Attention, child-free career women: the Daily Mail would like you to know that you are ruining everything for the men of the world. I mean, just look at this math! Do you know how many men’s lives you’re ruining by depriving them of parenthood?
A recent survey revealed that 43 per cent of university-educated women born between 1965 and 1978 are childless, with an increasing number sacrificing the joys of motherhood for the sake of their careers and freedom.
But little has been heard from the partners affected by their decisions.
So how do these men deal with their enforced childlessness?
How do you deal, men?! HOW?
The media often depicts otherwise intelligent women as baby-crazy, pram-gawking fallopian tubes with tiny brains attached (Oh, Liz Lemon), but the fact is that many women just don’t want to have children–or they want to have them later in life. And, according to the Daily Mail, it is breaking the hearts of their paternally-inclined partners, by depriving them of all the babies they wish they could have. Unfortunately (obviously), like so much of what the Daily Mail writes, this theory is riddled with problems.
One of the Daily Mail‘s major missteps is their assumption that men are powerless against getting duped into relationships with frigid, career-minded women, which a.) isn’t the case and b.) has no social implications for why it would be.
Which is to say that it’s possible (preferable!) to have a conversation about kids before a relationship gets serious. As a person who’s certain that I want a child-free life, I’ve always been up-front with partners (and am in a wonderful relationship with a man who shares my desire for a life that doesn’t involve kids). If men actually approached the subject instead of assuming that all women are baby-making machines with biological clocks the size of Big Ben, they could, in theory, avoid a lot of this supposed heartbreak.
The assumption that every woman wants to be a mother is also problematic for women–which could be why some women are hesitant to bring it up early on. The Mail dares to express that women, in fact, have loads of ways to talk about not having children, quoting one psychiatrist who was “moved” by a childless male patient:
“There is an expectation that not having children is hard for women to live with but there are few, if any, public spaces for men to talk about their feelings,” she says.
Really? Because as a vocal child-free woman, I disagree. Immediately after writing about my desire to be childfree, I was confronted with more negativity than I’ve ever experienced, ranging from the exceptionally patronizing “Oh, you’ll change your mind” (oh, will I? Why, thank you for your support and concern!) to the always popular “How selfish! Everyone should want children and you’re horrid for not!” No wonder women don’t want to come out as non-parental–they’re treated like freaks.
Another problem with the ideas expressed in this article is that, amidst all of the talk about what men can and can’t have, there’s little talk about what their desires cost women. Because when some (maybe even most?) men say they want babies, they want them in addition to their own career, not instead of it. Again, from the article:
But some men admit that while they would like to be fathers, they would not want to be the main child care provider.
And there’s the rub. These wronged men aren’t lining up to become stay-at-home dads, they just want to have their cake (babies) and eat it (work), too. Which seems a lot less like “being deprived” and a lot more like “feeling entitled.”
But regardless of why women and men end up in a situation like the Daily Mail sets up (boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, girl cares about her career and stomps all over the boy’s future which includes him getting to have a career and a wife at home who takes care of the babies), it’s that situation itself that’s so detrimental. Painting women who are interested in furthering their careers as monsters (or worse, silly-headed ninnies who will surely come around eventually, once their uteruses set up the Baby Signal) doesn’t improve the conversation, it just scorns women.
Ostensibly, the article could have some merit–it may get some couples talking about their long-term goals pertaining to children or no children–but instead, it chooses to make women into the enemy, and men into a wronged group of poor nurturers who just want to have tow-headed little tykes that are waiting for them when they come home, briefcase in hand.
But then, what do I know? I’m a hysterical career woman who is single-handedly saddening men everywhere by insisting on taking my womb to work with me every day, instead of putting it to good use.
Image: Yuri Arcurs via Shutterstock