Filmmaker Therese Shechter deploys her characteristic wit to examine what it means to say no to motherhood in a society that assumes all women want children, and exposes what’s at stake when we are denied the right to control our own reproductive lives.
My So-Called Selfish Life chronicles the rise of a growing community of women who don’t want children and who reject the message that a woman’s most important–and most natural–role is to be a mother. Almost half of American women between 15 and 44 have never had children according to 2016 statistics, an all-time high. Yet choosing not to have children is still seen by many as a deviant decision made by the immoral, the unfeminine...the selfish.
But beyond the name-calling, the real struggle at the heart of the choice to be childfree is bodily autonomy through reproductive rights, and access to contraception and abortion. The film exposes what’s at stake when we are denied the right to control our own reproductive lives and confronts the US’s legacy of reproductive oppression of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women, through Eugenics and forced sterilization programs that continue to this day.
My So-Called Selfish Life gives voice to a community challenging our most fundamental ideas about female identity, from a 19-year-old student determined to get her tubes tied, to women who faced death threats after coming out as childfree on a 1974 episode of 60 minutes, and a reproductive rights activist whose unsuccessful fertility treatments lead to complete life transformation.
Through a vivid pop culture tour that spans vintage postcards of storks chasing young women, to the rise of "Instagram moms," the film connects the dots between the cultural forces that push a message of maternal inevitability so ingrained, we no longer notice it.
I want to shift the conversation about women's roles to challenge the idea that every woman’s greatest accomplishment is childbearing. I’m not making a film about how terrible motherhood is, but about how social structures present women with only one possible script for their lives. With reproductive rights under constant attack and the contents of our uterus seemingly everyone’s business, the right to control our bodies and lives is more important than ever.
"This film made me feel understood in a way that I didn't think I needed. It made me feel a sense of control that I have not felt in some time."
–Audience member from a virtual rough-cut screening
Director Therese Shechter
Therese Shechter is an award-winning filmmaker and writer, and the founder of the feminist production company Trixie Films. Her work fuses humor, activism, and personal storytelling to disrupt what's considered most sacred about womanhood.
She is a Canada Council for the Arts grantee for her in-progress documentary "My So-Called Selfish Life.” This is the third installment in a trilogy of films dedicated to exploding tenacious myths and celebrating female agency, including I Was A Teenage Feminist and How To Lose Your Virginity.
Her films have screened from Rio de Janeiro to Ankara to Seoul, and her work is in the collections of over 300 universities, non-profits, and libraries. She’d love to screen at or speak to your class or organization.
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