While I don’t normally use this little corner of the Internet to rant, I’m afraid this post might be one of those rare times. Apologies in advance to my readers!
To whom it may concern,
I’m not entirely sure when my reproductive choices became open for discussion. Was it when I reached my 30s? Was it when I moved overseas as a single woman? I’m referring specifically to the baby question.
“So, when do you plan on having children?”
I’m still deciding what irritates me more about this question. Is it the ‘when’ – the assumption that I will want to have children? Is it the plural – the more than one? Or perhaps it is the sheer nature of the question itself?
In the past week I have been asked this question multiple times – and it’s not okay. Does society feel some sort of entitlement to demand that a woman outline her full plans when it comes to sex, relationships, marriage and the many intricacies involved in bringing a tiny human into the world?
While I am acutely aware that my status as a 32 year old, single, childless female is an anomaly here in East Africa where I live, it still does not excuse the question.
A person’s reproductive and procreative plans are not a public forum and up for discussion.
I wonder if people realise how deeply, gut-punchingly personal a thing it is to ask?
Each time I have been asked recently, I have stumbled over my answer due to feeling blindsided by the sudden intimacy of the question, and also because I honestly do not know what my answer is.
The thing is, you don’t know what a person’s circumstances truly are. You don’t know who might be struggling with infertility. You have no idea who may be grieving a miscarriage. You can never be sure of what trauma has happened in someone’s past. You don’t know how someone is truly feeling about having children now or in the future. They may desperately long to have children but circumstances have never been right. They may have decided not to have children at all. They may have been trying for a long time and been unable to conceive.
You never truly know and have no idea the impact such a question may have.
Rest assured, if I trust you and want to tell you about this very personal aspect of my life, I will.
But please stop asking.