Monday, May 10, 2010

Abortion Isn't The "Worst" Reproductive Choice

Wow! I have always known this in the back of my mind, but this article by Keli Goff in the Huffington Post laid it out in black and white. It is wonderful to hear someone else say they have noticed this about our society. In writing about the new Supreme Court nominee, Ms. Goff had these words of warning for Ms. Kagan when approached with the big "A" question.

"Question for you. Today what is the most controversial thing a female candidate can say?

A) I had an extramarital affair.
B) I am gay.
C) I do not want to have children.

Or forget a female candidate. What about the female spouse of a candidate, or a female vying for a major appointment, such as to the Supreme Court? Fifty years after the pill was created to empower women to take their reproductive choice into their own hands, I would argue that the answer is still C."

So would I, Keli. Isn't it so weird to realize that, thousands of years after the myth of Abraham and Sarah (of "Give me a child lest I die" fame), that women are looked askance upon if they decide that motherhood is not their bag? I have always wondered how much of that yearning for a child has come from the natural desire for a species to reproduce itself and how much of it is induced by social mores and demands.

I remember asking both of my childless aunts why they had no children when I was in the first grade. Neither of them seemed insulted by the question and their lives seemed full and happy so I never felt sorry for them or felt that they were anything less than the wonderful women they were. But, and this bothered me a lot, I heard others refer to "Poor Irene" and "Poor Fran" as if they were somehow handicapped by their childless state.

It didn't bother me that they hadn't given me more cousins. That just meant more goodies for me for Christmas and birthdays. Some of the best times I can remember from my childhood were times I spent with these two ladies. I named my first-born after one of them.

I have a few friends that have remained cheerfully childless and it has never occurred to me to see them as less than feminine or less than caring women. If I'm honest, I envy them, just a tiny bit, for their carefree lives.
My former brother-in-law and his wife made a conscious decision to remain childless and they are happy and have a great life. I asked Nancy, when she was sitting in the floor playing with my kids, why she wasn't planning to have a family. Her answer was that she loved children but she didn't want to live with them 24/7. She also said she figured there were enough kids around, already without her adding anymore. She didn't elaborate any further and I didn't push it.

I have since decided that it is none of my business why any woman has no children and chooses to remain with none. Would that others felt the same way. If women could come to be respected and admired for more than their wombs, I wonder if this business of adoption would have as many customers? I also know women and men who have never married yet they never seemed to feel that they needed a partner to complete their lives.

So why should a woman feel incomplete, "less than" or a failure if she doesn't conceive? It behooves me to blame the patriarchy for this one. I can't help but think about an old movie where they were trotting out captive women on the slave block and the slave trader says, "Ah, this one has wide hips and full breasts. She could give you many little slaves." I have read histories of ancient times and  those attributes were what men looked for when seeking wives. Look at the Earth Goddess Gaia with her pendulous breasts, thick hips and big belly and you will see why women were both feared and revered by prehistoric man.

We, who choose motherhood, can do something no man can do and I believe there has always been as much uterus envy as there ever was "penis envy." With their brute strength, men set out to control our reproductive lives and, to a great extent, they are still trying to do just that, often with the help of women who cannot feel complete and whole within themselves. It's a shame that many of our own gender can't see the forest for the trees on this one.

Fertility is not our identity, individually or as woman-kind as a whole. There is so much more to all of us than just that. I know...some will say, "It's easy for you to say that. You have had children." Yep, I sure have and, while I wouldn't take a trillion dollars for any of them, I also know how a life can be constrained by motherhood. I also know that none of us are perfect at the job. Children are hard work and are not social decorations.

We give our daughters dolls and tell them that the most wonderful thing they can aspire to when they become adults is motherhood. It is in the media, in the schools and in the literature of ages and ages past. Yet you let nature take its course a little early or before the house and car are paid for or before the ring is on the finger and motherhood becomes the veil of shame and the mother becomes unfit and unworthy. On the other hand, if a woman is unable to conceive, she is also seen as "less than" and someone to be pitied. Double standards seem to be the norm for us.

In pops the hand of men again, because how can they know, unless they "own" the woman, that the offspring is theirs? Well, fellows, we have a nifty little thing now called a DNA analysis. It pretty much beats the old paternity tests by a mile. So you would have to be responsible for your share of that child's conception and,
with you taking responsibility, mommy wouldn't have to provide an infertile woman with a child. And, if we were truly an advanced civilization with respect for all our people, the childless woman would go about her life without needing to predate on her sisters.

So, what does this say about us? To me, it says we are still huddling around a fire in a cave, wearing animal skins when it comes to social and emotional development. We are still superstitious, elitist, chauvinistic and scared to death of our own animal natures (and we ARE primates).

It also says we have a lot of evolving to do. Funny, isn't it, how the oldest fossil of early humans is female yet all the evolutionary models are of males? Think about that one.


Sandy Young said...

HOOOORAHHHH!!!!! Thanks for this...I am with you 1000% and agree with every single syllable. Uterine envy....I love the sound of that.....

Von said...

I do, I have and I posted something along these lines about acknowledging paternity right there on my blog this very morning!

Lori said...

BRAVA! Wonderful post! You would not believe how many women actually beleived that I married my husband because I "needed" him. When in reality, I just wanted him.

Men, poor things, don't get it and we women keep giving them the power - how sad. I totally feel sad when I hear a young woman say she won't make it in life without a man - for whatever reason. Because the truth is, men can't make it without us. Ever wonder why gay men do the girl thing? LOL! Nothing like a flamer to wake up the brain!

Sign this a "Total Earth Mother" LOL!

Robin said...

Lori....could it be.....UTERINE ENVY???!!!!! *crashing organ music*