Times have moved on from Courtney Cox’s first mention of that taboo word ‘Period’ in the 80’s, but in so many ways our society still has an old-fashioned notion of what it means to be a woman and the expectations of our ‘role’.
In a world where women demand equality in employment, where love is love and medical marijuana is starting to be prescribed by Doctors, there are still so many aspects of our lives that haven’t progressed beyond the Victorian ideas of our ancestors. Being married and childless? Unthinkable.
“When I was 5, my fantasy was to have a hundred dogs and a hundred kids. I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood. Being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience this time around.” Kim Catrall shared with her fans.
While society has a way of making you feel like you are most definitely the exception rather than the rule recent figures from ONS show that just under half of women that turned thirty in 2016 were childless compared to that of 18% of women turning thirty in 1976 showing that turning thirty childless, married or not, is almost the rule and not the exception.
This information does not appear to have filtered down to the masses as I am still met with shock and horror when asked that fateful question “How many children do you have?” and when my answer is none; “When are you having them?”, “You don’t want kids?”, “Oh, you still have plenty of time” is the usual predictable flow of questions and comments after that query. As though it is completely acceptable to enquire about a stranger’s reproductive system.
“It was not my destiny, I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought. Whenever boring old men went, “What? No children? Well, you’d better get on with it, old girl,” I’d say “No! Fuck off!” Oscar winner, Dame Helen Mirren voiced to Marie Claire.
However, it is important to remember that this is not a choice for everyone. Some people struggle through endless years of trying, fertility drugs and IVF treatment as each year brings them closer to that moment when their body betrays them further: menopause.
Some women have happily conceived and sadly miscarried and, in private, lick their wounds to build their courage to try again. That insensitive question asked with a smile and a wink, unravelling the control and the carefully constructed mask of privacy for the women on the end of the question.
In the former first lady’s soon to be released memoir, she talks of the heartache suffered of IVF and miscarriage and recently, talking on “Good Morning America” promoting her book “Becoming” she gave insight into what this felt like. “I felt like I had failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them. We sit in our own pain, thinking we are someone broken”.
According to the NHS, 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so think about those eight women at some point in your life you have asked “When are you planning on having a baby?”
And yet despite these stories that are shared with the utmost bravery in a public arena, through the tears, the pain sketched on the face of a woman who has loved and lost; we still can’t stop our age-old obsession of motherhood being a requirement of womanhood.