Ruby Warrington has never wanted children. Not while growing up in England and not later in life, a commitment that was tested by a rare and unplanned pregnancy (she was using an IUD at the time) when she was 23, shortly after graduating from the London School of Fashion. . She had an abortion.
She switched to magazine journalism after studying fashion and was a style editor for The Sunday Times in London, before turning her attention to books (her first being “sober curious”). Today she lives in Miami with her husband of 20 years.
In his fourth book, “Childless Women: The Revolutionary Rise of a Forgotten Sisterhood”, which was published in March, Ms Warrington, 47, writes that women who do not have children “are no longer outcasts or misfits, but a natural part of our collective evolution and healing, as women, as human beings. and as a global family.”
Ms. Warrington spoke to The New York Times about this new landscape in the interview edited below.
Is there a term you use to refer to yourself? Some people believe that “no children” is a celebration and “no children” sounds draconian or judgmental.
I’ve been playing with “arereproductive”, to describe myself, as “asexual”. “Childless” and “childless” have definitely served a purpose, but they are somewhat of a binary.
Mother’s Day is approaching, the fourth of a pandemic that has exposed a child care crisiswith women assuming three times both childcare and men. What do you say to exhausted mothers who may be envious of your freedom?
By speaking out loud about this, about being women without children and our reasons, many times we are rejecting motherhood, because motherhood seems very difficult. It seems ungrateful. It seems risky. So, in a way, it shines a light on how hard it is for mothers. I am conscious of recognizing that there is nothing wrong if you find this difficult. You’re right.
The system is not set up to support mothers. If it’s hard for you, it’s not because you’re weak. It’s not because you failed. It is because the scales are still very uneven. I have found that many mothers have received that message from the book and I am very grateful. It has helped them feel less defective.
Non-mothers are often expected to introduce themselves to their friends when they become mothers, but how can women who have children introduce themselves to their friends who don’t?
I think that often when a woman becomes a mother, most of her energy, focus, attention, not to mention love, now goes to the children and home life. And women without children can feel left out or displaced. We still want to be included.
How have your friendships with women who are mothers evolved?
What I have noticed in my friendships with moms is that I am valuable as someone with whom they become the woman they were without their children. And I think that’s so important within any type of family structure or community.
According to a recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth rates in the United States have fallen over the past five decades. Where do you see this trend going?
Gen X women are the first generation of women who were born with this message: “You can do, be whatever you want in your life.” And I’m talking about the Western women of Generation X. Obviously, this message is not available to women in many countries.
This is the first generation that lived their entire reproductive lives with that message. That is why we are seeing such a large increase in the number of women without children. We will see a steeper decline as Gen X and millennial women reach menopause without having reproduced: the impact of the past 50 years on women’s attitudes and choices about reproduction.
Speaking of that change, her book calls for a “sexual evolution,” a “total reimagining of our sexual selves.” What could be the environmental impact of more non-procreative sex?
The human population is growing to a point where we are severely taxing the earth’s natural resources. Instead of a biological imperative, what if human sexual expression were primarily about well-being, satisfaction, connection, relaxation — pleasure—and sex as procreation a conscious choice? What if the religious and cultural heteropatriarchal ideology of sex had never existed? If human beings had been given permission to engage in sexuality in whatever way felt right, maybe we’d have just the right amount of people on the planet.
Thinking of growing old childless to potentially help with their care?
This is the number 1 question that kept me questioning my instinct that motherhood was not for me, this idea of who will take care of you when you are older.
First, I have my own retirement savings account. I am preparing to be active in my career for as long as I am physically able. The notion that older women, in particular, will need caregivers, which ultimately means paying for us when we’re older, I think we’re reversing that.
And then I hear a lot of conversations between myself and my childless friends about how we can build support networks to look out for each other. I’ve had many conversations with people about “Where will we live?” All of our lives, we have relied on our found family connections for our sense of belonging and support. Now we will continue to invest in these found family networks.