Can you be Pro-Life and Anti-Contraception?

This is a question that keeps coming up time and time again as we continue to wade through the waters of women’s health. Now the obvious answer is “Yes, someone can believe in whatever ideas they want to, regardless of how well they line up or how severely they contradict one another.” But the underlying question is whether or not it’s ethical to seek to end legal abortion while simultaneously trying to prevent access to contraception.

Definitions

A contraceptive is a device (such as an IUD or the birth control pill) used to prevent conception. Note that conception is the fertilization of an egg and occurs before pregnancy.

The Issue

The basis for this issue stems from religious doctrine and its interpretation. A large number of Christians are opposed to abortions because they believe that the human fetus (sometimes even a fertilized human egg) must be seen with the same rights and personhood as a post-birth child. The Catholic church also formally denounces abortion for the same reason. Additionally, the Catholic church is – perhaps famously – against the use of contraceptives among its members, as it believes sex and reproduction should never be uncoupled. Many other protestant churches and church groups are also against the free or low-cost distribution of contraceptives, believing that it will encourage non-married people to have extra-marital sex, which is accepted as a sin throughout Christianity and other religions.

Things start to get muddy, however, when one considers that the same freedom of religion that allows these and all other groups to practice their religions and engage in or abstain from whatever practices they choose also allows others to do the same. Under U.S. civil law, it is legal to use contraception and to engage in consensual sex with any consenting adult. It should also be noted that abortion is also legal in all 50 United States.

Some sobering facts:

Many pro-life politicians and other advocates strongly believe that illegalizing abortion is the best way to prevent it, despite undeniable evidence that –  throughout world history as well as in the relatively recent history of this country – abortions will continue whether it is legal or not. Illegal abortions will simply be far more dangerous to the woman.

This brings many who are both pro-life and anti-contraception to a difficult place. If the overwhelming number of abortions occur from unwanted pregnancies, finding a way to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies would be a sure way to reduce the number of abortions. The good news is that there is a way. And unlike banning abortions, this solution has never yet been tried on a large scale, so there’s significant hope that it might actually work.

The solution is making contraceptives easily accessible to everyone. Those who have religious conflicts of interest will find that they must decide which they, their religion, and their God finds worse: murder (as many pro-life people believe abortion to be) or allowing others to have sex in ways that they themselves are not permitted. You’d think the answer would be obvious, and yet for decades religious groups have actively fought against the disbursement of free, low-cost, and sometimes even full-cost contraceptives.

It’s time to stock the shelves with affordable, easily-available birth control.

So can you be pro-life and anti-contraception? Certainly, but not without engaging in outright hypocrisy, and not without actively creating a need for the very procedure you’re so opposed to.

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Why Taking Contraceptives Does Not Make You A Slut

No, for the very last time, you are not paying me to have sex.

Most of you probably remember several years ago when Rush Limbaugh declared that Sandra Fluke was a ‘slut’ who wanted taxpayers to pay her to have sex. Fluke was making the case for contraceptives to be covered by healthcare, which would seem like a no-brainer when one considers the enormous cost of raising a child, which can be subsidized by taxpayers through programs like WIC, Medicaid, and other welfare programs for children of low-income families. But the obvious cost-savings of subsidizing contraceptives over children isn’t the point of this article. The point is that the idea – which somehow persists – that women receiving low-cost or free contraceptives are being paid to have sex goes so far past a logical fallacy that it’s about to come back around the other side and pass it by again.

But if you’ve got some friends, co-workers, or family members who like to talk about how responsible XX chromosome owners are using their tax dollars to fund their sinful escapades, simply reply with one of these 4, easily-digestible points.

1. If women on birth control are prostitutes, so are mothers receiving government aid. Every mother has had sex (though not always consensually). So how is it that a woman who takes contraceptives to prevent pregnancy is being paid for sex, while a mother on government assistance isn’t?

2. Women on birth control aren’t always having sex. Anyone who’s pregnant must have had sex, but due to the nature of hormone based contraceptives and devices such as IUDs, women use contraceptives whether they’re having sex or not. Some women use birth control for reasons completely unrelated to sex.

3. No one is being paid. I’ll repeat that: no one is being paid. Being able to obtain low-cost or free birth control is not the same as being paid. If you think it is, trying paying Mr. Limbaugh with pill packs and see if he accepts them as currency.

4. Even if they were being paid, it wouldn’t be for having sex. I want to stress this: the women using contraceptives aren’t being paid (though the pharmaceutical companies providing them are… does that make them sluts?). However, even if we were to imagine that receiving subsidized contraceptives was somehow the equivalent of receiving money, women would be receiving that money to either a) not get pregnant if/when they have sex anyway or b) treat a hormonal imbalance or other disease or disorder.

So next time your outspoken uncle tries to talk about how women are making a living off of subsidized birth control, you can kindly let him know why he’s been misinformed.

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The Problem with Birth Control

Two studies have come to light in the past year that have made a splash in women’s health.

The first resulted in data that simply showed that depression was higher in women and teen girls taking oral contraceptives than the general population, and suggested a causal link. This caused a stir because oral contraceptives have been having this effect on women since literally the very first trials on the pill, yet was not confirmed by scientists until over 50 years later. Even more upsetting is that no new technology or novel approach was used to draw this conclusion; all of the evidence has been there all along.

Understandably, this can feel both vindicating and upsetting to women who have suffered these side effects. Often doctors neglect to inform patients of potential side effects such as these, and even when it becomes clear the medication is having an adverse effect, many times pharmacists and other healthcare professionals either deny that they exist or insist that they’ll go away. The fortunate patients are able to switch to a different type of pill or find another form of contraception that meets their needs. The rest simply endure, either believing it’s all in their heads, or accepting that the side effects are better than having an unwanted pregnancy.

Now, at last the medical community acknowledges what many women have know for decades. Yet who wouldn’t feel some resentment that it too so long to finally study and admit it?

On the heels of this study comes information from a clinical trial of a birth control injection for men. It should come as no surprise to doctors, researchers, or women who have taken the pill, but many men in the test group experienced the typical side effects, including changes in mood and loss of libido. What did come as a shock to some was the fact that 20 (of a group of 320) participants stated that these side effects were unbearable, concerns for the participants’ safety were raised, and the trial was halted.

Now, if a number of participants refuse to continue, it’s not uncommon for a clinical trial to be suspended. Nor is it a bad thing that researchers took these side effects seriously enough to stop the trial to ensure the safety of the subjects. However, what’s leading to outrage in some is the fact that it appears that when men experience exact same things women have been complaining about for 50 years, researchers may be either indefinitely suspending research and production or possibly even going back to the drawing board.

Let’s be clear – no one, male or female – should have to suffer through these side effects, particularly if they can be avoided. Most women feeling upset about this development aren’t calling for men to suffer. The problem is that this is yet another (and disturbingly modern) example of women’s health being ignored or dismissed while men’s health is not.

It gets even more damning when we examine the history of the development of the pill and see that at the time an injection or pill contraceptive was considered for men, but the idea was scrapped due – in part – to the assumption that men wouldn’t tolerate the side effects, but women (who have always been legally and socially held responsible for the children that often result from sex) would accept them.

We should take note that the original birth control pill, Enovid, contained up to ten times the amount of hormones needed to prevent ovulation, leading to more frequent and more severe side effects. Since then, the pill has been greatly improved by cutting down the dosage. Even so, as our first study shows, many women still experience side effects that can dramatically reduce their quality of life.

So, why are women angry about all this? Because many of us feel that this is just one more example of a problem not being considered a problem until it’s something men have to deal with. This is the result of a patriarchal (note, not “male-dominated” but “patriarchal”) medical establishment within a patriarchal society that dismisses the suffering of women but actively addresses the suffering of men.

What does this mean for the future? There are three possible outcomes of the suspension of the clinical trial for men’s contraceptive injections. The first is that the trial will resume and men will be told that they must deal with these symptoms and potential dangers just as women have (I don’t think that’s very likely). The second is that the trial will never be renewed and this method of contraception will be abandoned. This will clearly lead to anger and resentment as women will still be faced with the often physically unpleasant task of being responsible for contraception. And the third and possibly most inflammatory outcome is that the drug may be re-designed to minimize the side effects in the male injection. Imagine how women who have endure depression and the loss of sex drive for years will feel if it turns out there was a fix for this all along, but no one looked into until men began to suffer as well.

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Focus on the Endgame – How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 5/5 – Keep Your Focus on the Endgame.

Focus on the Endgame - Having a Meaningful Life without Kids

Or, Don’t get too sidetracked by the mini-quests.

Do you ever play a video game, and get so wrapped up in a side quest that you lose sight of your main goal? You hunt around for gold (rupees, or what-have-you) to get this next thing, which will let you get to this thing, which will allow you to complete this mini-quest, which will allow you to get the other thing, which you can take back to the wizard to get the thing you need to continue on your main quest.

Obviously in a game, as soon as you finally finish all that, you can get back to the main goal. But in real life, some people either completely forget about the main quest, or they never knew about it in the first place. So when they finally finish the mini-quest, they’re left… with nothing. Just some useless sword that doesn’t seem to be good for anything.

Well, I finished the quest. Now what?
Well, I finished the quest. Now what?

This is the disillusionment that falls over people who were focused on real life’s mini-quests. The mothers who had children because they thought it would make them happy, the success-driven business men and women who were brought up believing that once there was enough money they could relax, and the single, childfree people who pursued pure, momentary gratification believing that self-indulgence was the goal in life.

Dissatisfaction and disappointment don’t come from choosing a certain career or lifestyle. They come from putting one’s faith and hope for happiness in said choices. For example…

"I'm just not feeling the spark anymore, Mr. Bank."
“Where did all our passion go, Mr. Bank?”

The problem with making financial security your goal isn’t that money is bad. It’s that money is just a means to an end. When you focus on the means and lose sight of the end, your goals will shift. When you finally do attain them, you won’t be where you wanted. Money can buy physical security and comfort, and those are very important in this life. But your focus has to be on your overall well being, not just your physical well being.

The problem with making children your goal is that children are actual people. They are their own individual selves, not tools for your comfort. Being a parent and watching your children grow can be an immense source of comfort, but if your goal in having children is to be happy, you will be disappointed.

To lead a meaningful life, your underlying focus and goal in all things must be to improve yourself. And when I say “improve,” that’s not to imply that you’re in a bad place. It just means you’re in your starting place at the beginning of the game. Think of every new thing you learn or accomplish as leveling up. The classes you take, volunteer work you do, and so forth are all power ups you pick up along the way.

New skill added - Level Up complete!
New skill added – Level Up complete!

Do you want to have children? Good. Enjoy infinite experience points. Do you want to travel the world? Go ahead. You’ll find plenty of ways to increase your awareness and add to your supply of knowledge. We’re taught to believe that focusing on ourselves is bad, selfish, or downright hedonistic, but it’s not. Just like in a single player game, you are the only person you can control, so your well-being must be your focus. That only becomes selfish when you drag other people into your life and then sacrifice their well-being for yours (and that includes having kids you don’t want).

So go out, travel, make money, indulge, and have fun. But don’t let these things become your goal or source of happiness, or you’ll likely find yourself alone at the end of it all.

And when one mini-quest is complete, move on to the next one. Don’t look back and tell yourself, “If I’d only made a different choice back at the last castle, I’d be happy!” The game isn’t over – you’ve just decided to stop in the middle and mourn a decision that, ultimately, wouldn’t affect the outcome in any significant way. If you get to 45 or 50 and think that you’d be happier if you’d have children, you’re wrong. Pinning your hope on someone else is never the answer. If you’d had kids, you’d just be unhappy in a different way.

Focus on the Endgame - Having a Meaningful Life without Kids

Simply enjoy that fact that you are your goal; you are your quest. Because in the end, the only person you’ll really have, right up until your last breath, is your own amazing self.

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Help the Vulnerable – A Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 4/5 – Help the vulnerable

How to Have a Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable
“Bless the beasts and the children…”

So far in this series, we’ve looked at some specific ways you can create a meaningful life without raising children. In this article, however, I’m going to look at something more general.

When you set out to create your own business, find the right volunteer opportunity, or start on your career, it’s your motivations more than your precise actions, that will lead to a fulfilling or unfulfilling life. Now, I could take this moment to talk about how money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’d rather cut to the chase and simply say that finding meaning in life means finding meaning in something outside of yourself.

To be honest, I think this is why a lot of people have kids. How often have you heard something like, “When I had my daughter, it all came together. I realized there was so much more to life than just my life”? Or, “You don’t understand love until you start living for someone else”?

This idea of finding meaning by helping others is ancient. We evolved as highly social beings, in groups where helping one another was necessary for survival. However, it quickly moved beyond what was necessary. For instance, some of the earliest remains of our human ancestors show that they cared for the injured, elderly, and otherwise disabled. Some cases show injuries that would have taken months to heal, yet the other tribe members cared for this non-contributing member no matter how long it took them to recover.

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable

Later on, Aristotle philosophized that real friendship was found in loving, rather than being loved. He remarks that a mother loves her child without seeking love in return. This is the essence of having meaning in one’s life. To love, to give, and to help for the sake of those things. And though the ideal of a mother’s love is a strong example, you don’t need to have children to devote your life to the service of others.

In this series, we’ve already gone over volunteering and sharing knowledge. In this article, I’m going to talk about something more general: simply helping the vulnerable.

Who are “the vulnerable?”

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable

Our world is filled with people who susceptible to injury, who’ve undergone financial or emotional hardship, and who are otherwise at a higher risk for misfortune. People (human and non-human) who have little to no control over their lives are also vulnerable, as their well-being depends on the will of another. Such people are often children, animals, and people who are institutionalized (in prison, mental health facilities, or senior citizen homes).

How do I help them?

When offering aid, it’s important to do so without coming across as patronizing. Offering assistance to another should always be done out of a spirit of humility and the realization that if only a few things in your life had been different, you could be the one in need of help.

That being said, there are tons of ways to offer your service to those who need it.

Volunteer Your Time:

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the VulnerableAnimals

Making the safety and well-being of animals is one of the best ways to create a meaningful life.

Animal Charity Evaluators is a great resource that examines the effectiveness of various types of charities and volunteer efforts designed to help animals.

Help the Vulnerable - The American SpinsterChildren

Great Nonprofits is a website that provides information on various charities and volunteer opportunities. Visit their page for at-risk youth to learn about opportunities in your area: http://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/children-and-youth

Help The Vulnerable - The American SpinsterElderly

Create the Good has an excellent guide on volunteering to help the eldery here: http://createthegood.org/campaign/volunteeringwithseniors

Get You Business Involved:

Whether you work for a large company or have your own small business, you can get involved on a corporate level. Charity Navigator has written an article with some great advice about giving through your workplace: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/cpid/159

If there’s a particular cause you’d like your workplace to consider, most charity and nonprofit websites will have information for corporations you can print out or email to your employer.

Want to find real, lasting meaning in your life without creating new humans? Become a servant to the ones who already exist.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids
How to Have a Meaningful Life Without Kids – An American Spinster Blog Series

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Learn & Teach – A Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 3/5 – Learn and Teach

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Part 3/5

One of the most fulfilling ways to live is to continue your education every day of your life, and pass what you know onto others. Education is what helps us grow as human beings, to continue our spiritual, mental, and emotional evolution. So if you’re wondering what the key to living a meaningful life is, this is it.

Learning
Part of being a single and/or childfree person is being able to develop yourself to your own fullest potential. Often parents set aside their own education to focus their energy on helping their children get the most out of theirs, but as a childfree person there’s no reason to stop learning. Many colleges (including prestigious universities like Harvard) offer full online courses for free. You can do that in your spare time with no financial commitment.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Education
Community Colleges are great places to learn a new skill or continue your education.

You can also use a continuing education to improve your career. A number of the colleges and universities I mentioned above offer the option of receiving a certificate upon completion of the course (usually for a small mailing fee). Or you can simply take classes at your accredited community college. Even if a course isn’t directly related to your field, proof of a continuing education looks fantastic on your resume.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Learn and Teach
Learn a new skill just because you can.

But learning doesn’t have to be academic. If there’s a new skill you’ve been wanting to add to your arsenal, go out and learn it. It doesn’t even need to be practical. Are you an adult who’s always wanted to learn ballet? Go find a class. The important thing is to keep your mind (and body) learning new things.

Teaching
Teaching others not only helps you solidify what you know, it’s also a rewarding experience. By sharing your knowledge with others (either by writing an eBook, a tutorial, or in a more formal situation), you can help enrich someone else’s life and, in a small way, contribute to the education level of humanity. Helping to guide someone from ignorance to enlightenment is one of the most fulfilling ways to live your life.

How To
If you have the time and the financial ability, take a class at the community college every semester. If not, take advantage of the hundreds of legit, free online courses from major universities.

Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Learn and Teach
Take free online courses from accredited universities in your own time.

http://betteryourselfonline.com/free-online-courses/ This is an amazing resource listing over 1100 completely free online courses.

http://www.udemy.com Udemy is a great way to learn new skills, but it’s also a way to share them with others. Create your own course to share what you know with students from all across the world.

If you’re looking for something less formal, try creating a youtube tutorial about something you know.

Looking for something more formal and long-term? Look up local places teaching what you’re skilled in and find out what their requirements are to become an instructor. Many disciplines require some type of mandatory training or knowledge test, but don’t let this intimidate you. Get the certification you need and become an official teacher of what you love.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids
Part 3/5 – Learn and Teach

Next up is Part 4/5 – Help the Vulnerable

Volunteer – A Meaningful Life Without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 2/5 – Volunteer

The American Spinster - VolunteerIf volunteering doesn’t sound like your thing, remember that there’s more to it than soup kitchens and dog walking (both of which are incredibly helpful, by the way). My high school experiences with volunteering were slightly – for lack of a better word – disappointing. We’d all carpool over to someplace, do a minimal amount of work (such as sealing a stack of envelopes), and then go back to school. It seemed like a highly inefficient process to me, and led me to believe that volunteering was just a way for people to feel like they were doing good without getting much accomplished.

However, when I began taking college classes, I had a completely different experience. The lab portion of a GenEd biology course took place at the local park/wildlife preserve. Our goal was to create a set of retention ponds. This was in Florida in an area experiencing rapid expansion that had a noticeable impact on local wildlife. The ponds were more to provide a new, safe ecosystem for animals than to prevent flooding. It sounded fairly dull… but it was anything but.

The American Spinster - Volunteer
Yep, this was my life for 9 weeks.

The ponds had already been dug and water had accumulated. The class of 20 or so students went out on a weekly basis and took water samples, donned rubber coveralls to wade into the pond and plant duckwead, and even taught a group of middle school students about our work there. I was tanned, sore, tired, and smelled like pond water at the end of each day. And it was amazing. Afterward, every time I drove past the park, I felt a sense of pride, because I’d actually done legit work to create those ponds.

I realize now that as a high schooler, my volunteer experiences were meant to introduce me to the idea of volunteering in a way that didn’t require my parents to sign a liability waiver. As an adult, I can now do work that has a real, positive impact on those around me.

Getting Started

So what can you do? You can certainly find local groups with which to volunteer. But as a free agent, your options are limitless. Organize something yourself. Create the Good has a library of resources about starting your own volunteering efforts. You can clean a river or for something less intense and more long-term, start a community garden.

The American Spinster - Volunteer
Volunteering can simply be doing something you already love.

Singer, songwriter, and activist Zoe Boekbinder (incidentally a single, childfree woman) started the Prison Music Project. The project connects prisoners to music, helping lower recidivism and improve conditions. One woman started this project. You could do just as much.

Zoe Boekbinder's Prison Music Project
Give something you love a life of its own.

The American Spinster - VolunteerIf you’d like to leave the house but not have to fill out any forms or commit to being anywhere at a certain time, you can improve your community by simply picking up litter. Get a pair of gloves, a trash bag, and go. Your community will probably never thank you for it, but you’re doing this for personal fulfillment, not praise.

Or, try this resource for computer-based ways to volunteer: helpfromhome.org.

There are so many ways to turn what you love into something that contributes to the community. This is how you have a meaningful life.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids
Part 2/5 – Volunteer

Next up in the series: Part 3/5 – Learn and Teach.

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How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids

Part 1/5: Why you don’t need kids to be fulfilled.

The Myth: “Your life just doesn’t have meaning until you have kids.”

One of the many warnings matronly women like to give childfree women and couples is that their lives will be shallow without children. Sure, you can do whatever you want now, but all the glitz of travel and caviar will wear off one day, and then you’ll be alone. Alone with no real meaning in your life, because you spent your youth focusing on yourself (and/or your spouse) instead of something greater.

How to have a meaningful life without kids.
I’ll just sit here by myself wishing I’d had children.

This has a sobering ring to it, but it’s hardly a criticism exclusive to (or necessarily of) single women. I’m sure we can all think of people who had children and still find themselves alone in their old age when their children have gone on to have children of their own.

The idea that only children can give a woman’s a deeper, long-lasting life meaning also implies that most childfree women are just too self-absorbed to have any greater meaning in life than their own gratification. That’s to say nothing of the fact that children don’t exist just to provide meaning to an adult’s life. They’re individuals in their own right, who shouldn’t be treated as a means to an end (the end being the fulfilling life and happy retirement).

The Reality:

Women are realizing more and more that the idea that was broadcast to the Victorian woman and which persisted until the late 20th century is wrong. The idea that the only way for a woman to feel fulfilled and receive lasting love was to have a child.

Not only are there other ways to obtain love and fulfillment, but the belief that children = happiness has led to generations of unfulfilled and dissatisfied mothers feeling like they got a raw deal. Their children grow up and – of all the nerve – have lives of their own. At the end of her life, she’s left alone, and shifts her desire for love to the hope of grandchildren.

Yes, maybe I’m painting an overly dark picture. After all, most people move onto other things in their later years, like volunteer work. Once they get over the sadness of an empty nest, many women find a job, or if they have a career already, move into community service after they retire. A woman who raises children can still find fulfillment after her children have grown up and moved away.

Which of course begs the question, is doing good in the world just a poor substitute for the love of a child, or does it just take most people that long to realize that they can get true, lasting happiness in other ways?

How to have a meaningful life without kids
I’ll just sit here waiting for my bus to carry me to my next adventure.

Children are not the only means to a meaningful life. There are many ways for childfree women to contribute to society, improve the world in which we live, and find genuine satisfaction.

This week and next, I’m going to look at several ways to lead a fulfilling life without having kids. Coming up next: Part 2/5 – Volunteering Like You Mean It.

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10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do

Shh, don’t spill the beans, but single women are actually, secretly, living the life.

Well, not all of us. Some of us are married women deep down who just haven’t found their husbands (or properly wrangled their boyfriends). That segment of the single population is trying to live the married life in a single status, and that’s usually a recipe for unhappiness. But for all of the intentionally single women, life can be amazing.

So if you’re a single lady and you aren’t enjoying yourself, it’s time to start really living the single life. How? I’m glad you asked.

1. Adopt a pet.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Adopt a PetNo, it doesn’t have to be a cat (but really, why wouldn’t you want a cat?). Rescuing a pet from a shelter is an incredibly rewarding experience. Yes, they’re messy, costly, and time-consuming, but the cost-benefit ratio is generally pretty high. You may not want a hoard of screaming kids or a nagging spouse, but it can be nice to come home to a warm, furry critter who wants nothing more from life than a bowl of food and a tummy rub.

2. Keep your home (relatively) clean.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Keep Your Home (Relatively) CleanThis isn’t to please your mother or impress your neighbors, it’s to keep your home an enjoyable place to be. When you live by yourself, you reign in your own castle. Piles of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry kind of diminish that. Make your home a sanctuary by keeping it as pristine as possible.

3. Play music you enjoy.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Play Music You EnjoyYou want to know one of the best things about living alone? You can listen to whatever you want, whenever you want (as long as it’s not loud enough to annoy the neighbors). Remember what I said about your home being your castle? Strike up the chamber orchestra as you do your daily chores. You’ll be amazed at home much more comforting your home becomes.

4. Eat your favorite foods.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Eat Your Favorite FoodsI knew a woman once who lived by herself, but still felt compelled to eat the traditional breakfast and dinner foods she was raised with, even though she didn’t really like them. Why? It wasn’t an issue of money or nutrition, she simple felt like she was supposed to.

Don’t let that be you. You are your own boss when it comes to meals, so eat whatever you want (as long as it won’t send you to an early grave).

5. Drink your favorite drinks.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Drink Your Favorite DrinksThis includes wine all by your lonesome or Mondo Blast Chillers if that’s your thing. Nothing is ‘for kids’ or only for certain social occasions. So what if your roommate thinks it’s strange? You don’t have to work around anyone else’s tastes, so just work with your own. While you’re at it, drink right from the carton. Because you can.

6. Respect your time.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Respect Your TimeIf you don’t respect your own time, no one else will. So if your boss tries to tell you that you can work late, “Because it’s not like you have anyone waiting for you,” tell them that you had plans anyway. (Unless you want to work late and get that extra pay – that’s up to you.) Contrary to popular belief, being single doesn’t mean you’re available for everyone else’s convenience.

7. Decorate your home

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Decorate Your HomeThis goes back again to your home being your castle. If there’s one thing single, childfree women do that gets on my nerves, it’s staring longingly at Pinterest, gazing at nurseries, playrooms, or even kitchens and thinking, “If only I could do that.”

Hello? You can. If you live alone, you don’t even need to get anyone’s permission. If you like the toy display, dig out your old stuffed animals and make the toy display. If you like the 50s kitchen theme, do it. It’s not actually 1950, so you don’t need to cook for a husband to have a nice kitchen.

8. Have a hobby.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Have a HobbyI’m all in favor of getting home and turning on Netflix, but without the familial responsibilities that married women and moms have, it’s easy to spend the entire night wrapped up in a Dr. Who marathon. Use some of that extra time to work on a new skill or craft. Take up an instrument. Start a garden. Give yourself more variety on your after-work hours, and you’ll probably enjoy life a lot more.

9. Volunteer.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - VolunteerNot to sound preachy, but we single women should be putting some of that free time toward improving the lives of others. You’ve already done well by not popping out more babies, but the babies irresponsible parents already dropped off still need help. Consider sharing your time with a disadvantaged girl through Big Brothers Big Sisters, or doing something less long-term like volunteering at a soup kitchen. Truth be told, we have the time that moms and married women don’t, as well as a social obligation to contribute.

10. Date only if you feel like it.

10 Things Every Single Woman Should Do - Date Only If You Want ToAnd finally, one of the most important things for a single women to do is to only date if she wants to. If you do want to go out, great! It’s not too difficult to have some enjoyable relationships once you say, “I’m not looking to get married,” so have fun. But if that’s not what you’re looking for, don’t let anyone pressure you into it. You’re single because you want to be, and if anyone thinks you’re lying or tries to hook you up, just thank them for the effort and carry on.

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Nope, Still Not There

No, I still don’t want kids, and I’m not going to have them.

What? You don't want kids?
What? You don’t want kids?

If you’re a childfree woman, you’ve almost certainly been told that you need to have children. That you’ll regret it if you don’t. That you secretly want children deep, deep down inside.

If you’re beginning to feel like it might not be so bad to give in to the pressure and have a kid, consider the following.

In an interview on NPR, author Ann Patchett shares what it feels like when friends, family, and strangers tell her she wants a baby, but just doesn’t know it yet.

It would be like if somebody said, “Your car keys are in the drawer.”

And you go and you open the drawer, and not only are your car keys not in the drawer, there’s nothing in the drawer. The drawer is empty.

keysAnd you come back and you say, “The keys aren’t in the drawer.”

And they say, “No, go back and look again. They are in the drawer.”

And you go back and you open the drawer and it is empty. And that’s how I always felt. Like people were always saying to me, “Go back and look again. Examine the inner contents of your heart, you will find it.”

And I never did.

Even if a childfree woman can convince someone that this is true, they’ll probably say that, even though you don’t want children, you’ll regret not having them. For me personally, there’s never been anything in my life that I didn’t want, and later regretted not going out and getting anyway. There have been things I wanted, but talked myself out of. There have been things I wanted but was unable to have. But never has there been some Thing that, having no desire for it, I later wish I’d gotten.

Finally there’s the idea that having a baby is just something a woman should do. I very fervently disagree. No one should have a baby unless they deeply want one. Having a child you don’t really want (but plan to love and care for as though you did) is like switching the career you like for one that you don’t enjoy, because so many people are telling you that you’ll like it once you have it, and you’ll regret it if you don’t switch now. Imagine the following exchange:

This was a mistake.
This was a mistake.

“But I don’t want to be a marine biologists. I don’t really have a passion for sea life at all. I’m really pretty indifferent to it.”

“Listen, your window of opportunity is closing. If you don’t quit your job, go back to school, and start this new career now, you’ll regret it later. And besides, you’ll love marine life once it’s in your care.”

You would think the second person is crazy, and that the first person is even crazier if she takes this advice. Devoting the next 18+ years of your physical and emotional life to something you don’t actually desire, but worry you may regret not having later on, is (I’m sorry) very foolish.

To use Ann Patchett’s analogy, the keys aren’t going to suddenly materialize in the drawer just because someone else expects them to. Even if you are persuaded to believe that they’re actually there, and open the drawer (for the hundredth time), this time fully expecting them to be there, they still won’t be there.

Creating a new human being and raising it isn’t like buying a blouse that you’re not sure about. You can’t just send it to the thrift store a year later when you realize you never wanted it (but the discount made you feel like it’d be a mistake not to get it).

In fact, it’s not even like buying a house. “It’s an investment!” people tell you. “You’ll save so much money in the long run, you should buy one now.” If you buy a house when you don’t want one (or really can’t afford one), the very worst scenario is that it goes into foreclosure and you file for bankruptcy.

bankruptAnd if that sounds like a pretty bad worst case scenario, pause for a moment and consider what you’ll feel like  when you realize you’ve spent two-hundred and forty-five thousand dollars on something that, though it’s nice, you never really wanted.

The financial and emotional costs are worthwhile if it’s for something you genuinely, deeply desire. But if it’s for something that someone else tells you you might regret later? That there is just a bad decision, any way you look at it.

When it comes to creating a new human, “How bad could it be?” is not a smart approach. If you don’t want children, for the sake of yourself and your unborn, hypothetical offspring, don’t be bullied into it.

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