Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I don't want nuthin' to do with birthin' no babies

Mainstream media wants me to believe that I am at the age in which my biological clock starts ticking out of control. I'm calling bullshit.
I don't actively dislike children; I just don't want any of my own. I never have. I was never into playing with baby dolls as a child, I actually remember when I was five or so, being vaguely offended when I got a baby-doll for Christmas. Silly patriarchal Father Christmas!

My worth as a woman has nothing to do with my ability (or willingness) to go forth and multiply. My worth is based on what I think, what I say, what I write, what I do, and what I choose. And I have chosen not to have children, For many reasons.

I am not comfortable with my body becoming a vessel. pregnancy does terrible things to a woman's body. Hormonal shifts, diabetes, eclampsia, etc. In my mind, pregnancy is the ultimate form of losing control of one's body. Besides the biological changes in one's body, society changes the way your body is viewed. Perfect strangers feel that they have the right to touch you, and to tell you what to do with your body. Eat this, don't eat that, don't drink coffee, don't have sex, don't exercise. Even I struggle with my inner condemnation when I see a pregnant woman drinking or smoking, my belief in a woman's right to control her body comes up against, well, common medical sense. My worst nightmare scenario involves being in childbirth, having some horrid medical complication, and having my power to make medical choices wrested out of my hands and having someone else make the choice of which life is more important: the mother's or the child's.

I am also not comfortable with carrying a man's child. Like it or not, in some cases biology is destiny. It is much easier for a man to walk away from a pregnancy than for a woman. A woman can choose to end her pregnancy, but it is a much more traumatic experience for her, even when she is certain in her decision. A man can just pack his bags and walk away. Or not. Leading cause of death amongst pregnant American women? Not any medical issue, but homicide at the hands of her partner.

Even if a woman and the relationship survive pregnancy and childbirth, it is still much easier for the man to walk away. I can think of several examples that I have witnessed firsthand. I have a friend who is beautiful, smart, accomplished, in short, just lovely in the best sense of the word. She was happily married. Then her husband started pestering her for a baby. She finally agreed. I must admit, they had the most beautiful baby girl. One of those babies who is cute, and giggly, and well behaved. If someone had an interest in having a baby, then this was the baby to have. When the baby was about 9 months old, he changed his mind. Turned out that no, actually, he didn't want to be a father after all. My friend had to leave the theatre industry, because while it can support a single woman (like myself), or a two-income family (like some of my co-workers), it just can't support a single mother. Can you imagine a woman changing her mind and walking out on her husband and family? It happens, but rarely, and the social stigma placed on a woman who does so is so much higher than on a man who does the same.
If I have no interest in being a mother, I have even less interest in being a single mother.

On a side note, I've noticed amongst the couples I do know with children, the same-sex parents seem to have the most stable families. Take that "family values" right-wing!

Ultimately, what it comes down to this. The decision to bear children is my decision, and my decision alone. The Liar wanted a child, and would pressure me to stop using condoms with him. His line was "if you get pregnant, I'll marry you." This is faulty logic on several levels. Firstly, the issue for me was not being married or not, the issue was not wanting to be pregnant. Secondly, I didn't want to be married, especially to him. Thirdly, even if I did want to be married, I would not want it to be on the condition of my being knocked-up.

The bottom line is this, keep your laws, and your social expectations off my body.

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