August 15, 2019
Each week a BA Woman contributes to our BA Women's Words—a bloglette posted on Friday mornings where we tackle gendered issues to advance the educational, personal, and professional development of women who seek to make a difference in the world.
Read on for EmpowHERing words by confident women living dynamic, complex lives. Have something to explore, share, declare, or celebrate with us?
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This week, as I took my seat on a flight, I met a father-daughter duo already settled in our snug row. The father immediately turned to me to ask if I liked children. Assuming he was working to preemptively get in my good graces on behalf of his toddler's forthcoming in-flight entertainment, I assured him "Yes, of course!" while giving the little girl a smile-and-wave combo.
But here's the rub: When I told him I liked kids, his response was "Thank God. You probably have more experience with children that I do, am I right?" (keeping in mind this was his two year old child).
And here's the rant: No, you are not right, Plane Dad. Your gendered take on child rearing is detrimental to you, me, and the next generation of adorable babies with amazing smelling heads.
I don't have children, and I might not (whether this is by choice or not, and all the factors that go into making such a decision is a whole 'nother rant). Yet I felt the pressure, as a "Woman-of-Childbearing-Age," to enthusiastically express my love for his toddler... whether or not I actually like, want, or have children. And, as women mature to "childbearing age," and then to its super fun companion "advanced maternal age," childlessness can be a source of fear, confusion, and shame... for women, their loved ones, and strangers alike.
Motherhood is a culturally powerful role. For people who identify as women, not being a mother (what we call "non-Mom-dom") is complex terrain. Here's a Fun Fact: the U.S. Census reports that 50% of women in the U.S. of "child-bearing age" don't have kids... but we know the pressure to have them makes it seem like non-moms are alone in the world. At a societal level, when women say they don't want or don't have children, they can be treated as pariahs. And meanwhile, fathers are "dad-shamed" when fully taking up their roles as partners-in-parenting. Both parts of this binary beast are uninspiring and wholly unacceptable.
So, to force the plane metaphor: let's board a flight to a destination where people don't shame others for their parental status. People of all identities can have children and totally rock at being parents. Or not have kids at all. That's Destination Awesome. Tray tables up.
A BA Woman
A BA Woman is a member of our community who has a perspective to share, ideas to spread, and words worth hearing. She's tenacious, compassionate, and lifts as she climbs. She's totally BA. She could be anyone—her words are relatable because she gets us like no one else.more posts by A BA Woman →