chapter  4
18 Pages

“She thought I was some kind of ogre that eats children for lunch”: Symbolic Politics I

I N popular consciousness, childlessness is regarded as an afflic­tio n .2 In a w orld w here w om anhood is synonym ous w ith m otherhood, and m otherhood is seen as both moral obligation and ticket to fulfillment, this comes as no surprise. Historically, childless women (along with a variety o f others who deviated from prescribed gender roles) have been subject to a “rhetoric o f rejec­ tion,”3 the use of stigmatizing labels that exclude them from the category o f good woman. Since a good woman experiences fulfill­ ment through nurturant activities, and the intentionally childless woman is presumed not to be nurturant, the labels are unpalatable: “selfish,” “unfulfilled,” “regretful.”