Denise Felkin

All images ©Denise Felkin 2015home
.Mum's not the word - Denise Felkin
Mum's Not The Word.
©Denise Felkin 2018

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mum's not the word
the fracktivists
the artist


i'm not voting because..
i'm not voting because.. statement

the recycler
the welder
living rough-rough living
serving the city

environmental open house
mutoid waste company

I conceived Mum’s Not The Word because there appears to be a massive negative premise that suggests that women who do not reproduce are selfish, do not like children or are not real women. Females who do not procreate are too often misrepresented by negative terms: barren, spinster, wicked stepmother or crazy cat lady. On many occasions, I have heard people say: “You wouldn’t understand unless you are a parent yourself.” I label myself as being child-free because I don’t want children. However, being infertile is not a choice. For many, it’s also a grieving process, which for some may slowly grow into acceptance, while for others it may be a cause of constant pain. There are also the childless by circumstance and childless by disability.

Today, women are expected to provide reasons not to have children. The choice to reproduce is not regarded as needing any thought or justification. Mum’s Not The Word debates the social stigmatisation of women, who, by choice or for medical reasons, go against the instinct of childbirth and maternal productivity. I photograph the childless, child-free and childless by circumstance. The images are of women in the foetal position, as a reversal of the recognised visual of the unborn child.

I create these images to challenge the negative attitudes within society towards people without children and to share stories of birth control, choice, freedom, regret and pain. I recruit participants through word of mouth and social media. I ask them bring along their duvet cover and I shoot from above and in natural light.

My subjects come from all walks of life – professionals, artists; a few have mental health issues or disabilities; some have fragile relationships with their birth mothers. A couple of the participants also identify as other than heterosexual.

The childless/child-free/childless by circumstance/ disability are newly recognised breeds of women who are contributing positively to decreasing the human impact on the natural world. There are more than seven billion people worldwide and 400,000 births per day. As the population soars, a growing number of communities will continue to be displaced by climate change, environmental disasters, wars, famines, technology and industry. The one in five who live a life without descendants are creating a much less of a global strain. Could civilisation be guided to identify it is acceptable to opt out of parenthood and by not procreating, humankind can inherit the key to a sustainable future?

The books release date is 31 May 2019 and can be pre-ordered here

I also have a facebook group 'Mum's Not The Word'






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