Archive | November 2011

On being a child-free woman

It’s not that I don’t like kids…

Actually, scratch that.

I really don’t like kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure yours is perfectly lovely and poops rainbows and even makes you breakfast in bed. I’m sure to many women motherhood is the best thing about life, and I’m sure that they’re right… for them.

I’m simply sick of being expected to procreate just because I have a uterus.

Here’s my reasoning. I’m a selfish woman who desperately understands how far she can push herself. I don’t mean selfish in a bad way either. I don’t think of selfishness in a negative way; a degree of selfishness is what keeps us alive. I’d just like to recognise my own selfishness and move on to the fact that I know I could not mentally and emotionally handle children. I need a large amount of space and time for myself in order to be happy. I cannot even deal with being around my partner’s young siblings for more than a couple hours before I need to be away from them. But that isn’t inherently their fault; it’s mine. I just can already recognise that having children would push me into a depression that I probably would not be able to emerge from for years to come. As a woman with depression and who has dealt with the subject of suicide in my teen years, I don’t take this lightly.

I give so much credit to carers for children because they do something that I cannot. But I don’t emulate them. I’m more than happy being the selfish introvert that I am.

I don’t want to be judged anymore for not wanting children. I don’t want people to expect me to have children. I’ll never be ready for that sort of selflessness. I would destroy myself.

‘Black people won’t hurt you.’

One evening a few months ago I was walking my usual route from my flat in Harrow (I tell you where it was because I don’t live there anymore) to the tube station. Normally about halfway through my walk down one road I cross to the other since I have to be on that side anyway; it became a habit, when it was clear I crossed. I started walking down one road and saw a person walking in my direction in front of me. In my conscious reasoning I figured I should cross the road since I do it anyway and that way I won’t get the whole awkward ‘which side should I go to when we cross paths’ moment. Therefore I proceeded to cross the street and go on my way, since the road was clear.

Then I heard it.

‘Black people won’t hurt you!’

‘What did I do wrong?’ I thought. ‘Asshole!’ I thought. How dare he. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know why I crossed the road. He just assumed something horrible about me: that I, as a mixed race woman who passes for white, am a racist. I was livid. I thought about it for most of the ride to my partner’s place.


Now, months later, I caught myself thinking about that incident. Was my crossing of the street really just about my usual convenience logic, or was there something subconscious going on? To this day I’m not sure. I would say what I did wasn’t racist, because I did that sort of thing all the time. I always cross the road a bit down it, whether or not there is someone approaching me. However, being raised in an inherently racist society, I no longer want to dismiss the idea that I have subconscious prejudices ingrained in me since birth. I start seeing things about myself after the fact. I sit down in a crowded train, and realise there were many seats near a Black man close by where I wouldn’t have been crowded. Is this just because I didn’t see it (I am¬†quite bad at spotting things) or because my subconscious veered me away from sitting near him?

I am now constantly thinking about how my actions affect people around me. Whether or not my road-crossing incident was racist, the person interpreted it that way. That person felt like I was being racist against him. If he thought that enough to call me out on it in the middle of the street (whether or not I’m guilty of it), I’m left to wonder how many times he’s experienced that same thing. How fed up he is at people avoiding him, consciously or subconsciously. And then I realise how racist this world is.

But then I come to a weird dilemma: should I make deliberate efforts to sit near people of ethnic minorities simply because they are ethnic minorities, or should I just sit wherever I actually want to sit and acknowledge that some of my actions may or may not be influenced by deeply ingrained subconscious prejudices? How do I even figure out if my actions are prejudiced, and how do I change them if they are?