Wife: “Honey, I think we should get pregnant now”
Husband: “Okay! But, we decided after 5 years, right?”
Wife: “Oh nothing, just that everyone’s asking us to start a family, you know baby and stuff”
Husband: “Umm..okay if everybody wants?”
Disclaimer: I AIN’T MARRIED YET.
The above lines are just a figment of my imagination. Yet so frigging real. I can say this with a certain amount of confidence, that people are more interested what fruits have you borne, rather mind their own business.
A natural progression of marriage is procreation; that is how society has decided for us, and that is how society grows and survives. It is simple math. And it so happens that biologically women posses the means to bring forth a new life into this world. Naturally, it becomes a prerogative of every women to nurture the dream of becoming a mother.
Prerogative, YES. Prerequisite, mandatory or imperative, NO.
Let me break it down for you in this way; We have come a long way from the era called Stone Age. It was necessary to procreate then, in order to populate the earth and grow our communities. Cut to 2017, 7.5 Billion and counting, yes, that’s the current population of the world. And we are growing and expanding exponentially. In this scenario, what if a few percentage of women decide not to procreate and have it their way with life. Does that sound so destructive for the human race?
NOTE: I am talking about “personal choice” here, neither birth control, nor population control.
My sister-in-law has always been at the receiving end for not “starting a family” even after being married for 4 years. The judgemental looks of family and friends pinches the most. That is what my Bhabhi tells. What I feel is that, we have become complacent and have decided that for women that they need a baby to cradle, as that is her ultimate purpose in life.
Recently, a conversation with friends, sparked a debate amongst us on whether every woman inherently wants to become a mother?
During the promotions of her upcoming movie, ‘Begum Jaan,’ Vidya Balan slammed reports of her pregnancy and added “I am not a baby making machine.” Pretty strong words from a woman, who is supposed to bring forth a life in this world.
The problem is with the idea behind my friend’s statement. Most of the women ‘want’ to become mothers, poses a grave problem implying, just because a woman's uterus is she bound to get pregnant, and give birth to babies. Let me list few reasons to put across my point.
SEXUAL & REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
Reproductive rights of women in India is not considered a legitimate topic. This HINDU newspaper article titled, No country for baby girls once again brings forth the grim reality of sex-selective abortions, which is rampant. The village of Mhaisal on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border hit the headlines recently when 19 foetuses were found buried near a homeopathy clinic. Women deciding for themselves what to do with their bodies is an alien concept for us. For both men and women.
WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
The ability to reproduce is what sets women apart from men. But do women have control over their own reproduction? Do women have the freedom to choose whether, when, and how many children to have? Do women have access to safe birth control methods? Do women have the right to safe abortion? Can sexuality be separated from reproduction? A big ‘NO’ in answer to many such questions led to the emergence of the women’s health movement in different parts of the world in the early 1970’s. It started as small ‘consciousness raising’ groups, which began by spreading awareness among women about the functioning of their bodies and gradually evolved into multi-faceted campaigns that have significantly influenced health policies in many countries.
Reproductive rights of women in India is in its infancy stage in India, and add to it, the awareness among women is dismal. This makes for a deadly combination.
Steering back to the main focus of this post, whether women inherently want to become mothers or not? There’s no absolute answer to this question. Frankly speaking it is highly debatable and a relative choice.
Given the reasons, patriarchy conditions women in a certain manner, and most of them are moulded into the version of what we want them to become. Well then how do you expect them to have their own voice and say it out loud, “I don’t want to become a mother.” Not saying that women who do, are doing it under any pressure. But, can we really presume 100% that women all over, primarily want to become mothers.
That seems like an overstatement. You might have been the tomboy of your college group who went on to become a doting mother. But, is that a valid reason for you to paint each woman in the same color?
In my view, giving women the freedom of choice is a more progressive stance, whereas presuming with this choice every woman would opt to go childless throughout their life, and bring the impending doom to this world’s survival, is stupidity.
We are doing far more outrageous stuff to bring an end to this world, in fact we are on the path to destruction. War, terrorism, environmental degradation, might end the world way before women’s choice to stay childless would.