Whose womb is it anyway?

There is so much fucking bollocks spouted about having children. Can you think of another aspect of one’s private life that is open to so much public debate and discussion? I can’t.

It seems to me that the nanosecond you get into a serious relationship, people seem to think that this entitles them to enquire as to your future plans for procreation. I’m not talking about close friends, where this might be acceptable, but acquaintances and even total random strangers.

I’m 38 and childless. I’ve been with my husband for eight years. These two facts combined seem to send some people positively apoplectic. ‘What do you mean you don’t want children?’ ‘You’ll regret it when you’re a lonely bitter old woman’ and my personal favourite ‘you’re not doing your duty as a wife’. All genuine things that have been said to me within the past six years. Pretty much since we decided that kids were off the agenda.

Because we made the choice lightly, you understand. One morning, in the midst of our selfish, child-free lie ins, we decided that kids would spoil all our fun.

I wish that was true. That would have been brilliant, actually. I can see no reason why that wouldn’t be as valid a choice as what actually happened; that we made the decision following my third miscarriage.

Uncomfortable yet? I hope not. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I find it endlessly odd that, as a society, we seem so intent on championing childbirth, and yet are so quick to brush it under the carpet when it ends badly. And considering something like half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (according to Tommys), that’s a lot of denial. Babies die. It’s a sad fact of life, but it is a fact. So it makes it all the more mind numbingly fucking unbelievable when anyone thinks they have a right to wade in and start telling women what we can and should do with our bodies.

Who knows? Maybe my fourth, or fifth, or sixth pregnancy would have come out okay. Statistically that is possible, but after talking to doctors we made the decision that, actually, we didn’t fancy going through it all again and, just maybe, there was a bit more to life than having kids. I can happily report that there is. Yay me! That doesn’t mean I’m saying don’t have kids – if you want them, and are in a position to nourish and support them, go have a dozen. But if you’re not sure, for God’s sake don’t let yourself be bullied by other people. Or The Media.

Because The Media is increasingly vocal about what women should and shouldn’t be doing with their own reproductive systems. Look at this little sparkly gem in The Guardian.. So, we’re apparently selfish, decadent and stupid for deciding not to add more people to this already horribly overpopulated, overstretched world. I’ll remember that next time I’m paying my taxes that go towards things like schools, and childcare, that I will never ever use but will happily contribute towards for other people’s families. I’ll remember it when I am able to look after my friends’ kids, and give said friends a much needed break. I’ll remember it when, hopefully in the future, my niece and nephew come over from the USA to spend time with their cool aunt and uncle in London. The ones who will spoil them rotten and take them everywhere they want to go and give them undivided attention, like my awesome childless Godparents did with me when I was a kid. I’ll remember it next time I give a workshop on acting and writing to a bunch of kids for no pay, just because I think it’s important for them to have access to this stuff. There are millions of childless women out there; contributing, participating and doing the right things. We have the right to be judged on more than the sum of our eggs and sperm.

And what of sperm? Because daddies are in for it too, apparently. We’ve all heard about the absent ‘baby daddy’, but now stay at home dads aren’t good enough either. Well, according to Virginia Ironside anyway .

What the actual fuck? There is SO much wrong with this I have no idea where to start. This clever blog by Glosswitch is a pretty good summation. So, all adopted children, kids fathered by gay men and kids where mum works are going to grow up maladjusted and scarred? I think I would like to invite Ms Ironside to grow the fuck up, herself. I would certainly like to see her source material and research for such a sweeping statement. Notice nothing is referenced in the article. Hmmn, funny that.

Now, here’s a radical idea. Unless children are in danger, or are being hurt, or abused, or threatened in any way, how about we all just chill out and mind our own fucking business and allow people to get on with their own lives? How about we respect our multitude of differences and let people make the intensely private choices about whether and how they raise a family without commentary, judgement or interference?

And the next time you open your mouth to ask a friend, neighbour, colleague or even someone you just met why they don’t have any kids yet, just stop and think about why you’re asking. Is it for their wellbeing, or for your own curiosity?

And then talk about the weather instead.

My thoughts on #Twittersilence

It’s amazing, isn’t it?  I mean, the capacity for some of humanity to be utterly, utterly vile.  All week I’ve been reading about rape and bomb threats made to women on Twitter.  Women who dared to campaign for equality, or identify themselves as feminists, or be successful enough to have a verified Twitter account or, even it seems, just to be female and on Twitter.  Whatever.  But, of course, this isn’t something that’s unique to women. Gay people, people of colour, people with disabilities, people without disabilities, famous people, non-famous people; Trolls don’t discriminate, they’re just utter cunts.

So, some Twitter users have chosen to boycott Twitter today. Fine. Good luck to them. I didn’t.  Why?

Because I don’t think the best way to draw attention to bad behaviour is to stay silent.
Bullies love it when their victims stay silent.  The only way this has made such a shit-storm in the press this week is because people have been vocal about the abuse they’ve been receiving. Stand up and shout about it. Shame these idiots. I mean, come on. Really? What kind of ‘man’ sends a threat to rape another human being (men get rape threats too). Think about how ludicrous that is – how small, pathetic, and insecure you’d have to be to resort to that. “I have a penis, and I am stronger that you, so I am going to forceably insert it in you, because I can and it proves something about me.” Really, it’s laughable.

Because the vast majority of Twitter users are perfectly reasonable, decent human beings.
The fact that this has created such a massive shit-storm proves this. Most people are outraged by what’s going on.

Because I don’t blame Twitter for the behaviour of a small minority of its users.
Twitter is a free speech platform.  These Tweets go way beyond free speech, but there is already an existing report function for offensive/abusive/threatening behaviour. There is also the Police, who take rape, death and bomb threats very seriously. Trust me. I’ve had death threats. It wasn’t nice but the Police were awesome. Where there is a communication medium, someone will find a way to abuse it. My death threats came over the telephone, but I don’t blame BT for that –  I blame the silly, small minded, jealous woman who did them.

Because I choose not to let other people’s ridiculous behaviour affect my own.
OK – I have a massive issue with people who say ‘you really offended me when…’. No, you cannot be offended, you can only take offence. Nobody can force you to be offended by something – you make that choice yourself. People can say all the shit in the world, but if you choose to, you can laugh it off. Yes, threats of physical violence are scary and need to be dealt with by the authorities, but insults? Do you want to choose to allow that to affect your whole day – or not? When I tell people I don’t give a fuck, I’m not kidding. Why waste time worrying about what other people think? Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

Because there was something a bit painfully middle class and elitist about this boycott.
Let’s be honest, as I mentioned above, Twitter abuse isn’t old news, but now it’s affected a particular section of the ‘Twitterati’ and suddenly there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over their Fairtrade skinny lattes. Yes, I’m stereotyping – that’s fine. It’s a stereotype that I personally fit into, but I don’t feel like ‘the sisterhood’ is being attacked. I don’t feel like I need to be a member of a little club of people all doing something and screaming ‘look at meeeeee, I’m doing something‘. I want to see an end to threats to every human being. I want to see the spotlight thrown on all the dark corners, on every little dirty troll hiding behind a keyboard. I want to see positivity, support, genuine appreciation and respect for our multitude of differences put out there.

I want to see people being decent to each other, for fuck’s sake.

Is that too much to ask?