Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children

by Terri Casey

Beyond Words Publishing

1998, $14.95

Reviewed by Kim Allen

Can women "have it all"? Increasing numbers of women are deciding that they don't want it all. In Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children, Terri Casey relates the tales of 25 childless women. Far from the stereotypical selfish or child-hating old crones, Casey's vibrant, happy confidantes-- married, single, divorced, or widowed, and a few lesbians--have chosen to remain childless for a variety of reasons including freedom, career ambition, concern for overpopulation, and just plain lack of interest in kids. In this collection, the reader finds out whether their choice was easy or difficult, how their families react, what they spend their energy on, and how they envision their old age. Even women who are trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant may find solace in the joy of those who never reproduced, but share in the lives of many children around them.

Women who choose not to have kids are already bucking tradition, so it's not surprising to note that, on average, they are high achievers educationally and economically, and tend to be independent thinkers who stand apart from established religion. What may be surprising is how happy and socially engaged they are, and how much they contribute to society and their communities. With more time, energy, and money than their friends who are mothers, they pour their souls into those areas of life that fuel their passions: art, science, romance, athletics, activism. These are women I would love to know--I found myself wishing for their email addresses!

Nonetheless, I found myself asking, "Why should this book be 'revolutionary'?" Why does it feel naughty to say, "I've decided not to have children-- and I'm happy!" In the world I'd like to live in, this book could never be published because it would be as mundane as collecting the tales of people who had chosen not to pursue gardening or didn't like listening to jazz. Honestly, who cares if you have kids or not? What community wouldn't give some of its tax money to have members like these women!

The real revolution will come when we start hearing from unhappy mothers who wish they had chosen not to have kids--or wish they hadn't been railroaded into it by social expectations. When all of these voices can be heard clearly, women will finally be free to consider motherhood like other important decisions, making informed choices for their-- and society's-- future. We'll be better off when all the kids in the world are wanted because each mother freely chooses to have them.

Pride & Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children is available from booksellers or the publisher at (800) 284-WORD or http://www.beyondword.com/books/paj.html

Copyright 1999 Kim Allen.

Kim Allen is co-founder of The 3rd WWWave (http://www.3rdwwwave.com/),

a site devoted to third-wave feminism.





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