Saturday, May 2, 2015

Article: "You're still nothing until you're a mom"

About a month ago, I asked
Has anyone seen the movie mentioned in the NYT article ("While We're Young")? (It did just open this weekend, and I don't think it's in wide release yet, so I'm not sure too many people have had the opportunity.) Apparently Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a childless-not-entirely-by-choice couple in their 40s. And while I like them both as actors, and there is some interesting casting in some of the supporting roles, and it's getting some good reviews, I am not entirely sure this is a movie I want to see, depending on how the plot turns out (i.e., do they wind up with a "miracle" pregnancy &/or baby at the end?? :p ). 
(Spoiler alert in the comment section of that post, as well as in the rest of this post!)

"Noah Baumbach’s latest film is a missed opportunity," mourns Michele Filgate in a recent Salon article that takes its cue from this movie.  
I watched it with delight and glee and then, finally, dismay, as it faded into a tired cliché: You can’t grow up until you have kids of your own...

By the end of the film, the message is clear: Being an adult means finally settling down and having kids, whether you give birth to one or adopt one.

What could have been a forward-thinking film that shows it’s OK to not change your mind about having kids instead dissolves into an age-old stereotype. This is incredibly frustrating... 
I have no issue with moms or motherhood. What I do feel incredibly frustrated by is the reminder, again and again, that by not having kids there’s something wrong with me... Where are the fictional role models who are living fulfilling lives without kids?... It’s almost inevitable that when the issue comes up, by the end of the story the person will make the “right” decision and choose to procreate.
Filgate cites examples from popular TV shows that portray childless women as clueless about children ("Mad Men"'s Peggy Olsen, who actually had a baby that was adopted) or self-centred and narcissistic (Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City," versus her friend Charlotte, who only wants to be the perfect wife and mother).  And she points out that nearly half of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have kids in 2014 -- a number that continues to increase.
"Obviously some of these women will go on to have kids, but that’s still a very large percentage of the population. Many U.S. citizens are childless by choice—and we need to see more stories that reflect all of the thought that goes into making that kind of decision. A decision not to do something that is largely expected of most people since the beginning of time is a story that deserves to be told. It’s a story that deserves to be heard." [Emphasis mine.]
Amen.  Filgate is clearly speaking about childlessness as a deliberate choice, but certainly those of us who wound up without children after wanting and desperately trying to have them have some interesting stories to be told as well.

The whole article is worth a read.


  1. I can think of examples where childless women go on to have happy, fulfilling lives BUT not one where children were ever part of the plan. THAT'S what I want to see: a movie where you have a childless woman who is happy and fulfilled AND her childlessness is part of the movie instead of something that never comes up in the plotline.

  2. I actually posted this article on my facebook, however this was the quote that stuck out the most to me. I'm going to focus on not giving a &#$% what people think about my decision to not have kids.

    "We live in a society where people are judged for everything, but especially parenting. My friends who are moms are just as criticized, if not more so, than the childless ones. Nothing is ever good enough. So why do we care what other people think?"

  3. Thank you for this post.
    I am so not going to watch that movie.
    And I couldn't agree more... also our stories need to be told. We are already doing an important part of telling our stories by blogging.
    Wishing you a lovely Sunday.

  4. Nicely said Loribeth. We do indeed have stories that deserve to be told. I'm definitely giving that movie a miss.