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Volume 5, No. 1The Childfree Woman in Literature, Film, and Television

Published December 30, 2023

Issue description

In 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade that had guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion in the US for almost five decades. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the discussion has since frequently focused on the fact that not even the termination of pregnancies caused by rape and incest or to save the life of the pregnant person is exempted from this decision. Due to this emphasis, the actual issue – a person’s right to decide not to give birth for any reason including the wish to remain childfree – took a back seat. Importantly, it is not just the news media that (intentionally or unintentionally) promotes this pronatalist ideology. Abortions are generally rarely depicted in popular fictional narratives and childfree (i.e., voluntarily childless) female characters are hard to find.

In the field of sociology, the childfree woman has received considerable academic attention in the past few decades but fictional depictions of them have largely remained unexplored. The aim of this special issue is, therefore, to fill this gap by focusing on the childfree woman in popular North American literature, film, and television.

Full Issue


Special Issue Introduction