First, thanks to all who responded to the short childfree survey in my last post! Of the over 600 responses (and still counting!), here is how responses have shaken out thus far:
The question was: How accepting is society of the childfree choice? Select one statement that best matches your view:
– 4% of respondents selected this statement: Major social progress! Today it’s by and large accepted
– 16% selected: Acceptance has come a long way in the last decade, but we’re not quite there
– 58% selected More accepted today than 10 years ago but we still have a ways to go
– 22% selected: Hardly accepting – we sure have a long ways to go
Many people elaborated on the statement they chose. Here are some quotes that represent the themes of what many people wrote in about:
-“the myths are still strong, especially that we are selfish, had bad childhoods, hate kids, when we’re old, assume we regret the choice, that we’re lonely and have lots of cash.”
-The “traditional life script is still holding its own.”…”change is a threat.”
-“People back off when you hit your 40s, but we’re still pitied” and “we still feel we have to justify this choice.”
– “It’s just another lifestyle option we are freer to enjoy now, but it’s still new enough socially to throw some traditionalists for a loop.”
– We have a ways to go because ..”pronatalism pervades politics and television.”
-“Mainstream media continues to the obsession “…and “pushes for pregnancies as the next natural step after marriage.”
– We “still have a ways to go until we are treated like normal people,” and don’t get harassed over “losing spouses, friends or jobs because we we are childfree.”
-It’s OK if “some random unknown decides to not have children, but if a daughter, sister or friend decides not to, there is a lot of pressure to change their minds.”
-“…the rise in social media has allowed us to connect and amplify our voices,but people are still trying to convince us we are wrong.”
– “We still have a ways to go because we have to ‘come out’ about not wanting kids.”
– “There are a greater number of visible childfree” but there is a simultaneous “shift to a more child-centric society.”
-“…in real life, more people are accepting”…but “online it is entirely different…there is a lot of pity out there, which we do not deserve or want.”
-“We have a long ways to go in both business and government.”
-It’s “socially more acceptable but there is still major discrimination when it comes to taxes and work-related issues.”
-The “overall pronatalist workplace, religious and government initiatives still need to be abolished to ensure every person has equal opportunities and rights.”
-The current “economic climate has helped the childfree choice.”
This has not been meant to be an “official” study, but more an informal poll to take a pulse of what the childfree are thinking and feeling, and to spark discussion. Of those who chose to weigh in, it’s clear that most think there has been some progress when it comes to childfree acceptance, but there is still a ways to go.
I’ll discuss what I have seen myself out there in the last decade or so in a post soon, but for now, one respondent summed it up well: that it is about “changing a cultural paradigm” and that takes time. The childfree choice is bucking a long-held, strong cultural paradigm, indeed.
I also want the poll to instigate discussion on actions that need to be taken in the coming year to support this social and cultural change. What are concrete things that can be done to put chinks in the pronatalist paradigm? For starters, it is up to all who get pronatalism to spread the word about its effects, costs to society, and its roots as a social control to promote reproductive conformity.
How best to do this? What do you think?
Me, step one, of course, is to read The Baby Matrix. Answers and actions are definitely discussed. Read and pass the book on to all you know!
Thanks again for all who participated, and wishing all who visit and join the discussion here, a wonderful 2013!
What I see are two phenomena, closely related. The first one is the Super Mom or as David Brooks labeled it, Uber Mom. Be a great mom and be a career warrior! Sleep is for wimps! (This is actually a common one, Exibit A, my boss).
The less common but increasingly notable one is the “Men are good for sperm” camp – I have some family members and friends who’ve gone this route. This is the most clear example of the propagation mantra. Must … propagate … genes.
Count me in the large group stating we’ve made progress but have very far yet to go.
I don’t feel any pressure to have children from friends, family, or society. I’m 32. With each passing day, I’m thankful I have made this decision. Plus,being a teacher is the best birth control ever lol!!!
Cheryl, I have talked with and interviewed Lots of teachers who are childfree! I love hearing from people like you who don’t feel any pressure to have childdren from family, friends or society. It Is out there….!