Last night I was drinking and free-associating in the shower. And my thoughts turned to a friend who had gotten pregnant at 40 something. I thought she had dodged the bullet of no one having to talk about her in hushed tones about her “struggle.”
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, congratulations on being young or men. Because once you enter your thirties as women, all other women want to talk about is your plans regarding that space for rent that’s vagina adjacent. Are you going to get tenants anytime soon? Remodel maybe?
If you say you’re planning on leaving it vacant until it’s condemned like some uterine Detroit, people want to know why you hate kids. They want to know why you hate them for having kids. They want to tell you why kids are just the best and you should have one even though they will also tell you they haven’t had an orgasm with their husband in three years.
If you announce your intentions to try to fill it, then they just keep asking whether you’ve found a renter yet. I get it; I’ve done it, too. You want to show an interest in your friends’ lives and if this is something they’ve said is important to them you want to show them it’s important to you, too.
But I’ve also seen it take a bad turn. After a few months, you become the woman having “fertility issues.” Know-it-all friends under the guise of concern say, “I don’t know why she doesn’t try blank. I told her to try blank. Blank worked for me.”
I actually heard one woman snidely say, “She does know you actually have to have sex with your husband, right?” Because that’s supportive.
At first, they have nothing but excitement for you. Yay! You’re going to join the exclusive club of people who don’t ever see friends again unless a bouncy house is involved! Then you get the pity. Then for some reason, I have yet to figure out, you get their resentment. Somehow you have brought all of this on yourself and they just don’t have time to deal with you.
So I was happy for my friend who got knocked up at 40-whatever because she had avoided both traps A and B. But instead, people found a way to talk about her anyway because that’s what we do. No sooner had she defied science and had that baby then people started calling her a helicopter mom.
Look, some people are helicopter parents. I get it. If it walks like a duck and talks like someone who’s read too many parenting books, it probably really is a helicopter mom. But my issue is the way we as women have found yet another way to judge each other. If having it all is really as hard as I keep hearing it is, then where are all these women finding the time to talk badly about all of these other women? Don’t they have better things to do?
Women, is there nothing we won’t find to hate each other over? I can’t even blame men here and nothing makes me angrier at my own sex than not being able to blame men for something.
My friend Molly Mogren Katt wrote a very awesome piece about miscarriage and the fact that we don’t talk about it. Much has been written about why this is such a taboo subject. But I think the real reason we don’t talk about it is that we can’t be sure this won’t be just one more way other women will judge us. I actually heard one friend say after another one’s miscarriage, “Big deal. Most women have them their first time.”
After reading this you might say I’ve known some shitty friends and you may very well be right. But I’ve been in the field some ten years witnessing this among people I know and the friends of people I know. And there are some good supportive people out there. But there are also a lot of twats. And when it comes to one of the most important decisions you can make in your life, a lot of women are twats.
Reproductive freedom is not just a fight between republicans and democrats; it has become a battleground for women ourselves as if we needed one more of those. We’re using this most personal of issues as another excuse to mean girl each other, to make others feel inferior, to knock them down instead of building each other up. That’s why we don’t talk about it. Because we don’t want to be the woman who can’t have it all, or who admits to some inferiority or who by making our own decisions to abstain altogether, forces others to think theirs are being challenged.
And is it any shock that this is about our bodies? That this is just another way for us to be at odds with them? To hate their limitations and feel like our body is just not good enough. This is a women’s issue, not because it’s icky and deals with blood and uteruses, but because it strikes at our core of how we can’t relate to each other and how we define ourselves and our self-esteem with our bodies.
Is it biological? My two female cats hate each other so maybe there’s something to that theory. But while my cats have a cerebral cortex the size of a walnut and are therefore incapable of rational thought, I saw Hillary Clinton keep her shit together during 11 hours of Congressional testimony, so I have to at least think we can do better. But then with my own two ears, I hear a woman say to my face, “You should always have a baby. Having a career and a baby will always make you feel superior to those who just have a career,” and I don’t know that we can. Maybe we’re just fucked.
Or maybe we all need to just back the fuck off. Back the fuck off of each other. And back the fuck off of ourselves.
8 thoughts on “War Womb”
First- I laughed out loud remembering when you taught me the word Twat and how shocked I was in 198?….
I do believe you use it quite appropriately here. As a woman whose raised 2 boys, one that came from me- the other I chose. I can testify to the constant critique of what I did right, wrong or should have done. As a woman in my 40’s I have had several friends who went several routes to obtain children, also under intense scrutiny. One of my personal favorites is my dear friend with twin girls who is asked “did you get twins naturally?” Ummm none of your business!!!
Finally-your last comment about not knowing true success without having both child and career…. HA!!!!! How about you don’t understand true failure when at some point (and we all do) you sacrifice one for the other.
I’m sorry someone uttered those words to you- if upsets me.
I completely agree- being a human is challenging enough. Successfiul at careers, family… Quite the struggle.
Let’s stop as women and just lift each other up and celebrate who we are. Married, single, family of ten, two or one. Enough already.
Really great article. And a reminder that there are three possible reasons grown people don’t have kids. 1- they’re not ready 2. they can’t 3. they don’t want to. None of these are any of my business.
This is a tremendous article! Amber and I get asked the “so when are you having kids” question all the time and when we say we’re OK if it happens at some point or it doesn’t, we get all of the judgment you, so expertly, describe in this post. No one even stops to consider the “are they able to” question. Everyone lives different lives and has different needs and desires. Just because they don’t mesh exactly with what you want doesn’t make them wrong. It’d be nice if people could remember that.
this is a must read for any woman over the age of 18. Strike that, for any woman who has ever ovulated.
Great read, Tess! Here’s what I think about women who don’t have kids; they don’t have kids.
Well said, Tess. Everything surrounding procreation is so unnecessarily heavy, and the experience differs not only from person to person, but from pregnancy to pregnancy. It’s a tricky place to navigate, so we should all be mindful of our words, actions and judgments.
Also, let’s do our best to strike “So, you guys thinking of having kids soon?”-like questions from small talk. Baby questions are to 30-somethings what “what’s your major?” is to college students. If you’re asking that question because you don’t know that person well enough to ask them anything else, maybe just ask them about their job or talk about the weather. Asking about babies shouldn’t be small talk. That’s actually very big talk, and should be reserved for people you truly know and give a shit about.
i don’t think I meant “unnecessarily heavy,” i just meant plain heavy. 🙂
Fantastic Piece! I am a pro-CHOICE, single mother, who gave birth at 40+. Fuck all of those twats who have nothing better to do than to try to tear down anyone, when they are in pieces themselves. Life is short, mind your own business and don’t worry how I look as I am racing in my Prius for the morning school Monster Truck drop-off!! I love my daughter and my life, and my age and my freedom! Love, Love, Laugh, Cry and do NOT judge!