Monday, July 4, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

(This is NOT exactly a "microblog" -- but it's what I've got this Monday...!)  
  • It was Canada Day on Friday (July 1st). A relatively quiet day for dh & me and, I suspect, many of our fellow citizens, despite being the first time in three years that official celebrations were being hosted on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country. (Actually, "near" Parliament Hill instead of on it, since the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings is under extensive renovation right now and the whole area is a construction zone.) 
    • Canadian have never been as ardent about waving the flag as Americans and professing their patriotism -- which does not mean we love our country any less -- we're just quieter about it. ;)  Or have been, anyway. Canada Day celebrations are a much bigger deal than they used to be when I was a kid, but I still don't think it's in quite the same league as the Fourth of July in the U.S. 
    • A couple of things have put a damper on Canada Day celebrations in recent years:  first, covid (which shut down the usual official/organized celebrations for the past two years);  second, revelations about the treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools just before Canada Day last year;  and finally, the occupation of Ottawa, our national capital, for several weeks this past winter by a bunch of flag-waving yahoos calling themselves "patriots" and demanding "freedom" and the overthrow of the federal government. 
      • This Toronto Star article captured the very mixed feelings many people had about Canada Day this year. (Margaret Renkl, in the New York Times, expressed similar sentiments about the American flag and Fourth of July this year.) 
    • (Thankfully, despite the fact that some of the convoy participants returned to Ottawa for Canada Day, it was a mostly peaceful day.)  
    • It's by no means a perfect country -- and the past few years have brought that reality home in spades. But for all its flaws, it's still a damn good one, and I would not want to live anywhere else.  :)   
  • As a Canadian, I was feeling somewhat helpless in the wake of the recent Dobbs vs Jackson decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Roe vs Wade. Then I saw a news item (I think via Anne Helen Petersen on Twitter?) about the clinic in Fargo, North Dakota -- the only one in the state -- and the closest one to my mother's hometown in northwestern Minnesota (a two-hour drive away). It's still open for now but will likely be forced to close soon. The next-closest clinic is another four hours away in Minneapolis-St. Paul. 
    • Fortunately, Minnesota (where abortion is still legal) is right across the Red River from Fargo, in Moorhead -- and the clinic plans to move operations there. A GoFundMe will help cover the costs of moving and renovations to the new space. I happily made a donation. It's a small thing, but it made me feel a little bit better. 
    • Americans looking to Canada for abortions might find it difficult: this Washington Post article explains the limitations of the current Canadian system and the drawbacks for Americans who might want to come here. 
  • Moira Donegan's column in The Guardian, on the fall of Roe vs Wade, said it all.  Sample passage: 
The real story is the women...

The real story is about thousands of these women, not just now but for decades to come – the women, whose lives will be made smaller and less dignified by unplanned and unchosen pregnancies, the women whose health will be endangered by the long and grueling physical process of pregnancy; the women, and others, who will have to forgo dreams, end educations, curtail careers, stretch their finances beyond the breaking point, and subvert their own wills to someone else’s.

...the books that will go unwritten, the trips untaken, the hopes not pursued, and jokes not told, and the friends not met, because the people who could have lived the full, expansive, diverse lives that abortions would allow will instead be forced to live other lives, lives that are lesser precisely because they are not chosen.

The real story is the millions of women, and others, who now know that they are less free than men are – less free in the functioning of their own bodies, less free in the paths of their own lives, less free in the formation of their own families.

The real story is not this order; the real story is these people’s unfreedom – the pain it will inflict and the joy it will steal. The real story is women, and the real story is the impossible question: how can we ever grieve enough for them?
  • Katy at Chasing Creation is hosting an Instagram Live session on Thursday, July 7th at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern with Dr. Jay Zigmont, Certified Financial Planner and founder of Childfree Wealth. They'll be talking about financial planning when you don't have children. Details in this Instagram post
    • Dr. Zigmont just released a book on this subject! Details area available on his website -- it's available through bookstores, including Amazon. (A Kindle e-copy is just 99 cents (US)!) 
    • Dr. Zigmont will also be one of the featured speakers at Katy's upcoming Childless Collective Summit, and attendees will receive a free digital copy of his book!  :)  
    • The summit will be held online and free of charge, July 14th-17th -- four jam-packed days with 40 amazing speakers from our community! Details & registration here
  • The Clan of Brothers Facebook group for childless-not-by-choice men is changing its name to The Childless Men's Community. (I've changed the name on my list of resources in the right-hand column here.)  
    • The organizers realized that "clan" in the U.K. (where many of the members are located) has a rather different connotation for men (and especially men of colour) in the U.S. (!).
  • My longtime penpal in New Zealand alerted me to a new book (memoir) that's coming out there shortly that's relevant to us CNBCers:  "You Probably Think This Song is About You" by Kate Camp. It's not (yet?) available in North America, although it can be ordered through Book Depository. ($32+ Canadian for the paperback, so I think I'll wait and see...!).  
    • A great excerpt of specific interest was published in a local publication:  "No miracle baby here." 
  • From Carolyn Hax in the Washington Post: a very common situation in this community: a new mom notices her best friend has gone silent since her own miscarriage. Carolyn offers her thoughts, as do other readers in the comments. 
  • Anne Helen Petersen interviewed Doree Shafrir last week on her Culture Study newsletter on Substack, about "the past and future of online parenting content," in a post titled "Where can you talk about ~mom stuff~ that isn't Facebook?" . 
    • "I’m not a parent," says Petersen (she is childfree by choice), "but I read it [Shafrir's own newsletter] because the way we think and talk about parenthood matters to all of us. And as you’ll see below, I also think Doree understands exactly what so many of us miss and crave from contemporary media aimed at women in general and moms in particular — and doing it in a space that is not Facebook." There's a lot of talk about "the power of the mom community" and how it's changed over the years, and how to create and build community, "in real life" as well as online. The conversation continues in the comments (which, as might be expected, is also full of mom-talk). 
    • I enjoy Petersen's work, and I get why she finds parenthood an interesting topic (I do too) -- and I am all for online spaces that are not Facebook too. 
      • Nevertheless!  Here's my comment (below one from someone who identified as a non-parent). It's had five "likes" so far:  
I am not a parent either (not by choice)... I have to admit, I am a little envious of the automatic "in" that parents get into community networks, simply by virtue of being parents and the common experiences they share in that regard. (Case in point: a commenter above notes "IRL community matters so much - and parenting is a huge part of community.") Those of us who aren't parenting have to work harder to build new connections and to maintain our connections with friends & relatives who are parenting (and who don't always have the time or energy for us on top of everything else on their plate). It can be very difficult and frankly very lonely sometimes. 

AHP, I would LOVE for you to chat with Jody Day of Gateway Women about the childless (not by choice) experience and bridging the gap between parents and non-parents. :) 

What bothered me about this, however, is the way these retreats are positioning themselves, their target demographic, and by extension, me and other women without children.

These mothers-only spaces are not a new thing, folks. Women without children have been excluded from the sisterhood in countless ways over the centuries. We know we don’t belong. We’ve been told. We’ve been shown. We got it.

So if the goal is respecting the journey that women who have children are on, then what about respecting the journeys of the childfree and childless? 


Isn’t it a little worrisome that so many women assume that childless and childfree women cannot possibly understand the hardships of motherhood in any way?  ...The level of emotional immaturity, apathy, and total lack of cognition that we would have to have to not understand any aspect of motherhood is staggering. And to make that assumption about women who don’t have kids is even more staggering. That’s a potent cocktail of pronatalism and misogyny right there that many women don’t realize they’ve been sipping.

It seems so odd to me that so many women who have children work so hard to separate themselves from women who don’t. Whether it’s ending friendships with women who don’t have children or gatekeeping retreats that are only for mothers, why on earth wouldn’t mothers want our support? Why on earth wouldn’t they want to lean on us and welcome us into their world?

And why on earth can’t they see that we have our own hardships that maybe they ought to show up for, just as we try to show up for them? 

  • British journalist Kat Brown at No One Talks About This Stuff on Instagram (also the name of her forthcoming book) flagged an opinion article from the Sunday Times (UK) that (as one commenter put it) seemed like it was drawn straight from The Onion (satirical site). 
    • Unfortunately, it wasn't.  The proposal being put forward by demographer Paul Morland: "Should we tax the childless?"  His answer was (naturally!) an enthusiastic yes, with the aim of increasing the UK's birth rate ("grow our own" -- and thus avoid having to rely on those pesky immigrants for future labour requirements...). Among his recommendations: 
      • "Create a “pro-natal” culture" [like there isn't one already??]. 
      • "...including a national day to celebrate parenthood." [Said Kat: "wait until he finds out we already have two!" -- isn't that what Mother's Day and Father's Day are all about?]
      • "...and a telegram from the Queen whenever a family has a third child." [Telegram?? What century is this guy living in? And -- if you're going to encourage the births of third children -- wouldn't it be better to offer financial incentives, better maternity leave & daycare, etc.??] 
      • "Public figures can lead the way with words and actions (the prime minister, with his seven known offspring, has a track record in this regard)." [Love the phrase "KNOWN offspring"!!][Said Kat: "don’t even get me started on suggested Boris Johnson has some kind of parenting role model."]  
      • Also: "Sacrifice a portion of the green belt around London and other cities to free up additional space for more, cheaper family homes."  [To quote Joni Mitchell: "They paved paradise, put up a parking lot..."] 
      • Tax credits for parents and a “negative child benefit” tax for non-parents. "This may seem unfair on those who can’t or won’t have children, but it recognises that we all rely on there being a next generation and that everyone should contribute to the cost of creating that generation." [Like we don't already contribute by paying taxes for schools and other services to benefit other people's children, services that we and/or our children will never get to use ourselves?]  
      • "Educate people that getting pregnant becomes more difficult with age."  [I'm all for greater fertility awareness at a younger age -- but "educate people" has a slightly sinister ring to it...] 
    • As Kat said on Instagram, "it’s easier than putting pressure on the government to actually do something useful for its citizens, whatever their makeup...  don’t worry about responsibility as long as you’re spraying children into the world. Even if you aren’t being responsible about the future those children face." 
    • The UK organization Ageing Without Children has posted a response. There's also a lot of reaction on Twitter. 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here. 


  1. I couldn't read all the article on taxing the childless, so I appreciate your summaries. My immediate thought is, of course, yes, we are already taxed, paying towards education and health services for children that we don't use. People without children make up a majority of those who volunteer in the community as well. We're all doing our bit! Also, don't the writers of the article see the trouble the world is in due to overpopulation? I guess they're anti-immigrant too - it is the Times, after all. Sigh.

    I mentioned the NZ book in my post too. Hoping to buy it at the local bookstore. The article about it was great. And loved Yael Wolfe's article (but oof, the comments, as you said. So many of them didn't get it, and got defensive and even angry.)

    Lastly, Canada and NZ are so similar! Glad you wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But it would be too cold for me! lol

  2. Oh man, what a mixed bag of great, uplifting stuff and stuff to make the blood boil! I saw that demographer article and THOUGHT IT WAS CLICKBAIT. So I didn't click. Holy moses. What the hell. Also, more parents-only things? Arghhhh. I agree with Mali, isn't overpopulation more an issue than underpopulation? I feel like I know lots of people who chose to have 3 or 4 children, so that's more than zero population growth. All of this makes me think of people like livestock, breeding rather than family building. Ugh. You do such a good job of finding all this stuff!