Watch My So-Called Selfish Life!
Yesterday evening, I broke out the ice cream and streamed My So-Called Selfish Life, a documentary currently on the festival circuit by Therese Shechter exploring the different reasons why people do not have children. Friends and my therapist told me about it my childfree post, and now I’m telling you. Watch this movie!
Inclusive exploration of a childfree life
Shechter weaves her own story of choosing a childree life with the work of activists, artists, scholars, and young people, as well as her own mother, set against cultural tropes (some of them very funny, as well as maddening) in a brisk 117 minutes. Black, Queer, and young voices feature prominently in this film, making it an inclusive look at the decision to be childfree.
She’s also interviewed pioneers from the 1970s. Even as someone who studied second-wave feminism in the 1970s, I learned a great deal from this documentary about early movements celebrating a childfree life. She’s found some great footage, including a 60 Minutes segment from the 1970s on a couple informing his parents that they would not have children (spoiler: it did not go well).
Shechter’s own story
Knowing that she did not want children from a very early age, Shechter describes the societal pressures placed on her as a woman to procreate and the hoops she needed to jump through to avoid giving birth until she joyfully entered menopause. She’s anti-pronatalism, pronatalism being a fetishization of motherhood that has disturbing ties to racist eugenics policies (the film does not shy away from forced sterilizations of Black and Brown women as well as early testing of the Pill on Brown women). For a white woman to choose not to become a mother, she must be incredibly selfish, according to our cultural tropes.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, one interviewee says that most childfree women spent more time considering their decision than parents.
The point is to have a choice
Shechter does not denigrate motherhood; indeed her own mother features prominently in the film. Ironically, her mother, a Romanian refugee from the Iron Curtain was considered selfish for having a baby under challenging circumstances. That baby was Therese Shechter.
Choosing to be childfree is not the same as being childless (wanting children and not being able to have them). Shechter interviews one such woman, who tells her story of finding out that she could not have the children she very much wanted.
The point is that we should all have a choice. Given what’s transpiring in the US regarding Roe and attacks on birth control, My So-Called Selfish Life could not be more timely.
How to watch My So-Called Selfish Life
Stream My So-Called Selfish Life (Trixie Films) through 16 May 2022 via Show & Tell (tickets US $10, plus suggested donation).
Announcing the Wonder & Sundry Happily Single hub!
As the Happily Single series covers all of the topics on Wonder & Sundry, I created a hub for all things Happily Single. The Happily Single hub features posts from the blog, as well as a living list of resources. You can find it located in the Balance section on Wonder & Sundry.
I’d love for it to become your resource, so please suggest things that you’ve found helpful (this post on My So-Called Selfish Life came from reader recommendations!), and I’ll add them!