My So-Called Selfish Life: A documentary-in-progress by Therese Shechter

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My So-Called Selfish Life is a first-person film exploration of a subject so deeply embedded in the fabric of our society we take it for granted as part of the natural order. That subject, motherhood.

As a society, it's assumed that all women want children. Nothing could be more obvious. And yet, this assumption also suggests it's unimaginable–inconceivable, so to speak–that a woman might make the choice not to become a mother.

My So-Called Selfish Life
questions these long-standing assumptions about women, our bodies, our choices, as it asks if the desire to have children innate or a construction that feeds society’s needs? Can we create a distinct female identity independent of motherhood?

Mixing an unapologetically feminist voice with an irreverent, humorous narrative style, My So-Called Selfish Life combines personal storytelling with essay film. It draws upon a rich mix of pop culture, science, religion and history to question a cultural narrative so deeply enmeshed in the fabric of our society that we're not even aware of its power over our lives and in shaping our identities.

Leading this filmic journey through a host of complex and contentious issues surrounding the choice to be childfree is filmmaker Therese Shechter who provides the film's narrative spine. As a woman who chose not to become a parent, she knows first-hand the stigma, implicit and explicit, women confront by making this choice. This is not a film denigrating motherhood, but rather about how social structures present women with only one possible path for their lives.

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 decision made by the immoral, the unfeminine...the selfish. 

The film gives voice to this ‘selfish’ community of women challenging our most fundamental ideas about female identity, including a 19-year-old student determined to get her tubes tied, the founders of a childfree LGBT seniors’ community, a woman “coming out” about her regret at becoming a mother, and a reproductive 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, the Jennifer Aniston baby watch, and the rise of "Instagram moms," the film connects the dots between the cultural forces that push a message of maternal inevitability so ingrained, we no longer notice it.

We have the power to define women’s roles in society whether they include motherhood or not, and reproductive autonomy is available to all. As part of a larger multi-media and social impact/engagement campaign, My So-Called Selfish Life aims to spark a national conversation about women's choices and roles–and possibly shatter a few taboos.

Join us on the front lines of a seismic societal shift. This is the third documentary in Therese Shechter’s trilogy challenging our most sacred ideas about womanhood, which includes I Was a Teenage Feminist and How To Lose Your Virginity

some faqs:

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.

  • 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.

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.

When will it be finished?

We are are 90% done shooting and have started our rough cut edit. Our ongoing fundraising will dictate how long it will take to finish the project. 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.

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.

Where can I see your other work?

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