Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
Child-Free Life
The American birthrate is at a record low. What happens when having it all means not having children?
By Lauren Sandler
One evening when she was 14 years old, Laura Scott was washing dishes in the kitchen with her mother when she decided she didn't want to have a child. "You might change your mind," said her mother, whom Scott describes as "bone tired" from a life in which she "didn't have any time for herself." Scott's mom worked as a samplemaker for an upholstery company; after making dinner for Scott and her brother, she'd park them in front of the television and go down to the basement to spend her evening cutting and sewing. That life was what "doing it all" meant to Scott. "I learned you could — but did you want to?" she says. At 26, Scott got married and waited for her mind to change. "I thought I would be struck by a biological lightning bolt," she recalls. "It never happened. And I realized I was going to be fine." As she says from her Tampa office, where she works as a professional coach, writer and documentary filmmaker, "My main motive not to have kids was that I loved my life the way it was."

Now 50, Scott is more than fine: she's fulfilled. And she's not alone. The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history, which includes the fertility crash of the Great Depression. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there's data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s. Even before the recession hit, in 2008, the proportion of women ages 40 to 44 who had never given birth had grown by 80%, from 10% to 18%, since 1976, when a new vanguard began to question the reproductive imperative. These statistics may not have the heft of childlessness in some European countries — like Italy, where nearly one-quarter of women never give birth — but the rise is both dramatic and, in the scope of our history, quite sudden.

The decision to have a child or not is a private one, but it takes place, in America at least, in a culture that often equates womanhood with motherhood. The birthrate may have fallen, but the baby-product industry is at a record high, an estimated $49 billion for 2013. Any national discussion about the struggle to reconcile womanhood with modernity tends to begin and end with one subject: parenting. Even Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, a book focused on encouraging women's professional development, devotes a large chunk of its take-home advice to balancing work and family, presuming that, like its author, ambitious women will have both. It's great that we're in the midst of a cultural conversation about the individual choices and structural barriers that shape our lives. But if you're a woman who's not in the mommy trenches, more often than not you're excluded from the discussion.

Being sidelined doesn't exempt childless women from being scolded. In a December column in the New York Times headlined MORE BABIES, PLEASE, Ross Douthat argued that the "retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion" — an indicator of "decadence," revealing "a spirit that privileges the present over the future." The Weekly Standard's Jonathan V. Last has made the case in his controversial book What to Expect When No One's Expecting that the selfishness of the childless American is responsible for no less than the possible destruction of our economic future by reducing the number of consumers and taxpayers.

With fertility treatment widely available, not to mention adoption, even clinically infertile women have more options than ever to become mothers, which increases the possibility that any woman who doesn't will be judged for her choice. "There's more pressure on women to be mothers, to fulfill that obligation, than I've ever seen," says Amy Richards, author of Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself. "In the past we assumed it was out of a woman's control" whether or not she had a child. "Now we think it's her choice, so we can blame her."

And it is chiefly her. Statisticians measure a woman's childbearing years as spanning from ages 15 to 44 — a bracket that might change as fertility protocols advance but that for now means it's far easier to label a woman of a certain age childless than a man, who might become a first-time father at 65. Both culturally and academically, "childlessness defaults to women, in all scholarship in the social sciences," says Pamela Smock, of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. That applies whether a woman's married or single, straight or gay. "Lesbian motherhood used to be an oxymoron, but it's a whole different ball game now," says Nancy Mezey, author of New Choices, New Families: How Lesbians Decide About Motherhood. "Now there's that pressure of the American cultural mind-set, that motherhood mandate."

Even so, women who choose not to become mothers are finding new paths of acceptance. As their ranks rise — and as the community of adults without kids diversifies in terms of race, education levels and political affiliations — so do positive attitudes about being able to lead a fulfilling, childless life. Along the way, these women are inventing a new female archetype, one for whom having it all doesn't mean having a baby.

Why Don't You Have Kids?
The burden of justification tends to rest on childless women. We rarely ask, "Why do you have kids?" Instead it's "Why don't you?" One response I've heard repeated in dozens of interviews is "I keep waiting for the biological clock to tick." Another trait childless women articulate in common is a girlhood lack of interest in dolls or playing family pretend games with friends. Some can't stand the noise of kids. But many of these women have chosen to work with kids as teachers or counselors — mothering the world, so to speak — or have close relationships with friends' and siblings' children, sometimes housing them for vacations or starting up their college funds. "I love children. I just don't need to own one" is a common refrain.

The designation for women who feel at a young age that they aren't mother material and then abide by that self-knowledge is early adopters. If there is a biological explanation for this impulse, or lack of one, it has yet to be discovered. Some studies of maternal instinct have shown that it clicks in once a woman gives birth, but whether our nature leads us to conceive is another matter entirely. One researcher has controversially suggested that childless women are just smarter. At the London School of Economics, Satoshi Kanazawa has begun to present scholarship asserting that the more intelligent women are, the less likely they are to become mothers. Many peers in the field have not embraced his findings: Kanazawa analyzed the U.K.'s National Child Development Study, which followed a set of people for 50 years, and found that high intelligence correlated with early — and lifelong — adoption of childlessness. He found that among girls in the study, an increase of 15 IQ points decreased the odds of their becoming a mother by 25%. When he added controls for economics and education, the results were the same: childhood intelligence predicted childlessness.

Of course, higher IQ often leads to higher education and higher opportunity costs. It's women in that subset who are most often the ones who opt out of parenthood and who prefer to call themselves child free. "Childlessness is for someone who wants a child but doesn't have one. It's a lack. I'm not lacking anything," says Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix. Laura Kipnis, a cultural critic at Northwestern University, likewise rejects defining women without kids as "-less" — as if, she says, "your life isn't going to be fulfilled without it, like there's a natural absence that once you fill it with a child, the world makes sense."

While highly educated white women continue to lead the childless numbers, the 2010 Pew study reports that other groups are catching up. Esmeralda Xochitl Flores, 34, who has written and performed a stage play on Chicano childlessness, says that in her family, motherhood is never "seen as an option. It's more of a given." Flores was born in California to a Mexican mother and a Honduran father. Her inherited cultures, she tells me, mandate that "family is your pride, your success." In fact, she notes, the whole point of the risk and upheaval of immigration is for "the generations that continue." To declare that motherhood is not for you, as Flores has, can feel like committing treason, she says — a tragedy to family members and friends, some of whom she says she doesn't see anymore. Flores, despite her adamantly child-free identity, happily cohabits with a man and his 15-year-old daughter. She says the arrangement works because of how he protects her choices; having a daughter in the house "shouldn't be a reason for you to be held back from things that matter to you," he tells her, like late nights at the nonprofit where she works in operations. "I still struggle with it because I don't want to be seen as a mom," Flores admits. Still, she says, it was a victory to fall in love with a Latino man who could tolerate her position on childlessness — rare even in a college community like Pomona, Calif.

A frustrated single life is how the 30% increase in childless black women from 1994 to 2008 is explained by some academics. "One potential theory is that they're refusing to fall into a stereotype" of the unmarried black mother, says Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies race and gender, adding that in her extensive studies on fertility and family formation, it's a common refrain to hear high-achieving black women mourn what they say is a dearth of similarly educated black men.

But Jena Starkes, a Web designer, says, "This doesn't have a damn thing to do with me looking for a 'good black man.'" Starkes, who shares a Manhattan apartment with her mother and a few cats, says she couldn't get through the eHarmony dating filter until she lied on her questionnaire about desiring kids. She says these days she can't really talk to her old friends, whose priorities have all shifted to the "glamorous martyrdom" of child rearing, as she calls it. Ironically, Starkes develops mommy e-commerce for a living. Motherhood, she says, is now a massive consumer base: from organic onesies and Veggie Booty to ad-heavy blogs on every aspect of maternal striving. "Before there was a mommy industry, before there was product to move, you'd never hear how it was the hardest job in the world," she says. "If it's the hardest job in the world, I'm damn happy I don't have to do it. You're not supposed to say that, but it's true."

For those who don't hold the job, there are advantages. "I get to do all sorts of things: buy an unnecessary beautiful object, plan trips with our aging parents, sleep in, spend a day without speaking to a single person, send care packages to nieces and nephews, enroll in language classes, go out for drinks with a friend on the spur of the moment," says a happily partnered woman named Jenna Johnson, a Virginian who lives in New York. "I know all of this would be possible with kids, but it would certainly be more complicated. My plans — professionally, daily, long-term, even just for vacation — are free from all the contingencies that come with children."

Great Expectations
Few women spend their girlhoods aspiring to an unencumbered life. Daydreams often take the form of permanent attachments: monogamous passion yielding beatific motherhood. Yet as we get older, we change along with our economic, professional, social and romantic realities. Philip Morgan, director of the Carolina Population Center, has said in numerous interviews over the years that no one wants fewer than two children. He's referring to a raft of surveys that measure women's fertility intentions, in which young women are asked simply how many children they'd like to have. (It's not a question typically asked of young men.) Of course, they're not asked about professional opportunity costs or lasting romantic love.

But those factors contribute to postponed childbearing, which Morgan says is "the real story of fertility in the past 20 years. Women put off motherhood because of work, education or the lack of a desired partner, he says, and meanwhile "they develop lifestyles they enjoy." As Joyce Abma, a social scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, says, "The decision to have children is not an on-off switch but more like a continuum." One woman told me about reading a magazine article when she was 40 on "the four stages of adulthood": college, career, house, kids. "I thought, My God, I'm stuck forever at No. 3," she said. She waited for panic to set in, but it never did.

The opportunity costs for an American woman who gets off the career track could average as high as $1 million in lost salary, lost promotions and so on, economist Bryan Caplan says. (Caplan, the author of the book Selfish Reasons to Have More Children, argues that she should go for it anyway.) Such concerns are nothing to dismiss, especially in a down economy, whether women articulate that sacrifice or not. But Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University whose research focuses on work, gender and family life, says postponement is far more complex than a résumé facing off against a biological clock: "It's what gives women time to build up their lives and think about how they want to live. Other commitments take the place of what motherhood might have meant." Gerson says women are living in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" social context in a country that she believes emphasizes self-sufficiency equally alongside a deep commitment to motherhood. The mix breeds impossible conflict. Without independence, we're failures. With it, we're selfish.

The rise of attachment parenting, with its immersive demands, and the sheer economic cost of raising a child — for a child born in 2011, an average of $234,900 until age 18, according to the USDA, and $390,000 if your household earns over $100,000 — has made motherhood a formidable prospect for some women. Sociologist Julia McQuillen sees a clear relationship between the messages we hear about motherhood and an increasing desire to opt out of it. "At a cultural level there's the constant advice given to women that you need to invest more in your kids," she says. "If we make motherhood unrealistic, why would we want to do that job?"

Leah Clouse understands the amped-up demands of modern American parenting firsthand, as a nanny and a kids' art teacher. "It takes all of you, and I don't know that I want to give it all," the 27-year-old says. She and her husband Paul, who live in Knoxville, Tenn., married four years ago and are not planning to raise a family. Leah commits her time to working on her own creative projects and starting up a bakery; Paul, 29, devotes himself to writing a blog and holds a day job in customer service at a credit-card-processing company. They play a game each week in which they look at their schedule and try to imagine how they could fit a child into it, with their work and their involvement in their church. "It's insane already," Leah says. "I don't feel we can do what we do and be great parents — and for me, the emphasis would be on being great parents."

Motherhood's Ambient Roar
For 15 years at four different Universities, Demographer Stephanie Bohon has asked students if they intend to have children. "They all raise their hands," she says, "and then I ask why — and no one has an answer for me. That's what a social imperative does." The cultural noise about motherhood has become such a constant din that many of us don't even notice it. But ask any woman in her 30s or 40s who hasn't given birth and she'll likely tell you the ambient roar is oppressive. Products from cleaning solutions to cars are targeted at mothers. Magazines regularly offer features on the trials of parenting — TIME'S own ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH? cover contributed to the viral tide — and genuflect at gilded icons of celebrity motherhood, a sorority of which the Duchess of Cambridge is just the latest member. (I counted 36 images of Hollywood mothers and babies in a recent issue of Life & Style; tabloids have made a staple out of baby-bump watches.)

Patricia O'Laughlin, a therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in counseling women who are ambivalent about their choice, says the identity that childless women developed as little girls around the expectation of motherhood is the most painful stumbling block. Even the decisive ones aren't immune: Leah and Paul Clouse keep a baby box in the closet with a pink tutu she once bought for an imaginary infant girl and an article on raising nerdy children that he says spoke to him. "It's indulgent of a life I have to grieve," Leah says. "If we decided to have children, we'd have to grieve the life we currently have."

Even if you are in the minority of women who don't grow up internalizing the idea that you are predestined for parenthood, the mommy drone doesn't quiet. "I resent that the entire culture of this country is obsessed with kids," Rachel Agee told me the day after her 40th birthday. "And social media is only an outlet to post pictures of your children. I've got nothing to put on Facebook. At 40, that's hard." (She has not yet bought the buzzed-about Facebook baby-blocker app to censor progeny pics, but she says she's tempted.) Agee graduated from a Southern Bible college where she was taught that to be a godly woman, one must procreate for the kingdom. "I just knew I couldn't trade my freedom for it," she says. She moved to Nashville as a hopeful performer and stopped going to church because it was so "oppressively family-centric." Nearly 30% of married households in the Nashville metropolitan area are childless, but even in the secular, artier corners of Music City, Agee wasn't greeted by a culture that supported a life without dependents. It used to be that one's urban starter kit would include a leather jacket, a guitar and a pack of cigarettes. Today that's been traded out for Lululemon maternity pants, a stroller and a pack of diapers.

"I've always felt there was a cultural imperative — now there's a subcultural imperative," says Kate O'Neill. She and her partner moved from California to Nashville; she went there to write songs — though she's now one of the city's top entrepreneurs — and he went there to paint. Despite the high rate of childlessness, O'Neill says, it was hard to find her way into a social world where "lately, motherhood has been so absorbed into every possible aesthetic." I heard similar observations from women I interviewed in Boston, Austin and San Francisco.

Eleanore Wells, a market researcher in New York City, says that even in her mid-50s, she finds judgment at every turn. "So many women take my choice personally," she says. Recently, she told me, a woman on the subway inquired if she had children and then asked, aghast, "Who is going to take care of you when you're old?" Wells wanted to reply that nursing homes are filled with parents, but she says she just smiled, went home and packed her bags for an annual trip to Martha's Vineyard with friends. "When I was younger I found it more exhausting," she says. "Now I don't give a s — - what anyone thinks. It gets easier."

Navigating the Choice
Laura Scott runs the childless by choice documentary project, which gathers stories of people who opt out of parenthood. "To make this choice, you really have to be able to manage and navigate all assumptions that are going to be made about you," she says. "You have to be able to challenge the status quo."

"It's toughest in your late 30s and early 40s," Going Solo author Eric Klinenberg says. That's when social isolation tends to peak among people without kids. "What people report everywhere is this experience of watching friends just peel off into their small domestic worlds. That's the real stress point," he says, not aging and dying alone, as people fear — and strangers and family members alike tend to admonish — but the loneliness between when friends have babies and when they become empty nesters. It has hit the Clouses earlier than Klinenberg suggests, since their Southern Christian circle seems to have already disappeared into parenthood. They say their lives have become lonelier and narrower over the past few years. "You build strong relationships, and then they change. It's great for them, but it sucks for you," Clouse says. But they recently had their first "date" — roller derby — with a childless couple at their church. They say it felt like a massive relief.

As the childless numbers creep up, so do opportunities to make a full, connected life with other nonparents. The community networking site Meetup.com alone has about 20,000 members of child-free groups in about 90 metropolitan areas — one for women in suburban New Jersey, one for singles and couples in Chicago and so on. In a suburban Nashville mall one Friday evening, a child-free group gathers around a long table at Buffalo Wild Wings. Most of the 24 people here live in developments nearby, and none of them have kids. Recent activities have included zip-lining, canoeing and the monthly dinner the foodie couple in the group organizes. "We can do anything we want, so why wouldn't we?" Andrea Reynolds says, cueing a round of clinking beer glasses. The one thing they don't do much of, her husband says, is talk about "the no-kids thing" when they're together. "It's kind of the only place where we don't have to answer those questions," he says.

Deeper into the city the next night, at her 40th-birthday celebration, Rachel Agee announced, "My wish for myself at 40 is to be who I've chosen to be and not to feel like I have to defend it." Her friends, nearly all childless, applauded.

≪ 子どもなんていらない ≫

< 子どものいない人生 >


14歳のある日の夕暮れ、台所で母と食器を洗っていた時に、ローラ・スコットは子どもを産まないと決めた。「そのうち気持ちが変わるわよ」スコットによると、自分の時間がまったくない生活に「クタクタになっていた」母は言った。母は室内装飾会社でサンプルを作る仕事をしていた。スコットと弟の夕食を作った後、二人をTVの前に座らせては裁断や縫製をするために地下室に下りていくのだった。そんな母の人生は、スコットにとっては終身刑(do it all)に等しいものだった。「何でも一人でやり切る(do it all)母さんだとは思うけど、自分が望んだことだったのかしら」と彼女は言う。26歳でスコットは結婚して、気持ちが変わるのを待った。「母性本能が突然目覚めるのだろうと思っていました」と振り返る。「そんなことは起こりませんでした。そして、それでも大丈夫だと思ったのです」プロのコーチ、ライターそしてドキュメンタリー映画製作者として働くタンパの事務所からそう話すように、「子どもはいらないと考える大きな理由は、子どもがいない人生でも素敵だから」だ。


子どもを育てる・育てない、の決断は個人的なものだが、少なくとも米国で、つまり女性であることと母であることがしばしば同義とされる文化で、起きているのだ。出生率は下降したといっても、ベビー用品産業の景気は最高で、2013年には490億ドルになると見込まれている。女性であることと現代社会を生きることの折り合いを何とかつけようと苦闘することについての国民的論争は、この一点に尽きる。子育てだ。女性の職場進出を激励することを眼目とする「Lean In(リーン・イン)-女性、仕事、リーダーへの意欲」(シェリル・サンドバーグ著)でさえも、著者自身のように野心的な女性は両立を望むだろうことを前提にして、仕事と家庭を両立するための重要なアドバイスにかなりのページを割いている。人生を描く上での個人的選択とそれを阻む社会の壁に関わる文化的討論の渦中にあることは、大いに評価できる。しかし母親業を担っていない女性の場合は、大抵はその討論から排除される。

討論の脇に追いやられたとしても、子どものいない女性は免責されない。「もっと子どもを産もう!」という見出しを掲げたニューヨーク・タイムズの12月のコラムで、ロス・ドゥザットは「育児を引き受けないことは、ある意味、疲労症候群という現代病」、つまり「将来よりも今を大事にする精神」の表われである「頽廃」の兆候だ、と説明する。ウィークリー・スタンダード誌のジョナサンV・ラストは、話題を呼んだ著書「誰も子どもを産まなくなったら、この先どうなる(What to Expect When No One's Expecting)」の中で、子どもを産まない米国女性の身勝手さが消費者や納税者の数を減少させ、経済の先行きを危うくしかねないほどの責任がある、と主張した。

養子は勿論、不妊治療の普及により、不妊症の女性が母になる選択肢は従来よりも広がり、母にならない女性は本人の選択として是非を問われるようになるだろう。「母になれとか、出産の義務を果たせとかいう、女性への圧力がかつてないほど強まっています」と「オプティング・イン:自分のままで母になること(Opting In:Having a Child Without Losing Yourself)」の著者エミー・リチャードは言う。子どもを産む・産まないは「昔は、女性が選択できるものではないと考えられていました。今では、女性の選択だと考えられるようになったので、女性が責められるのです」

確かに責められるのは、主に女性だ。統計によると、女性の出産可能年齢は15歳から44歳とされ、この出産可能年齢枠は出産医療技術が進歩するにつれて変わるかも知れないが、今のところは、ある一定の年齢に達した女性を子無しだと判別することは男性よりも容易だ。男性は65歳でも初めて父親になれる。文化的にも学術的にも、社会学のあらゆる学術研究において、子どもがいないことは女性の怠慢とされます」とミシガン大学人口研究センターのパメラ・スモックは言う。既婚であろうと未婚であろうと、異性愛者であろうと同性愛者であろうと、同じように非難される。「レズビアンであることと母親であることは相いれない概念でしたが、今ではすっかり事情が変わっています」と「新しい選択、新しい家族:レズビアンが母になる決断(New Choices, New Families:How Lesbians Decide About Motherhood)」の著者であるナンシー・ミージーは書いている。「今では米国の文化的考え方の締め付け、つまり母親になることが義務だというプレッシャーがあります」


< どうして子どもを産まないの >







< 大いなる期待 >


米国女性が仕事を辞める時、働き続けた場合の賃金、昇進等々を換算すれば平均100万ドルもの損失になる、と経済学者ブライアン・キャプランは言う(「多くの子どもを欲しがる勝手な理由(Selfish Reason to Have More Children)」を著わしたキャプランは、いずれにせよ頑張ってみることだ、と言う)。そのような懸念は無視するものではない。特に経済が不況の時期にはそうなのだ。女性が犠牲になったと言い立てるかどうかはあるとしても。しかし、性と家族生活を研究しているニューヨーク大学の社会学教授キャサリーン・ガーソンは、出産の先延ばしは、体内時計から目をそむけたキャリア形成よりもはるかに複雑だ、と言う。「出産先延ばしは、女性が自分の人生を築き、どう生きたいか考える時間を与える」母親になることで意味をもったであろうものに、他の生きがいがとって代わる。ガーソンは、母親の役割をしっかりと担いながら、なおかつそれに負けないくらい仕事も頑張ることを強調する国で(ガーソンはそう信じている)、「子どもを産んでも、産まなくても泣きを見る」ような社会状況の中で女性は生きている。育児と仕事の両立はどうしようもない矛盾を生み出す。独り立ちできなければ負け犬と言われる。独り立ちすれば身勝手だと言われる。

愛情育児(Attachment Parenting)には溢れんばかりの要求があり、子育てにかかる純然たる費用(USDAによれば、2011年生まれの子どもが18歳になるまでに平均23万4,900ドルかかり、月収10万ドル以上なら39万ドルかかる)の高騰は、女性にとっては賄えきれない先行きとなることもある。社会学者ジュリア・マックイレンは、母親になるについての社会的要請と、母親になることの拒否願望の間に明確な関係があると考えている。「ある文化レベルでは、子どもにもっと投資すべきだ、というアドバイスが常に女性に与えられる」とジュリアは言う。「母親になることがそれほど現実離れしたものならば、どうして母親になりたいと思うでしょう」


< 母親になれ、という声が聞こえる>
4つの異なった大学で15年間研究した人口統計学者、ステファニー・ボーホンは、子どもを産むつもりがあるかどうか学生に尋ねた。「生徒たちは全員手を挙げるのです」と言う。「その理由を尋ねると、誰も答えられません。社会的脅迫観念がそうさせているのです」母になれという社会の声は絶え間なく聞こえているので、女性の多くはそれに気づきさえしていない。しかし、出産経験のない30歳代、40歳代の女性に聞いてみると、周囲の声はプレッシャーになる、と言う。洗浄液や車などの製品は母親をターゲットにしている。雑誌は常に新しい育児法のアレコレを記事にし(タイム誌自身の「ママを精一杯やっていますか:ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?」の表紙も、ウイルス性の風潮に寄与している)、輝くような聖母に仕立てられた有名人の母親像を崇めたて、ケンブリッジ侯爵夫人・ファンクラブはまさに最近のいい例だ。(Life & Style誌最新号に掲載されたハリウッドスターの母子の写真を数えると36件になり、お腹が突き出た有名人はタブロイド誌には不可欠になった)


女性の中ではむしろ少数派に属する、母親になることが運命だという考えを植え込まれずに育った女性にしても、母親になれというカシマシイ声は鎮まってくれない。「この国の文化全体が子どもにこだわり過ぎていることに腹立たしい思いです」と40歳の誕生日を迎えたばかりのレイチェル・アージェは言う。「それにソーシャルメディアは我が子の写真の展示場でしょう。私はフェイスブックに載せるものが何もありません。40歳にしてはそれは厳しいです」(子どもの写真をセンサーにかける避妊ゲーム・アプリbaby-blockerをまだインストールしていないが、その気になっている)アージェは南部バイブル学校(Southern Bible college)を卒業したが、敬虔な女性であるためには、神の国のために子どもを産まなければならない、と教えられた。「そんなものと自分の自由を取り換えることはできないとわかっていました」と言う。有望なパフォーマーとしてナッシュビルに移り、教会に通うのを止めた。「あまりにも家族がすべての考え方」だったからだ。ナッシュビルの都市部ではほぼ30%の所帯に子どもがいないが、ミュージック・シティ(ナッシュビルの別名)のように宗教色が少なく、芸術家の多い地域でも、扶養家族のいない暮らしを支持する文化には出会わなかった。かつては、都会暮らしを始める人の必需品は皮ジャン、ギター、そして1パックのタバコだった。今では、ルルレモンのマタニティーパンツ、乳母車、そして1パックのおむつがそれにとって代わった。



< 我が道を行く >




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