Fertility can be a heartbreaking conversation for some women to have, so why, in 2019, do men still think they can just weigh in with their thoughts on the matter?
One of the most evasive questions you can ask a woman is if she plans to have children. Unless the information is volunteered directly, there's a reason it's not being shared. Namely, because it's intensely private, but also because it could be too painful to answer. They may just have decided that they don't want a child and choose not to volunteer that information but what if another reason is at play? What if, despite all their wants and efforts, the women at the centre of the question cannot have children? To have to answer may only bring the pain to the fore once again.
Related: 'For everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line for me'
We know this. And yet still the question gets thrown around casually. My sister is just over a year married and even before the wedding, all I heard said was, "when you have kids." Not even a question of if she wanted them, it was just an assumption made. It reiterates the pressure women are constantly under to reproduce, as if that should be a primary focus.
For some, it is and that's fine. But for others, being constantly made feel as if they are somehow lesser for not going down this route - especially as they go into their thirties - creates a weight that can be impossible to lift.
Especially if this 'advice' happens to be (ahem) from a male who has no interest telling women what they should or shouldn't do with their bodies.
Stefan Molyneux has received a backlash after doing exactly this – specifically when it comes to fertility. For those who don't know Molyneux is, perhaps unsurprisingly, known for being a far-right podcaster with white supremacist views so his comments should, unfortunately, come as little surprise in this sense.
“Ladies, by the time you are 30, 90% of your eggs are dead,” he wrote. “Get married young, have your babies, THEN have your career. You have 40 years to work if you want to, you only have a short time to have children. Listen to Mother Nature - she loves you and wants you to be happy. :)”
Lord save us.
This is such interesting advice from a 60 year old man who doesn't have a vagina.
— Smokey Glow? (@glow_smokey) July 30, 2019
Yes, our fertility rates lesson as we age. Figures say that we have around 2,000,000 eggs when we are born. This drops to around 25,000 by the time we are 37. However, research shows women still have a 90% chance of getting pregnant - without IVF or subsequent intervention - by the age of 32, so it doesn't happen automatically once you hit 30.
And what of the other side of the argument? Countless research also says that women can be effectively held back in their careers after they have a family so it seems we just can't win.
Related: 'A long and tough journey': Rosanna Davidson announces she's expecting baby girl via surrogacy
Even post #Me-Too some men (not all men) still think they can validate themselves by telling us what we should do with the bodily autonomy we have to constantly fight for.
To quell the rage (and the fact that the tweet itself has gone viral), below are some of the best of the thousands of responses. Read those and ignore the original tweet:
"Ladies, by the time I'm 30 my brain cells are dead. By the time I'm 60, my erections are dead.
Get married young, have my babies, THEN have your career.
You have 40 years to do the same job as a man for 30 years of pay.
Father knows best and wants to control you."
— Belle Pepper (@TurnipsBride) July 31, 2019
Gentlemen, by the time you are this man’s age 90% of your opinions about younger women are unwanted. Keep them to yourself.
— Louise Burke (@Louiseontwitr) July 30, 2019
Wow another white man telling me how I should live my life pic.twitter.com/71E7aPrlp9
— aj, PA-C (@j_thePA) July 31, 2019
Or, hear me out, how about you stop telling women what the fuck to do with their lives? Women are not incubators. Thanks.
— Stacie (@h8Wankmaggot45) July 31, 2019
You know it doesn’t work that way. I started my career at 18 with as much volunteer work as I could get, then moved to low-paying freelancing, then jobs I could live off of but had ABSURD work hours. It has taken me NINE YEARS to get any stability. Can’t do that at 35 with kids.
— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) July 30, 2019
Main photograph: Unsplash
More like this:
Read more: Unexplained infertility: 'I felt as if I had failed my son because I hadn't given him siblings'
Read more: 'Many women can feel they have no voice or power when birth happens and they were reminded of that'
Read more: Why we need to stop asking women how they juggle career and motherhood