"I got lost in other people's needs."

[Content Note: Reproductive coercion; stigma.]

In September, I mentioned sociologist Orna Donath's new book Regretting Motherhood, about Donath's five-year study of 23 women, all of whom regretted having children.

Donath has written a piece for the latest issue of Bust, which I highly recommend. It's so good, and she discusses the subject with such compassion and sensitivity.

As you know, I am a firm believer in making space for women to tell these stories without judgment or stigma, because I believe it's only within a context of hearing all kinds of stories about parenting that the next generation can make fully informed decisions on whether to parent themselves.

Writes Donath:
In the end, the aim of my research is not to shed light on the dark side of motherhood—I'm not trying to gather evidence to say "You see? There are negative sides to motherhood!" Instead, my goal is to question the systems of power that present women with only one possibility: that those who do not become mothers will surely regret it, while those who do never, ever will.

As a woman, as a daughter, as an aunt to three nieces, and as a feminist, I believe that all options should be equally available, and equally acceptable, to ensure that women are the only owners of our bodies, our lives, and our decisions.

It is society's responsibility to face up to the consequences of pressuring women into motherhood, and to look into the eyes of this regret, just as we were looked in the eyes and promised that motherhood is for the best for all of us. Being able to imagine more than one kind of future for ourselves might give us more room to consider our options and our capabilities, giving us the strength to undermine social pressure and, as a result, to reduce suffering and take better care of all women and children.

Regretting motherhood will not disappear if we deny its existence. For the sake of children and women, we should continue to talk about it.

[Related Reading: I Cannot Truly Want What I Am Told I Must Have.]

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