Inspiration for childless and childfree women

Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice

a woman’s right to shoes

I suspect the ears of other non-mothers-who-sometimes-watch-rubbish-television also prick up whenever the ‘A Woman’s Right to Shoes’ episode of Sex and the City is re-run.Β For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can watch most of the relevant scenes below if you like.

Perhaps I should provide a warning that the clip contains a bit of bad language, but it touches on so many difficult and interesting points in relationships between mothers and non-mothers that I hope you might be willing to have a look anyway. For context, Carrie previously attended a baby shower at a mother-friend’s house and was asked to take off her incredibly expensive shoes at the door, which she did very reluctantly. Her shoes then went missing.

For me the part of the dialogue that stings a little is the suggestion that Carrie’s life is less ‘real’ than that of a mother, as I’ve had almost exactly that suggestion made about my own life before. And the most uplifting part is the conversation between Carrie and Charlotte about the unfairness of what is celebrated and what is ignored in women’s lives. I love that Carrie is not arguing against the celebration of mothers’ choices, but rather in favour of the celebration of non-mothers’ (and in her case, single women’s) choices too. It’s exactly how I feel.

I’m not hugely excited about exercising my right to have expensive shoes (though more power to any woman who is) and I have a million ideological issues with Sex and the City (which don’t prevent me in the least from enjoying it). But nonetheless, I think this episode creates some really interesting opportunities for discussions of motherhood and non-motherhood.

If you’re interested in the politics of non-motherhood, you might like to read this post about the sense of obligation to be a super-non-mother or this post about the doubts experienced by some childfree women.

But in the meantime, how about you? Does anything in the ‘Woman’s Right to Shoes’ episode speak to your own experience?

[The gorgeous image above is borrowed with permission
from stylist and photographer Peta Rudd.]

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15 comments on “a woman’s right to shoes

  1. tiffanylo
    April 7, 2012

    One of my all-time favorite episodes. It cracked me up when Carrie “registered” for the lone pair of Manolos and her friend was pretty much compelled to “pay up”. πŸ˜‰ While I have some issues with aspects of SATC as well, that has not stopped me from watching the series repeatedly over the years. πŸ˜‰

    This speaks to my own experience in a very interesting way… I do think that, to some degree, when one chooses to be child-free, remain uncoupled, etc., there is some sense that one is not living life to “the fullest”. I often struggle with society’s concept (whether this is true or imagined by myself) that I have not reached “complete” adulthood, and may never do so in the eyes of some, because I do not have children. That said, I do feel supported by so many people in my life, and even respected/admired for standing firm in my choice to remain a non-mother–especially in the face of the overwhelming social pressure to procreate.

    I also feel like many people in my life have been very generous with gift-giving–for instance, my parents and friends often buy gifts for my dogs, and my mother loves referring to them as her “grand-dogs”. I feel validated by many people in my life, as they know that I work hard (at a medley of jobs!), have the responsibility of “raising” two dogs, have a relationship, and do not feel any lack of “fullness” in my life. Heck, I’m pretty overjoyed by my situation. I get to travel at least a couple of times per year, have essential alone time (for running, reading, going to the movies solo), and hang out with my husband and certain friends whenever I want to. Oh, and one particularly wonderful bit? I don’t have to save for doggy university. πŸ˜‰

    • olivia
      April 7, 2012

      I love the registry part too Tiffanylo – I wish it had made it onto the clip!

      I wish I could say I have no idea what you mean re the feeling of unconfirmed adulthood, but I sometimes feel it too. Like you, I am more than able to argue with the idea, but I can’t deny it’s one I’m muddling along with.

      Also like you, I have people in my life who really do acknowledge the milestones in my life and I’m very grateful for that.

      Doggy university! Ha πŸ™‚

  2. Suzanne
    April 7, 2012

    I think it’s easy to forget that every life has moments that are worth celebrating–whether you have kids or not. The milestones of children are celebrated to the point where it seems that those of us without kids are lacking something. There are so few occasions where we really make a point of celebrating ourselves and what we’re doing with our lives. If we don’t have parties to celebrate our birthdays, wedding anniversaries, job promotions, housewarmings, or other important times in our lives, other people can forget that we have lives that matter. And that perception can creep in and affect how we perceive ourselves. I’m definitely guilty of this. It’s hard to feel confident when you’ve chosen a path that’s different from the one that almost everyone else you know has chosen, and when there are so few sources of support for us. I just found this blog a few days ago and I’m really enjoying it. Thank you for putting out such positive vibes for us! πŸ™‚

    • olivia
      April 7, 2012

      I think that’s a really important point Suzanne – that we probably do actually have to invite people to celebrate things and explain which milestones are important to us, if they’re not on the Hallmark radar. I don’t think its fair to expect people to intuit this stuff by themselves.

      Thank you for your kind words about the site! I’m delighted to know you’re enjoying it πŸ™‚

  3. Luisa
    April 7, 2012

    At my place of work a colleague who worked Saturdays was fired and without even asking, the boss automatically assumed I would work on Saturdays because obviously: I don’t have kids.
    I basically told them I wouldn’t. They were so suprised, like “but you’re the only one who can come on Saturdays, the rest of us have kids!”
    In the end I told them that it wasn’t fair, and that everyone should pitch in a Saturday a month and I made my case simply by saying: I might not have kids, but I have a husband, and we are a family and I’m simply not going to work every Saturday, I’m willing to come one Saturday a month. The rest will have to do the same. There was no alternative. To this day, each person comes to work one Saturday a month. It’s amazing how people asume that the single and childless/childfree “don’t have a life”. That phrase just gets under my skin so much because in any case, I could easily think the same about them.
    This episode of SATC is so good at pointing that out.

    • tiffanylo
      April 7, 2012

      Luisa, I am incredibly glad that you stood your ground on such an issue. It is appalling to me that one’s boss or co-workers would simply “expect” you to step up and take over Saturdays because you are child-free. Yes, you DO have a family, and that fact should be respected, even if your family doesn’t “look like” what others might expect because they have children. I have never experienced such a thing in the workplace, but I can understand it in other areas of life. Bravo for standing up for your rights!

    • Dienna
      April 7, 2012

      Similar things happen with me too. People assume that because I’m single and child-free that I’d be free to devote time to other things during my free time (volunteering, for instance). Did you people ever think that I may want to use my free time to rest and unwind instead?

      People who throw in the “But I’m a parent!” excuse to garner sympathy have me rolling my eyes and shaking my head.

      • olivia
        April 7, 2012

        Resting and unwinding is underrated, isn’t it Dienna! I’m a big fan of it myself… πŸ™‚

    • olivia
      April 7, 2012

      Good for you, Luisa That’s a really troubling assumption for your colleagues to have made and I’m so, so glad you stuck up for yourself.

  4. Dienna
    April 7, 2012

    I have seen this episode a few times before, and while Carrie having those beyond expensive shoes is ludicrous, her point about those who are single and child-free not being celebrated rang true to me. So you had children—what makes you better and more worth being praised than me?!

    It gives one something to think about.

  5. Nell
    April 8, 2012

    All I can say is, I really like the shoes in the picture πŸ™‚

  6. dinkschildfree
    April 10, 2012

    This is probably my favorite episode of SATC. Of course I have issues with it, but I can say I really love love love the show and have seen the whole show all the way through 4 times and I’ll do it at least 4 more times in my life! πŸ™‚ If you don’t have kids, people really don’t celebrate you anymore. You may go to dinner for your birthday, but it’s not a big deal. We really should be celebrated for all kinds of things!!

    I also love when Samantha throws herself a “I’m not having a baby” shower!

  7. Nicole
    April 10, 2012

    I totally love this episode! And I loved it long before I was infertile. I loved it when I had no thoughts on children, but I already cared about there being support for all ways of life. Women can always choose what to be. How to live. What is best for them as an individual. And for some that doesn’t include babies, but expensive shoes. Or travel. Or a lovely apartment or house. Whatever. And that should be celebrated and loved too.

    I agree, it is hard to be celebrated when you don’t have children. Sure, there can be celebrations at weddings or when you buy a house. But, we don’t get registries. People don’t fawn over us. So, I think we have to celebrate ourselves.

    Like DinksChildFree mentioned, I too love the episode of Samatha’s not-having-a-baby shower.

    The thing I love about Sex and the City is the 4 main characters always love, support, and celebrate each other.

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