Do We Secretly Envy the Childfree?
Or is childlessness still a taboo?
By Katie Roiphe|Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012, at 7:15 AM ET
We know of course that we are not supposed to judge other women for something like not having children, but we do it all the time. Rationally, of course, we know that not everyone should have kids, and that not everyone wants to have kids, and that life without kids is an entirely plausible and even pleasant possibility; and yet, do many of us secretly feel sorry for or condescend to or fail to understand women who don?t have children? Do we assume they are bravely harboring some deep disappointment, do we think they can?t possibly be happy with things as they are, that there is some brittleness, some emptiness at the center? This is the argument of the French feminist, Elisabeth Badinter, and I think she is probably right.
A recent Pew Poll found that one in five women in her early 40s has not had a child. So the decision, or the situation, is not exactly exotic, and yet to many, a woman without a child is still a tragic or at least disappointed figure.