If Shakespeare were a woman his most famous line from Hamlet would have been written, “To be a mother, or not to be a mother: that is the question.”
Indeed, when it comes to online feminist discussions about motherhood, seismic rifts have arisen between mothers and those who Karen Malone Wright, founder of TheNotMom.com, calls “NotMoms.” Inspired by passionate conversations on her website, Wright has created an offline outlet for childless (women who either cannot or do not have children but want to) and childfree women (women who do not want children) in the form of the recent NotMom Summit in Cleveland, Ohio. The summit was the first large-scale conference dedicated to women who, by choice or by chance, do not have children.
While the media obsesses over viral, arguably fabricated stories about women at war with each other (who love the “drama,” to invoke Nicki Minaj’s epic takedown of The New York Times), Wright’s motivation with the summit is to establish common ground between childless women and childfree women. She told Quartz she simply wants to create a space for women who, for whatever the reason or circumstance, do not have children.
“There has never been as many childless women in America as there are now,” Wright explained, citing from the US Census Bureau. According to this data, collected in 2014, over 40% of the “roughly 75 million women age 15 to 50 in 2014” are not currently mothers. And yet, their voices are not unified, a problem Wright chalks up in part to “geography.” Race, ethnicity, religion, and even sexual orientation to varying extents influence where women live and how childlessness is perceived by their surrounding community. White women, more than Latinas or black women, are the demographic of women most likely not to have children.