ABOUT THE FILM
My So-called selfish life: A documentary-in-progress by Therese Shechter
What does it mean to say no to motherhood?
“Do you have kids?” seems like an innocent question, but the answer may be the most taboo topic of a woman’s life. In this third film of my irreverent trilogy on female identity, I ask: What does it mean for a woman to say no to children–and why is our society so deeply threatened by that choice?
My So-Called Selfish Life chronicles the rise of a growing community of women who don’t want children and who reject the message that a woman’s most important–and most natural–role is to be a mother.
Almost half of American women between 15 and 44 have never had children according to 2016 statistics, an all-time high. Yet choosing not to have children is still seen by many as a deviant decision made by the immoral, the unfeminine...the selfish.
This taboo-busting film goes beyond name-calling to expose powerful cultural, economic, and historical forces behind the message that a woman’s true identity and value is as a mother. This is not a film about how terrible motherhood is, but rather how social structures present women with only one possible path for their lives.
As director and storyteller, I take on a world where femininity is tied to childbearing, reproductive rights are under renewed attack, and the contents of our uteruses seem to be everyone’s business. As a woman who chooses to be childfree, my personal journey guides this narrative. Traveling through pop culture, science, and history, the film layers verité, interviews, vintage films, candid self-reflection and wry observation to deliver an eye-opening anthropological study of motherhood in the 21st century.
The film gives voice to a community challenging our most fundamental ideas about female identity, including a 19-year-old student determined to get her tubes tied, a woman “coming out” about her regret at becoming a mother, the founders of a childfree LGBT seniors’ community, and a repro rights activist whose unsuccessful fertility treatments lead to a life transformation.
Through a vivid pop culture tour that spans vintage postcards of storks chasing young women, to pregnant Barbies with removable bellies and the rise of "Instagram moms" Ivanka and Beyoncé, the film connects the dots between the cultural forces that push a message of maternal inevitability so ingrained, we no longer notice it.
Join us on the front lines of a seismic societal shift. My So-Called Selfish Life is destined to stoke a cultural conversation that will provoke discussion, outrage, and understanding–and possibly shatter a few taboos.
How can I help get this film done?
Support the film with a tax-deductible contribution today. Filmmaking is ridiculously expensive, and early money is the hardest to raise. We'll use your donation to help fund traveling and shooting interviews, editing our rough cut, and creating an online interactive site where you can share your own stories.
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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 childfree men, and for parents as well; society's narrow (and often racist) definitions of what good and bad mothers look like can be equally oppressive and dangerous.