Linking motherhood to womanhood leaves women feeling ‘less than’

Linking motherhood to womanhood leaves women feeling less than

Infertility is something that is perceived as a problem in many cultures and societies. Infertility is estimated to affect 10% to 15% of couples across the world. However, in recent years many couples have started seeking infertility treatment and the numbers have increased dramatically.

The participation of infertility treatment has raised awareness and has inspired investigation on the impact that it has on a woman. It, however, does not stop women from getting shamed on for something they have no control over.

Women like actress Gabrielle Union, who have been huge advocates for this sensitive matter, spoke up about how it made her feel as a woman. Union explained that “fertility issues strike so many people” and realizes how taboo the issue really is.

“You do not have to be lurking in the shadows, going to the doctor’s appointments in full disguise. You are not defective,” Union said. “You are part of a very, very, very large community that understands every step you have been through. There is hope.”

Union did indeed find that hope in 2018 when she and her husband decided to go with surrogacy to birth their daughter Kaavia.

Just like this, some women believe having children is something that they do not want. Women, from the time they are able to understand, are asked the question: when are you having kids?

Over time, you kind of learn that we as women only have one defining attribute of who we are as a person and a woman. Being a woman has become linked to having and caring for children, that when a woman speaks out against not wanting kids, it has this negative effect on other people’s lives.

What happens really when a woman rejects the norms laid out for them. How does society or culture view this?

Female leaders, like Theresa May, have received a lot of negative attention for not wanting kids. Her not having kids was often commented on and was even used against her by a fellow MP.  This would never have happened if it was a minister. This is the same for female celebrities. Jennifer Aniston for example has always been hovered over for this. People make it seem like it’s a sad thing that she doesn’t have children ‘ poor Jennifer ‘ for not being a mother, like the emptiness or otherwise her womb is somehow supposed to be the reason for her happiness.

For years, assumptions have been made about women with no children. Sometimes we fail to understand that many are child-free for many reasons, some may not want a child because they don’t believe it’s their thing to want a child, or some may not know that some women have been trying for a long time for a child. We rarely afford them space and give them the freedom to exist without children or judgment.

Many women spoke about how they kept their decision a secret on not wanting kids or they pretended their reason was medical because they would receive backlash. Many women with infertility suffered from comments about their situation.

Maxine Trump, a documentary filmmaker, released a new documentary  ‘To kid or Not To Kid’  where she talks about the taboo that women go through when it comes to being child- free. She also talks about her decision about not wanting to have children.

“I wanted to make the documentary because there is real lack of language about the issue because we really don’t talk about it openly enough,” said Trump. “We talk about having kids but there’s never an easy conversation about not having kids, I just thought, where am I seeing myself reflected and what can point to for this, and i found nothing.”

Trump has been making this documentary for over five years. She spoke with parents, grandparents, and women who’ve chosen to not have children. She explored the reason for their decision and so on.

There is nothing wrong with women who want a child to women who can’t have a child. Society is the one that is wrong, they made it so that the only way a woman can truly be a ‘woman’ is if she had a child. We shouldn’t be telling others what to be or what to not be.