Above: Dr. Helene Cummins, Brescia University College Professor, Sociology and Co-Editor of “The Truth about M(O)therhood: Choosing to be Childfree”
London, ON – Ticking biological clocks, the joys of motherhood, pronatalist ideologies and the societal emphasis for women to become mothers. These are expectations that women have been faced with for centuries – inciting them to pursue a life as a mother. But, what does an alternative look like? And, if women choose life without progeny, what do their lives look like as “the other” and not the mother?
These are the questions that Dr. Helene Cummins, Sociology Professor at Brescia University College, explores in her co-authored and co-edited book, The Truth about M(O)therhood: Choosing to be Childfree. Published by Demeter Press in February 2021, this anthology of interdisciplinary work provides readers with a variety of perspectives regarding reproductive choices and the emerging concept of being childfree-by-choice.
“We live in a world that often subjugates and denigrates women without children,” says Dr. Cummins. “There are a multitude of reasons as to why a woman may live a childfree existence, many of which society looks down upon. As a feminist sociologist, and professor at Canada’s only women’s university, this is an issue that I view with great concern, and something that needs to be addressed across cultures in order to create and sustain a more inclusive and understanding world.”
Highlighting the path to and the consequences of being childfree, The Truth about M(O)therhood: Choosing to be Childfree delves into and challenges the stigma that childfree women are often labelled as narcissistic, self-obsessed and lonely – casting them into the role as “the other.” It also addresses the motivations behind being childfree and that not all women choose this form of living, but may have additional underlying factors, such as fertility issues.
The Truth about M(O)therhood: Choosing to be Childfree consists of nine chapters, composed by sixteen authors from across the globe. Covering a variety of backgrounds and specialties, each author addresses the concept of “childfree” and how it may link to sociology, anthropology, psychology, demography, religion, language, literature, popular media, medicine and child and/or family studies. In addition to Dr. Cummins, the book was co-edited by Judith Dunkelberger Wouk, LLB, Kingston and Dr. Julie Anne Rodgers, Assistant Professor/Lecturer and Head of French Studies at Maynooth University, Ireland.
When reflecting on her hopes for the newly-released book, Dr. Cummins reveals, “Our world is slowly making progress in accepting the many ways of being as an individual, and yet a stigma still exists for women who remain childfree. It is my sincere hope that this book helps light a spark to reform society, to open opportunities to ‘the other’ and discuss ways in which societies and workplaces can support women without children.”
“Dr. Cummins’ work makes a significant contribution to current research and also provides powerful insights for women’s lives locally and globally,” says Dr. Lauretta Frederking, Brescia Vice-Principal and Academic Dean. “At Brescia, we are educating women to lead with wisdom, justice and compassion. Our students will travel many paths in their own lives and through her book, Dr. Cummins sets a fine example for our students about the choices women have, and the many ways women are called to lead.”
To learn more about The Truth about M(O)therhood: Choosing to be Childfree, visit: https://demeterpress.org/books/the-truth-about-motherhood-choosing-to-be-childfree/
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About Brescia University College
Brescia University College, Canada’s women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,600 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in the Schools of Behavioural & Social Sciences, Food & Nutritional Sciences, Humanities, and Leadership & Social Change in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. As a Catholic University College, Brescia welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room, at brescia.uwo.ca/communications/media_relations.