giraffe necks stretch to the sky, the childless revolution and singledom

The Childless Revolution

When Katharine Hepburn chose childlessness in the 1940s, she claimed that “I was ambitious and knew I would not have children. I wanted total freedom.” Her views were thought to be scandalous. But when Oprah Winfrey admitted in 1994 to People magazine that “what it takes one on one [to parent], I don’t have,” she was not pilloried but praised for understanding her own needs.

For a variety of reasons—including greater education for women, effective birth control, and later marriage—there has been a dramatic increase in the number of childless women over the past 30 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1993 there were 34.9 million American families that were childless and only 33.3 million families with a child under the age of 18. Childlessness is about to come bursting out of the closet.

The arguments over chosing to childless or not will continue because the mere fact that people have the ability to choose is threatening to most cultures. Whether it is eastern or western culture choosing childlessness is a taboo. It means you have chosen not to grow up. In pop psychological terms it means you have chosen against being mature and opted for neurotic self involvement. The later is used more against men than women but it makes it way around. Childless women are said not to be living up to the fullness of their womanhood. You can there for you should. This is connected to the lingering myth of maternal and paternal instinct, though mostly the former. That is not to say there is anything innately wrong with having children. For some people is genuinely and deeply fulfilling.

Choosing not to have children is also intimately connected with the decision to remain single. People are deciding to marry later in life or not at all. A trend pervasive in western culture. And one that will probably infect cultures in the far east as they become more and more westernized. yet we live in a world where a request for a table for one is usually meet with pitying eyes and occasionally hostility. Singledom is a threat. Singles over thirty can expect the inevitable rumors of being gay. People are entitled, whatever the orientation, to pride in their sexual identity. Thus such rumors remain a part of the stigma of being single.  There is always the pleasure of being thought of as a loser. Couldn’t get anyone to fall in love with you huh?  Divorcees can at least get Shakespearean and claim they loved once and lost. Decide to stay single and childless and you’ve won the social difecta. Just find a lighthouse to live in to spare everyone the sight of you. You’re also a kind of threat if you seem even marginally happy. Marrieds think you’ll give their spouse wanderlust. Because all marrieds daydream about what life would have been like if they had decided to marry later or not at all.

There is some consolation for singles with or without children. You’re a bare majority and growing.  There are 89.6 million singles considered adult head of households according to 2006 Census data That is  50.3% of households. Most of those are under fifty. Forty percent are under 35.

 

giraffe graphic art

giraffe necks stretch to the sky

 

This day in history Benjamin Banneker was born in 1731. A self taught astronomer and mathematician he made the first  clock in the U.S. ( that is known anyway) made entirely of wood. It kept the correct time for decades. Thomas Jefferson recommended him for the surveying team that laid out Washington D.C.

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