“I’m childfree and it’s fabulous.”Marcia Drut-Davis
Women carry the burden of the many expectations society has for them. The biggest one: motherhood. If a woman in her childbearing years decides against having children, she’s considered selfish. In fact, if she makes any reproductive choices at all, including the use of contraceptives and birth control, voluntary hysterectomies or having an abortion, she will be criticized by someone who feels they have a say in the matter. Many women are seen as walking uteruses rather than individuals who have a lot to offer other than giving birth. And those who want children but can’t have them due to many factors, including infertility, socioeconomic inequality and forced sterilization, are often seen as some sort of failure because they couldn’t achieve the goal assigned to them by societal norms. Being childfree or childless can make women feel like outcasts. Or worse. Silenced.
Childfree — won’t have children
Childless — can’t have children
Written, directed and produced by Therese Shechter, My So-Called Selfish Life gives a voice to the women out there who live their lives without birthing children, whether it was their choice to do so or not. It’s a profoundly important documentary about a subject that is often swept under the rug. Any childfree or childless woman, including myself, who has endured awkward and hurtful conversations with people in their lives about their situation will feel not only validated but redeemed to hear so many women in similar situations. And for those who cast judgement on others about the idea of maternal regret, they may learn a thing or two about compassion.
The documentary includes interviews with a variety of experts including doctors, authors and activists. These are bolstered with historical context and pop culture references. Almost every possible approach was taken making this a very thorough exploration on the subject matter. With that said, I wish the film had explored how social media platforms, including TikTok, are being used to openly discuss childfree living but it unfortunately does not.
I can see this documentary doing well through word-of-mouth recommendations, with childfree and childless women sharing it with others to encourage discussion and understanding.
My So-Called Selfish Life premiered at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival. Learn more about the documentary on the official website.