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It’s Normal For Women Not to Want Children

For as long as time, it has been a cultural obligation for women to want and have kids. Especially while living in Utah, having kids is just the norm. One gets married and has kids. That seems to be the life society has planned out for us. But what if someone doesn’t want that? It seems to be more socially acceptable for men to not want kids than for women to. Women are “supposed” to be nurturing and “motherly” due to the laws of the patriarchy. If a woman doesn’t fit this standard they are criticized for feeling otherwise.

The queen from the long time running television series Grey’s Anatomy, Christina Yang is also a woman who defies the patriarchy by objecting to having children. For those of you who follow Grey’s have seen this first hand. When Christina was dating her first love interest on the show, Burke, she ended up getting pregnant with their baby. Christina was just an intern at the time and still had a huge career ahead of her. She knew she couldn’t have this baby for her sake and the baby’s. This was Christina’s first experience with the thought of having kids and the pressures that were put on her to have this baby. Christina went and scheduled the abortion without letting him know, because of her confusion with the relationship but also she didn’t want him to try to talk her out of it. Christina was certain with her choice and knows she did not want to have this child, especially so early in her career.

Operating room
Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Jumping forward, when Christina meets her new love interest, Owen Hunt, they without a doubt have an undeniable romantic pole. A few seasons of dating and the two characters decide to get married after much trial and error, which marriage certainly didn’t fix that. A pattern occurs, where Christina is faced once again with an unexpected pregnancy. Her husband Owen has always dreamed of having a family, especially with Christina who he is devoutly in love with. But much like Burke, Owen wants Christina to be things and want things Christina does not and has never wanted. Christina is deeply in love with surgery and her career. She wants to be the best there is and with a kid she knows she won’t be the mother the child deserves or, as Christina tells Owen “she’ll love it.” Owen is taken aback by this when they are discussing what to do about the unexpected pregnancy. Christina explains how she’ll love the baby and lose herself. She’ll give up surgery and the opportunities her career holds to be a mother. Owen, as expected, does not understand that a woman might want to put her career first. 

When a woman says she doesn’t want a baby the reaction they get from others is “you’ll change your mind.” Which is exactly what Owen repeatedly tells Christina. This is a very condescending statement to tell women. It’s implying that we don’t know what we want because we are too naive to think for ourselves. It is still a common misconception that women are “programmed” to be motherly and want kids. It is 2020, women are allowed to not want kids and to not change their mind. When this incident aired on television back in 2011 it was one of the first times a woman on television has gone through with an abortion, and made the decision for themselves to not want kids and stuck with it. Christina Yang changed the game and shocked viewers of traditional values to see a strong woman make a decision for herself like this. 

men holding up a banner for women's equality
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

After Christina goes through with the abortion and her and Owen have parted ways, there’s a scene where we see Christina contemplate going back to Owen again. We are then shown several scenarios of the life Christina would live if she were to get back with Owen. One of them, in particular, supports Christina’s reasoning for not wanting kids. It is a scenario where she and Owen decide to have a family. Just like Christina told Owen would happen, she loved it. There’s a clip where the baby’s crying at night and Christina reassures Owen to go back to be and she will take care of it. Years go by in this scenario where Christina is going to the Harper Avery awards, one would assume she’s the one receiving the award due to her determination. As Christina is on the award stage she calls out a colleague’s name and we soon realize she is presenting him the award. You see the pain and failure on her face as she is standing there as her colleague gives their acceptance speech about their surgical success. After the awards Meredith finds Christina sobbing in the bathroom stall. The scenario of Christina’s life, if she were to have children, is crucial to her character and her argument with Owen for not wanting kids. I would like to think that this would make more traditional viewers in 2011 see Christina’s side and respect her choice to not want kids, as everyone should be respected for that choice for any reason.

It is frustrating for a woman to declare she doesn’t want kids and is told “you’ll change your mind” or “that’s out of your nature.” Women are allowed to not want kids and not change their mind. Some women out there, just like Christina, value their career too much to start a family. If a woman doesn’t want kids it doesn’t mean she wants to be alone either. Carrie and Big in Sex and The City decided on marriage but not kids. Women are allowed to choose their own path whether that does or doesn’t include children. So men, and others out there, stop assuming women want or need kids. Not all women are nurturing or motherly and that is okay because there is much much more to us. 

I am an English major studying at the University of Utah. In my free time I enjoy writing poetry, reading, yoga and coffee!
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