There is an increasing amount of talk out there about how the childfree face inequities when it comes to tax and workplace policies. It exists in the halls of academia as well. Here is an example – this story from a graduate student blew me away.
*Names and places are omitted to respect the student’s request for anonymity*
“I was a graduate student, focusing the topic of funerary practices. One of my professors was going to hold a public screening of the film, ‘Business of Being Born’ on campus and invited me at the last minute. I declined because it was a late invite, and I don’t like to watch birth due to some past trauma.
The prof told me I had no choice but to attend to earn ‘social capital as a doctoral student’ and assured me there were no graphic birthing scenes. So, I went, there were graphic birthing scenes, I had a panic attack during the film, had to leave to avoid vomiting/passing out in front of an audience.
The next day, the prof cornered me. She said that I had personally offended her. She wanted to know what I would tell someone who asked me about home birth – I said that I would recommend that they talk to a health professional, because I’m not one. She wanted to know why I avoided being included in birth-related activities, and I said that it’s because I don’t want children and I’m not interested in birth – hence, my doctoral studies in funerary practices.
The prof told me that because I am childfree, I ‘have the maturity level of an 18-year old freshman boy’ and that I’m ‘not normal,’ and I ‘don’t fit in with other women.’ Then she said that she hoped I had a back-up school, because she didn’t want me in ‘her’ department.
The next morning, the head of the department told me that they took a vote and decided to drop their support of my program.
I filed a report with the equity and diversity office, and they told me that they couldn’t do anything about it because there is no such thing as discrimination against the childfree.
All of this led to a crazy-making fence-sitting period for me, questioning my choices and almost having a baby with a man I didn’t love for the wrong reasons. I have to tell you – reading your book (The Baby Matrix) helped me be myself again. Thank you.”
Unbelievable, isn’t it? This is also a real example of the negative impacts of pronatalism, namely, discrimination based on reproductive choice. And the fact that she understandably has to request anonymity is troubling…
She agreed to let me post her story, because in her words, “I want my experience to help other childfree folks know that this choice can be tough, but they aren’t alone.”
Do you know of other stories of this kind of discrimination?