Wed, 3 November 2021
Today, a number of young American women are pursuing the stuff of dystopian novels: the prospect of a childless future. These young women don’t just choose to avoid motherhood—they actively embrace that choice as a marker of their identity. Some embrace the label “child-free,” with the implication that they don’t want to have children themselves but are okay with other people doing so, while others are positively “anti-natalist”—they don’t want to have children and they also think that it’s immoral for anyone else to do so. Many of these women have even turned to surgical procedures to ensure they will never become mothers.
It’s difficult to estimate how large this group is, but it's likely quite small. Nevertheless, despite its small size, it reveals something about American culture and its attitude toward the tradeoffs of family. What is it like to see the world as someone who is ideologically committed to not having children? This week, the writer Suzy Weiss joins the show to discuss a recent article of hers that tries to answer that question. In conversation with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver, she explains how the child-free think, what motivates them, and what their existence says about mainstream American society.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.