just said the most offensive thing in the world. Such negative reactions to a personal choice are uncalled for and a bit dramatic. I am tired of hearing rants on why I should, nay, need to have children. My favorite reason others think I should have kids? My gender.

There is a double standard when it comes to young adults who do not wish to have children. While men who do not want kids are met with understanding nods and ‘of course, you are a guy’ remarks, women are seen as betraying their gender if they do not want children. If a man chooses to live life childless, they are seen as bachelors, independent, driven and focused on their careers. Women who do not want children are not characterized as nicely. After surpassing their childbearing years without having a kid, childless women are stereotyped as zany, spinster aunts who are always a bridesmaid but never a bride—worn out, past their prime and even worthless.

The choice to not have children should be respected, regardless of gender. Women should not have their choices trivialized simply because they are female. Opting out of procreating is a personal decision. Whether a woman chooses a career over a family or simply does not view herself as mother material, the choice should not be met with condescending remarks on how she will eventually change her mind.

Women are adults. They can make their own decisions. People often say women who do not want children will eventually change their minds. However, the point of the matter is, at this moment, they do not desire to have kids. Patronizing remarks, regardless of whether they eventually turn out to be true, are disrespectful.

When I tell others I want to remain independent and have a career instead of mini-me’s, people too often roll their eyes and scoff. I made this decision early in high school and looking toward the future, my choice to not have children seems more like the right decision. My stance is not budging.

The choice to have a successful career over kids is becoming a more popular one amongst college-educated women. According to a Pew Research Center, the number of childless women past their childbearing years rose by a whopping 80 percent in 2008 since 1976, from 10 percent to 18 percent of all women between the ages of 40-44 years old. In the same year, 24 percent of women between 40-44 with bachelor’s degrees were childless.

More women are choosing to be trailblazers and CEOs instead of being barefoot and pregnant. One is not better than another, and women should have the right to choose whichever future works for them without facing negative backlash.

Whether wearing a Banana Republic pantsuit in a corner office or comfortable mom jeans and reading bedtime stories to kids, women should not be criticized for choosing differently than what society expects of them.

While men are dismissed as just being men for making the decision to remain child-free, women must face constant opposition for the same choice. A woman’s choice to not have kids is a personal decision and should not be subject to judgment in society.