One in five British women will never have children. Jody Day explains why this growing trend has become a political as well as a personal issueby Serena Kutchinsky / January 14, 2014 / Leave a comment
Jody Day believes that “childlessness is the unfinished business of feminism” ©Simon Fairclough
Author and social entrepreneur Jody Day is often called “the voice of the childless generation”. She finally abandoned her dreams of motherhood in her mid-40s after a 15-year struggle with infertility. The grief and social isolation that she suffered as a result of her childlessness gave her the inspiration to found Gateway Women, an organisation that supports, inspires and empowers childless-by-circumstance women in the UK. Her first book, Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children, was published last September.
SK: Congratulations on the success of your book which became an Amazon bestseller within 24 hours of being published. Did you expect such a positive reaction?
JD: The response has been amazing. I wrote an article in The Guardian before Christmas which received over 1,300 comments, some of which were quite unpleasant but prove my point about the prejudices that childless women face. If anyone accuses me of exaggerating, I say; “Look at those comments and see what I’m talking about, because people tend to say what they think when they have the protection of anonymity.”
You describe yourself as the “Taboo Girl” who dares to speak openly on subjects such as childlessness and the menopause. Are you comfortable with that label?
I’ve become comfortable being someone who confounds all the stereotypes about childless women. I’m capable of standing up in public and saying “Look at me, I’m a divorced, infertile, single, childless and post-menopausal woman who lives alone with her cat and I’m actually fine. Not having children isn’t the end of the world, in fact it can even be quite good fun.” Once I realised that people were seeing me as a voice for a group of women who are largely invisible in today’s baby-centric society, I felt able to confront emotionally difficult issues such as ageing and infertility.
You talk about society being “baby centric”—do you really think that’s true?
Motherhood is increasingly portrayed as a privileged state. Elderly women are astounded by the attitudes of our generation and can’t understand why we’re making such a big deal of what is just 20 years of our lives. By the time you’re in your 80s, motherhood is a distant memory. And yet, magazines…