Certainty as social justice: understanding childless academic women's reproductive decisiveness.

Reuter, S. Z. (2019). "Certainty as social justice: understanding childless academic women's reproductive decisiveness." Women's Studies International Forum 74: 104-113.

This paper explores how two Canadian academics make sense of their experiences as voluntarily childless women, and what their accounts can tell us about the social relations of not-mothering. Drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews, the paper argues that these accounts present a challenge to the neoliberalization of academia, pronatalism, and essentialist discourses equating women's voluntary childlessness with selfishness. More specifically, the paper suggests that both women embody “responsible ambivalence” – that is, intersecting ethics of responsibility to the self and others. In honouring their preference not to mother, and in interpreting that preference in critically reflexive terms, the women demonstrate a commitment to social justice belying the suggestion that they are thinking only of themselves. Their certainty about what they want personally is inextricable from an orientation to progressive social change, demonstrating that voluntary childlessness is not selfish, but is in fact responsible in a variety of complex and interrelated ways.

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