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REVIEW: Pride and Joy; The Lives And Passions of Women Without Children, by Terri Casey September 4, 2008

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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Casey, Terri. Pride And Joy: The Lives And Passions Of Women Without Children. New York: Simon and Schuester, 2007

Casey presents inspiring descriptions of twenty-five women who have chosen not to have children. She describes the women’s hobbies, jobs, families, friends, pets, goals, dreams, and accomplishments so that their lives all sound as rich as–if not, dare I say it, richer than–the lives of women who did choose to have children.

For example, there’s Jane who worked for The New Yorker for twenty-one years and now travels and volunteers extensively. There’s Nan who teaches yoga eight days a week. There’s Louise who is trained as a chef and a psychologist. They all have important people in their lives, such as friends, siblings, parents, husbands, wives/girlfriends/partners, cats, dogs, neighbors, boyfriends. They all have fulfilling passions, too, like art collecting, environmental conservation, travel writing. I enjoyed all these aspects of the book. I read it in maybe two sittings and folded down the corners of 23 pages out of 200. (I explain my corner-folding rules at the end of this post.) All in all, I highly recommend this book. You should even get it off Amazon instead of from the library, so you can fold down your own corners!

Ok, now on to what disappointed me about Pride and Joy:

Of the twenty-five subjects Casey interviewed for this book, twenty-one were in coupled, romantic relationships (kudos to Casey for including lesbians) or widowed. Only four of the subjects were flat-out single. Considering that one prime reason many women end up not having children is that they are single, I would have liked to see Casey include a higher percentage of Onelies in her book. (I acknowledge that this book is about women who *chose* not to have children, and for single women sometimes that choice is made *for* them.)

Like all of Casey’s interviewees, the single women in the book–Maggie, Maria, Georgiana, and Amy–all have very interesting lives that I wouldn’t mind stepping into for a while. Maggie sails and attends culinary school. Georgiana has travelled to Africa, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.

However.

Each chapter begins with a profile of the subject woman, describing her work and education history, her hobbies, her loved ones, and her dreams. Twenty-one of the profiles mention a husband or other significant romantic other. As I read, I found myself thinking, SHIT IF I DON’T WANT KIDS THEN I BETTER AT LEAST GET A HUSBAND. Perhaps the book was not so much to blame as was the secretly caffeinated tea they slipped me at the Korean restaurant that evening. However, I still would have liked to see more single women profiled in Pride and Joy. Don’t let this stop you from reading it, though.

–CC

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Comments»

1. Shannon - September 4, 2008

I’ve heard a lot of press about women choosing not to have kids lately – August Australian Vogue had an article and there has been a couple of pieces in our state newspaper.
I think a lot of people think single people only don’t have kids because they are single. As if wanting to be alone is not a god enough excuse. Apparently, people have to want to share their successes with a significant other, and then with a child in some kind of natural progression. It’s ridiculous.

Secret Admission: I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had kids I would be rich and well traveled by now. They do hold you back a tad. Not that I’d swap what I have, but I’m secretly very enviously of women who made the decision to not have kids and stuck to it with no regret.

2. pishposhetc - September 5, 2008

Hi CC,
I’ve noticed this too in books or articles I’ve read about childfree folks. The single & childfree are strangely absent from them.

3. onely - September 6, 2008

Interesting point, Shannon–only SOME single women are childless *because* they are single, and if the woman really *wants* to have kids, then that’s an unfortunate situation for her. But why do many people automatically assume that any single and childfree woman is in that position against her will? Is it because the world still expects a woman to find her rightful self in the kitchen with toddlers tugging at her skirts? –CC

4. Marigold - December 6, 2008

I am childless, coupled. For me, the big societal push came only after I married. It was like, “you bought into first comes love, then comes marriage…NOW YOU OWE US THE BABY CARRIAGE”. Literally from the day I stood there in the short white wedding dress!
So anyway, I think if books such as this (which I loved) stress the married, no kids side of the issue its because the social pressure to have kids really comes out when you are coupled, (legally- for whatever reason they didn’t bug me during the 6 years we lived together).

For me, the stress and unhappiness I experienced in relation to this issue was 95% societal, 5% personal. I can’t speak for anyone else, coupled or single, but really it was being devalued as a person, treated as a “disappointment” and the strain on close relationships that hurt me most. Incidentally, that’s also what makes this book so great- the connectedness you can feel with the stories when you are surrounded by an otherwise hostile (or at least non-supportive) environment.

I’d have welcomed stories about single life as well. Frankly, I’d welcome a second volume. I found I could relate to aspects and details of every story.

5. shamika short - September 15, 2009

hi terri,
you probley don’t remember me, i was your lil sister years ago, just wanted to know how your doing, been looking for you for years.. hope to hear back from u…..


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