Melanie Holmes has a new book out titled, The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story: Freeing Women From the View that Motherhood is a Mandate. Like author Madelyn Cain, the author of The Childless Revolution, Melanie is a mother. While not using the word pronatalism directly, Holmes discusses common pronatalist assumptions, including what I call in The Baby Matrix the Destiny, Normality and Fulfillment assumptions in particular. She stresses how pronatalist assumptions are just that – assumptions, and why it is time for paradigm shifts.
Part memoir, Holmes stresses the importance of candidly discussing the experience of motherhood. She also has good introductory information for those who might not know much about the childfree choice and those who make it. Holmes knows how “parents hold so much power through the words they use with their children,” and includes practical strategies for “revised scripts,” or examples of ways to communicate to children and people in general without pronatalist assumptions.
The Female Assumption adds to a not-so-long list of books written by mothers who want to express the realities of motherhood, and who truly get that motherhood is a choice and needs to be talked about as such. Books written about this go back aways. Take the book by Shirley Radl, who in the 1970s served as the Executive Director of the National Organization of Non-parents (Yes, many parents belonged to this nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people that parenthood is optional!). She published Mother’s Day is Over: The Realities and Rewards of Motherhood Today in the late 1980s and it sold over 40,000 copies.
Like Holmes, Radl does not use the word pronatalism, but speaks to many myths and truths, including how “the myth that our culture loves children is perpetuated by everyone who stands to gain economically by its existence.” Radl speaks much of her own truth, knowing it will not be met with approval. She does it anyway because she believes that parenthood should be seen for what it is – a choice – and it is up to mothers to ensure their children know this.
Holmes would surely agree. She speaks to rejecting the “motherhood mandate;” Radl “explodes” the “myths of motherhood.” Each tells stories of their lives as mothers and of the lives of the women they interviewed, and discuss the decision of when or whether to have children.
For her book, Holmes interviewed over one hundred women who are mothers of daughters in the U.S. She found that 88 percent assume their daughters will become mothers someday. Holmes’ book is for these mothers who need to rethink this view, and as she describes it, realize that “my job as her mother is to help her know her own heart, and to give her respite no matter her choices.”
And her book is for the daughters who think their mothers expect them to become mothers – to read and give to their mothers – better yet, to read together.
Here’s to mothers like Holmes and Radl, who see through the baby matrix, and as Holmes expresses, believe “in the right of my daughter and every woman to decide whether motherhood is the right path” for them in their lives.