We are saying no to the timeline—love, marriage and children. A perfect timeline that was manifested long before our time, and fed to us when we were just girls.
Maybe you heard it from a friend or read it in a magazine, it really doesn’t matter, but you definitely know the one.
Some of you live and breathe it everyday, maybe you don’t even realise it yet. Some of you are attempting to break free; every now and then you feel yourself checking your life for the ticks that you’re supposed to meet. You find yourself wondering why you haven’t met your prince yet and been whisked over the threshold into your perfect house, to have your perfect children.
Relatives and friends question if you’ve met “the one” yet. You stare blankly at them, puzzled by what that means. You hear “you don’t want to end up alone,” or “you don’t want to leave it too late to have children.” But perpetuating the idea that women are solely defined by their marital status or their desire to have children, is inherently patriarchal.
Why are women still frequently asked when, not if, they’re going to fall pregnant? The expectation for women to desire or want children is an outdated opinion—and that’s all it will ever be.
There are a number of reasons why women shouldn’t be asked this question, too.
Many women throughout their lives battle with fertility issues, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, which affects 1 in every 5 women; or endometriosis, which affects 1.5 million women in the UK, to name a few.
The emotional upheaval that these types of conditions cause for women everyday, not to mention the physical effects, can be devastating. Unfortunately, women who suffer bravely with these conditions are often told the probability of them conceiving isn’t likely. The strain this prognosis puts on a woman’s mental health is unthinkable; so please stop and think about how your words could be damaging for somebody else’s mental health.
Though, fertility issues are not the only reason.
The expectation put upon women to desire a family of her own, is a damaging concept. It feeds this notion that women must feel maternal; and it’s viewed as an odd phenomenon if they do not feel this way.
It’s completely okay to not want children, and we must say this more often. You are not defined by your non-existent offspring. You are truly enough on your own.
Not enough emphasis is put on a woman’s career. Things have slowly started to change, but not nearly enough. Women are still expected to want marriage and children, even if she has a career and isn’t expected to become a housewife.
It’s okay to not want marriage or children, as much as it’s okay to want those things. You can also want a career alongside having a child; the point is, the choice is yours and need not be questioned. Women are free to be whatever they want to be, without societal constraints.
We are powerful, intelligent beings, and we cannot be defined by anything but ourselves.
To whoever needs to hear this, forget the timeline. Lose your inhibitions and start making choices for your happiness, and not for ticks in boxes.