Revisiting Christen Reighter — Women Continue to Redefine their Roles Within Society (Part 2 of 2)

Children peeking through a railing (Image via Unsplash)

With reproductive rights at the forefront of the political conversation in the United States at the moment, Culturs Magazine recently looked back at Christen Reighter’s 2016 TED Talk where she spoke about being denied a tubal ligation procedure to prevent conception.

My choice to live child-free: Christen Reighter's TEDxMileHighWomen Talk (Image via YouTube)
My choice to live child-free: Christen Reighter’s TEDxMileHighWomen Talk (Image via YouTube)

This preventative contraceptive procedure is recommended to women after they have had one or more children. But Reighter redefined this position by deciding to opt out of the societal roles about women to conceive.

As a 34-year-old woman, Reighter has never had a child nor has she ever desired to carry or birth a child of her own. In an interview following her TED Talk, Reighter said, “I’ve never wanted children. Motherhood was never a drive that I had,” and when physicians questioned her motives to commence with the procedure many of them denied her because they thought that she was too young to make such a decision.

I’ve never wanted children. Motherhood was never a drive that I had.

Christen Reighter

Being a well-educated and conscious adult as well as meeting the requirements to have the procedure, Reighter believed that this was a systematic issue, referring to it as a very “sexist system.” The majority of physicians that she met with were in fact male who questioned her ideas as a woman.

Reighter on societal needs

“Society clings to this role that a woman must want to need or bear a child,” Reighter said when expressing her views on this pre-existing role she was born into. Like Reighter, many women in society find it hard to break the mold that society has created for them.

Society clings to this role that a woman must want to need or bear a child.

Christen Reighter

Elena Lobato, a recent graduate in ethnic and gender studies was one of the attendees of the TEDx Women’s event, who admired Reighter in her efforts toward questioning the ideals of women and redefining their position within our society.

Woman with kids (Image via Unsplash)
Image via Unsplash

Lobato has studied gender and has aimed to redefine her own identity as a woman: “Yes I am a woman, but in some ways like Reighter, I don’t want my gender to proclaim false identifiers that I don’t associate with myself.”

She uses the example of marriage, and the traditions and standards her family has for women: “In my family it is common for women to get married rather young because of family pressure as well as societal standards. Both my family and society presume that if women do not find a mate at a young age they are simply going to be alone.”

Yes I am a woman, but in some ways like Reighter, I don’t want my gender to proclaim false identifiers that I don’t associate with myself.

Elena Lobato

Lobato doesn’t concern herself with chasing the clock to find a man sooner rather than later.

“I don’t believe that I should worry that as I get older my chances of love or marriage are slim.” For Labato these standards make it hard for her to develop solid relationships within her family.

Foster care

Similarly, within Reighter’s research and mental health counseling practices, she has seen many kids deal with rejection from their families. Not necessarily because they choose to question the ideals of their family, but most commonly they are rejected by their parents who insist that they never wanted the responsibility of providing or rearing their children. With these ideals of some parents, their children will most like find themselves within the foster care system.

Foster Club is an organization whose mission entails efforts toward young people in foster care becoming more connected, educated, inspired and represented so they can realize their potential and contribute to a better life.

This organization has done some vital research on children in the foster system: One in 184 children are in foster care. Foster Club also has an understanding that foster youth are more likely to commit a crime, experience homelessness, be unemployed, develop drug or alcohol tendencies, or develop PTSD.

Kids peeking through railings (Image via Unsplash)
Image via Unsplash

All of these negative ways of life come down to an individual’s choice: A choice to conceive or not conceive a child.

In Reighter’s TED Talk, she also expresses that human beings’ lives are not to be gambled with. A woman must continually be educated and informed about contraceptives like the pill that prevent unwanted pregnancies and in some cases unsafe abortions.

Reighter’s talk aimed to redefine the woman’s role as well as educate women on the value of preventative contraception practices as well as procedures. Reighter suggests that having a baby is an extension of a woman, not the definition of being a woman.


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