Selfish Bitch: Representations of Childfree Women in Media, Academia, and IRL

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Closed Access

Degree Name

MA in Women's History

First Advisor

Rachelle Rumph


Since the proliferation of America’s television sitcom in the 1950’s and 60’s, there has been one group of women that has been woefully underrepresented; those who are childfree by choice. During second wave feminism, this lack of both media representation and overall cultural acceptance was brought to the mainstream discourse by Ellen Peck and Shirley Radl, the founders of The National Organization of Non-Parents. Through their writing and their activism, Peck and Radl pushed for the acceptance of the childfree lifestyle, as well as fought to have it represented in the media. Over the years, however, this representation has remained elusive, with traditional heteronormative depictions of family continuing to be the norm to this day. The following work will look at how childfree by choice women are represented on television, and whether those representations are an accurate depiction of the childfree by choice lifestyle in general. Interviews with childfree women will both examine whether these fictional characters are an honest reflection of their lives as well as attempt to dismantle some of the more harmful stereotypes that these media depictions portray. This thesis will also try to provide a better understanding of the many reasons why women choose to be childfree, as well as how television can create a more nuanced approach to childfree by choice characters.

Submission Agreement


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