This special World Childless Week
webinar, ‘Challenging the Lazy Stereotypes of Childless Women in Fiction and Film’ was filmed live on Thursday 14th September as part of the ‘Childless in the Media’ themed day of World Childless Week 2023.
From fairy tales through to modern fiction, childless women are often portrayed as damaged, deranged and deviant. Whether it’s Snow White’s evil stepmother, the psychopathic puppy-killer Cruella de Vil, Glenn Close’s bunny boiler in ‘Fatal Attraction’ or the unreliable and half-cut narrator of ‘Girl on a Train’, we never seem to come out well! Unconsciously, it seems writers default to using women without children (both childless and childfree) as ciphers for the ‘deviant’ woman. And this is why it’s so important that we find ways to challenge this narrative through writing fiction ourselves, through highlighting these lazy fictional tropes, and by championing those writers who are doing so in their work.
Hosted by Jody Day, and joined by her sister World Childless Week Ambassadors
Meriel Whale and Cristina Archetti (all of them writers & therapists too), along with authors Sue Fagalde Lick and Annie Kelly, and NoMo Book Club curator Rosalyn Scott, we had a lively discussion of interest to fiction & screenwiters, readers, bookstagrammers, reviewers, bloggers, publishers and critics alike.
Submissions from childless people (anonymous or credited) are needed on the theme of ‘Childlessness and the Media
‘ also formed part of the day, and you can read/watch those here
Your Host and Panellists
Jody Day has been a World Childless Week Ambassador since its inception in 2017. She is the founder of Gateway Women and the author of what many professionals consider to be the ‘go-to’ book on the topic, Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children (PanMac 2016/2020). A psychotherapist, thought leader and speaker, for the last five years, she’s lived in rural Ireland, where she’s completing her first novel, featuring a middle-aged, single, childless, menopausal heroine, and nurturing her emerging ‘Gateway Elderwomen project. https://gateway-women.com
Meriel Whale is a World Childless Week Ambassador from the UK. She is a counsellor, teacher and writer. She identifies as queer and neurodiverse, both of which are very important aspects of her identity. Her novel in progress, featuring non-binary historical childless characters, has been longlisted for an award for unpublished fiction, and she is also working on another novel. https://merielwhalecounselling.co.uk/
is a British novelist who lives on the south coast of England with her spouse, two dogs and two cats and works part-time as a university researcher. She is the author of The Hollow Sea
(Penguin, 2022) the just-published paperback version currently #1 in the Amazon charts, which she describes as being about ‘identity, grief, mother/daughter relationships, reconnecting with nature and coming to terms with being childless-not-by-choice’. She wrote it, in part, because she ‘wanted to create characters who were childless but not stereotyped as either tragic or evil’. https://anniekirby.com/novels/the-hollow-sea
Rosalyn Scott is a UK-based editor who works in publishing and has experience of working across non-fiction and memoirs. Most recently, she was the development editor for ‘I Always Wanted to be a Dad: Men Without Children’ by Robert Nurden. She also runs the NoMo Book Club – where she reviews books with childless and childfree themes, supports NoMo authors and advocates for NoMo readers. It can be found on Instagram @thenomobookclub