I’m not sure where this all started, but apparently someone somewhere decided that women's bodies are up for grabs, quite literally, all the damn time. Pregnant women get unsolicited belly rubs, commuters get the occasional subway groping, and all women everywhere watch as their bodies become fair game for any and all judgement, questions, discussion, and interest. Every single choice we make is fodder for unsolicited advice or an opinion, and what common sense would tell us are private matters are apparently public business.
It’s hard to see this demonstrated more clearly than with reproductive issues – I’m looking at you, pregnancy, birth control, birth, and abortion. Whether it’s a public official making it harder for women to access necessary medical procedures like abortion or a stranger on the street declaring that “it’s definitely going to be twins,” there seems to be an idea that women’s reproductive happenings exist in the public sphere. When one woman gets an abortion, we all get an abortion. When a woman gets pregnant, we all get pregnant. Too bad women's bodies actually don’t operate as a vessel for all the collective consciousness’ opinions and judgement, because people sure as hell have opinions to share.
This doesn't just happen in legislative chambers on or a street corner. It happens in my house. Every single family function has become an opportunity for someone to look me up and down and ask “So, how old are you these days?” When I answer, I watch them mentally compute how many more childbearing years I have left (the answer is a lot), and inevitably say “When do you think you’ll get started on having some children? I’m sure your parents are ready for some grandchildren!” Some will even comment that I’m “getting up there,” which is inaccurate. Because I’m a human person, I hate this. I specifically hate the “when are you going to give your parents some grandchildren” line, as if changing my life significantly is the same thing as buying them a puppy.
Normally I say something along the lines of “Oh, I’m a long way off from that. Did you see where the appetizers went?” But in recent years, people don’t seem to take that as an acceptable answer, and pry further. They can’t understand why I haven’t made a Google calendar with my as of yet nonexistent conception timeline and shared it with the whole crew, so they can weigh in. The idea that deciding to have a child wouldn’t involve them or their life plans seems to go right over their heads.
In the past, I’ve felt pressured to share my reasons for not actively trying to have a baby at every single moment. I’ll say something like “oh, I want to be established first” or “I’ve got plenty of years left!” This is patently absurd for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t owe anyone an explanation about when I plan to have a child.
If you’re a pre-mom like me with years to go before trying for a baby or a mom who gets harassed to give little so-and-so a sibling, I feel you. I’ve brainstormed some answers to use when you inevitably get cornered this Thanksgiving and asked “how many freaking eggs do you even think you have left in there?”
1. Surprise them by responding with a similarly personal question, such as:
“Do you wax?”
“How much do you get paid?”
“What absorbency do you use, tampon-wise?”
2. Offer a bizarre fact in order to enrich their lives.
“Crows recognize human faces and hold grudges.”
“China is currently building a car-free city.”
“You are being exceptionally rude by continuing to pester me about my reproductive choices.”
3. Have a prepared line. Options:
“I’m not sure when! But I’m sure my mom will call you screaming.”
“I’m not sure when! But I’m sure my partner will put one in me sometime in the next twenty years.”
“I’m not sure when! But I’m sure you’ll maybe find out somehow. I don't really care.”
4. You can make up an excuse and simply walk away.
“Excuse me for a moment, my mom is frantically waving an EPI pen I have to make sure she injects the right person.”
“Excuse me for a moment, but it would appear that the only two Republicans here have found each other and I must go remind them about Obamacare.”
“Excuse me for a moment, I must go self-immolate.”
4a. Or, you might try moonwalking away, for a bit of holiday whimsy.
5. Be direct and honest. Just shut it the hell down.
“I’m not planning to have children for a while, and that’s all I’ve got to say about it.”
Now, moonwalk your way over to your partner (who, if he's a dude, almost certainly hasn’t been asked the same thing) and instruct him to make you a stiff drink.
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