Nancy Rome wrote a thoughtful piece for the Washington Post that captures some of the breadth of the childless/childfree experience (at least for women). She spoke with 100% childfree by choice women, and those who had miscarriages or stillbirths and decided to continue life childfree. One woman said her decision—and other people's reactions to it—made her feel like an outlaw.
'But almost all the women I've talked with describe feeling acutely aware of what they see as our national obsession with motherhood,' she writes...
'"The Bump Watch" hounding Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez; "Celebrity Babies" like the elusive Suri Cruise; and "The Ultimate Hollywood Accessory: A New Baby," popularized by Brangelina." Some use the term "child-free" to differentiate those who choose not to have children from those who had been unable to have them.'
She doesn't mention that some of us use the term more widely, or we want to know: what exactly do we mean by "choose" and "choice"? But it's great to know that this article was read by thousands of people and still appears in the mainstream media via online archive.
In a frustration that I hear frequently from childless and childfree people, a woman named Laurie tells Rome (who herself experienced stillbirth and, clearly, grief and loss) that she's infuriated by
"that Mother Right"—'the assumption that everyone will make way for a woman with a stroller or a child in tow. She goes on to challenge me: "If we believe that this is the hardest thing that anyone can do, then why should it be assumed we should all be doing it?"'
Percentage wise, Rome writes that in 1995, 6.6% of American women declared themselves voluntarily childless, up from 2.4% in 1982. She goes on to report that the US has the highest population rate in the developed world.