Is being deliberately childless necessarily a product of fear?
Random question: During the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, did the press focus all its attention on the loss of the innocent fetus that Sharon Tate was carrying to the exclusion of everything else horrible that went down? Yeah, I didn't think so. But I agree with Sheelzlebub that there seems to be a wholesale effort to make fetuses the major victims of crimes against pregnant women. They have a long, hard haul ahead of them, I'm afraid, because while a handful of people are willing to see killing pregnant women as mostly being infanticide, most people have enough human feeling to remember that a human being with a life and memories and fears and feelings was still murdered when someone decides to kill a pregnant woman. No matter how hard the press focused on Laci's pregnancy in the entire Scott Peterson murder trial, in the end you couldn't obscure Laci's humanity, her big smiles as she faced what she thought was a hopeful future. Anyway, that's not the point of this post, though I had to get that out of my system.
Reading the comments at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, I was struck by this comment by Barbara:
For most of my life, I've felt like a bit of a freak because--I simply don't like babies. Don't like 'em. Don't think they're cute. Generally prefer to stay away from them, unless they're attached to a friend of mine.
Yes, I've psychoanalyzed myself and BEEN psychoanalyzed by others. So, I have known for some time that a part of this aversion has to do with fear. Still, it's been difficult to conceptualize the source of this fear. It seems too simplistic to whine something about not wanting to have to wake up at 3am. But I think this story really pulls things together nicely for me. It's about the fear of ceasing to be--literally ceasing to exist as an individual and being completely subsumed by this being--what now before it's even born?
This makes me sad. I know exactly what she means, about being treated like a freak. And the terminology that makes it sound like not wanting to have children is a mental illness, a phobia! If you're a woman, it's not enough not to want children. I've had I cannot tell you how many people wonder what's wrong with me when I've said that I don't want children. Some frantically tell me I need help, but most just patiently say that I'm in a phase that I'll grow out of. And most tell me that my womb itself will force me to change my mind through womb-magic, uh, hormones. Though some of course have implied or said outright that I better change my mind or kiss all chance of getting married away, since that's the only reason men would want to get married. The older I get, though, the less that people tell me I'll change my mind when I get older.
Now, I know that men who don't want children are often told they'll change their mind when they get older, but I've never heard it phrased in psychoanalytical terms. At the most, I've heard men who don't want children get pressured by being told that they may have to lose a good woman if they don't "give" her children. The whole subject of how your decision to have children will affect your romantic future always makes me squirm. While I respect someone's right to have that as a goal in life, I really didn't like feeling like boyfriends were gauging my mommy prospects. It's just not sexy to me, dammit.
There's nothing sick or phobic about not liking to be reduced to a womb. I know people mean well, but that's what it feels like when people wonder what's wrong with you if you don't want kids. How hard is it to understand? Kids are noisy, messy, take up all your free time, and wreck havoc on your social life, and that's all before they become ungrateful teenagers who suck away your money. If you like kids, then that's probably all stuff that doesn't bug you as much as it would bug me, but I am someone who is just a lot more protective of my space and my quiet and my time than most people. I adamantly refuse to accept that makes me mentally ill or anything like that.