Breeder Bingo

Chelsea Giguere

I am 18 years old, female and childfree. Being childfree means knowing that you don’t want children now – or ever. Whenever my childfree status comes up in conversation, most people insist, “You’ll change your mind,” or “You can’t know that now, you’re too young.”
These responses, and others like it, are disrespectful and are often reflective of the beliefs that cause discrimination against childfree people. This is of great concern especially because, in the U.S., about 20 percent of women aged 44 have never had children, according to a 2006 document from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Childfree women do not make up the majority of women in the world. The planet is almost close to bursting; the estimated population by 2050 could not be supported by the current water supply according to Lawrence Smith, president of the Population Institute.
Clearly the idea that you can choose to be childfree is foreign to most people. I believe when encountering a foreign concept one should try to understand it, not condemn it for being different or insist that it is impossible.
However, this is not what happens with most childfree people. In fact, the typical responses childfree people receive are so canned and so disrespectful that the childfree population has come up with a name for them: bingos.
A bingo blatantly disregards the time and consideration a childfree person has taken to choose not to have children. It challenges childfree people’s beliefs and forces them to justify their lifestyle.
Almost every childfree person gets bingoed. It happens so often and in so many different situations that childfree people make light of their maltreatment by creating “Breeder Bingo Cards.”
These cards are common bingo cards with common childfree bingos written on them. There are many cards scattered around the internet and they include bingos like, “What about the family name?”, “It’s all worth it!” and “Who will take care of you when you’re old?”
These questions, or bingos, are disrespectful. Questioning why someone is childfree is like questioning a person’s religion. A childfree person has made an informed decision to not have kids. They have considered all the potential regrets of not having children and have determined that they still don’t want kids.
It is a deeply personal decision, just like one’s religion is deeply personal. Just as it is disrespectful to immediately question someone’s choice in religion it is disrespectful to immediately question someone’s choice to be childfree.
On Livejournal, a website for journaling and community discussion, there are three communities just for childfree people to rant about the constant disrespect their beliefs receive and to discuss their status with other childfree people.
One user explained that her coworkers with children constantly came back late from lunch. They received no punishment because they used their small children as an excuse. When the user was late – which was very rare – she suffered daylong lectures from her boss and even admonishment from her oft-late coworkers.
Another user said, “While going through a really rough patch in my student teaching, I was told by a friend/colleague of my master teacher that because I don’t have kids, that I lack the communication skills necessary to talk to teenagers – and maybe I’m not cut out for teaching after all.”
Why is having children a relevant factor in either situation? All workers should be held to similar standards if they are in similar positions. There is a difference between being understanding of pressing circumstances and treating two people completely differently based on whether or not they have kids.
Being a parent doesn’t necessarily mean you can communicate well with teenagers, nor does not having kids mean you cannot communicate well with teenagers.
While choosing not to have children is frowned upon, choosing to have them is considered the cultural norm. All humans, especially females, are expected to reproduce. I do not understand why.
It is the same principle as the old “if everyone else is doing something, do you do it too?” idea. Just because most people have children doesn’t mean that most people should have children.
Perhaps if doing something seemed like the right choice for me after I carefully considered all of my options, I would do it – but not because everyone else was doing it.