SOCIAL SCIENCES

Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence

Dutton. Jun. 2019. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781524744090. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524744106. SOC SCI
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Sociologist and activist Blackstone draws on both personal experience and sociological research to explore the lives of those who have purposefully chosen not to parent. She traces the threads of modern child-free activism from the 1970s to the present, focusing primarily on the United States (though drawing on sociological data from around the globe). The work shares the motivations of those who forego parenthood in their own words, and takes up common concerns about the non-parenting life in a series of topical chapters: fears about demographic change, concerns about personal fulfillment and legacy, beliefs about maternal instinct, definitions of family, non-parenting relationships with children, and ageing. Throughout, Blackstone highlights the racism and sexism at work in who is pressured to reproduce, and who is punished for choosing not to. While queer people and families are mentioned in passing, the majority of examples are of fertile or presumed-fertile, cisgender male-female couples who have opted out of pregnancy.
VERDICT Thoughtfully addressing harmful stereotypes with personal stories and sociological data, this will help those who choose a nonparenting path articulate their decision and push back against the criticisms leveled at them by family, friends, and strangers alike.

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