Why doesn't anyone ever talk about Child-Free men?

By on Mar 24th

Pomme de terre de la République

Photo by Flickr user mll, used with Creative Commons license.

We've got a a few posts about being Child-Free, but as most of you would guess, these are largely skewed toward Child-Free women. I was reading a piece on Bitch Magazine's website which linked to this piece: Two Is Enough.

For all the stories written by and for women [on being Child-Free] — and there are markedly few — men are more likely to be absent from the public dialogue about intentional childlessness. It isn't as if they don't exist, so why aren't men's stories also being heard? Is it because men face less scrutiny than their Child-Free female counterparts? Does men's and women's access to birth control and sterilization procedures alter gendered ideas about reproductive freedom? Is this somehow related to the somewhat offensive stereotype that men are aloof about parenting and will panic if women express too much interest in starting a family? Or are men simply less invested in talking about children—or their lack thereof—in the first place?


Author Brittany Shoot goes on to discuss that many Child-Free men have had vasectomies, some early (20-24 years old), some later. She points out that men who opt to be Child-Free typically aren't met with the same response as women:

It isn't just younger men who know that parenthood isn't for them. When I talked to David, a 51-year-old marketing professional from Milwaukee whose wife Sue asked that I not use their last name, he was matter-of-fact about never wanting to have children, and was thrilled to have stuck with the decision.

"Our decision to forego child-rearing was neither emotional nor rushed. We began talking about it before we married—as all couples should—but we waited about 10 years before we shut the door permanently, with a vasectomy, because we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to be sure we wouldn't change our minds," he told me. Unlike some men, David was open to having a family if his wife changed her mind. But she never did, and he has relished the freedom of their mutual decision, telling me, "I've deeply appreciated the options available to me as a result [of not having children]."

When I asked about how he handles negative responses to his Child-Free status, David related several anecdotes about the times he's received a critical nod or unexpected frown. But, he added, "I suspect men experience less negative blowback than women do. When I make it clear that my wife and I have elected to remain childless, most men seem either to understand or to simply not care enough to belabor the issue."

So what do you guys think? Are you surprised that Child-Free men report having an easier time talking about their decision with inquiring minds than their female counterparts?