The Unimaginable Huisje-Boompje-Beestje: An ethnographic exploration of personhood and family through the lens of Dutch women who do not want to be mothers
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This thesis explores the lived experiences of Dutch women who do not want to be mothers, as a means to illuminate possibilities and constraints of personhood and family for women in the Netherlands. Because the women I have spoken to are positioned outside the norm, those who live without children offer insightful perspectives on the norms, values and institutions of Dutch society. Namely, pronatalism normalizes motherhood as intrinsically linked to womanhood and emphasizes the importance of having a biological family on one’s own. Even though the stories reveal the painful consequences and ambiguity surrounding the “choice” to not be a mother, these women also reveal that life can be well-lived as their purpose is greater than body parts, their personhood bigger than their reproductive choice, and belonging is not limited to the family of origin.