my interview with brent jowers (find him on twitter @thebrentus). he’s a real novelty; not only is he a trill OG, he’s also staunchly childfree. and he’s hilarious.
me: it’s refreshing to talk with a childfree man. have you always felt this way?
brent: Absolutely! The whole “procreation is the pinnacle of success” narrative never made sense to me. When I was a child, all of the fantasies I had about adulthood had to do with exploring, pillaging, plundering, and achievement. All of my goals were oriented around the concept of leaving a legacy that is centered around living life to the utmost, not leaving a symbolic legacy through DNA. When people ask me about my “choice” to be childfree, I correct them by stating that it was never a choice, it was just the way I was wired from the get-go. My childfree status is an endorsement stating that the awesomeness of life is not a means to a reproductive end, on the contrary, the fact that I am free to strive and make a difference in ways that I see fit is the ultimate realization of a blissful existence. The freedoms that come with adulthood are amazing, so I would do myself a disservice by diluting my ability to ebb and flow with the energy of my existence, if I were shackled with the overwhelming momentum-killing scenario of raising children.
me: you’re active in the online childfree community so you’re familiar with the kinds of challenges that childfree women face. do you feel that, in general, people take your stance less seriously or are more accepting of it because you’re a man?
brent: Childfree women have been extremely supportive and welcoming. This is partially because I have a high level of empathy for them because I see the marginalization I receive for being childfree, even though I’m male, so I cannot imagine how it must feel to be a woman who lives in a discriminatory society that bypasses her bodily autonomy and tells her that she is failing mankind by not using her insides as a fetus frat house. Experiencing a mere sliver of what women go through helps me to understand some of the judgmental nonsense they encounter, so as a childfree man, I feel better prepared to understand the concerns childfree women face, both in regard to their childfree status, and in reference to the other issues they encounter as women.
me: in your day-to-day travels have you met many women who share your views? i guess i’m getting at the dating question here…
brent: It is highly rare for me to meet childfree women on the dating scene. I have dated women in the past who didn’t want kids at the time, but “ended up” with them somewhere down the road. (Perhaps I dodged a bullet in those instances.) It would be highly challenging to date a woman with reproductive intentions. To me, when a woman has procreation as a requirement, it’s like her saying “You and I loving each other is a false representation of true love, so let’s bring more ingredients into the mix in an attempt to complete the recipe.” If I’m in love with someone, that’s all I would ever want. To me, love is best taken straight-up with no chaser.
me: what do you absolutely love doing with your free time?
brent: I love galloping like a greased centaur toward all of my goals. My favorite thing is to work on my various creative and academic endeavors. I am a writer and a humorist by trade, so I am constantly writing myself notes on my phone and ruminating on what issues I need to “release the beast” on next. In my free time, I turn those slivers of thought and intrigue into depictions of the mechanisms that drive the human existence. I also love water and outdoors. Kayaking, camping, hiking, or lying on the beach doing exactly 1/3 of absolutely nothing sounds like a winning formula to me. (Baby formula is the antithesis of the winning formula though)
me: how do you deal with having friends who are getting into their childbearing years?
brent: That’s the hardest thing about being childfree. My childhood friends all graduated from high school, had a glass of lemonade, then immediately started procreating with great fury. This threw me for a loop because we had all made plans of doing amazing things and exploring the world together. While they continued to procreate and become saddled with scenarios where they were tied to jobs, places, and situations that were less than desirable all so they could “raise a family,” I was out actually accomplishing the things we had all planned to do. I don’t immediately cast someone out of my life when a pregnancy test indicates “the blue dot where friendships go to die,” they just naturally filter themselves out of the Kingdom of Brentus by being unavailable shells of their former selves, while still expecting me to be a part of all the pageantry that comes with them being procreators. So, I don’t require people to be childfree in order to gain my friendship, but all parents need to get through a screening process. This is the only way I can protect myself from being a victim of friendship fraud again.
me: any regrets?
brent: If I have one regret, it is associating with the people I spoke of in the last question for far too long. I spent so much time and energy forming intimate bonds with people, only to have those bonds scoffed at and eliminated once those people started having kids. Childfree people are often like friendship nomads. We associate with one group, get arrogantly cut out of the picture, then, we rally the wagons to move onto another group, only to repeat the same process. The upside, is that we are childfree, so when we make social mistakes such as forming bonds with people who use us as interim space-fillers until they have kids, we have plenty of energy to engineer our own recovery. We stand on our own two feet, so when we get knocked down, we pull ourselves up and move on. Our reproductively-active friends don’t have that luxury. They voluntarily surrendered that luxury though, so they have to walk their own walk just like we have to walk ours. When we walk though, we hit the ground moving. This is partially because we are used to going against the grain and conquering uncharted waters. Most parents walk a status-quo, preplanned walk to a large degree. Our walks are much more efficient too, granted the fact that in order to take a walk, we aren’t “forced” to lug one of those popular Behemoth Industries “Two Rent Payment” models of strollers around. I’d much prefer to walk alone and enjoy the scenery, than to put myself in a situation where I became “Sisyphus with a stroller.” Do I have regrets about associating with people who didn’t have an “in it, to win it” philosophy about our friendships? Absolutely! As far as being childfree goes, the amount of children I currently have is an accurate reflection of how many regrets I have for not having them.