Friday, 7 June 2013

Bullshit Bell 2: I don't want kids

Welcome to Bullshit Bell, the new semi-regular series of posts in which I call bullshit on various ridiculous things. How semi-regular, you ask? Whenever I feel like it. Whatever, schedules are bullshit.

So human beings are designed to do various things. We eat, we sleep, we have sex, repeat. On a basic level, that is what our lives consist of. And, as we are animals, we are also designed to have kids to ensure the progression of the human race as a whole. Therefore, I believe this to be bullshit. Not the act of having kids, per se - but the expectation that I will, that it is inevitable, and that my life will be incomplete without popping out a couple of sprogs.

It's kind of not even that I'm making a political point. Though these days I've taken to analysing all of my actions through a pseudo-political scope, trying to answer the question of "if I saw a girl do this in a TV show, would it provide a feminist message to the audience?". It's reached the point where I question my choice of drinks. Two glasses of white wine with dinner? Are you a person or a stereotype? Drink a beer or something!

But I digress. No, my not-wanting to have children actually has remarkably little to do with the discrimination mothers face in the workplace and attempting to be employed, or the notion women "can't have it all", or the ludicrous cost of childcare, or the stigma still attached to same-sex couples who want to raise kids and the idea one of them must be an equivalent of the opposite-gender parent. It also has nothing to do with fears about my ability to raise a kid and whether I'd be a horribly negligent mother or else just fuck them up for life. No. I mean, all that stuff sucks, but it's not particularly relevant.

The reason I don't want kids is because I hate the little fuckers. They're noisy and stinky and don't follow the cause and effect of logical thinking. They don't do anything you ask them to, and they ask ridiculous questions, and - while occasionally I will concede that they are interesting or insightful or cute - mostly they just annoy the hell out of me. I don't want to see a 6-year-old mangling Call Your Girlfriend on YouTube. I want to watch Robyn sing it, complete with her flowing dance moves and bizarre blonde bowlcut. Don't do something when a professional can do it better, kid.

I don't consider childbirth a miracle any more than I consider the sun rising in the morning a miracle: it's just a think that happens which is part of life. You are welcome to squeeze all the babies you want out of your vagina, but I am perfectly happy not to have my body invaded by a parasitic life form for nine months.

The real kicker though is what happens when you say to people you don't want kids. Because some form of these words will almost certainly escape their lips: "You'll change your mind."

You don't say that to men, do you? Nobody would go up to an 18-year-old boy and ask him if he wants to get married and have kids, hear the answer "no", and immediately respond with "ah, but just wait until you're older and your biological clock starts ticking!". And even if you do, it's not a particularly fair comparison. Biologically, men can create a child in 30 seconds and then fuck off out of its life forever. Back in the old days before abortion, women had to wait nearly a whole year before they could abandon this mistake - you made one wrong move and you paid for it forever...

Who knows. Maybe I will reach 35 and look around at my life as a semi-decent novellist/sub-par journalist/very professional waitress, and think "OH MY GOD I HAVE WASTED MY YOUTH QUICK SOMEONE APPLY A BABY TO MY FACE BEFORE MY BODY CLOCK STOPS TICKING AND I SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST", but that seems highly unlikely. And even if it does happen, it won't be from social pressure - it'll be a personal decision.

I do not intend to change my mind. And it's such bullshit to assume that I will, that every woman wants kids and by denying this fact, I am lying or not listening to my biological destiny. I'll tell you what is my biological destiny: to die. I can also explain to you how my body was adapted to be good at surviving the conditions that cavemen had to deal with, so my body is also decent at long-distance running and keeping me warm in freezing cold conditions. My body might be designed to bear children, but it was also designed to survive sleeping in a cave in -20oC conditions with no such thing as radiators or duvets. I'm not going to start camping out under the stars every night just because it's what I am theoretically able to physically cope with.

The fact I was born with a uterus, though, does not automatically mean I have to fill it in order to become a fulfilled person. What kind of message does that send to women who can't have children, or to transwomen, or even to girls like me who just don't want them? We are not defined by other people, be they parents or partners or babies: we are defined by our own actions and our own choices.

Not wanting children does not make me any more or less of a woman. It just makes me a girl who doesn't want children. So I will thank you not to tell me I'll change my mind, in the same way I'm not going to start listing all the shitty things about kids when you tell me how you want five children who you will train to sing in pentatonic harmony. Contribute to the overpopulated world all you want. But expecting me to do the same on the mere virtue of my gender? Bull. Shit.

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