Are we childLESS? -- sounds like our lives are "less than" or lacking. (Well, there IS something lacking, something that we -- like so many others -- once assumed would be there... but do we have to dwell on it?)
Are we childFREE? -- sounds like children are a burden that we are happy to be "free" of. I know some people who have deliberately chosen not to have children prefer this label. I know some of us who didn't necessarily come to this life as a first choice prefer this label because it sounds more positive than childLESS -- but it still doesn't seem to adequately reflect the journey we've made to reach this point in our lives.
Barren? -- ugh, so forlorn & desolate sounding. :p
The Not Mom has just blogged about another label that sometimes gets tossed at us. I first remember hearing in the early 1980s, around the time dh & I got married: DINK, i.e., an acronym for the descriptor Dual Income, No Kids. It was a term closely associated with "yuppies" -- Young Urban Professionals. Dh & I did used to joke about being "yuppies" sometimes, but I disliked the term DINK then, & I dislike it still. Perhaps it's because, as a kid (at least in the time & place(s) where I grew up), "dink" was a nasty name we called other kids who were acting like jerks -- and in at least one place where I lived, it was also used as a synonym for a certain male body part (!). (Look it up!)
Even as an acronym, there was a certain nasty connotation attached to the term. As The Not Mom observes:
Maybe I am a little too sensitive, but I feel that DINK, when used in the wrong context, can be deeply hurtful and more than a little misguided. All it does is create more of the Us vs. Them mentality.
When this person said it to me, it was with the knowing wink and contempt that somehow my life choices were not as important as hers. There is a lot of weight when we use words, as I have mentioned before, so why are women often looking to label each other and call out our differences?
Not Mom, you're right, it was & is usually used in a not-entirely-nice and divisive way. It reinforces the stereotype that if we don't have kids but do have two incomes, we must be rolling in money. (But really now -- aren't most couples these days "double income" -- and usually out of necessity -- whether they have kids or not?)
Again, I ask -- why do we feel the need to slap a label on everything & everyone, anyway?