Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Challenge of Finding a Truly Childfree Man...in Africa

I recently received an email from a 35 year old African woman from Nairobi, Kenya who wanted to share her story. I will call her “Kris” as she asked to remain anonymous. She is a good example how an “early articulator” feels and copes as she navigates in a pronatalist culture. Here’s her story:
I have always known I'd be childfree. I told my folks this when I was about 7 years old, and they have only just started 'believing' me about 2 years ago. My gynecologists still insist I might change my mind, so no there is no sterilization in sight. In my country there is little respect for women's reproductive choice (a woman 'knowing her mind'), even among the most educated in the medical fraternity.
I am motivated to remain childfree by an innate knowing which has become firmer as I grow older and trust my instincts more. I have an absolute respect for motherhood, which I believe shouldn't be entered into with the slightest doubt, and I believe that nurturing and creating can be fulfilled in so, so many ways. I am inspired by childless/childfree women and men who have consciously and creatively left their mark on the world, and on hearts. Personally, I learn from and gravitate more to nature and animals than humans.
My 10 year partnership was on its last legs and imploded last year and my childfree stance was used as a convenient scapegoat to explain the problems. My partner had 'hidden' this decision from his parents and when I told them about it, they were shocked and totally against it. This discussion was the first agenda in my current relationship, and it's understandably a major decision for my partner. I've engaged many enlightened men, but even the most eccentric are revolted by the idea. Proof of manhood is intrinsically tied to procreation. Procreation is so completely engrained in the social, religious, cultural and even economic life, it's barely discussed--it's assumed. I couldn't, in good conscience, deny fatherhood to a man (though I'm quite certain not many of them think deeply about the responsibility of good parenting). I've never met an African CF man.
From personal experience, marriage for me would come with the inherent challenge of being stigmatized by my in-laws and the obligation to accept that my husband can have children by any other means (e.g. second family/polygamy). It'd take a very strong man not to cave to the sustained social pressure. I'm coming to the conclusion that marriage and civil partnership could very well be elusive, which is sad. I revel in being slightly eccentric but I've only just started coming to terms with the implications of my decision. This could be a lonely road, but it's a reality I've accepted.
I trust Kris will eventually find a man who is like-minded but it is interesting that in many communities men feel as culturally compelled to procreate as women do. When parenthood is the assumption, there is little room for the idea of personal choice in the matter of procreation. Over time, I believe this will change. I would love to hear your stories about the challenge of finding a like-minded partner. Please comment below...

8 comments:

Carla said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to find a like minded partner in this area but I admire your spirit.

sammy mwangi said...

By her sharing her story hopefully this will create more awareness of childfree individuals here in Kenya.

Msafiri said...

I am so glad to hear of another Kenyan child free lady. I totally understand where you are coming from, but being child free was probably the best decision I ever made, standing for what I truly wanted without the pressure of having to tow the line.
There are plenty of support groups and forums you can join for moral support, and believe it or not plenty of child free men out there.
Good luck trying to find a Kenyan CF man... Lol

OhoyoTohbi Chula said...

Relationships are one type of wilderness to survive. And it seems very rare to cross paths with a potential partner who doesn't want to pass on their specific DNA. What I'm trying to find in my search for community is peace and quiet, without the bland argument over Mothers VS Not Mothers and WHY, why why!?! does it have to make its way into conversation in so many needless comments? "So-and-so doesn't have kids so, obviously they can do whatever they want/pay attention to whatever they want/spend their resources on whatever they want, etc." It's not a competition! Well, maybe it is but, it doesn't have to be! I get so frustrated when I hear others speak to me about my own person in regards to my own personal choices for my own life, both present and future. As if my choices must mirror their own. As if I'm alien since I choose not to procreate humans. I just want to scream.

me said...

It resonates so much with me! I am from India and and my story is no different. In our culture procreation is assumed, and its making childfree women suffer a great deal, many succumbing to unwanted parenthood. What they do not understand is, they are not only messing up with their lives, theu are also ruining child born out of such unions.
Its extremely difficult to find men who are childfree even here as the you correctly mentioned, their idea of manhood revolves around procreation.
Wish me luck in my search for a perfect man. :)

Laura S. Scott said...

I wish you all the very best! Men assume parenthood because they don't think they have a choice!

Ezy Mo said...

Hi, do we have any more Childfree Kenyans on here?

Kefiloe Mosoane said...

I am a 31 year old black female from SA. I am stigmatised all the time. I am called selfish and cold. People often ask me invasive questions about my personal choice of bwing childfree. Why can't people respect my choice and mind their own lives.