If I’ve got a boyfriend or if I’m getting married/having children?
I turned thirty-two a few days before Midsummer; you’d have thought people would have given up on that nonsense by now. I mean, if I haven’t got round to all that stuff by now, I’m really not going to, am I?
Yesterday I took a visit to the feminism tag and stumbled across a post by some American Christian or other who was railing against women who don’t want children. It made me think about a couple of things, and though I’ve covered the subject before, I thought I’d write about it again.
I was asked the other day by a lovely, long-term neighbour if the reason I’m depressed now is because I split up with my boyfriend? So many assumptions, but I kept it simple and told her no. I didn’t feel up to explaining that a) I don’t have partners of any gender and b) mental health conditions are more complex than that.
A day before my birthday my dad (Hi Daddy!) asked me how old I was (it’s his age and with 3 daughters, 2 step-daughters, 2 sons-in-law, 1 stepson-in-law, 1 granddaughter, 1 grandson, 4 stepgranddaughters and a stepgrandson he forgets how old we all are). When I told him, he said isn’t it time I was married with kids? It was probably a joke, it’s hard to tell sometimes. But joke or not, it’s a question people think even if they don’t say it to my face. My answer, when dad asked why I didn’t want children/marriage, was that it was all too much like hard work. I actually was joking, because I didn’t feel like explaining the complex reasons for not doing all that. And nobody ever accepts the simple reason.
When I worked at the factory I was considered strange – 25 and no partner or children! Actually, people asked all sorts of impertinent questions if I talked about one friend or another ‘too much’; people struggle with the concept of platonic relationships apparently. I found that people shut up when I told them I didn’t like children, but that may have been shock – imagine, a woman who doesn’t like children!
There’s this ridiculous idea that everyone has the same goals in life, and that one of those is marriage and kids.
Even when a person says for as long as they can remember that they aren’t getting married or having children, there’s a social assumption that you’ll grow out of this silly phase and do what everyone else does.
It’s like people can’t understand someone not wanting that normative social construct.
I don’t, and never have, wanted children and marriage. I might joke about it being too much like hard work but that’s just an excuse because people don’t accept the real reason. I could give you a long list of ‘socially acceptable’ reasons (by which I mean if I’m asked people will nod and say they can see my point, etc). I might refer to these reasons in a slightly sarcastic manner though in fact they are real reasons, but they are built on the foundational simple reason. One which is not considered an acceptable reason.
My ‘socially acceptable’ reasons:
– Social ineptitude meaning I can’t read people so can’t form relationships easily;
– Lack of opportunity as I’m not sociable and I don’t meet people often;
– No one wants to live with me because I’m weird (honestly don’t get that, what’s wrong with weirdness?);
– I prefer my independence, to make my own choices and not be dependent on anyone else’s needs;
– I don’t like sharing my space with other people;
– I’m uncomfortable with physical contact or affection;
– I’m not stable enough to deal with the stress;
– I’m not in a suitable financial situation to take on the responsibility of children;
– I have limited tolerance for children (people in general).
The actual, foundational reason, the one that really confuses people is a lot simpler.
I simply do not and never have had the desire to get married or have children.
Why is this so difficult for people to understand and to accept? It seems such a difficult concept for people to grasp that they have to come up with their own reasons, such as people who don’t want marriage or children are lazy, too career focused (contradiction or what?), selfish etc. The blog post I read that sparked this post posits that women are selfishly spending their time and money on travel and new experiences instead of saving up so they can settle down and have children. How terrible of them! Humanity is in danger and society will collapse because a small proportion of females don’t want to reproduce, oh the horror! *screams of terror as sky falls in*.
Don’t ask a woman a question you wouldn’t consider asking a man about their relationship/parental status.
Don’t assume you know a person’s mind better than they do. You don’t and you don’t get to dictate someone else’s feelings, opinions or beliefs based on your own.
Make that three things:
If a person tells you they ain’t interested in the whole marriage and kids things, (or are happy to just do the long term relationship/marriage, no kids thing) for whatever reason, just accept it. Don’t question their decision, it’s not yours to make; don’t belittle their reason just because you think it isn’t a ‘good enough’ one; don’t tell them they’ll change their minds, you can’t see the future; and don’t try to guilt trip them, it’s abusive.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m going to the library. Bye.