‘It’s just a phase. You’ll grow out of it’ I heard from a lady in the next stall.
‘I was actually like you a few years back. Then I discovered it’s a phase. It is also a bit selfish,’ another woman added from some other part of the room.
This was just one out of many conversations brought up at a saloon. As women and girls made their hair and had their nails and toes done. On most occasions the topic of discussion would end up as a debate. Two sides of raging hormones and different opinions. This day all the women in that room seemed to have the same opinion. Okay maybe all the ones who spoke. There was a small number of nonparticipants and of course the one lady being given all that advice.
The ‘villain’ in the room had made a simple comment. One which had stirred up a war.
‘Well, I’m not going to have kids. My boyfriend and I are okay without any.’ She had said innocently.
After a few more minutes I had heard enough. I couldn’t tolerate listening to all those minds clogged with false notions ruin a young girl.
‘Does any of you ever think that maybe how to talk is damaging.’ I said. The room was hushed out for a moment and then went back to the conversation.
As she left she came over, gave me a hug,and said thanks.I could see her face from where I was sitted. I knew that face all too well. It was one I had seen on a few women. It was a combination of guilt, shame,fear and pain.
My best friend wore that face when she had a miscarriage. Never had I seen a woman so broken. Since then even the laugh of a baby makes her tear up. The same face had been worn by a collegue. Even after months of therapy she still blamed herself for having a still birth.
Many times we speak our minds and rarely think of how it affects others. Women have had the belief that true femininity is defined by giving birth to children. An idea which has caused so many women to be shunned and put to shame.
The truth is child birth does not define a woman. It is truly something great but not the most important. Having children also does not define a woman. There is so much more that defines a woman. Using that as the gauge is mistake that has to be eradicated.
In some cases it’s not usually a phase. It it is a coping mechanism adopted to shield the woman from untold hurt. It could be fertility issues, medical conditions, miscarriages and bad experiences. All of which are valid.
I learnt that not wanting children does not necessarily have to be as a result of a tragedy. Some of us are just not cut of for that life. While for others it is a choice. It could be a sacrifice from a scientist. That she has no kids so she could devote her life to finding the cure of a disease. It could be so that an environmentalist could take time to travel and find solutions. Whatever the reason they still deserve a seat at the table of dignified women.
Personally, I was at a phase, but what was wrong with that. Don’t I deserve the choice to enjoy the phase. To have life by my rules and when the time came and the phase was over I’ll enjoy it. Nobody had the right to put shame in me.
The idea that I was not being a true woman broke my heart. It was demoralising. Taking women back to that time when all they were valued for was marriage and reproduction. A time that I hoped we had evolved from. We only changed our prison guard so that instead of chauvenistic men viewing as in that perspective we are doing it ourselves. Slowly preying on each other instead of building each other.
A woman is defined by her character.By her loyalty and grace. The ability to be strong in whatever field she thrives in. Whether one is a mother through natural birth, through insemination, adoption,serogate motherhood or even not a mother we all have the right to be proud of who we are.There should be no shame, guilt or fear. It is our right to enjoy our femininity in all ways that we can.