‘Britain’s Got Satire’ sketch show finalist Jasmine Tonie is a comedy writer/performer from the Midlands. Recent professional credits include ‘The News As You Know It’ for London Podcast Adventures, ‘And Then She Said A Funny Thing’ at Omnibus Clapham, London and ‘Second Best’ for the 365 Playwrighting Project. Tonie has just been accepted for the Edinburgh International Television Festival’s Talent Scheme ‘The Network’ at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe.
“When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct… I ovulate sand.”
Margaret Cho. Revolution. 2003.
I’m a dangerous woman. In my opinion, the most dangerous kind. I’m dangerous because I don’t want a family; in fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I lack the broody, motherly sensibility which leads to vulnerability and possess all the discipline, drive and dedication to work at my career in television without ever having to think of anyone or anything else. Selfish? Probably. But why not? I have a life, it’s up to me how I want to live it and what I want to do with it. I am as committed to my decision as I am wholly uncritical of others who choose to procreate and ‘settle down’. I’m a firm believer in everyone doing what’s right for them and for me, there are countries I want to explore, places to see I haven’t seen yet and experiences and adventures I have yet to pursue. Frankly, I make no apologies for pursuing them.
I work hard for my money and I want to spend it on me. I’m not prepared to squander my body, my bank balance and my future to look after another human being; why would I create one myself? The notion of ‘getting all the things you want to do out of the way’ before you ‘settle down’ and have children sounds frankly ludicrous; as if you can no longer do what you want to do once you give birth, that effectively your life ends. Well, personally, I couldn’t agree more.
Feminist movements have come a long way to broaden women’s horizons in this country, and I thank my lucky stars I was born at a time where we finally have the freedom to choose. True, there is perhaps residual judgement and discrimination, but on the whole women like me and more importantly these type of decisions are treated with much more respect than years gone by.
So why are more and more women choosing not to have children? I know women who feel the world is just too horror-filled and unpredictable to even contemplate bringing another human being in to it. Others feel they are unable to balance a successful career with motherhood, at least not without compromising on one or the other. Some women make the informed decision, in my case relatively young, that they simply do not want a child; no maternal instinct lurks, no internal drive to procreate is present, without even a glimmer of that oft-quoted but impossible-to-define feeling; ‘broody’.
“It’s unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries.”
Ashley Judd, Sunday Mail. 2006.
This mystical ’emotional need to create’ still supposedly exists in every woman; I’ve been told on countless occasions that I will ‘obviously change my mind’, that my life ‘would be empty without children’ and challenged with the seemingly horrifying concept of ‘who’s going to visit you when you’re old?’. Interestingly, and perhaps inevitably, more often than not it is men that offer these kind of responses, whereas women usually tend to be more sympathetic to if not entirely understand of my ‘radical’ views.
I’m a dangerous woman because I made this decision when I was young, I’m confident and self-assured enough to know that I won’t ever change my mind and all this makes me infallible to falling pray to the usual social trappings of womanhood. I’m not on the prowl for a man to sweep me off my feet. I’m fine without one thank you; actually, I prefer it.
I can hear no loud, intimidating tick-tock of an internal body clock, only the ever-present tick tock of time clicking by and I intend to make the most of every second. If I’m lucky enough to reach old age, I’m fine that no children will come to visit me in my nursing home. I won’t be there anyway, I’ll be lounging on a beach in Thailand, wrinkled and leathery, my sun-burnt skin flapping away in the wind. Knackered, battered but crucially, fulfilled.
“‘What? No children? Well, you’d better get on with it, old girl,’ ‘No! I’d say. F*** off!’”
Dame Helen Mirren, British Vogue, February 2013.