Have you ever known a childless (child-free?) woman of around 35 and had it pop into your head “is she ever going to get around to having kids?” Have you ever looked at a woman who has a great career, travels the world, is in a happy relationship, etc. and thought “she’ll never be fulfilled until she has a baby of her own.” Yeah, I thought so. Can I ask you a direct question? Do you have kids? Oh you do? Perfect, wonderful! Congratulations! That is the most beautiful baby/child/teen/adult I have ever seen. You must feel so fulfilled. So much so that you have made it your job to ensure that no woman alive misses out on your life. Have you travelled often? Oh no, I agree, travelling with kids is hard and expensive, best wait til they are older. Hey, can I ask you another question? Have you ever looked at woman who has multiple children and thought “my god! She’ll never get her life back at that rate!”? Yeah? What’s your max? 3? 4? That’s what I figured. But I am little confused – if a woman cannot be fulfilled without kids, how can she then also have too many kids? Oh wait, right… because she is a woman.
I have been feeling irked by recent discussions, articles and society in general, but today’s ire is directed at people who think that a woman’s babymaking skill – wait, let’s not even call it a skill, let’s call it what it is – a natural ability that you have no control over – is the way to a happy and fulfilled life. I have many happy mom friends, and many happy non-mom friends, and I would not say that one group feels more or less fulfilled than the orher simply by virtue of having pushed a human through their “birth canal”. I would argue, though, that both feel unrelenting pressure with regards to their choices. But why?? Why do we as a society care if a woman procreates or not? Not only is what a person does with their internal organs none of your damn business, but because it points to a fatal flaw in our society: sexism. We are conditioned to think that motherhood is magical because if we don’t, we won’t want to do it. We are conditioned to talk our friends and family into having a sweet adorable baby, because babies smell so good. But why are we conditioned into thinking this? Babies smell so good, true (most of the time… the rest of the time they smell like dirty diaper, sour milk, and some sort of sticky thing in their hair that you can’t quite tell what it is…), however that is not what has caused us to feel that we, and every other female on the planet should make use of our uterus – we are meant to be carrying on the line. We are the protectors of our husbands’ name. Without us, his family line could become extinct (regardless of whether he has 13 brothers, with sons of their own…).
Right now Hulu has created a series based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the idea of treating women as bags of fertility is in the fore. I have not seen the show, but I have read the original source material. In 1986, Atwood wrote a book wherein bit by bit women’s rights were stripped away from them – including a country-wide mass firing of all women in the country because it became illegal for women to hold down a job. In Atwood’s novel, a fertility crisis had broken out and all women with functioning uteruses were rounded up to make babies for the men to have, and for his infertile wife to raise. Yes, this is far-fetched, but at the microcosmic level, this is what we do when we try to convince every woman we ever meet that she ought to take up the reins of parenthood. Think about my earlier question – when you are speaking to your “woefully child free” friend, how do you talk about motherhood? Do you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Univeral Creator of whom you may or may not believe? No. You talk about cuddles and baby’s breath, and I Wuv Oo, Mamas. You talk about never having experienced love like this. When you talk to your mom friends, you talk about Tommy’s inability to stop gnawing the furniture like a beaver, you talk about diarrhea and episiotomies. Do you know why? Because we mommies of the world are conditioned to be the saleswomen of our species. And we only share the fine print once you buy in. When a child-free woman says she is tired and too busy, we are taught to roll our eges and mutter under our breaths “you have no idea abour busy until you have 1/2/3/4 kids. What are you complaining about?” It’s ridiculous. Being a mother does not give you the monopoly on exhaustion! In a society where we are constantly connected, constantly reachable, and more often than not constantly connected to our jobs, how can a woman who works hard, yet doesn’t have to rush to daycare, and is therefore tied to her desk for longer not allowed to be tired?
Being a woman is difficult. Being a mom is difficult. Being a non-mom is difficult, but back to my original point – if you were not conditioned to carry on the species, why would you care whether all your friends had babies or not? You wouldn’t. So then – why do you care? It really is none of your business.