Childfree: Conversations about choice, circumstance and ambivalence

Chicago, IL

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Childfree: Conversations about choice, circumstance, and ambivalence.
THURS Dec. 5 | 6-8 PM

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Residents' Dining Hall
800 S. Halsted

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"That she bear children is not a woman's significance. But that she bear herself, that is her supreme and risky fate," D.H. Lawrence. 

Despite innovations in reproductive health, women's increasing participation in the labor force and higher education, and changing attitudes toward mothering and marriage, powerful cultural imperatives in the US and around the world continue to conflate woman with mother.Globally there are strong cultural norms that suggest motherhood is the ultimate fulfillment for women and the cornerstone of feminine identity. The assumption that being a mother is central to being a woman persists despite the constant, and increasing presence of women in society who are childfree, either by choice or because of circumstances beyond their control.

Join us for candid conversations with six women who explore the myths, messages, and assumptions associated with being childfree. Many of these women will share their personal and varied journeys as women without children and unravel the complexities of living and thriving outside of the norm of woman as mother.

In what ways do race, class, and sexuality complicate issues of motherhood and non-motherhood? How can we talk about this gracefully, honoring both motherhood and the childfree or childless path?

Through facilitated discussion, we will counter the perceptions of women who are childless or childfree and work to re-define what it means to be a woman in the popular imagination.


+Carrie Ruckle, moderator and filmmaker, creator of the short film “This is not a feminist theory about motherhood”

+Nannette Banks, Reverend and coordinator at McCormick Theological Seminary

+Gloria Bowman, writer and author of Human Slices, a love story about the choice to be childfree

+Sekile Nzinga-Johnson, Asst. Prof. in Gender & Women’s Studies at UIC and editor of Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy (2013).

+Miriam Schaer, artist and professor at Columbia College, recent work includes Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?

+Edra Soto, artist and creator of The Franklin exhibit space