2018: Our Predictions for Childless/Childfree Adults
I probably spent too much time watching end-of-year countdowns, memorial tributes and expert pontifications as 2017 ushered in 2018. Many were topic-specific, such as actors who died, or food trends shifting in and out of style. How about some New Year predictions for NotMoms?
I asked our Laura LaVoie and Gateway Women's Jody Day to join me at the crystal ball and predict a few headlines from the year yet to come that will impact NotMoms by choice or by chance. I think we did a good job!
Laura LaVoie - Entertainment
Ava DuVernay (above) has already made news as the first black woman to direct a live action movie with a budget of over $100 million with her upcoming film, A Wrinkle in Time. But that’s not all I think we can expect from DuVernay this year.
The director has referred to her movies as her "children" on social media and was quoted as saying, “I don’t have children. I don’t plan to have children,” in this article from The Atlantic. So it’s no wonder that she pours her heart and soul into everything she does, from indie to blockbuster. With the all-star cast of A Wrinkle in Time , including The Supreme NotMom, Oprah Winfrey, this film's success won’t stop at the box office.
Ava's take on the Madeleine L’Engle classic may be one of the most highly anticipated children’s fantasy movies. Others , such as The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, may not have been adapted in the ways the fans would have liked, but in a post-Harry Potter world, A Wrinkle in Time may be just the movie we’re looking for. And extra points for a strong, female lead an adaptation of a book written by a woman..
My prediction for 2018: when it comes to awards consideration for next year’s Golden Globes and Oscars, Ava DuVernay may make history once again with a Best Director nomination.
Karen Malone Wright - Culture
One thing I know for sure about 2018: One-question curiosity will hit new Worldwide highs (and lows) around Saturday, May 19th when Britain’s Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle. Neither Princess Kate, nor even Beyonce may have experienced the Nosy Rosy’ “Is she pregnant yet?” frenzy to come this Spring.
Harry, 33, is a former Army captain and helicopter pilot, son of beloved Princess Diana and formally known as Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales.
Bride-to-be Meghan is American, divorced, an actress, and mixed-race. To be specific about that last item, her father is White and her mother is Black. Three rules-breaking traits, but I predict the lowest comments from the US and elsewhere will focus on her race and that of her yet-to-be-conceived child.
Heaven knows we all hate when celebrities get hassled about a hoped-for pregnancy. (We got your back, Jennifer A!)
But, the ramp up to what seems to be an inevitable nine months of bump-watching until Meghan's gorgeous infant is born will be more than simply annoying to many childless by-chance women who expected their own fairy tale ending with an heir to their throne. From my childfree by-choice friends, the manufactured buzz is annoying, for sure, but not hurtful.
And If Princess Kate brings her newborn to the wedding, well, some reporters might just self-destruct with joy and us onlookers will just smile and eyeroll.
Jody Day - Health
2018 is the 40th anniversary of the very first ‘test tube baby’ birth of Louise Brown in the UK, so it’s the 40th anniversary of a medical breakthrough that is now part of many women’s and couple’s experiences of becoming, and not becoming parents.
However, although the media focuses relentlessly on the ‘miracle baby’ stories (they sell newspapers and generate clicks like nothing else, apparently), I predict that this will also be the year that the darker side of the fertility world comes to light, along with it’s shockingly low success rate of around 25%.
Pamela Tsigdinos, author of the groundbreaking infertility memoir Silent Sorority has transitioned from award-winning blogger and author to become an excellent investigative reporter into the darker side of IVF/ART treatments; she’s running a campaign over at ReproTech Truths called #UnmaskingIVF which is, for the first time, aims to bring together both medical and individual testimonies about “The Untold Stories of IVF”.
Whether you’re a NotMom by chance or choice, the challenges of entering old age can feel formidable. Scaremongering pronatalist headlines viewing us as ‘demographic timebombs’ don’t help either. Aging without children seems to be particularly hard to discuss dispassionately as it brings together three distinct forms of social taboo: not being a mother (pronatalism) and the ageism and sexism levelled at older women. And that’s even before you’ve added the deep human fear of vulnerability and death…
Keeping this topic ‘off the table’ for debate serves the social policy agenda in countries with an aging population, as does making it all about ‘families having to do more’ as it prevents our institutions from grappling with the seismic changes our aging populations present. These taboos also serve to suppress creative and collaborative solutions from arising at the grassroots, which is where the needed change will come from.
In the UK, I am one of the founding and Board members at AWOC.org (Ageing Without Children) which is currently (as far as we know) the only organisation in the world advocating, campaigning and supporting the 20-25% of population who are, or will be, aging without children by choice, circumstance or any other reason. We are a vital, connected, passionate generation and we can and we will find new ways to remain so in old age by coming together to support each other.
I predict that this issue will become more and more prominent in the media in 2018, but not yet in a positive or enabling way.
AND...Women born in 1973 turn 45 in 2018 and, if they wanted to be moms, this is the age that statistically women are considered to be no-longer able to bear a child.
As the 1970s cohort gradually crosses this threshold, so will their voice in the public sphere around what it’s like to live without motherhood, by choice or by chance. Many of them have grown up in a society where education and a full working life were considered absolutely normal expectations and many of them arrive in their 40s as well-rounded, well-educated, experienced professional women with a voice, and some even in significant positions of power in the media, medical and other professional communities.
I predict that in 2018 we will begin to see an uptick in mainstream TV documentaries, film-scripts and other narratives that include the experience of childless and childfree women as part of the new ‘normal’ range of modern women’s experiences. Two of those to look out for already will be childfree documentaries such as Therese Shechter’s ‘My So Called Selfish Life’ and Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not to Kid. I hope that childless NotMoms will also get their stories onto the screen too this year, and I’ve certainly been having more conversations myself with documentary filmmakers!