“I was very afraid of being bullied for such thoughts.”

Shima, 31, Japan

My childfree life is from my childhood when I was in very patriarchal rural area in Japan.

I was the second daughter and had a younger brother, which made my position in my family very low because I am not the very first child or first son.

What made matters worse, my father was a PE teacher and values physical ability, and my brother and sister were very good at sports but I wasn’t. I felt like I was not needed. Also my father never ever has taken care of us or done laundry and cooking. As a result, my mother was working as if she was a slave.

Such an environment made me think of being childfree but I could not be open about sharing this because I was very afraid of being bullied for such thoughts. As I got older, I left my hometown and went to university. I felt like I was a bit relieved from traditional and patriarchal culture.

After that, when I was in my twenties, my university friends got married and start having children and telling me stories of how hard taking care of children is. When I heard about it, I was always wondering where the fathers are. Many of my friends said they asked their mothers to care their children when they are working. I felt like once we become a mother, we cannot get out of enslavement even we finish taking care of our own children, because many Japanese fathers are reluctant to take care of their children (FYI, the ratio of taking paternity leave in Japan is quite low).

To end such a gruesome culture and escape from such a life, I choose to be childfree.