I am pissed off today.
Not only have I been afflicted with the chapped lips FROM HELL (my already quite prominent lips have swollen up in different places and cracked so terribly that I kind of look like one of those women who’ve had a botched lip job and I’ve got the temper to match) but I’ve been reading stuff on social media and in the news that’s made my blood boil to the temperature of molten lava.
I’m talking about writer Holly Brockwell, a thirty year old woman who has only just been granted (and finally received) the right to be sterilised on the NHS.
She was 26 when she first asked doctors to sterilise her because she knew she would never want children. However, she was repeatedly told by her GP that she was way too young to take “such drastic action” and was never even granted a referral to see a specialist. One doctor even suggested her partner should think of a vasectomy even though he is two years younger than Holly. (Can anyone say “double standards”?)
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, she said:
“By the time you read this, I will be just waking up – still a little groggy and sore, but euphoric. Because for the first time in my life, today I know for certain that I will never have children.”
Speaking about her four year battle she wrote:
“I’ve been patronised, ignored, harassed, judged and demonised, but I’ve never wavered in my determination to be sterilised.”
Whether you agree with Brockwell or not – some are arguing that at a time where the NHS is struggling, it should not be funding something that isn’t considered a ‘necessary’ surgery (personally I am firmly – and vocally – pro her decision and the surgery) – this campaign has highlighted a much wider problem where women are constantly vilified for taking ownership of their own bodies. Of asking for what they want and going for it.
Now before anyone starts, this isn’t an anti-male thing. On the contrary, Holly’s boyfriend has fully supported her decision, and there have been many vocal male supporters of her campaign and her decision.
It’s a societal thing. In a culture of slut-shaming, the desire to police women’s bodies has become worrisome and all too prevalent.
Women who enjoy sex are sluts. Women who don’t take men up on their offers of sex are frigid. Women who don’t marry are ‘spinsters’ and ‘sad.’ Women who don’t want children are ‘evil’ and ‘unnatural.’ Women who talk about their vaginas/ovaries AT ANY POINT are obviously the antichrist and must be silenced.
And then there’s the problem of being seen as “brave.” Brockwell joked on Twitter :
“Some people seem to take me as the Mockingjay of some anti-parent, anti-natalist movement. Nope. I’m for people doing what’s right for them.”
Bravery implies someone is doing something that no-one else could perceive as doable. Speaking out against any prejudice – and I am sorry, read the comments on all her articles and social media posts before you argue that people are not prejudice towards a woman who doesn’t want to have a child – should be normalised. More people should be doing it.
While we should all take what “people on social media” (for some reason, we are allowed to separate them from the real world, the “public.”) say with a truckload full of salt, its odd to think people are taking the time out of their lives to hunt her down and abuse her.
Because that’s what it is. Its abuse.
She is being called ‘evil,’ ‘attention seeking’ and my personal favourite ‘a gobshite’ (more people need to bring back this word). Its mind-blowing – and unfathomable – to me that so many people are offended by one woman’s decision regarding her reproductive future. That people are so concerned with this woman’s fallopian tubes.
As I sit here, with my pout covered in Blistex and sipping all my drinks through a straw, I’m in the right irritated frame of mind to think back to the many times I’ve felt as though my choices and opinions have fallen on judgmental ears.
During harmless conversations with work colleagues I have been laughed at and told I am too young to understand what I want for the future (I am 30). That as a single woman, I may feel differently when I meet “the man of my dreams” (the last time I checked this was NOT a Disney film or else I would have a perfectly lush pout and woodland creatures to help clean the house) and fall over myself to reproduce.
Perhaps this is true. Perhaps.
I have been branded “selfish” for not wanting to have children.
“But who’s going to look after you in your old age?’ one objector said in the same breath as calling me self-interested.
I simply stayed quiet, not wanting to begin an argument I knew I wouldn’t win. I’ve had having the same dispute umpteen times before and it has always ended the same way.
What I really wanted to say was that creating a child to ensure free health care when your elderly seems like the ultimate selfish reason to pop out some children. Or is that just my warped brain?
I was lucky enough to be born to a mum who really wanted me although she’s been vocal that at times it was difficult having two children. She is fully supportive – as is my father – of my hesitancy towards ever becoming a mother. They do not pressure me for grandchildren, rather they let me make my own decisions, and my own mistakes, and for this I am extremely grateful.
I am by no means berating women who choose to have children. Some of my best friends have – or desire – children and I admire their commitment and love in this endeavor. It is truly wonderful to bear witness to such unconditional love and I support these women whole heartedly. It is, however, not a selfless act to have children. It is a choice.
All I’m saying is, just like crop tops or spicy food, they are not suited to everyone. Just because someone’s life choices or opinions are different to yours, it does not make them any less valid.
I mean, it’s really not complicated. We learned this basic human knowledge when we were kids.
What are your opinions on this subject? Do you, like me, think its right that women should be sterilised on the NHS? How do you feel about the lengthy battle Holly Brockwell had to face? Do you want children? Do you agree that women’s bodies are heavily policed? What do you think about social media as a medium for abuse? Have you ever been berated for a decision you’ve made about, perhaps about choosing to have or not have children?