“Are you planning to have children?” is a question Statistics Canada has asked since 1990. In 2006, 17.1 per cent of women aged 30 to 34 said “no,” as did 18.3 per cent of men in the same category. The U.S. National Center of Health Statistics reports that the number of American women of childbearing age who define themselves as “child-free” rose sharply in the past generation: 6.2 per cent of women in 2002 between the ages of 15 and 44 reported that they don’t expect to have children in their lifetime, up from 4.9 per cent in 1982.
. . . Laura and Vincent Ciaccio are spokespeople for No Kidding!, a social club for non-parents founded in Vancouver in 1984 that now boasts more than 40 chapters in five countries. Laura, a 31-year-old attorney in New York City, refers to children as a “calling,” one that she and Vincent, a Ph.D. candidate in social psychology at Rutgers University, have decided isn’t for them. “I didn’t want to make such a major lifestyle change just because it was something society expected of me,” she says. “Children should be something people have because they really want them.”
Speaking up on the subject can elicit a smackdown. Last February, the 37-year-old British journalist Polly Vernon wrote a defiant column in the Guardian enumerating the reasons she didn’t want children: “I’m appalled by the idea,” she wrote. “Both instinctually (‘Euuuw! You think I should do what to my body?’) and intellectually (‘And also to my career, my finances, my lifestyle and my independence?’).” The response was terrifying, she reports: “Emails and letters arrived, condemning me, expressing disgust. I was denounced as bitter, selﬁsh, un-sisterly, unnatural, evil. I’m now routinely referred to as ‘baby-hating journalist Polly Vernon.’ ”
Lui, who observes celebrity for a living, rejects what she sees as a pernicious retrograde swing back to the ’50s in which motherhood was celebrated as women’s highest calling. . . .