Is fertility shaming happening to you, too?
Fertility shaming is more common than we think. How many of you have been "cornered" before? This lady stood up to put her foot down, and earned supporters from all over.
After a couple has dated for some time, well-meaning folks around them would be asking, “When is the big day?”
When the wedding is over, the next question becomes, “So, when are you having babies?”
It’s a predictable “life cycle” most of us face, and for some who are swinging singles at a child-bearing age, these folks start commenting, “Where is your boyfriend?”, “How come you don’t bring him over?”and “When I was your age, I already had X number of children!” etc.
And it seems, this “natural phenomenon” strikes not just Asians but also those in the Western regions.
33-year-old Emily Bingham from Michigan decided to put her foot down to speak up about such nosy remarks by ranting on her Facebook with an aptly chosen ultrasound scan image.
She wrote: “This is just a friendly P.S.A. that people’s reproductive and procreative plans and decisions are none of your business. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Before you ask the young married couple that has been together for seemingly forever when they are finally gonna start a family … before you ask the parents of an only-child toddler when a Little Brother or Little Sister will be in the works … before you ask a single 30-something if/when s/he plans on having children because, you know, clock’s ticking … just stop. Please stop.”
Her post garnered an unexpected number of supporters, mainly from women who were nodding away in agreement as they read. To-date, it has been shared over 76,000 times.
“You don’t know who is struggling with infertility or grieving a miscarriage or dealing with health issues. You don’t know who is having relationship problems or is under a lot of stress or the timing just isn’t right. You don’t know who is on the fence about having kids or having more kids. You don’t know who has decided it’s not for them right now, or not for them ever. You don’t know how your seemingly innocent question might cause someone grief, pain, stress or frustration. Sure, for some people those questions may not cause any fraught feelings — but I can tell you, from my own experiences and hearing about many friends’ experiences — it more than likely does,” she explained.
Speaking of her own experiences, Ms. Bingham shared what finally blew her mind and hence the retort on Facebook.
“I had had dinner with some of my boyfriend’s family, and someone had made a joke about grandkids, pointed at me, and it wasn’t the first time I’d had somebody make a comment like that,” Ms. Bingham said. “I’m 33. I’ve never been married. I’ve had people say things like, ‘You’re getting older, do you want to have kids? Your clock is ticking.’
“I think I finally felt mad enough about it to say something,” she said.
With many women sending “I love you” and “Thank you!” to her, it was clearly evident that Ms. Bingham spoke the minds of many and this was indeed an issue women faced.
One woman responded, “I love you so much. People asking me about my child bearing plans drives me up a tree. Be they my parents or PERFECT STRANGERS, because that happens all too often.”
“Can I like this a million times?”, one lady commented
Ms. Bingham rounded up that post with a nicely-put conclusion: “Bottom line: Whether you are a wanna-be grandparent or a well-intentioned friend or family member or a nosy neighbor, it’s absolutely none of your business. Ask someone what they’re excited about right now. Ask them what the best part of their day was. If a person wants to let you in on something as personal as their plans to have or not have children, they will tell you. If you’re curious, just sit back and wait and let them do so by their own choosing, if and when they are ready.”
With the onslaught of comments on her post, Ms. Bingham then added a comment on 30 September, expressing her surprise with the post going viral: “When I wrote this post more than a week ago, I had no idea it would be seen by anyone but my family and friends. But a few friends asked if they could share it, so I changed the post’s privacy settings to public — and now, 10 days later, it’s been shared close to 70,000 times. It’s been amazing, surreal and validating, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.
The most incredible part of all of this, for me, has been receiving hundreds of messages of support and solidarity from women and men around the world.”
While most of us are probably in the seats of those bearing the “fertility shaming” bit, how many of you are unknowingly doing the same to your family or friends?
Women sometimes tend to beat each other (and we wonder why!) – if you notice, the ones who usually ask about having babies (be it during Chinese New Year or not!), are mostly the women like those hello-it’s-you-again-annual-auntie, a neighbour or some random acquaintance. Quit judging!
Before we start asking others about their baby-making plans (after having one kid, they start asking about number two, three, four too!), please hold your tongue and spare a thought for the other party. The lady does not owe you an explanation (especially if both of you are not exactly bosom buddies), and neither should you probe more than what she is willing to share.
Ladies, does fertility shaming sound too familiar to you? Tell us how you deal with such nosy remarks!