Guys, guess what? Women have worth outside of motherhood. Gasp! I know, who would have thought? It’s true! You’d think I was walking around with horns and a tail by the way people look at me when the question, “do you have kids?” inevitably comes up.
I was interviewed a few weeks ago by a TV station in Detroit about more and more women choosing to not have kids. The reporter found me through Google, because an article Adrienne Wallace and myself wrote (7+ years ago) popped up in a search. One has to wonder what search terms she put in, was it “Childfree Woman in Michigan?”
She was doing a story because a recent study by MSU, was released on the topic, just look at the title below. My favorite part…”and they’re still happy.” Interestingly enough, I’m part of a growing majority (finally).
I couldn’t tell you when I CHOSE to not have kids. I never really thought about it. Contrary to what society believes, not all women sit around planning their weddings and childbearing/rearing years. What I remember, from oh so long ago, was all my friends getting married, promptly having babies and then I never heard from them again. Maybe, a bit of an exaggeration but not by much. It just wasn’t for me. I wanted to travel, grow my business and focus on my career. Not much more to it than that.
A woman’s worth is not determined by how well she marries or how many kids she has. We need to change how we talk about gender roles. I’m quite outspoken, in case you haven’t noticed, and people apologize to Josh on behalf of me on a pretty regular basis.
“What’s it like to be married to Bode? Must be tough.” For real? They feel the need to compliment Josh (the husband) and tell him how great he is and how lucky I am to be married to him because he is, for lack of a better term, the stay-at-home dog dad and household manager. I don’t remember the last time a stay-at-home mom was given kudos for the same thing. I’m well aware that I am married to a phenomenal man and I love that he could give two shits about gender norms or what society expects of him as a male.
We will achieve equality when all genders receive equal job opportunities and society benefits. The benefits are endless, but alas here we are, just ignoring all those studies. You know the ones that show a diverse workplace is a more productive workplace, and this diversity includes gender diversity. Success in the workplace translates into the economy, as well. When equal job opportunity is given to all genders, poverty rates are reduced, communities are uplifted and a nation’s GDP is significantly improved.
Boom. Gender equality for the damn win.
We change things by normalizing the celebration of graduations, first jobs, promotions, buying a house…just as much as we do having kids or getting married. You know what would be refreshing, instead of a wedding or baby shower? A shower for a woman who just got her damn Ph.D. (looking at you Dr. Wallace). Businesses, doctors, contractors need to stop asking for a husband’s permission and their signature on shit. If he had a say over my uterus, he’d be in here getting the IUD in my place…mmkay?
I’ve told this story multiple times, but when we purchased the house we live in now, all of the financing and approvals were in my name. I made that very clear from the get go, to the realtor and to the title company. When we showed up for closing, Josh was added to all of the paperwork as a signee. When I challenged it, they said…”well you’re married.” I told them everything was through me and there was no need for him to be on the paperwork, they told me they could change it but it would delay the closing. Needless to say, I was furious.
Some of you are reading this and thinking, “what’s the big deal, she couldn’t treat her husband as her equal?” You’re missing the point. My choice was taken away from me, made for me with no regard to what I WANTED. It is no one else’s right to choose what they think is best for me, simply because I was born a woman.
We are at a crossroads in this country right now, and until society steps back and acknowledges we all have the power to choose what is best for us, we’ll never achieve true gender equality.