RIDM 2015 Review: Maman? Non, merci!

Why do strangers feel free to question women about their reproductive choices? That's one of the many things explored in the documentary film Maman? No merci! (No Kids For Me, Thanks!) It's being shown at RIDM, Montreal's documentary film festival.
Why do strangers feel free to question women about their reproductive choices? That’s one of the many things explored in the documentary film Maman? No merci! (No Kids For Me, Thanks!) It’s being shown at RIDM, Montreal’s documentary film festival.


“Baby hunger.” That’s what one of my friends used to call it. An overwhelming, seemingly impossible-to- ignore desire to have children. Some women have it, some don’t. All the same, women are expected to produce children, because. . .because we can? Contraception and abortion, if available, make it easier to plan the arrival of those children, but opting out of the idea of motherhood entirely is regarded as odd, possibly abnormal, inhuman, even. Where’s that famous maternal instinct?

Women who say they don’t want children are not taken seriously; they’re told that they’ll change their minds; they just haven’t met the right guy yet; they’re missing out on the most wonderful experience they could possibly have; they’re being selfish; they will have a lonely old age, and “you’ll be sorry!”

Consider for a moment the semantic differences between “childless” and “child free.” The first sounds rather forlorn, and might remind one of other words that end in “less” – words like homeless, penniless, hopeless. But “child free” – is it too celebratory? Could those who do have children see it as a criticism of motherhood and parenthood?

Perfect strangers feel entitled to quiz the childless-by-choice, berate them and analyze them. Seriously, is it anyone else’s business? Is there any other area of our lives that’s so open to scrutiny by others?

Author Lucie Joubert decries "frenetic maternalism" in her book L'Envers du landau.
Author Lucie Joubert decries “frenetic maternalism” in her book L’Envers du landau.

Maman? No merci! (No Kids For Me, Thanks!) is a documentary about women in Quebec, France and Belgium who are childless by choice, and quite clear and eloquent about it, too. Some men share their views, as well.

In the opening minutes of Maman? Non, merci!, director Magenta Baribeau says that she was surprised that strangers were so curious about her personal reproductive decisions; she decided to find other women like herself, and to discover why deliberate childlessness was so shocking for some in this day and age.

Right after the screening, there will be a French-language debate in the theatre on the topic La maternité, un idéal à repenser? (Rethinking Motherhood).

The participants will be: Magenta Baribeau, director of Maman? Non merci!; Stéphanie Benoit-Huneault, Special Projects Assistant, Réseau québécois en études féministes (RéQEF); Chiara Piazzesi, Professor, PhD (Département de Sociologie, UQAM); Judith Rouan, President of Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances (FQPN). Mélanie Sarazin, President of Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) will be the moderator.
Maman? No merci! (No Kids For Me, Thanks!)
Directed by Magenta Baribeau
Country : Quebec
Year : 2015
Language : French
Subtitles : English
Runtime : 74 min
Production : Magenta Baribeau
Cinematography : Magenta Baribeau
Editing : Étienne Langlois
Sound : Gordon Neil Allen

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
Cinéma Excentris – Cassavetes, 3536 St. Laurent Blvd.

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