"A striking and imaginative documentary" - Ms. Magazine
Population and Climate Change • Reproductive Justice • Abortion and Contraception • Nuclear Family
"Highly recommended" - Educational Media Reviews Online
Date of Completion: 2021 | Run Time: 77 minutes | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript & Study Guide | Director: Therese Shechter | Producer: Therese Shechter
MY SO-CALLED SELFISH LIFE is a paradigm-shifting documentary from award-winning filmmaker Therese Shechter that examines one of our greatest social taboos: choosing to be childfree. This funny, thought-provoking, and sometimes sobering film shines light on a society that believes all women want children — that giving birth is not only a biological imperative but the defining measure of womanhood.
Titled after one of the myths it challenges, MY SO-CALLED SELFISH LIFE draws on a heady mix of culture, science, and history–revealing the rich and diverse lives of people who said no to children, and the forces that have marginalized them in society. We follow Therese as she pulls back the curtain on pronatalism, the promotion of baby-making for cultural, economic, and political purposes. The film takes an irreverent approach to explore an array of timely issues rarely examined through this prism: the ongoing erosion of reproductive services; the racial undertones of panic around reduced birth rates; and concern over having children during the climate change crisis. At its heart, the film doesn’t seek to denigrate motherhood but rather spotlight the unexamined forces that inextricably link women’s identity to motherhood. Posing timely questions about cultural narratives that shape our identities, the film has sparked a movement that asks: who’s really in control of women’s bodies and lives?
Harvard University | Sexual Health Education & Advocacy Throughout Harvard College (SHEATH) | Ash Johnson, Co-President, Harvard College '25
"While watching My So-Called Selfish Life, I really appreciated the range of perspectives that it captures. The film educates from a diverse lens, truly with the understanding that the fight for reproductive rights is not one just for women, and this struggle affects people differently. As a Black person, I greatly appreciated that the film acknowledges the historical context of eugenics and how that still affects reproductive health access for the black community today. All in all, I felt seen, heard, and reflected in My So-Called Selfish Life and I would encourage others to watch!"
Video Librarian | Jennifer Fischer
"Documentary film buyers should make sure My So-Called Selfish Life is a part of their shelves as there are certainly very few other films, if any, that counter the abundant stereotypes and misconceptions that dominant media regarding child-free women-identifying individuals."
Educational Media Reviews Online | Kay Hogan Smith, Retired - University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
Highly Recommended "The pressure and censure that the primary subjects of My So-Called Selfish Life have dealt with when they revealed their lack of interest in becoming mothers are discussed candidly, revealing hard-won self-awareness, humor and resilience ... Highly recommended, especially for audiences interested in sociology or women’s studies."
University of Maine | Dr. Amy Blackstone, Professor of Sociology, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, University of Maine; Author, “Childfree By Choice” (Dutton 2019)
"Wonderful to see and hear from a diverse group, particularly given how white and middle/upper-middle class this area of work has been to this point–both in terms of whose experiences are considered and who gets presented as expert."
Denison University | Dr. Hanne Blank Boyd, Dept. of Women’s and Gender Studies
"A big-hearted and joyfully feminist film that opens an important conversation about the potential of women's lives.”
University of South Carolina Beaufort | Deborah J. Cohan , Ph.D., Professor of Sociology
"Validating and life-affirming for those who have made this choice, and deeply informative for anyone willing to be open to understanding that choice."
Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY | Bonnie Anderson, PhD, Professor Emerita of History
"My So-Called Selfish Life was terrific. I loved the different kinds of women the film portrayed… especially the inclusion of women of color."
“My hope is that more conversations – with women and men – might be started by films such as My So-Called Selfish Life"
“Looks at the pernicious side of the traditional ways women are validated”
"A striking and imaginative documentary, which addresses an oft-overlooked facet of reproductive justice.”
New York Post
"The documentary [My So-Called Selfish Life] feels particularly timely now, with the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision."
“Shechter brings political speeches, pop culture references, physicians’ expertise and personal experiences of childless women together on the issues and pressures surrounding reproductive justice.”
Jewish Women’s Archive
“Full of insights from experts and the joyously childfree, this film expands our understanding of reproductive justice.”
“The demise of Roe v. Wade is imminent, and in this moment, it’s more important than ever to annihilate the notion that motherhood is the most defining aspect of a woman’s destiny.”
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH FILMMAKER THERESE SHECHTER
Director and Producer of MY SO-CALLED SELFISH LIFE
With her signature first-person style, Therese has fostered engaging and thought-provoking conversations for the past 20 years. She has screened and spoken at some of the most prominent schools and organizations in North America, including Harvard, Columbia, The American Public Health Association, the Kinsey Institute, NARAL, Duke, MIT, the American Sociological Association, the Brooklyn Museum, and Planned Parenthood.
Her films have screened from Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul to Seoul, and are in the collections of hundreds of universities, non-profits, and libraries. You can find coverage of her work in The Atlantic, Vice, Salon, The Chicago Tribune, Elle, and Ms. Magazine, among others.
Therese's film career began in 2000 when she moved to New York to join Robert DeNiro’s company Tribeca Productions. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Shechter worked for the Chicago Tribune, and served as Design Director for two of the newspaper's Pulitzer-Prize-winning projects.