More women than ever are choosing not to have children and yet, unlike men, many child-free women find themselves under a harsh spotlight, often being grilled by friends and strangers alike, with deeply personal questions surrounding their reproductive choices.
During last night’s episode of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here, Lisa Snowdon found herself in the firing line, and was subjected to a Spanish Inquisition about why she hasn’t procreated.
Read more: Adele praises ‘bravery’ of child-free women
Fellow jungle campmate Jordan Banjo, who found fame as part of street dance troupe Diversity, had made it his business to ask everyone taking part on the show whether or not they were planning on having kids. However, while some, like Strictly’s Ola Jordan and Gogglebox’s Scarlett Moffatt, were happy to admit that they did plan on starting a family, the question was less than welcome for others.
“Not now,” said Snowdon, when her campmates turned to hear her response. And then, firmly reminding everyone to stop interrogating women about such a private matter, the 44 year old went on to explain that she had wanted to have a family of her own, but never had the chance.
“It’s so hard,” she said. “I left it kind of late. I didn’t find anybody that I wanted to actually be with, and I didn’t want to have kids to just…”
“Have kids,” supplied Jordan.
“Yes,” said the model and television presenter. “I wanted that unit kind of thing. So maybe not in this lifetime.”
The conversation had clearly affected Snowdon more than she let on, as she later went into the Bush Telegraph (similar to Big Brother’s Diary Room) to continue the conversation.
“Children enrich your life so much, so of course I wanted to be a mum,” she said. “It just didn't work out for me that way. It's tricky. It's hard.
“It's not like I've got a heart of stone, and I'm like, 'Oh no, I don't want them; I don't need them in my life.' It's been something that I've had to deal with. People think it's not too late, but it's not always that easy.”
Her comments, however, left many viewers divided.
While the majority of them took to social media to slam Banjo for his ‘insensitive’ line of questioning, dubbing him both sexist and inappropriate, others criticised Snowdon for suggesting that women who don’t want to children must be heartless.
It's a horrible stigma that is exhausting.Having to defend yourself to people constantly. Like you should be put in a Petri dish & studied.— Jenn Gannon (@jennpops) November 17, 2016
“It’s a horrible stigma that is exhausting,” commented one. “Having to defend yourself constantly. [It feels] like you should be put in a petri dish and studied.”
Another added: “People need to stop being dicks about other people’s choices. We need more sounders.”
“Having kids is great for some, but if you know it’s not for you, then that’s great too,” advised one viewer.
Read more: “So, when are you going to have kids?”
Earlier this year, Jennifer Aniston penned a blistering op-ed about sexist stereotyping in the media – particularly focusing on the stigma attached to so many women in the public eye, whether they’re single, divorced, or living a child-free lifestyle.
She later told Marie Claire that she was sick of being ‘shamed’ for her choices, saying: “I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad, childless human.”
The moral of this story?
We need to stop asking women if they want to have kids, because a) it’s none of our business, and b) we’ve accepted this ambivalence about children from men for centuries. Not to accept the same from women is just pure sexism.