VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS – TABOO OR NOT?
Women who choose not to have children face negative stereotypes. Also, are under social pressure to change or justify their decision. Voluntary childlessness is a taboo that still has its roots in the 21st century.
Childbearing and motherhood hold high esteem in African nations and cultures. Moreover, within the first year of marriage, it is common for women to become pregnant and have children. Besides, in few cultures, it is a requirement that women become pregnant before the wedding ceremony to test their fertility. This has made the lack of a child, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, a serious concern in most African civilizations.
AFRICAN SOCIETIES AND VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS
For instance, in many African homes, the sentence “I do not want to have children” coming from the mouth of a girl or woman gets a severe reaction. This is similar to a death sentence or war in the Middle East.
Similarly, in relationships, a woman who makes statements of not having a child is regarded as the one who does not know what she wants for herself. In these situations, men simply wave off her concern considering that her views will change with the time.
DEFINING VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS
According to Wikipedia:
“Voluntary childlessness, also called being childfree, describes the voluntary choice not to have children”
The woman of childbearing age who is fertile and does not intend to have children. There are no ifs, no medical conditions, no reproductive difficulties; the woman just chooses not to have children.
There are a lot of reasons for voluntary childlessness which includes but not limited to:
REASONS FOR VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS
There can be so many reasons and circumstances that prevent women from bearing and conceiving children. They can be:
Personal and social reasons – Unwillingness to sacrifice freedom and independence to bearing children. Uncertain feelings about having children. Also, lack of a suitable partner or lack of one desire to perpetuate family line.
Psychological and medical reasons – For instance the health of one’s partner not allowing for children.
Economic and Cultural reasons – Also, stagnant or falling wages at the same time due to high cost of living.
Philosophical reasons – On the other hand, which include rejection of the common argument that a woman who does not having a child is “missing out” or will be more motivated after some.
Environmental reasons – Moreover, countering human overpopulation and its effects by not reproducing.
HOW WOMEN HAVE NAVIGATED VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS IN NIGERIAN SOCIETIES?
Talking to Roseline Uduk, who understands the pressure of being a childfree woman in Nigeria as she has a family member who is voluntarily childless.
Listen to her below!
BEING A VICTIM OF THE JUDGEMENT
In Nigerian society, a woman who do not have children, especially those who voluntarily choose not to become mothers are seen by men and other women as someone, not “woman enough”. Besides, they are subjected to different forms of discrimination. These include unsolicited questioning by friends, family, and even strangers who attempt to force them to change their decision.
Moreover, people believe that becoming a parent is a social norm and one inevitable aspect of life, therefore they go to great measures to achieve it. In most Nigerian societies, women are addressed by their children’s names, hence names like “Iya Ola” or “Mama Ada” are common to hear over there.
Hear out what James Ogbonnaaiye has to say.
VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS, A VALID CHOICE?
A lot of people still view women as very “unnatural”, stating that a woman’s only purpose in life is to have children; based on the fact that they were born with a womb. Besides all the reasons and social norms, A woman must have a compelling reason for not wanting children. The decision to not have a child is entirely their own, and they owe no one or society an explanation for it. Childbirth and motherhood should never be required for a woman’s womanhood to be respected and acknowledged.
RESPECTING WOMEN’S DECISIONS TO BE CHILDLESS
On the whole, being a feminist; I appreciate a woman’s decision to have children. In my opinion, it’s a beautiful thing to do. However, society must recognize that a significant number of women who do not aspire to be mothers. People make a lot of assumptions about childless women, but they don’t always know the particular reasons why they don’t want children.
In addition, to encouraging the world not to ask women about their aspirations to become mothers, we must establish an environment in which women can safely, honestly, and confidently communicate their reproductive intentions. Without fear of being judged or disrespected. Women who have gone through the process of reproduction should be able to talk about their experiences in a safe environment.
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