Women Are Complete Without Children, Says Verena Brunschweiger

"It has to become normal not to choose parenthood. It has to be made clear that women are complete and wonderful without children." Verena Brunschweiger
Fact: women are not considered complete without children. This is not my opinion; it is something far too many people believe in. Do a quick Google Search, and you will know what I am talking about: women who choose not to have children are looked down upon by society. However, motherhood should be an informed choice, not an obligation. Otherwise, having kids is one of the most socially acceptable ways to ruin your life. 

Thankfully, of late, there is a growing movement called the childfree movement or voluntary childlessness. The movement is bringing together people who choose to not have children. Since women are “supposed to” bear children, the movement is crucial to support women who do not want to be mothers. Verena Brunschweiger, Germany’s most famous anti-natalist, talks about childfree advocacy in an interview with Mahevash Muses.

When did you know you never wanted to have children? Was it an epiphany or was it something brewing in your mind for a while?

In my case, it was both: a process that cumulated in an epiphany. I hadn’t given motherhood much thought in my teens or twenties. In my thirties, I started reading about it more and more in order to make an informed choice – and then, in 2017, I found the famous study by Kimberly Nicholas at Lund University in Sweden. She and her team compared “a suite of lifestyle choices to identify those with the greatest potential to reduce individual greenhouse gas emissions.”

By far the most significant ultimate impact is having one fewer child, which the researchers equated to a reduction of 58 tons of CO2 each year. And we’re talking about sources from Europe, North America, and Japan. They found getting rid of a car saved only 2.4 tons of CO2 a year, avoiding a return transatlantic flight saved 1.6 tons of CO2, and becoming vegetarian saved 0.8 tons of CO2 a year. This was my eureka moment as I was trying immensely hard to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible.

Your book reveals that childfree people have better sex. What are some other perks that childfree couples enjoy?

The quality of a relationship increases significantly if it is only about you and your partner – and not about organizing kids‘ playdates, sports tournaments, etc. It’s still possible to be spontaneous when you are childfree. Do you know how little time people with children spend with their childfree friends? For example, they fix a date three weeks in advance only to cancel it because the kid suddenly has a temperature!

I value my freedom highly and as a feminist, it has actually never been a real option to trod the path of motherhood…although I thought long and hard about it! That’s pro-natalist pressure for you! As Simone de Beauvoir taught us: no feminist lets herself be used as an incubator for patriarchy. And this is true; women usually bear the brunt of reproduction, physically, as pregnancy and childbirth are always a strain on the female body, financially, psychically, and emotionally. So what do you want? A self-determined life with real freedom to explore your thoughts, feelings, and talents, or a conventional rite of passage where you talk to other mommies about the food in kindergarten?

You are a childfree advocate in a world full of pro-life folks and the anonymity of the World Wide Web. How do you handle tough stuff like unsolicited advice, derogatory comments, and harassment?

At first, I couldn’t believe what people were throwing at me, but now I’ve grown accustomed to it. One definitely needs a strong personality to stay alive in such a brutal world.  I remember this one journalist who asked me to kill myself as “that would save emissions too.” I’m especially enraged as this is such a fundamentally feminist topic as well – which is why mostly right-wing misogynists send me death threats. Other publicly known feminists report similar hate speech and this is one of the aspects that keeps me going – I’ll never cave in to the bully!

Also, great, intelligent, sensitive people with lots of empathy send me wonderfully encouraging words that mean a lot. And of course, the most important cause keeps me going: saving our planet and its beloved animals.

What are some common misconceptions that people have about anti-natalists?

The stereotype I most often come across is that we all hate life, ourselves, and of course, kids. Apparently, for many, we are all just a bunch of suicidal misanthropes! I was shocked when ordinary journalists confronted me with this nonsense. I really hate it when they start talking about our movement as if it has some conspiratorial goal of human extinction…how likely is that in a world of eight billion people?! In my book Do Childfree People Have Better Sex?, I have a whole list of classic insults and misconceptions that are thrown at people like me.

Why is it crucial for people to listen to childfree advocates like you?

Around the world, it’s still considered the absolute norm to have kids. If you deviate, you’re found emotionally and physically lacking. It’s not only the environment I’m concerned about, although this is the most urgent reason. We won’t survive for long if we don’t actively mitigate climate change.

What’s important on a different level is the feminist aspect of being childfree. It has to become normal not to choose parenthood, it has to be made clear that women are complete and wonderful without children. Or as I like claiming provocatively – childfree women are generally more interesting than mothers, simply because they have more time to develop their own personalities. This also goes for fathers – give me a childfree man over a daddy anytime! He’ll probably have way more fascinating stories to tell.

At the very least, the stigma of being childfree has to be reduced, something which lies heavily on childfree women everywhere.

Where do you think the childfree movement will be in the next five years?

I’ve been in this business so to speak for four years now and I’m positively surprised that even in Germany, we have had moderate success. From being bashed almost completely and harshly, the discourse has slightly shifted and there are a few progressive people/media who dare ask: Is it okay to bring kids into a world like this? Nobody in Germany had asked this question five years ago, so I have some hope.

It’s sad and shocking though that Eastern Europe is overwhelmingly extremely pro-natalist and right-wing. Also, Italy has a female head of state who is against abortion! So I have two main fears: more and more countries drifting in the wrong direction politically and life on Earth running out of time.

1 thought on “Women Are Complete Without Children, Says Verena Brunschweiger”

  1. Pingback: Thank you so much, dear Mahevash! - Verena Brunschweiger

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