Women choosing single motherhood are subject of new documentary

Nina Davenport and her son Jasper in front of their Brooklyn home. Credit: Bess Adler
Nina Davenport and her son Jasper in front of their Brooklyn home. Credit: Bess Adler

In a city where women often bemoan the uneven ratio of women to men — 400,000 more women, according to city data — stories like Nina Davenport’s are no doubt becoming less and less unusual.

In fact, Davenport, a Brooklyn-based single mother who decided to have a child on her own at the age of 41, scoffed at a reviewer who referred to her, in the context of a documentary she made about her experience, as “a demographic of one.”

“It’s so absurd,” she said. “I know tons of people who have done this and it’s not even necessarily from seeking them out [because of the film].”

Davenport’s documentary, “First Comes Love,” is showing at Independent Film Center and premiered on HBO on Monday, with a special screening of its sort-of prequel, “Always a Bridesmaid,” beforehand.

A career documentary filmmaker, making a movie of her experience was natural. Now, though, especially in light of some of the more vicious reviews the film has received, she’s hoping it will help other women in New York feel less afraid of facing judgment if they make the decision to have a child on their own.

The film, she said, is about “female empowerment, like a woman feeling that I don’t need a man to do this, I don’t need a man psychologically, I don’t need the validation from society, I don’t have to do the same thing my parents did.”

That sense of security and confidence didn’t come easy to her.

“It was hard-won to get to that point; I had to overcome a lot to get to the point of giving up on finding a man and having a baby of my own,” she said.

But being a New Yorker made feeling comfortable with the experience that much easier.

“I feel like the beauty of New York is anything goes,” she added. “There’s everything here and there’s so much tolerance and openness.”

Davenport gives the city a lot of positive credit with regard to her experience, brushing aside the struggle to find man who will commit (the subject of “Always a Bridesmaid”) and focusing instead on the sense of community the city affords.

“I don’t know that I could live anywhere else and feel as happy and normal being a single mother,” Davenport said. “Here I never feel judged.”

Indeed, she says, there is no such thing as a “typical” family in New York City: There are single-parent families, divorced families, families with two mothers or two fathers or grandparents.

“I value that more than anything,” she said.

See the film

The film is playing at the IFC Center at 323 Sixth Ave.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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