So Which is It? Selfish or Not?

A few months ago, I wrote a bit about selfishness and included an anecdote about a relative who said it was “selfish” for two women we know to have chosen not to have children. He’s a pretty extreme example of head-up-ass syndrome, but the general theme of childlessness equating to selfishness pisses me off. Even people who are expressing a desire to remain childless (at least for the time being) are inclined to say “I think I’m just too selfish to have children right now”.

Since the responsibilities of child-rearing fall disproportionately onto the shoulders of women, and since the status/identity of an individual woman is affected much more greatly by motherhood/lack thereof, and since people are perfectly inclined to pressure and analyze women’s lifestyle choices far more than men’s, this kind of dialogue fits in to the “how to sustain a patriarchy” handbook. That’s not obvious to everybody, which is why it’s nice to see an article like this one, which turns around and argues that liberal feminist working woman mindsets, which lead to decisions to remain childless are…not selfish enough. Because now, these women have neglected to account for the fact that they will have no one to care for them in their old age, they haven’t planned ahead like a good grasshopper should, and now nobody’s going to visit them in the nursing home.

There’s a lot more to say about that article in itself, but mostly I just want to highlight the way the mainstream will argue out of both sides of its mouth, as long as the basic point is that a certain *kind* of woman, family and relationship is the best kind and will make everybody happier in the long run.

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4 thoughts on “So Which is It? Selfish or Not?

  1. BetaCandy says:

    I get what you’re saying and agree, but I can’t help feeling a slight annoyance that this article, too, suggests that the answer for women is to make babies.

    What about all the childless potential fathers who won’t have anyone to care for them? If that many women avoided having kids, didn’t a lot of men skip it, too?

    My hope is that my generation (and Gen Y, who also mostly came of late-nesting Boomers) will be selective about which seniors we care for and which we toss out like garbage. I’m sorry, but a lot of Boomers deserve the garbage treatment. Deadbeat dads who hid their assets to avoid paying support on their “old kids” because they’d traded up to a newer, faster, higher-horsepower family. Moms who underfed their kids because they needed grocery money to spend on their clothes and hair care.

    And then there were the really wonderful Boomers who rejected that crap and were good to their kids and neighbors and the world, and I hope if we can’t take care of everybody (which I assume is the unfortunate likelihood), we care for those Boomers instead of the others.

    That never seems to be how it works out. 😦

  2. purtek says:

    I can’t help feeling a slight annoyance that this article, too, suggests that the answer for women is to make babies.

    Oh damn, I hope I didn’t give the impression I thought otherwise. That’s *exactly* why this pisses me off so much. The goal is to get women having babies (one can extrapolate as to whether that goal necessarily implies that women are under control/subordinate etc etc etc) and the strategies used to do it are entirely secondary. So much so that few people seem to notice that we employ *entirely contradictory* strategies in order to accomplish the same goal.

    As to a system of merit-based care for aging baby boomers…well…it’s presumably impossible, but if you’re ever rich, I’m sure you’ll start a charity called “Betacandy’s Long Term Care Centre for People Who Have Successfully Avoided Being Assholes During Their Lifetimes” and include an elaborate non-asshole screening procedure.

    And I’d contribute. Especially if I can help work out the screening procedure.

  3. BetaCandy says:

    I think I got irritated by the whole concept and kinda missed your last paragraph where you clarified about the mainstream talking out both sides of its mouth. 😀

    It would be lovely to have an asshole screening process. I just hate it because I know exactly what’s going to happen: lots of Boomer kids are going to line up for the opportunity to take care of their entirely self-involved parent, thinking “Maybe NOW you’ll finally love me when you see how well I look after you.” But they won’t. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

  4. Carole Heath says:

    I agree with much that has been said in the previous comments about is it selfish to remain childless, no I don’t think it is, in my opinion it is a personal choice by the person or persons who make that choice. It isn’t anone elses business in my opinion. We like being foot loose and fancy free without any ties except for our Dog Jasper. We have a motorhome which we travel around in and enjoy our life, People can be very tactless in this area they don’t know people’s circumstances either when they gone on about babies and children in front of childless people, we avoid them mostly, We wouldn’t change our lives we like it the way it is thank you very much.

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