The choice on whether or not to have children is an excellent example of the double standard by which men and women are judged. While we have come a long way in the last 100 years or so, the world at large still looks on women who choose not to have children with a sort of confused befuddlement.
Evidently, all women are programmed biologically to want children. How can a woman possibly feel she has fulfilled her role in the world without issuing a mini version of herself from her down there? Any woman who doesn’t want children must be a hard-nosed career orientated ball-breaker who is overly concerned with herself and hates men. Isn’t that right?
To the rest of us, who have moved on from a 1940’s belief that women are happiest in the kitchen with an apron around their waist and a couple of rugrats clinging to their legs, this is of course ludicrous. You don’t hear people talk about men who choose not to have children and judge them to somehow be less of a man because they haven’t impregnated some female child oven, do you?
To try and counter some of this misguided thinking let's hear from some women and men on why they made a choice not to have children and what they think of the people who continuously ask them about it.
15 Renee Zellweger - But Bridget Jones Has One
Second, only to the tabloid gossip about her plastic surgery, the thing that Renee Zellweger is most frequently asked is “Do you regret not having children?”
The uninvited media exploration of whether or not Zellweger is going to use her lady bits to bake a baby or not was whipped up into a frenzy when she was on the publicity tour for “Bridget Jones' Baby.”
Apparently confused by the difference between reality and fiction, entertainment reporters asked her if playing the role and having a child in the movie made her want the same thing in real life. Zellweger replied “I’ve never really thought like that about anything in my life, really. I’ve always been kind of open to whatever may be, curious to see what’s next. I’ve never been that deliberate about my life and the things that I would require in order to be happy.”
14 Betty White - The Right Decision
Betty White made a conscious decision to put her career first, and she doesn't care, quite rightly, who knows that. In an interview in 2011, on CBS Sunday Morning she was asked if she regretted not having children. "No, I've never regretted it,” she said. “I'm so compulsive about stuff. I know that if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would've been my whole focus. But I didn't choose to have children because I'm focused on my career and I don't think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both."
It is good to know that the fallacy that someone can “have it all” with a successful career and a happy, fulfilled home life was a deception that some saw through even back when White was starting out in her career.
13 Helen Mirren - I Told Him To Back Off
Helen Mirren is an incredibly successful woman; Oscars, Emmys, Baftas, Golden Globes, and a Damehood are just a few of her many achievements, but she still gets asked if she regrets not filling her uterus with a baby.
"I love children, they are so funny and so sweet, but I never wanted my own," she said. "I have never had a moment of regret about not having children. Well, I lie. When I watched the movie, Parenthood, I sobbed for about 20 minutes.
She continued: "It was about the whole story of being a parent and how it never stops, even when you're a grandparent. I realized I would never experience that, and for about 20 minutes, I sobbed for the loss of that and the fact that I never experienced it. Then I got over it, and I was happy again,"
Mirren said old white men were the worst they felt free to ask her about it all of the time
"Whenever they went 'What? No children? Well, you'd better get on with it, old girl,' I'd say 'No! F--- off.'"
12 Condoleezza Rice - But Don’t You Want Babies?
The first female national security advisor, the first female African American Secretary of State, a Ph.D. in Political Science at 26 with a dissertation centered on military policy and politics in what was then the communist state of Czechoslovakia.
Having a sharp mind and being a successful politician focussed on military strategy what else would anybody want to ask Condoleezza Rice but “Do you regret not having children?”
Rice responded with “Did I ever want kids? No. I think maybe it's because I'm an only child. I like children, but especially when they're 18. I didn't start out not to get married and have children. I don't regret that I couldn't pass on some of my genes, which sounds so incredibly narcissistic, but that I couldn't pass on some of the opportunities."
Another journalist asked her "Would you consider that you've lived a fulfilled life if you never get married or have kids?” To which she replied
“Yeah, I will. I won't have kids [laughs], but I may still get married. But I would have lived a very fulfilled life if I had gotten married and had kids, too. But I'm very religious, and I at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they're supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you've been given."
11 Stevie Nicks - A Different Kind Of Moma
Stevie Nicks, music icon and Gold Dust Woman wrote the song ‘Sara’ as an ode to her unborn daughter after she had an abortion in the 1970’s. She has a stepson whom she is close to but has said she is happily single and without children "It's a decision I made, not to get married and have children," she says, "because I want always to be free to follow my art wherever it takes me."
Though she doesn't have children, she calls herself the rock and roll Mama and claims she is a mother to all of the women in music. Nick's knows she has made sacrifices but says: "It's like, Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover? With kids, your focus changes. I don't want to go to PTA meetings."
10 Christopher Walken - I Was OK Unemployed
Famous for the wonderfully eccentric parts he plays and the unusual inflections in his speech, Christopher Walken has been treading the boards on a stage since he was five years old.
Walken and his wife, Georgianne, married in 1969, but the couple made a conscious decision to remain childless. Being a man, he doesn’t get asked about it often, but the Oscar-winning actor with over 130 movies under his hat says that his prolific career would "absolutely not" be possible had he been a father.
In an interview with The Guardian in 2013, Walken told the interviewer “I'm sure many of the kids I knew as a child would have continued in show business, but they had kids of their own, they had to do something dependable. I didn't so that I could get by even in periods of unemployment."
9 Cameron Diaz - There’s Something About...
Cameron Diaz has been very open about the fact she just doesn’t feel the need to have children. In an interview with Esquire, she said "It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for—I didn't take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby—that's all day, every day for eighteen years."
On another occasion when she was hit with the inevitable “Don’t you regret not having children?” Diaz said
“Having children changes your life drastically, and I really love my life. Children aren’t the only things that bring you gratification and happiness, and it’s easier to give life than to give love, so I don’t know. That kind of change would have to be either very well thought out, or a total mistake — a real oops!”
8 Matt Dillon - A Double Standard
Diaz starred in the movie “There’s Something About Mary” alongside Matt Dillon. The co-stars were also in a relationship for almost three years, and there was much press speculation about the pair of them settling down, getting married and making lots of beautiful babies together.
After they broke up, in 1998, speculation continued about whether or not Diaz was going to pop out a couple of puppies but for Dillon, not so much.
In fact, I could not find a single interview in which Dillon is asked about his lack of progeny. Not once did an interviewer ask why he had not made use of his testicles to make lots of little Matts in order to be fulfilled as a human being. The reasons for his lack of children remain private, just as they should be.
7 Christina Hendricks - It’s Real Life Not A TV Show
Christina Hendricks played a redheaded bombshell in Mad Men. In the show Hendricks character slept with her boss, became pregnant and had the baby, becoming a single mom in the Sixties when it was actively looked down upon.
After this storyline unfolded, it would seem that the-the press saw it as logical to assume Hendricks’ womb had been so firmly stimulated by playing the role that she would be desperate to have a baby all of her own.
When asked she said: "'I love babies, love working with babies, I appreciate them for being babies, and I do not want one for myself. I really like the way my life is now.'"
Strangely this “You just played the role you must want to do it in real life” is only applied to women and babies. I don’t remember anybody asking Kevin Spacey about his role in “Seven”; “Did playing a psychotic serial killer make you want to be one in real life?”
6 Jon Hamm - Yet Another Double Standard
Jon Hamm starred in Mad Men with Christina Hendricks, and was once asked about his lack of kids. His reply was "I'd be a terrible father! I see my friends who have children, and I'm like, 'Dude, how are you even upright, much less here at work at 6 am?'”
This was met with the kind of good-natured laughter and back-slapping that accompanies this kind of comment from a man who doesn’t want children.
As far as I can tell the media has never assumed that he would want to carry on the Hamm line just because he happened to play someone who had a child.
In most of his interviews, Hamm is asked about Don Draper, his character in Mad Men or about his clothes, history or how he got into acting. The most prominent intrusion I could find about his ‘grown-up’ personal life was when he was asked about his split with Jennifer Westfeldt to which he replied: “It Sucks.”
5 Jennifer Westfeldt - You Must Want To Give Him A Child
Hamm's partner of 18 years, Jennifer Westfeldt didn’t get off so easily. The press began to pursue her with constant questions and speculation on whether or not she was going to have Hamm's baby for him.
Entertainment journalists theorized about how long it would take to do her partner a solid and fulfill herself as a woman because her career apparently couldn’t be fulfilling enough.
In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, which obviously was going to involve the possibility of he using her uterus, Westfeldt said she doesn’t want to allow the “what if’s” to dictate her life
"I’ve thought about this a lot lately.” She said “I never thought I’d be this age and not have kids. But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated. I kept feeling like I’d wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven’t. And we have a pretty great life together. The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it."
4 Dita Von Teese - An Evolving Decision
Of course, not everybody starts out knowing if they want kids. Some have a vague idea they might have them and then change their minds. Others make the decision in response to what is happening in their life and when the situation changes they find they still do not want to have kids. Dita von Teese was one of these women.
In an interview, von Teese said "My sisters have children. I love children but at this stage of my life ... I was married to someone who was not cut-out to be a father. (Marilyn Manson). He could hardly take care of himself, let alone a child, so I changed my views, adapted accordingly, thought: 'It's OK not to have children.' Now I'm just going to watch how my life unfolds and see what happens. I'm not going to be less of a person if I don't have children. It will work out the way it is supposed to.”
3 Rashida Jones - Sometimes It Takes Time
Actress, producer, writer, singer and woman without a fully utilized womb, Rashida Jones was way too busy being successful to stop and have some kids because it was what was expected from her.
"I had the full princess fantasy: the white horse, the whole being saved from my life, which is ridiculous. What do I want to be saved from? My life's great! But it's just this weird thing that's been hammered into my head culturally: that's the only way to succeed, that's the only thing that counts for a woman. I'm happy, but the fact that I'm not married and don't have kids — it's taken me a long time to get to a place where I actually am OK with that, where I actually don't feel like I'm some sort of loser."
2 Ricky Gervais - Knows Himself Well Enough
Ricky Gervais and his wife Jane Fallon, a former TV producer and a best-selling author, have been together since 1982 and have always been clear with each other about the fact they didn’t want children.
Gervais says "We never wanted to be parents, with all that entails: the loss of freedom, total dependency. I didn't have a work ethic for such a long time. Imagine if I had a child like me? I didn't start earning until I was 36. I'm the sort of person who has to check three times that I've shut the door, so I'd probably stare at a kid all day to check it was breathing."
Meanwhile, Fallon still gets confused looks at dinner parties when she reveals she doesn’t have any children. One woman, she had never met before even asked, ‘Don’t you think that’s selfish?’ As if it is anyone else's business but her own.
1 Amy Tan - A Mother's Words
Amy Tan is famous for her fiction but her real life and family history are just as fascinating. Tan’s mother came to the US after the Second World War, leaving behind a family life she was forced into. She told her daughter “If you don’t want to have a baby, no one should make you have a baby – not your husband, not your mother-in-law, not anyone. I know what it is like not to want to have a child.” Her mother, Tan later discovered, had had three abortions in China, after being violated by her husband.
Tan and her husband Louis DeMattei have no children, and she has no regrets. “We never felt a strong compulsion to duplicate our genetic structure,” she has said. “What’s in me that I’d have wanted to pass on is already in the books.”
Sources: marieclaire.com, smh.com.au, theguardian.com, refinery29.com, bustle.com, slice.ca, huffingtonpost.ca, ranker.com, bla.fleetwoodmac.net, esquire.com, whynokids.com, IMDB.com,