I was in a relationship years ago that got serious pretty quickly. I was always clear about the fact that having children was not something that would happen if we stayed together. At first, he was disappointed, but he later on seemed to change his mind. I say “seemed to” because after once having told me that he would be fine if we never had kids, he later told me that he thought the reason I had agreed that we should get married was because I had changed my mind and decided to have children.
I had always been completely honest and never, ever led him to believe that my mind had changed and I would have children.
Before we got together, one of my friends got pregnant unexpectedly. Well, unexpectedly probably isn’t the right word (it wasn’t an immaculate conception), but she hadn’t been planning on having children any time soon. She is also a feminist and we have similar views regarding gender, feminism, and sexuality. My ex wanted to know why, if we had similar views, she decided to have a child. In fact, he asked me this repeatedly, and I think (although I’ll never know for sure) that is because he wanted me to tell him that even though she didn’t want to have children, she knows that it’s her responsibility to do so as a woman.
I think this because I told him at one point that although I always thought I would have children, it was never a thought that filled me with joy, and that it had occurred to me when I was 22 (and had discovered the feminist blogosphere) that parenthood was something I had no obligation to participate in. He kept asking me “who told me” that I didn’t have to have children, a question that really annoyed me, because no one “told” me anything. No one has to tell me anything about my own rights to do what I want with my own body.
Like I’ve mentioned before on here, this same ex’s sister was incredulous that I could “deny” an African man children. I suspect that the reason he kept asking was because he wanted me to eventually admit that the most prominent (English-language) feminist bloggers who talk about not having children are white.
As in, he, along with many other people, believe that it’s something that white women have a choice in, but it’s something that I, as a black, and more importantly, an African woman, have absolutely no right to decide. Aside from my parents, not a single one of my family members has supported my choice.
One of my cousins, whom I have written about previously, told me that I “couldn’t decide” that I wasn’t going to have children, because what if I met someone who really wants kids?
One of my aunts told me I have to have kids, because it would make my dad happy, and because we are African.
Is the idea that the childfree lifestyle is something that white women (regardless of where they come from as long as their ancestry began in Europe) can choose, but as African women, we don’t have this luxury something that you’ve heard? What do you say? What do you do?