As hilarious as that sounds, I find the experience to be frustrating. Often it is angering. It isn't the statement itself that upsets me. It is the assumption behind the statement. Carte blanche statements carry weight only because the person making them believes, truly and fully believes, that s/he know me better than I do. I find this infuriating. Allow me a brief indulgence as an attempt to avoid future confusion.
I do not want to parent.
Now that is said, I assure that I really do exist. It is uncomfortable to encounter others whose experiences and ideals diverge significantly from our own. People often respond with fear, anger, or disbelief if the incongruity is severe enough. That does not, however, make other people monsters. Nor does it make them nonexistent. If I were a linguistically creative individual I might try to invent a new word to describe these sort of beings. Fortunately I don't have to, as we already have one very suitable.
As scary as it may be, difference is more than just skin tone, the music we listen to, or even the political pundits we favor. Our differences can run so deeply as to effect the way we perceive, sort, and give meaning to our experiences in the world. Much more important than just knowing how thoroughly different we can be is knowing that's okay. Let me say that again.
We're different. It's okay.
What I find terribly humorous (here I display my gallows sense of humor) is how the differences that draw the most vitriol are typically the ones least scrutinized. When something one considers to be a given the shock is much greater when that assumption is challenged. A good example of this in modern western society is gender identity. For the overwhelming majority of westerners gender breaks down as follows:
Penis = Man
Vagina = Woman
Most don't give it much thought and leave their understanding of gender at that equation. When confronted by a person who identifies as gender queer most people are either confused or threatened. What's so hard about gender? See the equation above, problem solved, right? Wrong. More often than not the person who has grappled with the question at hand will have a much more nuanced, and often more sensitive, understanding of the concept being investigated. If gender is more than genitalia we have to ask what it means to be a wo/man. An invitation is given to deeply probe our understanding of ourselves, others around us, and the world at large. It is a daunting journey, but I feel a worthwhile one.
Deeply questioning status quo belief structures and patterns is something I feel all people can benefit from. It helps us develop our imagination as we try to understand how these beliefs shape not only ourselves and our understanding, but indeed how they shape and change the world around us. For my part, I'm tired of accusations about the moral quality of a person who thought and worked his/her way through a difficult question to better understand him/herself. Especially so when the accusations are nothing more than echoing the simplistic beliefs, like penis = man. In my experience the accusations become particularly base and hateful when sexuality gets involved. Whether we like it or not, that inevitably links to procreation. When procreation gets involved in the conversation things quickly get out of hand, just as when discussing sex. Instead of having a well thought out idea or a notion that needs more questioning, the conversation degenerates into "good" versus "bad" and "selfless" versus "evil". Frankly I'm tired of being told I'm evil because I'm honest about myself.
I genuinely believe that if hopeful future parents (inclusively, all future parents) were asked as frequently, judgmentally, or invasively about their plans to parent as I have been about my desire not to parent these conversations would go differently.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself; do you know what it means to be a woman, what constitutes woman-ness? No, making babies is not an acceptable answer. Dig deeper. Ask harder.
Do you know why you want to parent? Not why society wants you to parent, not why evolution wants you to parent. Do you know why you want to parent? Have you ever asked?