Over Labor Day weekend, a podcaster and minor TikTok influencer named Julia Mazur posted a video describing what her Saturday morning looked like for her as a single, child-free 29-year-old woman. After going to a Beyoncé concert the night before, she recounted, she woke up slightly hungover and stayed in bed before deciding to spend her day learning a new shakshuka recipe and catching up on Real Housewives. The point of the video, as Mazur described it, was to counteract the traditional narrative that women of a certain age must adhere to a strict timeline for marriage and childbearing, by pointing out some of the benefits of being single and without offspring.

“Whenever I’m hard on myself about why I’m not married and don’t have kids and I should be further along at 29, almost 30, I wouldn’t want to do anything else this Saturday,” she says in the video. “[The] effortlessness and ease of my life just kind of focusing on myself and the shakshuka I want to make or the Beyonce concert I want to go to, really pays off when I’m hard on myself about not being where society tells me I should be in life.”

To some, Mazur’s description of her Saturday morning probably sounded pleasant, if not a little mundane; to others, particularly parents of small children, it sounded enviable and borderline pornographic. Far-right influencer Matt Walsh, however, saw it differently. He reposted Mazur’s video on X (formerly Twitter), blasting her relatively small TikTok account to his 2.4 million followers, with the caption, “Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.” When he received criticism for attacking Mazur, he followed up with: “If you go out and [sic] public and promote a life of meaninglessness and despair, I might respond and point out that meaninglessness and despair are not good things.”

What followed was at least 48 hours of discourse about Mazur, who came to be dubbed “Shakshuka Girl” on X, with various far-right figures like Stephen Miller and Libs of TikTok’s Chaya Raichik chiming in to accuse Mazur of only caring about “sleeping in and watching TV” and saying the video “reeks of desperate cope.” Billionaire and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban even made an appearance as an unexpected voice of reason in the “debate,” telling Miller on X that he was spreading “hate” and that Mazur’s reproductive choices were “none of my fucking business.”

The vitriol incurred by Mazur’s innocuous video was similar to that prompted by comedian Chelsea Handler, who also went viral on TikTok earlier this year with a video about “a day in the life of a childless woman,” which begins with her waking up at 6:00 a.m., remembering she doesn’t have a child to take to school, and then proceeding to “take an edible, masturbate, and go back to sleep.” That video also enraged Raichik, who said on X that the video was “pitiful” and “screamed of sadness and misery.” (Speaking as a mother of two small children myself, I can attest to the fact that it did not; like Mazur’s, it actually sounded pretty awesome.)

Another TikTok that went viral last month, featuring a beautiful young blonde woman pretending to receive a proposal from an unseen person, generated an even more deranged response. In the video, she envisions a life of domestic drudgery: washing bottles, doing laundry, being heavily pregnant and cleaning the bathroom, prompting her to put down the ring in horror. The clip spurred a conspiracy theory that it was a Chinese psy-op intended to convince Western women to eschew marriage and motherhood, with professional troll Jack Posobiec even speculating that the woman in the video was Chinese and had been digitally altered to appear white.

This is, of course, untrue: Rolling Stone was able to identify the woman in the video as a Ukrainian woman who is currently living in China and posting comedic videos on the platform Douyin about her life with her Chinese boyfriend. (Posobiec even links to the woman’s channel in his replies, though he has yet to delete the original tweet implying she is an AI-altered Communist propaganda tool.) Apparently, the prospect of a woman hesitating to consign herself to a life of domestic servitude is so foreign to some on the right that it necessitates the creation of an elaborate governmental conspiracy theory to explain it.

Of course, there is nothing particularly new or revolutionary about the right wing demonizing women who delay marriage and motherhood, or choose to opt out of it entirely. Child-free women have long been accused of being deficient in some way, with marriage and motherhood framed as the biological end game. Despite women increasingly delaying the age of first motherhood or opting out of having kids altogether, and celebrities like Handler, Cameron Diaz, and Jennifer Aniston speaking out about the benefits of being child-free, the stigma still persists to a large degree. It periodically resurfaces in right-wing rhetoric, such as in 2021, when Ohio senator J.D. Vance accused the “childless left” of not being invested in “the future of this country,” citing Vice President Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as examples. (To be fair, Vance also cited Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker, but his later claim on Fox News that the U.S. was being run by “childless cat ladies” was a lot more pointed in its misogynistic implications.)

There is, of course, a valid reason why women are increasingly opting out of parenthood: because in the United States, it’s almost impossible to be a fully functional working mom. There are many infrastructural reasons for this, such as the lack of mandated paid parental leave, the vanishing of the middle class, and the absence of affordable child care in the United States. But ultimately, it comes down to an utter lack of social support for either working mothers or children, despite our protestations otherwise, says Stephen Mintz, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin who has written extensively about childhood and the family in American life.

“We live in a society right now that is very ambivalent about children,” he tells Rolling Stone. “We claim to love children. But I don’t believe we really do…we’re going to have the highest percentage of American women who are never going to have a child, because children are costly, children are time-absorbing, children distract from work. We live in a more adult-centered society that doesn’t support mothers very much, and that’s a big reason why many women aren’t going to have children.”

The current right-wing discourse positing that child-free women represent a major threat to the future of the American family is somewhat unique, in that it’s often paired with a seemingly totally antithetical claim: that women with children warrant our suspicion as well. Take, for instance, the outrage generated by a viral video in which a young mother serves her child pepperoni pizza, which was likened by one X pundit to “child abuse”; or the similar furor over a clip in which a mother is seen performing the majority of household tasks, while her husband sits in an armchair playing on his phone, prompting Walsh to declare in an August 31 tweet, “This kind of martyr complex is absolutely deadly to a marriage.” (It is also, statistically speaking, the reality for the vast majority of American couples, and the childcare and household labor gap has, if anything, gotten worse since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.)

The obsessive focus on mothers and/or women who choose not to become mothers marks a sharp deviation from right-wing rhetoric over the past two years. As Rolling Stone previously reported, with former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election, the right has focused on trying to regain a foothold in the culture wars, focusing primarily on transgender people. Yet with support for anti-trans legislation rising and nearly 360 active anti-transgender bills being considered in states across the country, there is some evidence to indicate that the GOP’s victories on this front have prompted them to start moving onto other fights. Data from the Crowd Counting Consortium has found that after peaking during Pride Month, anti-LGBTQ protests and demonstrations have slowly started to decrease, with GOP protests increasingly focusing on immigration and asylum seekers instead in advance of the 2024 election. And while anti-trans rhetoric was still very much prevalent throughout the GOP debates last August, it arguably focused even more heavily on national abortion bans and using state power to further restrict women’s reproductive freedoms.

Taken in aggregate, the message from far-right pundits appears to be that not only are single, childfree women worthy of public castigation, but women who fulfill all of their societal expectations and do the “right” thing by getting married and having kids are targets as well, particularly if they have the audacity to serve their children frozen pizza or gently skewer their husbands for their failure to do their share of childcare. It doesn’t take a logician to realize what the common element here is: women, regardless of what they choose to do with their bodies.

For her part, Mazur responded to the backlash with the same approach she took to her original video: with humor and empathy. In a response video on TikTok, she described some of the threats and harassment she had received as a result of Walsh’s post on X, addressing people watching her video who were, like her, single and trying to find the right person to spend their lives with, saying that her video was intended for “people who are taking their time creating the lives that they want for themselves because it’s the life they want, not the life society has deemed correct.”


“And if anyone was wondering,” she concludes, “the shakshuka I made was delicious.”