In her documentary film To Kid Or Not To Kid, award-winning director Maxine Trump dives into the long considered ‘taboo’ world of reproductive choice.
The film, out on Amazon Prime in Australia, sees Maxine Trump turn the camera on herself, her family and her social circle as she confronts and explores the criticism childfree womxn regularly experience.
It features representatives of the various predicaments faced by many women; including a woman who struggles to get medical permission to undergo elective sterilisation, and another who publicly acknowledged she made a mistake when she had a child.
Check out the trailer for To Kid Or Not To Kid:
Rolling Stone spoke to Maxine Trump about how the film has become a rallying call for people just like her, who were made to feel there was something wrong with them, something that needed fixing. In reality, as Maxine discovered during the five years of creating To Kid Or Not To Kid, there are many, many people who share her worldview.
This journalist in particular is one of them. I have been subjected to the same aforementioned comments from people who could not understand my choice. Not only does the documentary explain why that is, but it sheds light on the overall disposition of those who have chosen to be childfree.
There was a moment at the end of the trailer where you seemed conflicted, but I couldn’t tell what about exactly. Are you able to elaborate on that?
I love this question, the trailer is a tease so we couldn’t give away the climax of the film which is my husband having a (pain free) vasectomy, halleujah! Which was the real climax (!) of the film.
The conflict in the film was centered around society, my family, etc. not allowing me to make my decision without feeling shame (hence my final response in the trailer), which should be the opposite in my opinion. Which I don’t feel now by the way, I feel loud and proud about it. Just took me five years of making a film to get there.
In all your conversations for the film, which one would you say challenged your own beliefs the most, and why?
When I started making the film I was made to feel there was something wrong with me for not wanting kids. I was really timid about talking about it, and I really don’t like that, I was so worried about upsetting people.
Calling myself child-“less”, there is nothing “less-than” in my decision, I am all womxn. If I’m not bringing an unwanted child into the world, how is that selfish? For those of us lucky to not have contraception fail, we often think harder about not having kids than some do about having them.
There are a lot of people like me out there, and I want the film to be a rallying call for them. They’re deep thinkers about what makes them happy, there’s nothing selfish about self awareness and there’s a lot of us that realise the world doesn’t need our kids.
The doco shows some really hateful comments from social media from people who believe women who don’t have children are essentially terrible. where would you say that hate comes from, in your experience?
I was amazed to meet people that didn’t know they had a choice. Some may have had a kid and found parenting incredibly hard and it’s making them confront something that they have been avoiding. I had to realise they weren’t pushing back against me but against what they themselves were feeling.
What really challenged me was the personal push-back I was seeing against ‘my’ decision. Losing a friend, having to be careful of the language I used. Until I finally realised not everyone is like that.
Now having released To Kid Or Not To Kid all over the world, there are many that come back to me and thank me, and parents too. After all many parents are “one and done” for the same reason I’m not having kids.
As a woman who has chosen not to have children myself, do you have any advice for me in navigating a world that pushes the agenda of reproduction on me?
Another awesome question. Talk about it with everyone, you’ll be really surprised by some of the great responses you’ll get. Seriously, don’t repeat my mistakes. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive responses to the film.
I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a feature documentary about living childfree before this one. Deciding whether to have children affects every single person in the world. Use it as an icebreaker, that’s why I made it, so you can just say, “Hey saw this really fascinating doc, would love to talk to you about it”. It really works.
What can you tell me about the people you spoke to who don’t want children? Are there any similarities in their lives or personalities?
This is interesting, as the reasons for people not wanting children run the gamut. A bit like saying what do musicians have in common. It’s part of our identity, in the same way parents don’t all get along just because they have kids in common.
But one thing I will say is, we’re happy. I don’t like to use the ‘Happiness’ argument but there’s a lot of research out there about how happy you are when you don’t have kids, and we’re pretty self aware.
To Kid Or Not To Kid is out on Amazon Prime in Australia now.