My So-called selfish life: A documentary-in-progress by Therese Shechter

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The 1950s housewife baking cookies in pearls and heels is gone. So is the 1980s superwoman in a power suit holding briefcase and infant. Yet, we continue to be told that proper female adulthood is defined by having children.

My So-Called Selfish Life is an in-the-works documentary that deconstructs the heart of female identity: motherhood. The film shines a light on the growing numbers of women who don’t want children, and have rejected the message that a woman’s most  important–and perhaps only–role is to have them.

In 2014, almost half of all American women between the ages of 15 and 44 had never had children, an all-time high. So, why are women still defined by reproduction, and why is choosing not to have children seen by so many as a threat, a decision made by the immature, the unfeminine, the selfish?

As a director and storyteller, I take on a world where femininity is tied to childbearing, where reproductive rights are under constant attack, and where society demands women have children–but only if they are the “right" kind of women.

My So Called Selfish Life will give voice to a diverse group of women who have made this choice, including a college student determined to get her tubes tied, the founders of a childfree LGBT seniors community, and a woman whose failed fertility treatments led to a life transformation.

Delving into pop culture, religion, history, pregnant Barbies, MommyJacking, and "ubermother" Ivanka Trump, the film connects the dots between the historical, political and cultural forces that push a message of maternal inevitability so ingrained we no longer notice it.

The film is the third in the Trixie Films trilogy on women and identity. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

–Therese Shechter

some faqs:

That's a great title!

Thanks! All credit goes to poet Molly Peacock who is part of this film. It's taken from her 1998 book Paradise, Piece by Piece which is a beautiful and fierce memoir of a childfree life.

How can I help get this film done?

  • Support the film by backing the it on Kickstarter today. We have great rewards and you get to be part of our growing community. Filmmaking is ridiculously expensive, and seed money is the hardest to raise. We'll use your donation to help fund traveling and shooting interviews, creating an online interactive site where you can share your own stories, and creating our fundraising trailer for grant applications.
  • Join us on Facebook and share posts with your friends. It's a lively and opinionated community.
  • Get on our mailing list and we'll keep you posted on our progress, how to submit to our upcoming story sharing site, and other ways to stay involved. Later in 2017, we'll launch a large-scale Kickstarter campaign and share more info on how to support us financially or by helping spread the word.

Is this just for childfree women?

The focus is on women who are childfree by choice, but this is a big tent. Women who don't have kids by choice or by circumstance both get scorn or pity from our society. For example, did you know that having kids is the only way to reach our full feminine potential? No? Me neither. The film raises important issues for people with children as well; society's narrow (and often racist) definitions of what good and bad mothers look like can be equally oppressive and dangerous.

When will it be finished?

My crew and I are shooting and fundraising right now, and that will dictate how long it will take. Think of it as writing a book that we also have to film and edit. I'll keep you all posted on the progress through occasional emails.

Where can I see your other work?

You can learn a more about my filmswriting and interactive projects at the Trixie Films website.