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I don’t want to give birth. I don't want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago.
I don’t want to give birth. I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago.
A few weeks ago, I posted a picture on my Facebook account where my husband and I could be seen holding our best friends’ newborn baby. Before hitting ‘post’, I made sure that the caption clarified it’s not my child. I wrote the little munchkin’s full name and tagged both my friends too.
My worry might seem like an overreaction. “Who cares if someone mistakes the baby to be yours,” some might say. But this anxious feeling emerges from a trend. The trend of jumping to conclusions without paying attention.
Social media citizens are notoriously image-driven. Enter a heterosexual married couple holding a newborn child, and heteronormative social conditioning kicks in unannounced. After few minutes of posting the picture (which I deleted later for my own peace of mind), congratulations popped into my messenger inbox. Another came from a colleague on WhatsApp. Others could be found in the post’s comments section.
When I clarified that the baby was not mine, one person responded: “You and your husband look so natural with a baby. You should have one.”
I quivered. Firstly, this well-meaning person knows hardly anything about me or my life journey. But she assumes that throwing in birthing ‘advice’ won’t evoke any discomfort in me.
Am I mad at her? No. I am merely utilizing this anecdote for a bigger conversation.
Secondly, should I just give birth just because I look natural with a baby in a damn picture? Are babies some factory-manufactured product I can buy off a shelf? Can I order one online?
After a good walk and some chamomile tea in my system, I sat with the thought. And here’s my truth.
I don’t want to give birth. I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago. Children are cute. But I do not want to be pregnant. I do not want to commit to motherhood. Period! If I were a career-driven male, this decision to be childless would have been celebrated, trust me!
Glorified motherhood via the heterosexual act of birthing is one of the many human imaginations we believe to be the absolute truth of life. A female-identifying married woman must want to give birth. After all, we have spent enormous resources to mythologize this motherhood as the ultimate gift. Films, television shows, reality tv, magazine articles, gossip, shaming ‘baanjh’ (infertile) females, etc. have terrified ones like me to even think otherwise. And if we do dare think otherwise, we keep it a secret. To give birth is all we exist for. That’s the lesson our brains have been stuffed with.
Cultural conversations around pregnancy and motherhood are heavily stunted.
I have been around enough pregnant women to know the invasion their bodies go through at every doctor’s visit. The injury, the wear and tear of labor take a toll on many mothers’ psyche. Young women wish they could have avoided accidental pregnancies or have had access to safe abortion.
Of course, those who want to be a mother indeed should be one. All power to them! But let’s not assume that unsolicited advice to become mothers is normal. It’s not.
My aversion to pregnancy is a product of violent capitalist patriarchy. Researching and writing about gender violence makes me want to not have a child in this brutal world. Moreover, I do not want to go through the physical and emotional exhaustion of pregnancy and eventual motherhood. What that makes me or not is for me to decide.
More than anything, I ask, why should I give birth to yet another child when there are so many children in need of a home? Can we rather spend our energies rehabilitating the ones orphaned? Can we rather come together to save innocent childhood from crime and hunger?
An ignorant congratulations or some advice to be a mother is not that big of a deal for me. I can get over it. Such comments do not make the ones giving them evil. We are human. We do human things. But some women are infertile or would want to adopt. Gay couples want to be parents too. Trans women want to be seen and celebrated as mothers beyond this cisgender, heterosexual celebration of pregnancy/motherhood too.
Let’s expand our consciousness. It’s always worth it! Also, pay attention to written words, ha!
Image source: a still from 22 Female Kottayam
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Ankita is a feminist academic/writer/journalist and an ardent cinephile. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence and dark themes and may be triggering to survivors.
Any movie that boasts of a stellar cast comprising Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah is bound to pique the discerning cine-goer’s interest and draw a more-than-average viewership.
Hence, it was with a lot of expectations that I started watching the latest offering on Netflix – Darlings. Unfortunately, I was left a tad disappointed by the time the credits rolled at the end!