Would YOU be offended at being called ‘childless’? Women brand terms like ‘childfree’ ‘crass’ and ‘insensitive’ – but are slammed for trying to ‘erase words from the English language’
- An anonymous woman thought to be UK-based said dislikes the term ‘childless’
- This prompted a lively debate around which terminology should be used
- Critics hit back and said they were getting ‘outraged’ over ‘nothing’
Women without children were slammed for being ‘over sensitive’ after they took issue with the terms ‘childless’ and ‘childfree’ in a heated online debate.
The Mumsnet thread was kickstarted by a British woman who said she disliked the term ‘childless’ after it was used by TV presenter Katie Piper in a recent Loose Women debate.
The post was met with agreement by dozens of other women who described the term as ‘crass’. They also said the word ‘childfree’, sometimes used as an alternative’ was ‘dehumanising’ to children because it made them sound like a ‘commodity’.
However others hit back against the argument, noting it appeared they wanted to be ‘offended over nothing’ and questioned what term would be appropriate if ‘childless’ and ‘childfree’ were ruled to be too offensive.
Women without children were slammed for being ‘over sensitive’ after they took issue with the terms ‘childless’ and ‘childfree’ in a heated online debate. Stock image
The Mumsnet thread was kickstarted by a British woman who said she disliked the term ‘childless’ after it was used by TV presenter Katie Piper in a recent Loose Women debate
The original poster wrote: ‘Watching loose women today, Katie Piper – not for the first time – used “childless” in reference to women without children.
‘Previously she has also said that she dreads employers who are childless because they lack the empathy for women with child care needs. I wish people would stop using “childless” as a description for people who are not parents.’
Multiple posters thought the term childfree could be taken offensively, with one writing: ‘I’ve heard childfree but then that can imply that children are a massive burden.’
Another agreed, adding: ‘I don’t like the implications of childfree. You may personally think children are a burden, but we shouldn’t use such a loaded word when speaking in general. I understand that childless isn’t exactly neutral either, but perhaps in time it will lose its negative side.’
Posters were divided on the issue, with some claiming ‘childfree’ is also an ‘offensive’ term
A further poster felt more strongly, saying: ‘I think childfree is far more offensive – and I don’t think many words are really offensive either.
‘Being free of something implies that it is rather a bad or undesirable thing. Bedbug-free, pain-free, disease-free.
‘Can you imagine saying it about any other group of people? Woman-free, Asian-free, lesbian-free? It’s only possible because many think of children as a sort of lifestyle choice rather than as persons.
However others questioned why the issue needed to be debated, with one writing: ‘Why is there this culture of outrage at everything these days?’
Other posters felt that the term ‘childfree’ was appropriate for them, as the term ‘childless’ can imply that people want children but are unable to have them
Another added: ‘Oh FFS. I wish I had enough time to be outraged by a neutral term like “childless”. “Childfree” seems problematic.’
A third wrote: ‘You are unreasonable. It is the correct term. Just because you don’t like a word doesn’t mean it can be erased from the English language.’
Others noted the terms are typically only applied to women, not men, with one writing: ‘I agree with a PP, who said that the terms ‘childfree’ or ‘childless’ are only applied to to women, not to men.
‘When describing myself to to others, I say I don’t have children. If they ask, I say I couldn’t have children. It’s a couple of extra words to say, rather than a term which I myself find dismissive.’
For some posters, it is that so much value is placed on whether or not women have children that’s problematic, rather than the terminology used
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