No, it's not Jane Austen's century

Quick question.  What do these writers have in common -- aside from the fact that they are all great, and all women?

Image result for jane austen Jane Austen.  Willa Cather.  Katherine Mansfield. Carson McCullers. George Elliott.  Charlotte Bronte. Emily Bronte.  Eudora Welty.  Virginia Woolf.  Edith Wharton.  Sarah Orne Jewett.  Harper Lee.  Flannery O'Connor.  Iris Murdoch.  Oh, I could add more.  Deborah Eisenberg. Barbara Pym.

I'll stop there. Yup, you guessed it, they're all childless. Several were terrific when writing about mothers and kids.  No one calls them shallow.  No one calls them  "incomplete." 

But as actress Jennifer Aniston notes,  our culture's stuck in another century where women and kids are concerned.  Sure, the world's changed since Jane Austen wrote about the Bennett girls' dubious marriage prospects.  But women are expected to want the same things that Elizabeth did.  

Some of us didn't.   

This month, the U.K.'s Andrea Leadsom made the "child" issue front and center in her race with Theresa May to become the U.K.'s next Prime Minister.  To quote Ms. Leadsom:

Yes. I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn't have children so I don't want this to be 'Andrea has children, Theresa hasn't' because I think that would be really horrible, but genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. ...She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next."  
Wow.  So now I lack a stake in the future?  Apparently, if I don't have those nieces and nephews, I can just sit back and relax, and not give a damn.  If a man said that, we'd boo him off the stage.  I'm thrilled that Ms. Leadsom was give a thumbs down.  (For the record, Ms. Leadsom doesn't trust male nannies either.)

The reality:  about one in five American women ends up childless (18% to be precise.)   We don't have kids for lots of reasons.   To start with, I did not think I'd make a great mom.  And I never wanted kids.  I'm happy to pay taxes to support schools, and other people's kids, but no thanks otherwise.  

That's what we mean by choice.  My happy ending looks different from Andrea's and other moms.  More and more women across the globe are making my choice.  Deal with it.

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