Women Without Kids
The Revolutionary Rise of an Unsung Sisterhood
by Ruby Warrington
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Pub Date 28 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2023
Sounds True Publishing, Sounds True
“A startling, confronting, and liberating treatise.”
—Holly Whitaker, New York Times bestselling author of Quit Like a Woman
What is “woman” if not “mother”?
Anything she wants to be.
Foregoing motherhood has traditionally marked a woman as “other.” With no official place setting for her in our society, she has hovered on the sidelines: the quirky girl, the neurotic career obsessive, the “eccentric” aunt. Instead of continuing to paint women without kids as sad, self-obsessed, or somehow dysfunctional, what if we saw them as boldly forging a first-in-a-civilization vision for a fully autonomous womankind? Or as journalist and thought leader Ruby Warrington asks, What if being a woman without kids were in fact its own kind of legacy?
Taking in themes from intergenerational healing to feminism to environmentalism, this personal look and anthropological dig into a stubbornly taboo topic is a timely and brave reframing of what it means not to be a mom. Our experiences and discourse around non-motherhood are central to women’s ongoing fight for gender equality. And whether we are childless by design or circumstance, we can live without regret, shame, or compromise.
Bold and tenderhearted, Women Without Kids seeks first and foremost to help valorize a path that is the natural consequence of women having more say about the choices we make and how our lives play out. Within this, it unites the unsung sisterhood of non-mothers—no longer pariahs or misfits, but as a vital part of our evolution and collective healing as women, as humans, and as a global family.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Thoroughly enjoyed this. As a woman without kids, cancer took that from me , it was refreshing to read a book talking of this group of women not as eccentrics, or strange for being child less, more for being empowered. When you are not a mother, there is a sympathetic head tilt that comes your way as if to commiserate with you. People are shocked when you say…I dont want them.
Just like it has mentioned by the author herself, this is not a book about how to live a fabulous child-free life. Rather, it sends a powerful message to inspire people to realize that people end up childless for many different reasons and it is important for them to be heard.
For readers (mostly women) who have either chose to not become a mom or who are still struggling with a choice of being child-free, this is recommendable for you. You might find this reflective and/or empowering for you.
Thank you to NetGalley, Sounds True Publishing, and author, Ruby Warrington for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. Women Without Kids: The Revolutionary Rise of an Unsung Sisterhood comes out on March 28, 2023. This book was my favorite Nonfiction read of 2022!
Since I received an arc, I cannot link my highlights - which probably would be half of this book. The author's voice was so strong and thought-provoking. I absolutely adored the book's discussion of feminism, environmentalism, sisterhood, and interviews with women. My only disappointment was Ruby's decision not to title the book "Selfish C*nt" for obvious marketing reasons :(
Here are some of my favorite quotes, though it was hard to choose:
-"At best, a woman who is not also a mother is seen as a strange bird, faulty goods. If she can’t have kids she is often portrayed as sad and damaged (“ Such a shame”); if she simply won’t (rarely is it that straightforward) she is either deluded, destined to regret it, or written off as cold-hearted, narcissistic, and career-obsessed. What a selfish c*nt."
-" Pronatalism is what tells us that it is selfish and narcissistic not to have kids. Pronatalism is what makes women feel like they have “failed” when they can’t get pregnant. Pronatalism is what denounces queer sex, and all non-procreative sex, as “perverse.” Pronatalism is what turns up the volume on our biological clocks; what gives other people permission to nose into our private business; and what gives politicians a say about what we do with our wombs. Pronatalism is also the reason there is still no specific, widely used terminology that validates the life-path of women without kids: we are non-mothers, women without kids, either childless or childfree, all of which emphasize the absence of a child."
-"A shocking illustration of this is the fact that marital rape was legal in the United States until 1975 and was only outlawed in all fifty states as late as 1993.9 The emotional inheritance of this? The belief that men are entitled to the ownership of women’s bodies."
-**"A woman’s mother used to be her first and most vivid role model, but many women without kids are more our fathers’ daughters. After all, it often looked like the better deal— didn’t it? Not all of our fathers have made the best role models in terms of their life choices, but while my mum remained tethered to the stove while struggling to earn enough to make ends meet (she did her therapy training once my brother and I had both left home), my father had always been free to travel, and write, and teach."
-"The underlying message (as in unconscious, and therefore all-powerful) being that a woman being wanted, taken, owned, and ultimately impregnated (by the right person, at the right time) was the natural order of things. And deeply interwoven with this was the notion that men (and society) were essentially entitled to women’s bodies as the means of reproduction."
The author’s experiences and thoughts are interwoven with the experiences, thoughts, and works of other women, as well as questions to get the reader reflecting on their own. This book explains why our capitalist society uses Motherhood as a marker of female usefulness and anyone who goes against it (willingly or not) is seen as less-than. This is a compelling, moving, and inspiring read. It ends on a hopeful note for the current generation and all generations to come to take back our female power to leave the world better than we found it.
My only criticism is that she incorrectly uses Autism as a linear spectrum (which it is not) but does so to compare it to her linear Motherhood Binary spectrum.
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read the ARC!
This is a book I didn't know I needed.
Do you ever just read a book and think- I wish I could import this data (& empathy, way of thinking, & broadened horizons) into everyone's brain at once?
I typically read 100% fiction, but came across this and just thought hmm... this might be for me. And it was.
Thank you for writing this and validating and celebrating the lives of women who do not become mothers (for all reasons, but especially by choice). Personally, it is a choice for me at age 33, but society (and even some family/friends) never stop treating me like 'less than' in some ways because of it.
This book is very special to me. I feel very seen and related to.
You've made a new fan for life.
TYSM for the opportunity to be an ARC reader.
I have been following Ruby Warrington on social media for a few years, and have also read her other books. When she announced she was writing a book about Women Without Kids, I was instantly intrigued as I am a childfree woman. She was doing research and asked women to fill out a survey, when I did. I waited impatiently for this book to come out, and it finally arrived on NetGalley.
This is a complex topic, and many variables go into the childfree/childless decisions that are being made. Ruby covered so many of them with nuance and grace. She shared so much about her life and decisions she made along the way, and I related to a lot of it. The biggest takeaway from this book for me is that society needs to stop telling us what to do, and let us make the decisions that best work for us. Childfree people face a lot of pressure to have children, and I personally do not appreciate it. I don’t tell other people what they should do, and I expect the same courtesy, but for some reason people think they can tell others what to do reproductively. The things that have been said to me since I was a teenager are no less than intrusive, at best insensitive. I want everybody to read this book!
Thank you @netgalley and #soundstruepublishing for an advance copy of this e-ARC. This book will be out on March 28th.
Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this book.
I'm not even sure where to start with a review for this book, except to say that I absolutely loved it. I didn’t quite realize how starved I was for a book that celebrated being child-free until Women Without Kids. The validation and excitement I experienced while reading this book seriously had me feeling like I could kick a door clean off the hinges - I was PUMPED. The author’s emotional vulnerability and sharing of her internal thoughts about family and her experiences that informed her decision were extremely validating; I am very thankful for this. Also, I will by default enjoy any book that can discuss academic research while also using curse words.
Beyond that, this book is a thorough examination of the experiences and power that being a woman without children can provide. Which, honestly, can be hard to find in our society; it seems that many times when women without children share their joy in being child-free or (gasp) dare to be annoyed when people ask "When are you going to have kids? You'll die alone. You'll never know real love," we are met with defensive and (more) insulting comments. But Warrington provides a safe space for women to feel empowered, revolutionary, and badass in their decision to live a life without children.
Warrington also manages to address not only the varying personal reasons one may have for not becoming a mother, but societal reasons of why being a mother is so dang hard, all without making the choice to be a mother (or lack of choice if anti-choice politicians have anything to say about it) seem wrong or like a betrayal to feminism. She argues the importance of pro-family policies that would lessen the burden on women and families to thrive under our current system.
I also loved the prompts that are embedded throughout the text to help women who maybe haven't made up their minds yet to help them really reflect and process their thoughts/feelings/past experiences/etc. to determine if those are compatible with the demands of motherhood. Honestly, even women who have always known they *would* be mothers would benefit from reflecting on the questions the author poses. Far too many people do not actually think about what signing up for the lifelong journey of motherhood actually entails.
To summarize, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has chosen or had the choice made for them to not have children, as well as anyone on the fence about it. The message of empowerment and sisterhood is something every woman without children needs. Withered childless crones unite!
As someone who has her children late in life with a great deal of medical help, I heard many of the opinions and attitudes expressed in this book before becoming a mother. The author writes with such understanding and clarity.
I'm 45 years old and not forming a family and having children wasn't the plan my entire life. I'd be lying if I said it was. It just didn't happen before I hit 40. I didn't find a suitable partner to build a family before that and I've always known I didn't wanna do it alone. I've made my peace with the fact I won't have children, it's not on the cards and I'm fine with that. There're other factors too that would make impossible for me to be a single mother nowadays; some of which are mentioned in this book. Insightful read 👏
Ruby Warrington has written the book that I have been preaching my entire life. There is more to life than being a mother. Women are more than vessels for reproduction.
This book is not a guide or how-to, but rather a "this is why I do this'.
And I loved every single page and word.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
MOST COMPELLING READ OF THE YEAR
I felt seen and understood by this book and it validated me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. It was so much more than I’d hoped for. Ruby offered empathy, new ways of thinking, and the chance to slip off the cloak of shame that I’ve worn by entertaining the possibility of not having children and what that means about me.
Instead I got to try on for size a brand new coat- one that fits much better where you get to think differently and remind yourself that we all have the right to consider our own wellbeing and how we might best thrive in this life- and for some that is without children. Doesn’t make you any less of a woman!
Of course no book can tell someone whether or not to have children but importantly it never tries to.. Ruby never speaks for other women who don’t or can’t have kids. Instead she got alongside them and celebrated their unique stories, interweaving their voices with her own into a beautiful and empowering read. I wish I could post this whole book as a response to the people who have made me feel less than whole for not having children. I know they don’t always do it knowingly but this book would blow their mind and I think that is so needed!
I can’t imagine the bravery required to write a book that goes against the status quo and I can only commend and thank the author endlessly for the efforts she has gone to to share her own experiences , thoughts, and important works of other women who have gone before her. I look forward to reading more of her work!
Her explanation of how our capitalist society has used and abused mothers made so much sense I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. It helped me make so many links with women in history who have gone against the grain and been seen as less than. As much as making a stand this book felt like a celebration but not in the way people might expect. It’s not all ‘yay I don’t have kids’ but a thorough and compelling dive into why less and less women are having children and why this seems to be a problem for many. What if instead of panicking this means the end of civilisation it could be reframed as a revolutionary moment in time where women have the opportunity to heal the impact of patriarchy for future generations. The author's ideas made me curious and gave me hope about the potential of the future and a society where a woman's worth is not tied to their ability to procreate.
Thank you to NetGalley, Sounds True Publishing, and author, Ruby Warrington for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Women Without Kids: The Revolutionary Rise of an Unsung Sisterhood is out on March 28, 2023.
A very good read. As someone who is childfree by choice, it is difficult to find people who "get it." While we all have our different reasons, some not in our control, we are still seen as the other, as sad and lonely, as someone who will one day regret not having children (or will never be complete without them). I appreciated this book, and all of the stories Ruby shared, both hers and others'.' I wish this was a conversation more people were willing to have, or maybe that one day it just won't be needed. People can just live their lives and not feel less than (either consciously or unconsciously) simply because they can't/won't/don't want to have children.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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