Childless" women have been burned as witches, persecuted as lesbians, have been refused the right to adopt children because they were unmarried. They have been seen as embodiments of the great threat to male hegemony: the woman who is not tied to the family, who is disloyal to the law of heterosexual pairing and bearing. These women have nonetheless been expected to serve their term for society as missionaries, nuns, teachers, nurses, maiden aunts; to give, rather than sell their labour if they were middle-class; to speak softly, if at all, of women’s condition.
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Tenth Anniversary Edition
(Virago Press, 1992, first published 1976), pp. 251-2 (via rumine