Unlike what many would believe, Belén Álvarez (Argentina) doesn’t hate babies. She simply doesn’t want to be a mother. She has known this since she was a child and society has always condemned her for her decision. However, as a member of the Child Free movement, she finally managed to find a welcoming space where she stopped “feeling crazy”.
In 2007, Belén Álvarez (Argentina) was only 14 years old when one of her primary school teachers opened up a door in her head.
From very early on in her life, Belen had always thought that she didn’t want to have children, but she’d never been taken seriously. Her classmates only talked about what they’d name their own babies. When they asked her about it, she’d answer with great embarrassment that she didn’t want to have children and felt judged by her peers and close friends.
However, the situation with her teacher made her realize that her position was as good as those who took the opposing side. When a classmate commiserated with the teacher for not having children, she stopped the class and responded with a clarity rarely seen in older women.
“She told me not to be ashamed, to not believe that she couldn’t have them, but that instead, that she’d decided not to have them. That she hadn’t married either and that she was happy that way. And I, wow, my head exploded. I felt the same way, but I didn’t know that you could live without those two things. From then on, it was clearer than ever: This is the lifestyle I want.”
—Belén Álvarez to Infobae—
Time went by and Belén continued to stand by her position, having to put up with all the questions from the people who wanted to butt into her life or were bothered by her decision. She dated someone for six years and people assumed that “she’d eventually feel the calling” to be a mother, but that never happened.
She began to realize, in her own words, that “society isn’t used to having a woman make choices about her body,” and that “one’s body is private property, and that the decision to have children or not is one’s own.”
At one point, she learned about the existence of the global Child Free movement, which brings together women and men who have no plans to have children in their lives. That’s where she found support, comfort and hope.
“I found a world of people who shared this feeling of not wanting to have children. We all had similar experiences, dealing with the typical aunt who insists at Christmas: ‘So when is it going to happen?’ The Child Free movement offered me support. I didn’t feel alone anymore, I didn’t feel like I was crazy.”
—Belén Álvarez a Infobae—
Belen explains that they don’t hate children or make moral judgments against those who decide to have them, instead they understand that each person has his or her own life goals and plans, which may or may not include kids.
After some time, the young woman, who is now 27 years old and has become a neurophysiologist, decided to ratify her decision. After almost 10 years of dealing with the matter and receiving refusals or evasions from doctors, she was able to have her tubes tied at the end of 2019.
“I know so many old people who no one ever goes to visit, and they die there, alone. So I know that having children doesn’t guarantee anything. Besides, you’re going to bring a child into the world to be your nurse? Now that sounds selfish to me.
—Belén Álvarez to Infobae—
These types of cases serve to demonstrate a reality that by now is undeniable. It’s unacceptable to not allow women to make decisions about their own bodies, especially when this reasoning is based on “values” and “good moral habits”.