BBC presenter Naga Munchetty says she was told she was ‘wicked’ for denying her mother grandchildren. Married to TV director James Haggar, she said on BBC Radio 5 Live that people find it unusual that both in the relationship have agreed that they don’t want children. She said: ‘People can be quite forthright: ‘Oh, you can’t have them?’
She added that there was a definite distinction between ‘child-free’ and ‘childless’ in discussion with Emma Gannon, an author who is ‘child-free’. Ms Gannon said she objected to being told that she might change her mind one day: ‘We don’t say to women who are having children, “Oh, you might change your mind”, and we need to be mindful that it is a slightly strange question, because you’re doubting a woman’s choice.’
No doubt ‘doubting a woman’s choice’ will soon be made a ‘hate crime’, but the message given by Ms Gannon, Ms Munchetty and countless other ‘suppressed women’ who are ‘speaking out’ about their desire not to have children is that people should not ask women about children or assume that they want them. Yet despite the impression given by this great army of ‘silenced women’, there is no great social pressure on women to have children, rather the reverse: according to a recent study by the University of Washington, the global fertility rate has plummeted since 1950, when women had an average of 4.7 children, to 2.4 by 2017, and is predicted to fall to 1.7 by 2100. Add to this 9. 5million ‘choices’ in the UK since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, and far from a child-friendly society, we look more like an anti-child society, in which women are lauded for being ‘child-free’ while anyone who criticises will be accused of ‘stigmatising’ them.
The forthright views of Ms Gannon and Ms Munchetty raise the question of how they themselves came into being – did they fall from the sky, or did they oppress their own mothers by being born? Ms Gannon would no doubt say that mothers who regret having children fear to say so, in case they are ‘stigmatised’; but we do know that many women openly regret having an abortion – although their views really are stigmatised, lest anyone get the idea that abortion is not a hundred-per-cent Good Thing.