8 March 2022
Jody Day is the British founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship, support & advocacy network she set up by accident after starting a blog sharing honestly the truth of her childlessness in 2011. It got media attention the day after the very first blog was published. Not long after, she was interviewed for The Guardian newspaper (UK) for a piece that went viral & is still being read today.
She has often been referred to as ‘the voice of the childless generation’ Her compassionate, inclusive, incisive and sometimes humorous take on all things childless-related is one that many have come to rely on, and even take for granted. Yet starting a ‘movement’, which is what she has done, often comes at a great personal cost and few stay the course. Most ‘blogs’ & ‘initiatives’ in the childless-support space, set up by individuals, close after a few years when the creators no longer need the outlet themselves, or can no longer bear the burden of the emotional, logistical & financial cost of continuing to do so. And there is no institutional support for it either.
However, the need for a spokesperson who has not only walked through the fire of childless grief, but has also supported thousands of others to do so, remains hugely important. Jody has persisted, often earning less than the minimum wage to do so. Such long-term visionary qualities, allied to her psychotherapeutic training and her deep fascination with social justice, systemic thinking, depth psychology and feminism continue to make her one of the most original voices in the non-parent space today.
Jody has written & spoken often of how pronatalism + consumerism + media have fetishized motherhood whilst devaluing non-motherhood to the detriment of all women. Another example of this is International Women’s Day, which has increasingly come to be seen as yet another day in the year to ‘celebrate motherhood’. Thus entirely neglecting the role that non-mothers play in the world, and further reducing women’s social contributions to their reproductive status. This creep has been so steady and so supported by the overculture that even to point this out is seen as somehow being ‘anti-mother’ or ‘anti-children’. She frames this social elevation of motherhood (which is entirely a lip-service glorification; mothers & children are still woefully under supported in practical & financial ways) as a backlash against the advances in gender equality made in the 1970s and thus an important one to contextualize and resist.
Whether mothers or not, we are women first, and that’s the message IWD needs to get behind. Join us for what will no doubt be a fascinating & wide-ranging discussion about the dark underbelly of the media & its roots in the ‘shadow’ archetype of the mother. The first place change needs to take place is in our own minds by awakening to the seductive & corrosive power of pronatalism and how it limits the visions, lives & futures of all women (which is exactly what it’s meant to do!)
Visit the Gateway Women website here.
Listen to or watch Jody’s 9 April 2022 TEDxGateway talk here.
Listen to Jody’s TEDxHull talk here.