“But you’d be such a good mom!” It’s a common refrain. Purposely malicious? Probably not. But the statement itself ends up casting a patronizing shadow on women who choose to live their lives outside of the “norm,” says stand-up comic Jen Kirkman in a post on The Atlantic. In a society fascinated with the dichotomy of “womanhood” (i.e., deciding between being a devout mother and wife or a successful yet lonely spinster), Kirkman takes a stand for women who choose to do the “unfathomable”—create a family…WITHOUT KIDS! From old friends to an ex-husband’s mother, Kirkman discussed the guilt or shame that strangers often subtly yet condescendingly place on women who don’t want to have kids:
It's like telling a friend who you know has a paralyzing fear of wild animals that she would make a great game warden. Seriously, she should just shake off her deep-seated anxiety about being around rhinos and lions and just go out there and guide some poor innocent family on a safari. I'm sure you'll do fine!
Being a “good” mother probably requires a few skills reminiscent of a zookeeper, but as Kirkman very wittily points out, it first and foremost requires that a woman actually wants that and doesn’t simply choose it based on societal expectations.