“How many kids will you have?”
“When will you get married?”
If you’re a female, you’re pretty much expected to have baby fever from the time you’re old enough to talk. As little girls, we’re given baby dolls and we do the whole fake mothering thing until we’re old enough to babysit. We do that until we’re old enough to marry and do the mothering thing for real.
We’re “biologically wired” to crave husbands and babies. Motherhood and marriage.
This is why it comes as a shock when I tell people that I don’t want children. They always tell me I’m mean for not wanting kids or that one day I’ll see the light and change my mind. I’ve never felt that deep maternal instinct that women are expected to feel. I feel awkward when people ask me to hold their babies and I honestly prefer dog-sitting to babysitting. I’d be completely fine being a child forever, living with my parents and never having to mother anyone else. So often we hear that you can’t be truly fulfilled as a woman until you’ve had a child. A woman’s worth isn’t in her ability to create more humans.
Now I’m not saying that I don’t ever want to get married. I do, but I realize that I shouldn’t base my entire life upon the idea of romance and marriage. It’s time we put away the “old maid” stereotype of women who choose to forego the husband hunt for a life of singleness. Marriage is a wonderful thing, BUT so is singleness. You can find happiness in either lifestyle. It’s time we started giving women a choice. It just isn’t fair to all of the amazing/smart/talented single ladies of the world to carry on this stereotype of being “unsuccessful” in their romantic lives. We shouldn’t make anyone feel like they aren’t complete without marriage, because a woman is complete with or without a relationship.
If a man chooses not to marry or have children, is he considered an “old cat man” or a spinster? If you’ve never heard those terms applied to a man, then it’s a sign that he isn’t. Chances are, he’s looked at as successful or career-driven. Maybe he’s even seen as a world changer, so we get that he’s too busy saving the world to settle down.
Contrast that with how childless, single women are looked at. People probably think these women are lesbians or they are too ugly or self-absorbed in their career to find a man. These women might even be weird social outcasts who have an unhealthy relationship with their cats. If these women are married and don’t have kids, it’s probably because they’re infertile and should really consider adoption. In the end, they’ve failed as women according to society’s standards.
Are these stereotypes being cast on single women even true?
Some of the most successful, influential women never married or had children: Oprah, Condoleezza Rice, Coco Chanel, Joan Jett and Jane Austen (just to name a few). These ladies are far from cat ladies or spinsters.
Marriage and motherhood are great things that bring so much joy and happiness to the mundaneness of everyday life. But they are not the end all, be all. A woman should be able to choose whether or not she wants to marry or mother.
A woman’s identity and sense of self-worth shouldn’t rest in her ability to reproduce or in her ability to attract a man because she is so much more than that. We are not bound by society’s expectations of us as women. We are individuals with the right to decide what we want. So let us all do women a favor and stop telling each other what to aspire to.
As Charlotte Bronte so eloquently phrased it: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”