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Kim, from Malaysia, has been living in Vienna for several years. She tells about the personal and professional reasons behind her choice not to have children. In her testimony, she delves deeper on women’s condition in Asia with regard to motherhood and she dwells on how women with no children are judged and about questions around inheritance.

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KIM: « Hi I’m Kim. I am thirty… Oh, I must speak here. Ok. Hi I’m Kim, I’m 32 years old, I’m actually from Malaysia, but I’ve been living in Vienna since 2011. But in between, I was working in China, for the Defense.
So I used to work in the mining areas and different other areas, but now I am actually in the travelling sectors.
I also have my own an Airbnb, and I am also dealing in antiques business.
I used to think to have children when I was young but, when I was 15 years old, I just made a decision that I didn’t want to have kids. So my mom heard about it, I told her about it when I was young. Because part of the reason I think is that I don’t like noise.
I think children are cute, but when they make noise it just gets me on my nerves. So my mom, she used to think when I have children I would throw them out of the window. But she just said to exaggerate, I wouldn’t throw the children out.
I have a brother, he likes kids a lot, and he also wants to have kids. He always I should too, he always encourages me. But I just told him that it’s my choice and I don’t want to have kids, partly because of my career path,
I’m always busy with my things. Also I’m enjoying being like… not to stay single, but enjoying to be with my partner together, and instead just like having kids.
I mean, I have had my partners before, who told me that they want to have kids and stuff. But I think…
I need to think about it. And I used to have an ex, she told me she wanted to have kids. I told her she could get pregnant, and she said she didn’t want, she said because she would look ugly, after have the pregnancy and stuff.
So I said that we can adopt, so she said she wanted to have a “black baby”.
She said it would be cool to have three colors in our family and stuff: I am Chinese, so yellow, she is white, and there’s a black one. So make it really international, like the UN. So, I told the story to my friends, and they said that was kind of crazy this idea. So I think it’s crazy too, because I don’t know how to explain to everyone, if I bring them to a coffee house everyone would ask me, “What’s the problem?” And they probably will think… “Is your girlfriend having sex with a black male or something”.

Basically, as a Chinese, we are quite traditional, I mean we are not so open like most Caucasians when it comes to accept a stepdaughter or something. We really think about it economically or like inheritance, in this way, whether it is ok or not. So we have a term for people who take over someone else’s children, which means you dragging someone’s oil bottles. It’s not a nice term in our society.
So talking about not having children, my parents always think about, “When you get old, you have financial stability,
who are you going to give all this money to?” I told them it’s not about who you give money to, but how you are giving back to society, what society gave you and how can you give it back to society.
I told them it’s not really matter for me to decide who to give it to. Kind of really contradicting the Chinese mentality, because most of the Asian or Chinese mentality, it’s like I should have kids and they inheritance my properties and that’s how the whole thing continues. So it really contradicts what most Asian think.
I guess nowadays in Malaysia people actually would quite respect the pregnant woman. I think it depends on the family, but generally if you are pregnant they would hold you like a queen.
So most women really enjoy being a queen during this period especially if you have your first child everyone in the family will say: “This is great.” But with the second child, it will be like: “Nah, it’s not so special anymore.”
So I guess, some Chinese women, if they are pregnant they still can go to work, but mostly the employers would say:
“You have to stay home, and you have to get well and stuff.” Not because they are scared you have something happened, but because we have a culture where women, when they get pregnant, they should really take different Chinese medicines. And you have people who serve you really like queen. And after the birth, you also have like centers, we call in Chinese “Zuò yuè zi”, it’s for people who, after having a baby, in one month’s time, they give you different Chinese herbs and medicines, and they take care of everything, and you just need to enjoy, your breastfeeding and stuff like that. And the whole day is in that centre, but your husband or your relative can pick you up from time to time. It is a big business actually in Asia.

So, in Asia I guess nowadays it so common for some people not to want kids. Probably, they think about their career,
or probably they will think about their families, because in Malaysia I think it s still more about men dominating most of the top management ranges. So for women who have reached this level it is really difficult for them to say,
“I want to get pregnant, and then I don’t want to lose my job.”
So, it’s kind of really difficult, it’s not like the system in Austria, you have three years to come back. But in Malaysia, if you want to stay home longer, you won’t have the chance to come back. Someone would take your job.
In 1-2 years time, you might not have your job back because nowadays the technology is so fast and everything changes so fast in Asia. So no one wants to lose this high salary and position.
So, that’s the difference between there and here. It’s more about the system that the governments provide or the companies provide.
Basically, I think in Austria it’s quite normal if someone don’t want to have children. But in Asia, you know, because I think all your friends have families, and once they have family they are really devoted to their family, and they put more time into the family. So, in Asia, most of the time, even though they are single, in the end they will say: “I will think to have an adoption.”
Sometimes people think really bad words about women who don’t have children, or who are not married.
This expression, Lǎo chǔnǚ, means “old virgin.” They use this word to state a woman who is not married and without children also, so they said is like an old virgin, it is like a Lǎo chǔnǚ. It’s not a nice word towards a woman who doesn’t want to same as another woman, but I think, you know, with the progression, with all the society changes, we slowly turned to what like European think.
People will think it’s more about personal choice. So, what we have let’s someone know is that not having children
is more a personal choice rather than a society norm. We really have to educate most people that having children or not is more about personal choice. Probably someone will think it’s about health issues. So there are many factors that affect someone who don’t want to have children. So it is not just because of health, economically or socially or something. There are many things, probably past experiences about their parents, you know. Probably they see their parents who are not in a good relationship, they may fear they are not capable in handling children to make them be a better person. I think there are many factors which make someone not to want children.
So, for me, I think if I want to have children I have to make sure he or she would be going to University, who actually be someone who is good in contributing to society. That’s the most basic requirement. If I cannot make sure to provide this to him or her in the future, then I’d rather not have one. Because someone have to always feel ready
to make sure your children to be really good. Sometimes you don’t know if God just make a jokes to you, and gives you some special gift. So, it’s kind of really different.
[repeating in Malaysian]

We use “old virgin” for someone who is… Old virgin, like… “Lǎo chǔnǚ”. Ok, it means women without something, so you used lunàdigas to say… Because in Chinese we say a woman, who for example, if she is married and doesn’t want to have children, she is like “the chicken who cannot grow the eggs.”
The one that is actually “old virgin”, it’s someone who doesn’t want to get married, nor to have children. So there is one that is “old virgin,” and the other is “a chicken who doesn’t want to grow eggs.”
In Asia, for women who are actually married we have this kind of false mentality. A woman who gets married and she doesn’t have children or can’t have children, or doesn’t want to have children, someone would use the term “chicken who can’t grow eggs.”
[repeating in Malaysian] So it’s kind of like, you know, some women… Mostly in Asia, when you get married, you’re supposed to have children, you are supposed to bear a baby. But getting married doesn’t mean that 100% you will get children.
There is no 100 guarantee that you will have a children. So, it is more like, that’s not a sure thing.
I got to know this Lunàdigas word, that is a sheep that in Sardinia doesn’t reproduce. So it is a more positive way
to describe a woman who doesn’t want to have children. But in Asia I think there is a more negative kind of thinking. If you don’t want children it is not a normal kind of thinking. People will think: “You have this reproduction machine and why don’t you use it?” It is kind of a waste if you don’t use your machine to produce a baby. So a different kind of mentality, but I think it is a personal choice. I came to know about Lunàdigas in Vienna,
that it means “women who don’t want to have children.” In Asia, we use the term “the chicken who cannot bear eggs.”»

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