Don't have kids? Guess what, you're a victim!

No, not a victim of your health, fertility, or mating-game problems, silly.

You're a victim of those mean moms who actually do have children and then have the effrontery to tell you that they get a lot of satisfaction out of motherhood. How dare they?

That's the message of the new book Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum. Needless to say, all sixteen writers are women. As reviewer Katie Roiphe (for the Washington Post) explains:

Childlessness may be one of the last vibrant taboos in our culture. Women, especially, who don’t have children are still regarded as somehow incomplete or thwarted, even by liberal and tolerant people


The essayists in a searing new anthology, “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed,” address this widespread pity. Many are defensive or defiant, reacting to friends and strangers who have made them feel that they have failed to live fully.

Made to feel that they have failed to live fully! Gee life is tough for the women of the First World!

And how they suffer because…"cultural expectations":

What is surprising about this collection of intensely personal essays is the level of torment that most of these women articulate. I was struck by how many of them tried to have children and couldn’t, for whatever reason. There are second thoughts that shadow them, admissions of longing, honest grappling with possibilities, weighing of advantages. Because the cultural expectation is so profound, the women writers who decide not to have kids or end up not having them have constructed elaborate, fortresslike defenses of their lives and choices.

Actually, it's hard to figure out what's eating all these non-mothers, because, according to them. they'd rather have their eyes pulled out with rusty pliers than have their blissful single–hood interrupted by, eew, a rugrat!

[T]he child-burdened should come away from this engaging collection with a rich sense of what they have missed: “I would prefer to accept an assignment to go trekking for a month in the kingdom of Bhutan than spend that same month folding onesies” …; “Let’s face it: children’s intellectual capacities and conversational acumen are not their best features. Boredom and intellectual atrophy are the normal conditions of daily life for the child-raising classes”…; “Our shared passions thrill and satisfy us, and our abundant freedoms — to daydream; to cook exactly the food we want when we want it; to drink wine and watch a movie without worrying about who’s not yet asleep upstairs; to pick up and go anywhere we want, anytime; to do our work uninterrupted; to shape our own days to our own liking; and to stay connected to each other without feeling fractured — are not things we’d choose to give up for anyone, ever” …

One good reason not to go to Bhutan: It's probably filled with "trekking" essayists, like the above author.

Ah, the joys of not having children! You can drink all the wine you want whenever you want and you get to complain about how nobody understands you. Victimology has never looked like more fun.