DiversifYA: Eunice Cívico

EuniceEunice Cívico is an English major with a passion for period clothes and houses, well mannered gentlemen and vintage aesthetics. Writing is a huge part of her! Whenever she’s not plotting how to bring more sorrow to her protagonists or deciding who to kill, she is googling whether tearing human flesh makes a sound, how fast blood flows from the femoral artery or watching tutorials on how to shoot German guns from the 1940’s.

1. How do you identify yourself?

I am a Spanish heterosexual cis-gender white girl. I’m in my twenties. Feminist to the core. Atheist. Sex positive. Body positive. Pro-choice. Basically I defend the right to do whatever you please with your life and your body as long as you’re not hurting anybody or yourself. But the topic that I want to address today is that of the childfree lifestyle. I don’t want to ever be a mother.

2. What did it feel like growing up?

The idea of being a mother has never appealed to me. I played with dolls and barbies just like any other girl but I did not pretend they were my children, I preferred to make them interact, to change their clothes, etc. I was sometimes told that “I’d make a great mum when I grow up” or that playing would serve me as “practice” for when I become a mother. Adults would ask me how many children I wanted to have and how I would name them. Girls at school had already planned out how many babies they wanted to have, what gender they wanted them to be, what eye colour, hair type, physical appearance they preferred. To me, wanting to be a mother at my age already did not make any sense. I was the kid, I was the daughter. My mum was the mother, I could not imagine the roles being reversed. Just like jobs, mortgages and taxes, parenthood belonged to the world of adults and it did not interest me. When I was a teenager I started dating my current boyfriend and never did I picture us having a walk around the park with a pram, or having him lay his ear on my rounded belly to listen to whatever tenderness-inducing sound fetuses make. We would talk about our future together and having kids was never a part of it, I simply didn’t like the idea. Obviously I have never been taken seriously and every time I’ve said I didn’t want to be a mother I’ve got the same response that I get today: you’ll change your mind. So basically I receive the same treatment I did when I was 5, 10, 15, 20…It is a bit worrying that society disregards a woman’s opinion just like it would a toddler’s.

3. What are the biggest challenges? Conversely, what are the quirks/perks?

The biggest challenge is that of being absolutely misunderstood. I have met less than 4 people in my life who have understood and respected my point, and some of those have needed long, detailed explanations and exhausting debates to finally see where I’m coming from. It seems like it’s such a simple, easy matter. Some people study science, others take art. Some are dog people, some prefer cats. Some are straight. Some are gay. Some are none of that. Some want children, some do not. Right? Well, unfortunately this is not the case. Nobody will even attempt to understand you because they will immediately tag your opinion as invalid. You will change your mind. You will want children in 5 years time. You will have them. I have gotten those comments from strangers, people in waiting rooms, acquaintances of my mother, who apparently know what I want better than I do. It is very patronising.

Also, the “you will change your mind” phrase seems very ingrained in people’s mind and there’s nothing you can say to convince them because “you can’t predict the future”. Well, that’s true, but my decision of not wanting children is solid, and just like I will not become, say, a homophobe or a racist, I will not want children in the future.

The only perk than I can think of is the actual fact of not having the babies that everybody wants you to have. At the end of the day I get to enjoy my choices and the life that I want to have, no matter what people say, and nobody can take that away from you. I find this a very comforting thought.

Also, holding a position against the mainstream always makes you a more tolerant person, broadens your mind, makes you realise other people’s private life (what they do with their bodies or how much sex they are having and with whom) is none of your business and not open for judgement.

4. What do you wish people knew about the childfree lifestyle?

Our lifestyle choices are as valid as anyone else’s. We know what’s best for us, we know what we want and what we don’t. We have thought things through, and our choices are founded on ideas and beliefs, just like anyone else’s. Your disagreement or disbelief of my ideas doesn’t make them foolish or invalid. Listen to us without interfering with “buts” or “ifs” and don’t try to give us alternative scenarios that do not apply to reality (e.g but if nobody had children, humanity would come to an end!) in order to find a breach in our ideology/tell us why we are wrong.
Also, people should stop worrying about how they think we will regret not having babies. There are many things in life you can regret: actions, words, love life, career choices, studying too little for a test, not buying the lottery today, a haircut, having children (yes!). We do not base our life on the possibility of regret, nobody does.

Another thing, childless couples are a family, so don’t tell us that we need to create one. Your family is a group of people that you love and want to share your life with, simple as that.

And something else: we don’t necessarily hate children, we might even enjoy their presence! We just don’t want to have them. (But if you hate them, that’s okay too, because you’re allowed to dislike things 😉

5. What are the biggest cliches/stereotypes you’ve seen?

Very often plots revolve around pregnancy/childbirth. Apart from not promoting diversity, it’s clichéd and unoriginal. We see a woman carrying on her daily routine. Suddenly she feels dizzy. She clutches her stomachs. Rushes to the toilet. Throws up. Boom, she’s pregnant. We’ve all seen this scene in both movies and literature countless of times. As soon as the female character is feeling nauseous you can tell she’s going to be pregnant. Funny thing is, vomiting is not even the first sign of pregnancy you may notice.

A baby doesn’t have to be the reason why a couple fights/splits up/fixes their marriage/gets together/loses the spark/finds the spark/realises they’re each other’s soul mates. And most of all, having a child is not a confirmation that this couple is now stable, mature, and ready for their happily ever after. There are hundreds of things that can happen in your life that do not involve a baby.

Also, childless people are usually given angsty backstories. For example, horrible, abusive parents that have hindered their self-esteem and now they fear they will be bad parents too. A younger sibling who they could not save from a tragic death and now burdened with guilt, they don’t think themselves capable of taking care of a baby. Characters who are hateful and resented towards today’s society and find themselves saying that they “don’t want to bring children into this world”. Now, I know these things do happen, but it is hardly ever the reason behind a “I don’t want children”.

It really doesn’t work like this. It is way more simple. We have the right to just exist without further justification or drama. I also dislike when people want to fix us. We will not become all maternal as soon as a kid smiles at us one gloomy afternoon while we mull over our issues, or when, in a family meeting, our relative hands us a baby and we get to feel how warm, soft and adorable they are. A woman who doesn’t want to be a mother will not be “fixed” by the thing she doesn’t want. If a woman who didn’t want to have kids gets pregnant accidentally, she’s most likely to feel desperate and ruined, not to cry tears of joy once she feels the first kick from the fetus.

It’s the “fixing” thing that bugs me. The atheist doesn’t need to be fixed into the word of God by a kind pastor. The girl not interested in dating, usually portrayed as nerdy and awkward, doesn’t have to go through a sexual awakening as soon as the hottest guy walks into class.

BONUS: What is your advice for writers writing diverse characters?

Always avoid the aforementioned clichés, and clichés in generals. I know they are tempting. They take us to safe, known territory but also mislead us and create false expectations and concepts on what reality is like. Don’t go for the easy, fairy-tale plot. What’s the thrill in that anyways? Isn’t it more fun to explore something new?

If you want to write about diverse characters, do your research just like you would if you chose to write about a country or a culture you don’t know. It’s basically the same. If you want to learn about something you have to allow yourself to do so. Just sit back and listen, and please, be open-minded.

Let your diverse characters be diverse and don’t create them just to slowly lead them towards the norm. Also, I would advise not to make the plot around their difference and how they “struggle” or “deal” with it. Love your characters as if they were people. Just let them be who they are.

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