Thursday, September 25, 2008

but what about the blokes?

I know it is a foregone conclusion in some quarters that a hairy legged, childless, self-confessed feminist like myself, must be a man-hatter.

Actually no.

Let’s get the blame game out of the way once and for all.

Do I blame men, as some women do, for my childfree state?

While I openly envy the wide biological window that most men have to pass on their genes, it has never tipped over into hate. While at times I would have loved to think that my ability to reproduce was not bordered by my forties, I wouldn’t want to trade places with the new dad in his late 40’s(or even 50’s), on baby duty. Babies at any age are tiring, I feel exhausted looking at some older parents struggling baggy-eyed through the haze of the first year.

Can I blame any of my ex-partners for not choosing to have a family with me, when I was toying with the idea? It was my choice to be in those relationships and as the two or three that I seriously considered playing happy families with are not in my life now, would children have made it any better? In fact, I am absolutely relieved to not have to deal with custody issues with any of them, as child or not, there is no way we could be together and happy at this point in our lives.

Not that they have all been against the idea. I entered a relationship briefly at 39, specifically lured by a man who dangled the cosy notion of family before me. To be honest, I can think of few childless women I know, who’ve made great new relationship decisions as forty breathes down their single necks. Far from anger at this man, he is the reason that the following year I embraced my state on non-parenthood, as a true choice. I’d woken up to my vulnerability and chosen to be single once more, at the price of not having a child, if the only option was to be saddled with a manipulative, needy man for the rest of my life.

Blame comes from the feeling that we don’t have a choice. When we feel disempowered we attribute blame – sometimes to ourselves, sometimes to others. In the last few years some women in their forties have vocally blamed feminism, or even Germaine Greer, for their nulliparous state. Women who appear to live rich and empowered lives.

Others blame men for being commitment phobic, hankering after younger women or just not wanting to grow up. To be honest, I don’t care about those men. If we choose a bloke like that it is as much to do with us, as it is them.

But I do have an issue with the absence of men, as the potential father, in the abortion debate. Blokes waving pro-choice placards may be visible but rarely the impregnators. When there is talk of doctors, nurses and women who wish to end a pregnancy being fined or jailed in a system where termination through choice is criminalized – the other half of the genetic material amassed in that bunch of cells is not part of the blame picture. If men who did not want to become fathers took 100% responsibility for contraception it would be ok. But for the ones that fly by the seat of their pants or even proudly claim they are “allergic to condoms” (meaning they dislike their perceived change in sensation) in a world of criminalized abortion they should also be standing in the dock.

But back to my life, as it is, it is sweet. I am happy, loved and cherish my slightly selfish life with leisurely mornings and spontaneous gatherings after work. I will defend it, celebrate it and own it. Just don’t ask me to blame anyone, for it is the life that I choose.

slowly coming to life

In this slow process of birthing this blog I had discounted the fact that it already had some readers, even with the few scant posts. A bit like the koan of the tree falling in the forest, a blog owner may not be aware that others notice it too until a statcounter is added and email of comments turned on.

Apologies to previous commenters for lack of acknowledgement, I now know you are there and am listening. The feedback has been lovely.

I have had a couple of nibbles from those who’d like to be part of the collaboration. Though words have not come with it as yet.

Contact me at the email below to take part, or just keep reading and commenting.

I hear you now!

Monday, September 22, 2008

invitation to join deliberately barren

I’ve hidden this blog away like a treasure to be explored on a rainy day.

That day has now come (though there is more wind than rain) and I am opening deliberately barren to become a collaborative blog with any other women who are child-free, child-less, infertile or just didn’t quite get around to having children, to join in.

The title is in honour of Australia’s first female deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, jibe from the enlightened Mr Heffernan – stating she was unfit for leadership because she was ”deliberately barren”.

This forum is open to be read by all – men, women, parents, step-parents, bereaved parents – with contributions by women who fall into the category of barren whether through choice or circumstances, deliberately or not. There is the opportunity to celebrate, grieve, laugh, rant, raise awareness and much more. But most of all, it is time for us to come out of the shadows.

If you would like to be part of this collaboration email me – otherrants (at) gmail (dot) com.