Hey, you’re Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, you’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted. You’ve got a smart, sweet, funny, kind (and smoking hot) wife. You’ve got more money than you could ever spend, pets you love, families who love you, and more “awwww” inspiring moments of cuteness than we can even begin to count. But you know what you two are missing? A baby. What’s that? You say you don’t want kids? No, no, you silly women, of course you want kids. All women want kids and, jeez, there’s twice the ladies in your house so you must be twice as baby crazy.
Excuse me, I’ll just be over here rolling my eyes until they fall out of my damn head. Ellen and Portia have said, over and over, that they do not want to have children, but the media just won’t stop asking them about it. So, what gives?
Two barren wombs
Now that society is starting to see that we’re not the boogeyman we gay ladies are now getting asked the same annoying questions as our straight sisters (and sometimes brothers, but let’s be honest, men get let off the hook on this one much of the time). Society has the idea that people fall in love, get married, and then start popping out kids. Naturally, now that we can get married the kids can’t be far behind. On the one hand we can be a little bit flattered that the acceptance of our families has progressed to the point where we get asked the same questions as everyone else. Hooray progress. But on the other hand, stop assuming everyone wants kids in the first place.
But let’s talk about that assumption. Not all women want to have children. I don’t think that should be a hard concept to understand but for some reason our society can’t handle it. It manifests on television where women say again and again that they don’t want children but somehow change their mind in the end. It manifests in the questions from the media that persist long after stars like Ellen and Portia have made it perfectly clear that they do not want to have children. It manifests in the remarks about women who are successful in their professional lives when the media notes that yes she’s the CEO but no she doesn’t have children. Or where the first thing we learn is not only is she an actual rocket scientist but she also has children (or made a killer beef stroganoff).
The message may be subtle but that doesn’t make it any less clear; there is something weird or wrong about a woman who doesn’t want to be a mother. Let’s just call this for the bullshit that it is. I have checked with Ali Davis over at Ladybits HQ and it seems, for the moment, that we still live in a country where women have choices about if and when they want to have children. This is a great thing. Children are hard work. They suck up every spare bit of energy you have. They steal your sleep, your freedom to stay out late, to go on a trip at the last minute, to work any job you wish. They are not something you can do as a hobby. You have to be all in if you are going to be a parent.
Jillian Michaels, who recently realized parenthood is hard
Portia recognized this in her interview with Out:
There comes some pressure in your mid-30s, and you think, “Am I going to have kids so I don’t miss out on something that other people really seem to love? Or is it that I really genuinely want to do this with my whole heart?” I didn’t feel that my response was “yes” to the latter. You have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did.
Instead of questioning her again and again we should be standing up and applauding her for her decision not to be a parent if her heart isn’t in it. Continuing to ask her about whether they are going to start a family is obnoxious and gives the impression that this is a decision she is either going to regret or really she’ll change her mind because all women want babies in the end, she just doesn’t realize it yet.
Also can we stop with the notion that women who don’t have children, especially those who don’t because they chose not to, should be pitied? Is there really nothing sadder than an unused womb? Give me a break. Stop with the sad eyes and pat on the arm for women who just don’t want to have kids. Having children should always be a choice left up to the woman birthing the little sucker, anything else smacks of wanting to control what women do with their bodies and that’s just gross.
I have two kids and I love them. When my wife and I decided that we wanted to have them no one gave us a hard time about it. No one said, “Hey, are you sure you really want to have babies, because you might change your mind later?”