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Film of the Week: My So-Called Selfish Life

MARIA DUARTE recommends a timely exploration of the pressures faced by women who choose not to have children

My So-Called Selfish Life
Directed by Therese Shechter

AS THE US Supreme Court seriously considers overturning Roe v Wade, resulting in millions of women losing their legal right to abortion, Therese Shechter’s new film dissecting the social taboo of those who choose not to become a mother comes at a most apposite time.

The documentary — the third in a trilogy by the award-winning feminist writer-director which dismantles society’s most sacred ideas about womanhood — takes a deep political dive into why someone should not be forced into bearing a child.

Shechter interviews a wide-ranging group of women about their decision and the pressures they have faced “going childless,” with eye-opening results.

There is a 19-year-old student who decided she wanted to be sterilised from the age of 16 but kept being refused by medics — even after reaching the age of consent. And a child-free lesbian couple who, after one of them became a trans man, were suddenly being hounded by family and friends over when they were going to start having children.

The film examines how society deems women’s achievements to be meaningless until they have borne a child and fulfilled their proper role in life (ludicrous and totally demeaning in this day and age) and highlights how Jennifer Aniston is the poster child for so-called “mommy jacking” — all her accomplishments ignored and sidelined by the never-ending headlines about her lack of children.

“Our wombs and what comes out of our wombs as women can be viewed as property,” states a gynaecologist, while another reveals how there is no such thing as a ticking biological clock. In fact the phrase was coined by a male journalist Richard Cohen in a 1978 article, The Clock is Ticking for the Career Woman.

It is a compelling and thought-provoking documentary highlighting that it is not up to society, the state or right-wing male judges to decide whether or not a woman should have a child — it is her own personal choice.

Available on demand May 6 –16

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