meghan daum and contributors @ housing works!


150331:  selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed was published today!  and housing works hosted this fabulous event with meghan daum (the editor of the anthology) and three contributors (anna holmes, laura kipnis, and paul lisicky).

(as a woman who has never wanted children and never really liked babies/kids and is not planning or intending on having children, i am so, so happy that this anthology is out in the world.  it shouldn't be taboo for people to choose not to have children, and the discussion around childlessness by choice should be nuanced and serious open instead of reductive and dismissive and condescending.  i've only read a few of the pieces so far, but i'm stoked to read the rest of it!)

  • meghan daum:  there was something interesting about how people who didn't want kids were dismissive about their reasons [for not wanting kids] in ways that they were also irritated by the way people with kids were dismissive [of their reasons].
  • Q:  what did you first think when you got my email?
    • anna holmes:  was a little taken aback because wasn't sure how MD knew this about her and was first defensive.
    • laura kipnis:  didn't think she had a lot to say about the subject.
      • didn't really think of herself as a personal essayist.
      • started taking notes about it and found there was a lot she had to say, not necessarily personally but socially.
    • paul lisicky:  immediate response -- "i'm not sure i have a lot to say about this."
      • secondary response -- "i'm a fraud here."
      • that interested him.
      • was invited fairly late into the project and had ten days to write it.
  • Q:  have you felt that this was something you were going to hear a lot about?  (as in backlash or public reaction)
    • AH:  wasn't so much concerned about public reaction but more about her mom because, in her piece, she talks about being pregnant more than once.
    • LK:  recently saw something on twitter from a religious man taking offense (her essay [or part of it] was published by cosmopolitan) and posting an unflattering picture of her and calling her ugly -- weird pushback.
  • AH:  a lot of people assume that, if you don't want kids, you don't like them.
    • thought about defending that she liked kids but felt that she would be apologizing for something she didn't have to.
    • there seems to be such a premium in which parenthood is a competitive sport of sorts.
  • MD:  feeling that this issue is more relevant for younger women considering how fetishized parenthood has become.
  • LK:  in the book, there's a sort of theme of "but i really like kids" -- and was kind of horrified to read that.  there's a kind of defensiveness in the writing.
  • PL:  there was a time in gay culture when kids were Others because it was unheard of to have kids.
    • thought about how he might be if he were a twenty-two-year-old man today, if he would've had kids to legitimize himself in the eyes of others.
  • AH:  "i think it might be easier for men to get away with boldly saying they don't like kids."
  • MD:  the simple clarity of "i don't want a baby" seems so difficult to swallow.  instead, we come up with all these reasons why we don't want kids.  still surprised by how hard it still is to say that it's a really hard, difficult job that should be undertaken by the people who want it.
  • AH:  part of what annoys me about modern parenting is class-based.  parenting in many ways is a luxury.
  • MD:  most parents who want kids have kids.  most writers who want kids have kids.  this isn't about the artistic community vs. the non-artistic community.
  • MD:  the original title was "otherhood," but someone else stole it.  this title was truly collaborative.  it's definitely meant to provoke, and it's been working.
    • PL:  liked that that was the title.  gave his essay direction.
  • AH:  "i can't do something that doesn't feel right for me because i'm afraid of dying alone."  [...]  "i don't want to be dark, but we all die alone."
  • LK:  when that fear becomes hysteria, irrationality takes over.
  • AH:  "i think it's totally gendered."  (calling women who don't want kids selfish)  "there are expectations of women to be caretakers."