Women Without Kids

The Revolutionary Rise of an Unsung Sisterhood

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Pub Date 28 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2023

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“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.

“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.


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ISBN 9781683649274
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Average rating from 8 members

Featured Reviews

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.

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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.

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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."

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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!

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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.

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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.

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