Back to the F**kture: Ruby Warrington

type - podcast
Author, feminist and founder of the sober-curious movement Ruby Warrington chats to Back to the F**kture’s Martin Raymond about why women without children isn’t an alternative choice, but a  mainstream reality, as 50% of women under 30 in the UK alone go without. 


Author, editor, podcaster and book doula Ruby Warrington pulls no punches when she writes and speaks. Her determination, like her prose, hits you with the force of a full-on super-car collision. Her latest book is called Women Without Kids. But she wanted to call it Selfish Cunt, and asks me – no, let me be clear, she TELLS me – to make sure I don’t * out any words,  so that people are righteously offended, if such a word offends them. Selfish? I ask, knowing Ruby’s humour from the days when I was her journalist tutor – CUNT, she shouts back, C-U-N-T, spelling it out so there is no margin for error.

In the end, in the print edition at least, her publisher prevailed, and the book, much to her amusement, was called Women Without Kids – less pointed, as she wryly tells me in our Back to the F**kture podcast, more descriptive, but also allowing people to ease into a debate and a view of women who don’t have children in a way that is perhaps more ‘reasonable’.

Reasonable is a word we both have a good laugh at. As if, as she puts it, we should be at all reasonable about people who want women (or men or they for that matter) to have children, or believe that it is somehow their current and future destiny to do so. And then we’re back to the S word, as in ‘selfish and the notion that it is selfish not to dedicate one’s life to the birthing, nurturing and raising of one’s children being the ultimate indictment against women without kids. Which is the other reason I like both ‘selfish’ and ‘cunt’ – they are ripe for reclamation when it comes to matters of women’s self-sovereignty and bodily autonomy.’

‘After all, it is only relatively recently, in the grand and grisly scheme of things, that women have even had the option not to bear children, our cunts not been regarded as the property of either our husbands or the state. An option that remains off-limits still for millions: women for whom there exists, in the words of British advice columnist Mariella Frostrup, ‘a straight line between puberty, marriage, sex and motherhood that continues on a loop until you die of exhaustion or reach menopause and breathe a sigh of relief’.
And this is one of Warrington’s key insights on not having children: that somehow such a decision puts us in opposition to the notion of community and family, when really, as she and many third- and fourth-wave feminists see it, a life without children is an equally legitimate position to take in terms of expanding our definition of  community, and reminding us that found families in the form of allyship groups, friendship villages, intergenerational clans or GenderQueer houses are, for a growing number of people, the emotional, spiritual and physical support eco-systems they choose to define as family.

Published by:

11 April 2023

Author: Martin Raymond



‘Of course, raising children requires a huge amount of self-sacrifice’, she concludes, ‘but it’s not the only way to be self-sacrificing. The notion that it’s selfish to make choices that are actually going to help you live a life where you get to thrive, live the life that you want to live, have the energy and the resources at your disposal to be able to contribute to the world in some kind of way, also needs to be  legitimised so that we are not making exceptions that really take the patriarchy into the future by stealth.’

Her words, and her book, explain all, and remind us that we are our own persons with choices that allow us to redefine tomorrow, and to develop lifestyles that other people without children can embrace and live without being judged or asked those inevitable questions like why not? Have you ever considered? Or worse, do you ever regret?

Women Without Kids by Ruby Warrington is published by Orion Publishing Group, and available from Amazon UK and US. 

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