Mum's not the word

Childless Childfree
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A photobook about women without children
Sharing stories of birth control, choice, freedom, regret and pain, Mum's not the word challenges the negative attitudes within society towards people without children.
Why is it that women are expected to provide reasons for not having children, and yet deciding to have them does not require justification? With up to 20% of the female population being childless, this book aims to celebrate these often ignored 'sheroes' as a recognised breed of women.

Mum's not the word debates the social stigmatisation of women, who, by choice, circumstance, or whatever reason, go against the instinct for childbirth and maternal productivity.

The subjects, photographed by award-winning photographer Denise Felkin, come from all walks of life: professionals, artists, some with mental health issues, some have fragile relationships with their birth mothers, and some who identify as other than heterosexual.
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BBC Radio Solent interview
Photographer and author, Denise, and publisher, Jude, chat about Mum's not the word with BBC Radio Solent DJ Steve Harris. With exclusive shots from this brand new photobook.
  • This important and poignant book of photo essays by Denise Felkin brings some much-needed humanity to bear on the harsh judgements that our pronatalist society holds about women who don’t have children. Each naked portrait is tender, vulnerable and raw, and the accompanying participant commentary is by turns shocking, illuminating, refreshing and heartbreaking. These women are literally laid bare, and this somehow gives them a greater right for their truths to be heard. Whether the women are childless due to infant loss, through motherhood ambivalence leading to a happy (or regretful) life without children, failed infertility treatments, clear-sighted self-awareness, unchosen singleness or other complex factors, they lie here and challenge us to appreciate for a moment what life might be like in their skin. Often those who’ve chosen non-motherhood – the childfree – are placed in one box, and those for whom this wasn’t what they’d hoped (the childless) in another; yet this courageous and sympathetic book lays them side-by-side, and in doing so, reveals the lived complexity and ambiguity of being a non-mother in our motherhood-obsessed world.

    Jody Day
    Author, Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children, and founder of Gateway Women Productions
  • Denise Felkin's "Mum's Not The Word" is an engaging and thought-provoking body of work. The artist clearly demonstrates how photography can be used to create debate and the World Photography Organisation is proud to have recognised Felkin at the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards.

    Scott Gray
  • Denise Felkin is a wonderful photographer and documentary artist.

    It’s not easy to utilise conceptual photography effectively for any subject, let alone to try and communicate the thoughts and feelings of women without children, and the negativity they face in today’s society. But Denise Felkin has done this beautifully with this remarkable series of photographs and words.

    I am truly moved by this work, and thankful to Denise and the women in this book. I learned a lot.

    Tony Bell
    The Observer
  • As a filmmaker on the same subject, what I enjoy most about Denise’s book is the vulnerability of the images. The raw honesty of women owning up at times to their struggles as well as their dreams, and the opportunities afforded to them by not having kids, is powerful. I have found in my work, and now in Denise’s, that people are incredibly moved by the visual. Bravo, Denise: you have produced a body of work that will support many women.

    Maxine Trump
    Director, To Kid Or Not To Kid the movie
  • Denise confronts our possible preconceptions and elegantly reveals the complexities of procreation, dispelling the notion that bearing children is an absolute. The accompanying quotes, by the women pictured, inform us of the infinite expanse of conditions that we might not have considered.

    Mum's Not The Word is a deep, thought-provoking. meaningful and concerned documentary.

  • As a childfree-by-choice woman I think the book is an excellent way to share the stories and raise awareness of women who choose to be childfree or are childfree by circumstance. Society places a lot of expectation on women to have children, and you can feel as though you are the only woman who doesn’t want them. I think this book is necessary for women to hear the stories of those who are childfree, and equally important for men to do so, too. I love Denise’s choice to have the women in a foetal position, too.

    Producer, Lights Down Productions

Pre-order now

Mum's not the word will be published in June 2019; pre-order now to secure your copy.
Statistic from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study, 2018, showing the rate of childlessness in women in the UK aged 40-44 rose from 14% in 1995 to 20% in 2010.

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