El culto al hijo es una carga muy dura para las mujeres. La francesa moderna es necesariamente una madre, una mujer que trabaja y una compañera. Preferiblemente, es delgada. Hay que reconocer que son muchas exigencias. Sobre todo porque las mujeres se chupan el 80% de las tareas domésticas. A la salida de los colegios se ven sobre todo mujeres, igual que en las reuniones de padres de alumnos o en la consulta del pediatra cuando el niño pilla la bronquitis o la varicela. La maternidad significa para muchas mujeres volver más temprano por la tarde para ocuparse de los niños, saltarse las reuniones estratégicas que se celebran después de las 7 (y siempre después de las 7) y rechazar (o no solicitar) empleos más interesantes pero cronófagos.
CORINNE MAIER, (2008). No Kid. 40 buenas razones para no tener hijos. p. 118 Ediciones Península: Barcelona
El niño ya hacía sentir su presencia… Mi hermoso cuerpo de mármol se distendía, se quebraba, se deformaba… Caminando a la orilla del mar, sentía a veces un exceso de fuerza y de vigor y me decía a veces que esta pequeña criatura sería mía, sólo mía; pero otros días… tenía la impresión de ser un pobre animal atrapado en un cepo… Pasando de la esperanza a la desesperación, pensaba a menudo en las peregrinaciones de mi juventud, en mis carreras errantes, en mis descubrimientos del arte, y todo ello no era sino un prólogo antiguo, perdido en la bruma que desembocaba en la espera de un hijo, obra maestra al alcance de cualquier campesina… Empezaba a ser presa de todo tipo de terrores. Vanamente me decía que todas las mujeres tienen hijos. Era algo natural y, sin embargo, tenía miedo. ¿Miedo de qué? Desde luego, no de la muerte ni del sufrimiento, tenía un miedo desconocido a lo que ignoraba. Mi hermoso cuerpo se deformaba cada vez más ante mis ojos atónitos. ¿Dónde estaban mis graciosas formas juveniles de náyade? ¿Dónde estaba mi ambición, mi renombre? A menudo, a pesar de mí misma, me sentía miserable y vencida. La lucha con la vida, esta gigante, era desigual; pero entonces pensaba en el niño que iba a nacer y toda mi tristeza se desvanecía. Horas crueles de espera en la noche. ¡Qué cara pagamos la gloria de ser madres!…
ISADORA DUNCAN. Mi vida.
A woman (and, to a lesser degree, a man) or a couple without children are always regarded as an anomaly; they generate conflict. Of all the outlandish things… not having kids and daring to defy the social norm?! These individuals find themselves having to constantly explain why they don’t have children, although no one would ever ask a mother why she does have them (and demand valid reasons as response), even if she happens to be the most infantile and irresponsible woman ever. On the other hand, a woman who is voluntarily non-reproductive has little chance of escaping the lamentations of her parents (she is denying them the chance to be grandparents), the incomprehension of her friends (who want her to do the same thing they did) and the hostility of society and the State – natural proponents of procreation, by definition – that have many very subtle ways to make you pay for not having fulfilled your duty. It requires an iron will and a lot of character to laugh in the face of all this pressure and, moreover, to bear a certain degree of stigmatization.
Translated from: ELISABETH BADINTER. La mujer y la madre. Publisher: La esfera de los libros, 22.
Choice implies prior understanding of motives and consequences. Bringing a child into the world is a long-term commitment that requires that he or she be a priority. Of all the decisions that a human being faces in life, this is the one that generates the most radical change. Prudence would, therefore, have one think twice about it and ask themselves very seriously just what their altruistic capacity is and how much gratification they wish to derive from it. (….) In reality, Reason has little to do with the decision to procreate and is probably more involved in the decision to not have children. Aside from the Unconscious, which weighs just as much on both sides of the scale, it should be added in the balance that the majority of parents have no idea as to why they had children. (…) And thus the temptation to cite some instinct as the overriding factor. At the end of the day, the decision to have children stems more from the affective and the normative than from any rational understanding of the advantages and disadvantages.
Translated from: ELISABETH BADINTER. La mujer y la madre. Publisher: La esfera de los libros, 20,21,22.
Professional baby-lovers all hammer the same thing into us: nursing your baby is fabulous. ‘Breast is best,’ as they say. (…) When I told the maternity ward staff that there was absolutely no question of my nursing my baby, the attendant looked at me disapprovingly and told me that this was Not Good. A month later, the gynecologist accused me of ‘refusing to connect’ with the baby. The noose is tightening on those unworthy women who bottle-feed. Next they’ll be pointing the finger at us in public.
Because to bottle-feed a baby is to be guilty of something. It’s a crime against nature. (…) But what kind of ‘natural’ are we talking about, in fact? Our daily food, our clothes, cellphones, airplanes, UV tanning, are these natural?
CORINNE MAIER (2009). No kid. 40 good reasons NOT to have children. pp. 22-23. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
In our culture, motherhood is the culmination of womanhood: BEING A MOTHER MEANS BEING A WOMAN. (…) Women are socially conditioned to embrace motherhood as the maximum expression of their femineity. It, supposedly, is the path that a woman must follow if she is to live her life to the fullest. Women are assigned a mission: to have children. Women are taught a stereotyped role in life and are trained to play it, trained to grow up and become wives, mothers, housekeepers. A woman’s future is anatomically determined. Growing as an individual towards the future means having children and raising them. This biological destiny is hallowed by society; being a mother is an identity that carries social prestige and signifies, on a much deeper level, the capacity to love, to make sacrifices, to give oneself up entirely to another. “A mother is the most sacred of all things.”, “there’s nothing like a mother’s love”, “a mother’s love is unconditional”, “A mother comes first.” But, despite this reverence towards the mother figure, mothers must also bear the burden of the negatives: the frustrations, insecurities, fears and failures of their children. All the merit might be hers, but all the blame is as well. She will shoulder all the responsibility, receive all the criticism, suffer the punishment and be cruelly shunned by a society that is merciless to women who do not fulfill their mission according to what is expected of them.
Translated from: BLANCA VALLADARES. “Revisión teórica sobre los mitos de la maternidad”. Publisher: Revista de Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de Costa Rica. nº 65, 1994. pp.67-68.
Wanting to reproduce yourself at any cost is to aspire to the pinnacle of banality. I’ll admit that there is a certain amount of security in behaving like everyone else and acting just like your neighbour. To be ‘accepted’ in today’s society means having a job, a baby, or both. Sign up, and then sign up again. The decision not to have a child is taken as an indication of such procreative bitterness that it defies comprehension. Reproductively obsessed people are expected to undergo fertility treatment with the determination og Olympic athletes. And with, it must be said, the complicity of doctors who find themselves a bit uneasy -who wouldn’t be, working with a science that is always one step behind?
The craze for having children is so widespread these days that it has become a big business and is growing fast. Every day, ova, sperm, and babies are for sale, all over the world. Wombs are for rent, with a nine month lease. Specialty clinics are popping up planetwide; the price varies according to the ‘value’ of the product: white babies cost more than black ones. In the United States, ova from a Columbia University student are worth more than those from a Harvard student. This ‘baby business’ is less advanced in Europe, and doesn’t yet exist in France at all, at least officially: the State here, set up to safeguard our ‘welfare’ and our morality, is on the lookout.
‘A child for everyone and everyone for a child’ has given rise to all kinds of debate, all of it both tiresome and ridiculous. Choose sides, comrade; it’s hard to tell which is worse, but easy to see that both are stupid.
On my left there’s the so-called right to a child. This has become such a sacred trust, you almost expect it to turn up in the preamble to the Constitution. ‘The child’ has become so indispensable, so miraculous, that everyone must exercise their right to it. But what about the right not to have a child, on the other side? To whom we would grant this right is unknown, but I suspect that the most industrious are going to find someone. I mean, take me: I no longer have parents; they’re dead. Am I going to demand the ‘right to have parents’? Stage a hunger strike until some court or other decides to give me a new set (being unable to give me back the old ones, since science has not yet figured out how to bring the dead back to life)? No, let’s be sensible: a child is neither a right nor a necessity -it’s simply…a possibility.
CORINNE MAIER (2009). No kid. 40 good reasons NOT to have children. pp. 17-18. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.