No baby wipes for me, thank you…
“I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated,” Jennifer Aniston divulged in an interview with Allure Magazine. Aniston is undoubtedly one of the most well-known public figures choosing to go childless, but she’s surely not the only one. Celebrities like Oprah, George Clooney, and Chelsea Handler won’t be picking up any diapers or baby wipes on their next trip to the grocery store. Blame the sexual revolution if you must, but thanks to the pill and plethora of free condoms available like mints at a drop-in clinic, parenthood is no longer a ‘whoopsie‘ after a night between the sheets — it’s a choice.
With Sex and the City replacing shows like Leave it to Beaver, being married with children is no longer necessarily part of the American dream. The grass might be greener when there’s a white picket fence around it, but you’ve still got to spend your Sunday mowing and weeding it. It’s a lot easier to be jetset when you’re greenery consists of three potted plants in your Manhattan condo.
“The grass might be greener when there’s a white picket fence around it, but you’ve still got to spend your Sunday mowing and weeding it”
Still, glorified images of parenthood dominate the media. It’s normal to feel the need to succumb to societal pressures, especially for women. For centuries, motherhood has been implicit to womanhood — a barren womb as tragic as a eunuch’s lot in life, but without the angelic voice as a parting gift. That said, with the advent of the feminism came a dramatic shift in social ideologies. Being a woman no longer required procreation as part of its clubhouse rules. At least that’s the sentiment. Public opinion is usually the last to change as a society alters its laws and political structure to accommodate more progressive values. “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women—that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated,” Aniston explained.
Some traditionalists argue that leaving the womb vacant — even in spite of an active sex life — goes against nature and human instinct. Perhaps it does, in the same way that medicine and dental work and even Botox and spray-tans antagonize Mother Nature. Maybe nuclear families seamlessly blend innate genetic responsibilities with contemporary civilization, but they’re no longer viewed as as the marker of true adulthood for the upright citizen. With the average North American child costing approximately $245,000 from birth to age 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offspring are the new luxury accessory not everyone can afford. Maybe Carrie Bradshaw liked her Manolo Blahniks and Vinnie Chase bought sports cars as casually as most people buy gum, by they could splurge a little. After all, half a million can get you two kids, but it can get hell of a lot of shoes.
Even with a strong desire to become a parent, the average North American in 2015 doesn’t necessarily have the financial means to make family a reality. Millennials came of age in a recession and, despite being the most educated generation of all time, their credentials couldn’t magically transform the job market. Babyboomers — still years away from retirement — still dominated the workforce, using their seniority as muscle against the millennials’ digital know-how. With job security a thing of the past for the next-gen, so too were the old school family values — ones they’d been raised in but couldn’t even duplicate — making procreation seem even more unfeasible. Having children might be “the miracle of life,” but the realities of modern life, from the maternity ward to college dorm, come with a price-tag. An unemployed demographic with debilitating student loans didn’t seem like ideal candidates to carry the species forward even if — according to their biological clocks — they were only ones eligible.
“Having children might be “the miracle of life,” but the realities of modern life, from the maternity ward to college dorm, come with a price-tag. An unemployed demographic with debilitating student loans didn’t seem like ideal candidates to carry the species forward even if — according to their biological clocks — they were only ones eligible”
Although the recession is subsiding in many respects, it’s not like babies are suddenly back on our minds. With feminist ideology now at the forefront of mainstream culture and a shift in social roles thanks to women now outnumbering men in universities and in the workforce in once male-dominated fields like aw and medical science, the traditional family roles for the mother and the father have shifted too.
“I could not… have had this life and lived it with the level of intensity that is required to do this show the way it’s done,” Oprah Winfrey said in a 2011 interview about her choice not to have children with longtime partner Steadman. With the proportion of those without children having almost doubled since the 1990s, it’s ignorant to attribute the childless trend as a selfish lifestyle choice, instigated by Gen-X and punctuated by the millennials.
“I definitely don’t want to have kids,” Chelsea Handler said, matter-of-factly, in a 2013 interview. She didn’t give an explanation. She wasn’t defending herself.
Will you or have you had children of your own? Why or why not is this a priority for you? Tell us your thoughts on “The No Kid Trend: Going Childless is the Handbag” in the comments below or join in on the conversation on Twitter at @ViewTheVibe.