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


Why is our society so terrified by women who want to control their bodies and their lives?

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My So-Called Selfish Life  is documentary-in-progress about not having children in a culture where motherhood feels mandatory. The film focuses 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 immoral, the unfeminine, the selfish?

My So-Called Selfish Life will answer this question by shining a light on the powerful cultural and historical forces behind the message that a woman's only true identity and value is as a mother. Who profits from that, and what we can do to shift that conversation?

Along the way, we'll introduce you to the funny, moving, and sometimes incredible stories of a diverse group who 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.

Through a pop culture tour of motherhood, including pregnant Barbies with removable bellies, social media MommyJackers, 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.

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.

Back in high school, I already knew I didn't want children, so I too am walking this road–and I want to bring you along for this pivotal journey. This is the third documentary in my trilogy about women and identity, which includes I Was a Teenage Feminist and How To Lose Your Virginity

–Therese Shechter

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?

My crew and I are shooting and editing right now, and finding all the funding we need 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.

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.