Anna S. writes on Jezebel after reading my post on the “Auntie Brigade” (inspired by Elizabeth Gilberts new book Committed) that she agrees childless women should be more valued in society, not necessarily for taking care of or inspiring others but also for their own accomplishments. Commenters tell Jezebel stories of important aunts in their lives.
Anna S. writes:
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I grew up really close to a childless aunt. She introduced me to the Archie McPhee catalog, let me stay up late while she told embarrassing stories about my mom, and taught me why they don’t send donkeys to college (nobody likes a smart ass). She’s been a pretty huge influence on my sense of humor and on my cultural tastes (though her tendency to remember only the one funny line from an otherwise shitty movie means I no longer go with her to Blockbuster), and she had a big enough hand in my brother’s and my upbringing that my mom used her to explain the concept of an allomother. That’s an animal who provides some care for other animals’ young, which seems to be sort of how Magowan understands aunts.
But: my aunt has also spent much of her life not caring for anybody’s young. She works, she plays with her dogs, she has a big network of friends and cousins she often travels to see. Helping raise us has certainly been part of her history, but she has many other identities besides “aunt,” and she deserves recognition as a person in her own right, not just as a contributor to my family. As Magowan points out, childless men are often “admired, or even envied, as the self-sufficient bachelors they are.” Childless women deserve to be admired for themselves too — not just for what they can do for others.