Stop Asking Women If They're Going To Have Kids

I wrote an article at the Daily Dot about Jennifer Aniston’s response to being asked about having children, and why you should stop asking women this question.

The Internet—and universe at large—may be very concerned about whether or not Jennifer Aniston is planning on having children, but she’s not. In an interview on Today this past week, Aniston opened up about constantly being asked about kids. She said:

I don’t have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and…if they’re not checked, then I’ve failed some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth and my value as a woman because I haven’t birthed a child….I’ve birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I’ve mothered many things….And I don’t feel like it’s fair to put that pressure on people.

Aniston is not alone in dealing with these sorts of questions. Many adult women, famous and not, field them. If we’re unmarried, we’re asked if we aren’t worried about the “biological clock.” If we’re married, we’re asked when there are going to be kids.

It’s a common question to ask, but it’s a subject so deeply personal and intrusive that I’m amazed so many people still think it’s appropriate to ask about. What are the potential answers there? “Yes, I want children, but I haven’t met someone that I could have them with?” “Yes, I want children, but it’s medically impossible for me?” “Yes, I want children, but I can’t afford it?” “Yes, I want children, and I’m trying to conceive?” “No, I don’t want children?”

The latter is true for some women, but if we say it directly, we just open ourselves up to more questions. “Why not?” “How could a woman not want children?” “But what will your husband say?” “So what are you going to do with your life?” “Why are you so selfish?”

But those who do want children and say so must then reveal either intimate details about their sex lives (“We’re trying”) or other personal information that they shouldn’t feel obligated to disclose (“I can’t conceive” or “My finances aren’t really conducive to that right now”).

It’s not surprising, then, that celebrity women often have to tiptoe around this question. For instance, Aniston didn’t say in her interview whether or not she wants children or wished she’d had them.

What she did say, though, cleverly subverted the intent of the original question while framing it as unfair to ask. Aniston noted that she hasn’t “failed” at being a woman by not having children and that she’s created many other things—perhaps instead of having children. And while the trope of the woman who compensates for not having children by putting everything into her career is pervasive and negative, it’s important to note that different things are fulfilling for different people. From her wording, it’s clear that the things Aniston has spent her life doing have been meaningful.

Read the rest here.

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Stop Asking Women If They're Going To Have Kids
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4 thoughts on “Stop Asking Women If They're Going To Have Kids

  1. 1

    I note that doctors tend to refuse to give sterilizations to women they deem to young since, as one said, “too many people change their minds.” I never realized that statement must be unsupported bullshit since it seems that the practice of refusing sterilizations for women who are young has been going on … indefinitely, meaning that I question the existence of any women who got sterilized at 20 who changed their minds.

    Is there any evidence that women who would have obtained elective sterilizations ended up changing their minds? Has any research been done on this topic?

  2. 2

    Yes, I wish people would stop doing that, it’s crap. Even as someone in the default easy-mode privilege set, I hate being pressed on that. I tend to get a little snippy when questioners decide to add their “opinions” on the matter. And I think women get enough unspoken cultural expectation as it is.

  3. 3

    Even if women do change their minds about sterilization, what’s the harm in that? As was said, women get enough flak as it is, so people faulting us for yet something else, especially something that’s so personal, is wrong.

  4. 4

    Some people seem to use any excuse to bring up whether or not a woman has or will be having kids. While talking to a coworker about my pending divorce, she tried to cheer me up by saying, “maybe you’ll meet someone new and decide to have kids!” Um, no. Even if I get in a serious relationship with someone, I’m still not going to be having kids. Her response to that was to say, “well, no, I don’t suppose you want to be having kids at your age.”

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