lifestyle

The powerful TV moment that had women cheering

Had you looked through my lounge room window last night there is a chance you would have called the men in white coats to come and get me. Quick.

There I was in a chocolate and red wine stained pair of PJs re-enacting the cheerleading finale of Bring It On. Accompanying said ecstatic spectacle was hooting and hollering, clapping and cheering. Hell, if I had one of those annoying vuvuzelas I would have been blowing a bosa bova.

No, I wasn’t celebrating a Lotto win but it was a victory of sorts. Because, while riveted to the television I heard a woman say something I have ached to utter most of my adult life. And hell it felt liberating.

Feel like reenacting the iconic Bring It On scene yourself? You can watch it below. Post continues after video.

Video by Universal Pictures

For the past week I have been a virtual shut-in, transfixed on the latest series of House of Cards (if you don’t have Netflix – GET IT! NOW!) While I can’t say the fictional US First Lady Claire Underwood, so coolly played by Robyn Wright, is a hero of mine, she damn well was for one precious line of dialogue, uttered with characteristic lethal detachment.

Let me set it up for you. Claire is seated in the White House attending to her guest, Hannah Conway (Dominique McElligott), her rival for the role as the President’s right hand. Despite their obvious differences, the women are bonding when Hannah relaxes and takes things too far.

After Claire comments that Hannah’s young son running around madly is “cute”, Hannah asks her if she regrets not having children. Claire doesn’t miss a beat or move a muscle and simply replies, “do you regret having them?”

For me, a childfree woman, it was a halle-bloody-lujah moment. Because I am sure every woman like me who has not bred has been on the receiving end of such a rude, impertinent and insensitive question but hasn’t had the guts to reply as they may have liked to.

questions childless women have for mothers
Robyn Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards. Image via Netflix.
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You see, we childfree don’t like being pitied or told we are “missing out”. We loathe the “you never know love until you have a child” insults from other mothers (yes, it is an insult! How dare anyone tell another they can’t comprehend love)? We cringe every time a newsreader says, “here’s every mothers nightmare” about a crime against a child as if we can’t empathise with injustice if we haven’t procreated. And we certainly don’t appreciate those smug opinions that “it’s such a shame, you would have been a great mum” from those who have no idea if you actually would or not.

I reckon most women like myself reach a stage regardless of whether they would have liked to kids or not where they are contented and grateful for their lot. Some are actually ecstatic. Because we can see that kids are not all rainbows and unicorns – at all. They are a lifestyle choice with consequences and not all are good.

There have been so many times I have been around women with young ones crawling all over them, screaming for attention or generally being annoying, when I would have loved to ask, “do you regret giving up your freedom for children?”

Author, Wendy Squires. Image supplied.

Every time a girlfriend responds to an invitation with “I’d love to but I can’t find a sitter” I would love to answer “hell that must be annoying”. Or, when the complaining about school fees, braces and childcare a cost etc inevitably arises, there is a temptation to comment, “well, perhaps you should have thought about that before you had kids”.

But here is the thing – we don’t say such things. It would be rude and hurtful to do so. Some would deem it anti the sisterhood. Well, if so, why is it mothers aren’t so courteous to us? Why is it women feel free to make out their lives are somehow superior or more fulfilled because they didn’t use contraception with their partner?

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Here’s the thing we should remember ladies – we are all not all supposed kids. Some women can’t have them, many don’t want them and even more probably shouldn’t have had them in the first place.

Not every woman who has child suddenly finds their inner saint and not every child is all sweetness and light. Just as not every woman without kids doesn’t pine and regret they haven’t.

questions childless women have for mothers
Helen Mirren has previously said, “I have no maternal instinct whatsoever.” Image via Getty.

What needs to happen is some mutual respect but it just isn’t happening. Still! We childfree types have been copping the tut tuts and pitiful “there there” looks for too long without the right of honest reply.

In House of Cards it is a female character who dares challenge this attitude. But if women with kids in real life don’t stop with the superiority trip, I suspect more of us without are likely to emulate Claire Underwood and start replying how we really feel.

And, like Hannah on the show who reacted as if Claire’s comments were a physical slap in the face, I reckon mothers on the receiving end won’t like it one bit. Just like we don’t their patronising attitudes.

If it does it’s been a long time coming ladies. You’ve been warned.

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