holy shit. i just got an order from the excellent ak press which included a zine called “ask me about my tubal ligation“. the title caught my eye while i was perusing their catologue, as it’s something that i’ve been pondering for a while. it’s not really a super-pressing issue, as my long-term partner is trans & can’t get me pregnant, & historically i have not been very sexually active with anyone who can get me pregnant. but, i feel that, were i to become serious sweeties with a man who could knock me up, i would definitely be looking into it.
this zine was so good because it provided a step-by-step outline of how she made her decision, how she fought against many a sexist, condescending doctor until she finally found one who was willing to do this procedure. she wrote a little bit about the actual procedure itself & the recovery, and the rest of the zine was devoted to dealing with other peoples’ negative reactions to her new voluntarily infertile status.
reading this zine was SUCH a breath of fresh air for me. like the author, i don’t like children, i don’t want to devote my entire life to the many frustrations, both petty and major, of being a parent. i think that this planet has way too many people on it already, and, if my time at chld protctv svcs has taught me one thing, it’s that there are a TON of kids out there who really, really, really need safe, healthy, stable homes. (and i don’t even want to get into the whole i-had-an-unhappy-abusive-childhood-and-i-am-terrified-that-i-would-become-an-abuser-too bit, but that’s definitely a factor, too.)
but, you know, i’m such a horrible person for thinking that. i don’t like kids because i’m “heartless” and i don’t want them because i’m “selfish.” i care about the planet not having enough resources to support the people who already live on it because i’m “negative”. and if i bring up the dozens of really sad, cute children i used to work with, whose parents have died, whose parents are doing life, whose parents are too busy smoking crack or shooting heroin or just plain old fashioned not giving a fuck to take care of them–well, i’m just “bringing everyone down!”
seriously, people? just because i don’t particularly enjoy listening to the screeching of children all day does not mean i’m an awful human being who is deserving of your judgment and criticism. i would not ever criticize you for having kids; please do not criticize me for wanting to spend my life around adults.
and on the flip side, i don’t particularly like it when someone sees me doing something cute/nice/tender/selfless for someone else and says, “i don’t know why you don’t want children; you’d make such a great parent!” as if my kindness is wasted if i give it to an adult? as if lavishing love on my partner, friends, or even strangers has absolutely no merit, for me or for them?
anyway. the purpose of this blog entry is not to stomp on anyone’s toes. i know that most of the people reading this blog would like to have kids some day; most people do. i am not, in any way, criticizing your choices. i am merely stating that being child-free is also a valid choice and i am tired of dealing with people who don’t respect my choices (which affect absolutely no one besides me and my partner [who, if you’re wondering, does want kids some day, but is also a bit younger than me & wants to wait at least 5 years, so it’s a non-issue for now]). and reading this zine unlocked something within me, made me feel like it’s okay to talk about & gave me some backup. & i feel like part of the reason why i read zines is for emotional backup.
on a semi-related note, i recently learned that, in PA, a woman is eligible for TANF cash assistance if she is pregnant; but if she has an abortion, the money is cut off. because, you know, she totally couldn’t use that princely [$205/month] sum as a childless grownup, with rent and bills to pay. she’s only “deserving” of it if she’s doing her womanly duty of incubating a fetus. if she doesn’t want to do that, she’s shit out of luck. gaaaah! so fucked up! [in case you didn’t know, in PA at least, one can only get cash assistance if one is a) totally destitute (i believe if the household has more than $200 in resources they are ineligible. i don’t know because i work in heating assistance, not cash assistance, so that isn’t really my job, but i do know that the threshold is some ridiculously low # like that) and b) either disabled & with a denied SSI claim or taking care of/having children. things were different before the clinton-era welfare reform act, but for now, if you’re an adult without kids & you’re between jobs, if your unemployment runs out and you can’t find any more work, if you’re in any number of difficult situations and your money simply runs out and you can’t get any more–you are just going to have to deal with it, because the government is not going to help. not like the chump change they dole out is enough to live on, but it’s SOMETHING. ugh. of course, families should get as much financial support as they can, but what about the grown-ups? we need money too! i could rant about this literally all fucking day; about these fucked up policies and how no one cares; but i will stop here.]