Welcome to Unclassified Woman. Today I’m speaking to Jennifer Miller in California, USA.
Can one person really make a difference? So many times, we resign ourselves to the fact that “it is what it is.” We want society’s perceptions or opinions to change, but what can we do to affect the change?
In today’s show, you’ll meet a woman who decided to use her talents to create a film to help build awareness—and hopefully, change the narrative around living as a woman without children.
“Having a child is one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can have, but it is not the ONLY experience a woman can have.” – Jennifer Miller
Jennifer grew up in New Jersey and worked in various positions throughout her corporate career, which took her from New Jersey to Wisconsin to New York. She moved to California in 2002, where she later married her husband, Peter.
In 2012, Jennifer completed her first feature-length documentary film, which was screened at several film festivals, including the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The film explores the lives of many women who either chose or evolved to not have children, and how that impacted their lives. Her second film was Hair Therapy, which she wrote and directed about the relationships between hair stylists and their clients. The film highlights how that relationship transcends other relationships for many people. Today, Jennifer is doing a lot of writing and is currently working on her novel.
“I had to look deep within myself because I felt very worthless. So much of my self-worth was tied to my ability to create another life.”
What you’ll hear in this episode:
- As one of five children, Jennifer absolutely expected to have children, but in her 30’s, she wondered if would ever happen. She battled uterine fibroids, which required a hysterectomy, so after this operation, she knew she would never be a mother.
- How she wasn’t prepared for the unexpected grief that took over her life and left her feeling worthless.
- How a comment from a complete stranger prompted her to say, “I need to change this dialogue.”
- Why she decided to make a film, interviewing 28 women who didn’t have children for various reasons. She calls it a “gentle conversation” and “a cathartic experience.”
- How she endured the horrible periods and much pain for years before letting go of her uterus—-which meant also letting go of the pain.
- How she took control of the emotional grief and didn’t let it control her.
- How different cultures around the world view childless women with disdain, pity, ridicule, and judgment.
- How Jennifer wanted to redefine the conversation because there is SO much more to women than whether or not they have a child.
- Judgment vs. Wonderment
- The sweeping generalisation and common perception that if you don’t HAVE children, that you don’t LIKE children.
- The feedback from the film: that the women in the film were selfish because they chose another path for their lives.
- Why people make the decision to have an abortion or to have or not have a child, like finances, the responsibility, relationships, and more.
- The common thread with the interviews for the film: Several of the women had been told that they “would never know true love without having a child.”
- Supporting children in other ways, and how Jennifer likes to give an alternate perspective other than a parent would give.
- Creating other things besides children and giving beautiful gifts to people, showing that a woman’s worth is SO much more than having children.
- Why we have to debunk the myth around motherhood and womanhood.
- The courage it takes to say no to motherhood—we may never know the reasons behind the decision or the circumstances.
- You can never really know someone’s story unless they share it, but we are all too quick to make assumptions about other people.
- Why Jennifer “owns” herself a lot more at her age and holds her head up high and doesn’t need anyone’s approval.
- What she offers is different and unique compared to what society expects.
- The gift that these women can take away from a conversation–compassion in the approach to a stranger.
- Why the dialogue needs to change and how the numbers of women without children are increasing.
- Some women around the world don’t have birth control available to them.
- Besides the Hair Therapy film, Jennifer’s creative projects include writing a TV series and writing a novel.
You can watch Jennifer’s film ‘A Womb with a view’ here on her channel.
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