Childless women are in a state of high anxiety these days. How else to explain the ludicrous trashing Creating A Life has been getting from women of all ages, most of them feminists.Poor Sylvia Ann Hewlett. The policy analyst has written a well-researched thesis emerging from startling findings: 49 per cent of women making over $100,000 a year have no children, while only 19 per cent of men in the same income brackets don't have kids.
Crucially, most of that 49 per cent of women are not childless by choice. It had been too hard to leave the job market to have a family without taking a major financial hit. And by the time some did decide to leave, they were too late. Women, says Hewlett, overestimate their ability to get pregnant past the age of 36, and in reproductive technologies there's little hope -- barely 5 per cent of women over 40 have completed pregnancies with high-tech help.
Creating A Life has been dissed as backlash material. Twenty-something Karen Kelly carped in the Star that the book begrudges young women their freedom. Book Television's featured sex columnist, Josey Vogels -- closing in on 40 herself and without kids -- insisted that it pushes the point that women are incomplete without children.
But Hewlett doesn't fetishize motherhood, and I don't think she patronizes young women. If you don't want children, don't have them, she says. But if you want a career and children, then plan for it.
Don't put your emotional life on hold; a partner doesn't materialize the moment you decide to fulfill maternal urges. Choose a profession that offers flexibility: the arts, sure; lawyer or doctor, OK; stockbroker or banker, uh-uh. Don't be surprised when corporations are hostile to your plans. Press for better maternity and paternity benefits.
Hewlett does put too much of a premium on childbirth. I'd have liked more material on adoption.
And to women over 40 who think there's no hope for having kids, I'd add, make a connection with someone else's child, a friend's or family member's. Those relationships can change your life. Write Books at email@example.com