Dear Offspring I will Never Have,
I don’t actually expect you to read this, because you do not, and never will exist. So why am I writing this? Because I’m selfish, duh! Because I possess a vagina, the world thinks it’s necessary to pass judgement on this, forcing me to explain myself. Let me explain the reasons why you will never exist.
First of all, I don’t want kids. Similarly, I don’t want a dog, I don’t want to provide foster homes for elderly diseased ferrets, I don’t want to climb Mount Everest, and I don’t want to eat live scorpions. Is that really so much to fathom? Why, because I sport a uterus of (albeit rapidly passing) child-bearing age, do I have to provide some kind of major justification of this? Do I need to write a manifesto about why I don’t like picked beets, too?
Men aren’t expected to have a “good reason” for not wanting to procreate. I don’t know any guys who have a stock response justifying their decision, unlike women do. We have to resort to movements and labels in order for people to take our decisions even a teeny bit seriously, like, “see? Other people are doing it too! It’s not just me!” In addition, do we care if men are selfish? Nah, that’s OK, brah. Looking out for Number One is a dude thing, and that’s OK. But for chicks, the second we think about ourselves (unless it’s to obsess about how fat we are because, let’s face it, if you’re fat, you are obviously being selfish by making people look at your non-state-sanctioned ass. Unless you are fat because you’re pregnant. That’s OK), we’re being selfish bitches.
To be truthful, little Figment of the Imagination, I’m not any more or less selfish than the average citizen. I give my seats up on the bus for old/pregnant/disabled/tired-looking people, I volunteer for charity organizations occasionally, I help friends move house asking for only a couple of beers in payment, I bring my neighbors cupcakes sometimes, I do all the normal stuff people do that proves in the minds of others that they are not selfish. You probably do the same. I do not sit around all day counting up my disposable income and cackling evilly as I plan how many pedicures I’m about to get tomorrow while sipping coffee that had once passed through an endangered cat’s anus. MUHAHAH future non-children! I’m focusing on my career so I can think about ME! ME! ME! as I ride around in my solid gold Escalade with no baby seat!
Oh wait, no I don’t. I don’t actually have a career. But, apparently I am still a self-obsessed, vainglorious jerkwad because I don’t have a desire to leave my legacy to the world through multiple descendants. How will anyone remember me and what I’ve done for the world if I don’t leave hordes of progeny to sing my praises? I’m so selfish– the field on which the crowd gathers to do just that will be as barren as my windswept womb! Also, Megalomaniacal asshat me does not wish to spread her genetic code for bad knees, crappy vision, mutant feet, and short stature around the gene pool. Oh Right! I’m also so self-absorbed that I don’t want to force my spawn to live in a world that is on the verge of environmental and social breakdown. BUT WAIT! you say! “I could be the one to reverse environmental decay and fix the world! You are selfish because you are not loosening a potential force for good on the planet!”
Yeah, hon. I am not potentially raising the next Hitler, either.
All these arguments are made by well-off First World white people.
Let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, I were to get knocked up with you somehow. I choose to raise you and now you exist (for the moment, hypothetically). First of all, I would probably go into debt just to bring you into this world because my insurance sucks, hospitals are expensive, and I don’t have any money. Oh crap, maybe you need your tonsils out or something! Maybe you have a genetic disorder or serious medical condition! I guess you’re going to suffer, because I can’t afford that either. Sorry, kid. I have to now take a third job to keep us both fed, which means more daycare for you. Maybe it will build character. But hey! making you sit in a state-funded rat trap where you are probably molested by the “friendly” janitor is way less selfish than deciding to not have you exist in the first place! Unfortunately for you, I’m not gonna breed because I’m a selfish evil Feminazi who likes stupid, frivolous things like sleep and paying the rent.
God forbid your father/sperm donor should be black or another race. What would happen then? I am a selfish asshole because I don’t want to watch you get shot by the police, or get thrown in jail for writing something on a desk. Maybe I give you the name Tashaundra because I like it, thus hindering your chance of getting a job. It’s ok that I’m feeding the school-to-prison pipeline, though, because at least I know that a bunch of rich white people on the internet think I’m not selfish, and that’s what counts, right?
Even if you do and up 3/4 white (sorry, can’t make up for the 1/2 of me that’s not, maybe modern technology can fix that someday), I don’t have a lot of money, so the chance you will climb out of the poverty bracket is almost nil. I will not be able to afford to send you to college, and your potential unskilled job will probably be outsourced to the third world, but, I’m selfish because I like things like cappuccinos and not starving to death. I don’t think you’re going to discover a way to end the world’s problems with just a high school education. Sorry about that, my (not-selfish) bad! But, there goes that argument. At least now I know the joys of motherhood and being tired and cranky all the time from overwork and lack of sleep, and will pass that on to you. Losing my cool for a second and snapping at you to just give me a fucking moment of goddamn quiet is showing you by example not to be someone who grows up to be a selfish child-free narcissist!
OK, screw that hypothetical situation. I cannot afford children. I’m still not gonna have any. You are still asking questions, though. You are always asking questions.
“But who will take care of you in your old age?” you whine, trying to change my mind. That seems like kind of a bad investment. I mean, if I am reproducing just for stability in my old age, that’s a lot of variables. First of all, it will take like 40 years before I see any sort of return on that investment. Also, in that time, a lot can happen. What if there’s a nuclear war? What if you get hit by a steamroller? What if I piss you off and you stop talking to me? What if you join a cult that isolates you from your family? What if a piano falls on my head before I’m feeble enough to need your help? Raising human larvae to adults seems like an awful lot of work expended on someone who is just going to stick me in a retirement home at the first sign of forgetting my keys anyway.
“But think of all the women out there who long for babies, but can’t have them! So many women have [fill in the blank fertility issues]! Don’t you feel bad for them?” Why are you even asking me this? I should make a minimum of two people miserable for the rest of their impoverished lives because some hypothetical lady can’t get knocked up? How do you even know that I am fertile enough to make up for her lack of contribution to overpopulation? I’ve never gotten pregnant, why do you even assume I can? Even if I am able, I should squeeze a parasite out of my nether regions and feed and clothe it for a couple of decades just so I can lord it over Ms. Infertile? Have you ever heard someone say “I’m having this baby for Suzi Q. Wombless, because she can’t.” That seems actually pretty cruel. I mean, way to rub it in. Ha ha, Suzi. You fail at womanhood. I win and I don’t even care. IN YO FACE. Real classy argument, Hypothetical Spawn. I thought I didn’t-raise you to be better than that!
“But it’s what humans were built to do! Every species on earth’s function is to reproduce! It’s natural!” Yeah, many species also eat their young when there is a lack of resources to support them. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. When are we going to start gobbling up babies? Basically, this is saying… After all, what else are women good for but to be baby factories? I mean, in the Good Old Days (i.e., 1945-1965), Women knew their place and devoted everything to the happiness of their children! Look at all the kids born in that era– they are all happy, well-adjusted adults with great lives now! For the record, lots of animals also eat their poop and kill other animals’ babies. Who’s to say what is natural?
“But having me will make you a better person! As soon as you have me, you will understand the meaning of life and know the joy that is motherhood!” That’s your opinion. I could say “Riding a flaming motorcycle over Niagara Falls would make you appreciate life and make you a more daring person,” but I’m making an awful lot of assumptions. You think maybe I should let you make up your own mind about that? Yeah, maybe. Why don’t you open up a shelter for homeless rottweilers? What? Too selfish to devote your time and resources to it? Don’t like Rottweilers? I’m JUDGING YOU.
October 2, 2014 at 12:49 am Enter your password to view comments.
Years and years ago I dated this Russian guy; we’ll call him Boris. He wondered why I never wore perfume. I didn’t really have an answer. He said that women were supposed to wear perfume, so that when a dude smelled it on something somewhere, it would make him think of her. I thought that was sweet, but kind of pooh-poohed the idea for myself because perfume made me think of old ladies and how it kind of annoyed me if I was in the grocery store or at a movie or something and had to constantly smell them.
I had a string of jobs where my supervisors were way into smelly candles and aromatherapy and things of that nature. I remember one job where the denizen of office to the left of me liked “energizing lemon” and the office on the right of me’s occupant constantly had a “calming lavender” thing going. I joked that my left half was wide awake while my right half was falling asleep. Altogether I felt like my personal airspace was being violated by other peoples’ scents. The scent I enjoyed most was nothing. I didn’t think it was fair that someone else’s particles of smelly shit should be able to attack my nostrils without my consent. It was like olfactory rape. Why couldn’t they make air fresheners that destroyed all smells and made the air smell completely blank? That’s what *I* wanted.
However, I kept the idea of the perfume in the back of my head. I experimented with essential oils, because I liked the smell of flowers. Not the flowery perfumey scents; the smell of actual flowers, and essential oils were the closest thing I could find. I liked jasmine a lot, but got accused of smelling like a hippie, so I switched to roses. That, of course, prompted people to think I smelled like their grandmother’s bathroom soap, so I eventually gave it up altogether.
Enter Klaus, my current beau. He is very scent-oriented, he says. While he doesn’t burn aromatherapy candles, thank goodness, he does like a good perfume. In fact, it was at his suggestion (bordering on insistence) that we go to The Mall and check out a department store perfume counter. The last time I had gone to a department store perfume counter, I was probably about 7 and was with my grandmother, who instructed the counter lady to spray me with something (probably “Charlie,” she always wore perfume called Charlie). I remember smelling like perfume all day and being slightly annoyed, but it also sort of made me feel vaguely like a grown-up.
Anyway, it must have been quite the sight at Macy’s in the Burlington Mall yesterday– Klaus was the one taking the lead on the perfume. Since this was Klaus’s project (and he was paying), I was totally fine with it all. He kept describing what he was smelling to the old ladies, who eventually drifted away to help other customers. “I smell grass… with some musk.” It turns out he likes super duper flowery things that are a little too sickeningly sweet for me. I like citrusy things, which make him think of being in the produce aisle. He doesn’t want “food smells,” as he put it. At one point the old lady who was showing us the perfumes said, somewhat sarcastically, “is SHE gonna be wearing this, or YOU?”
If, at age 22 when I was way into being an independent non-girly woman, you had told me that in nearly 20 years I would be at a Macy’s perfume counter with a dude who was going to buy expensive perfume for me, I would have scoffed. Why should I let some dude dictate what I smell like? Yet, here I was. After huffing like 20 different kinds of perfume, we finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Yes, we sniffed all these different things, only to come back to a perfume that has been around 95 years; that generations of women have worn. I smell like legions of dead flappers and grannies… and I kinda like it!
I am wearing it now, and it’s really weird– it doesn’t smell like me. I keep thinking there’s someone behind me that I’m smelling. I like how it smells a lot, but since I have spent a lot of my life thinking that the best smells are the absence of perfumes, I gotta get used to it!
With the recent Supreme Court decision about Hobby Lobby, lots of people have been pointing out that birth control has lots of other uses besides just preventing babies. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been full of folks pointing out all sorts of alternate things The Pill is good for (lists here and here). These posts are in a vein of “THESE WOMEN AREN’T SLUTS, LOOK! YOUR GRANNY MIGHT BE TAKING THESE!” By posting all these lists, people are trying to draw attention to the fact that by limiting birth control, you may be keeping a perfectly innocent non-whore from being healthy. This tactic may appeal somewhat to the old white men that are in charge, but I think it does harm to constantly point out and sanitize the birth control debate. Also, the Hobby Lobby case wasn’t about female contraception in general, it was just about Plan B (aka the “morning after pill”) and IUDs, which they (albeit based on faulty science) consider to cause abortions. That’s beside the point, as many people don’t get that. It’s good that it has opened up a wider argument, though– I think conversation about sexuality in general is a good thing. All too often have we pretended that sex was some weird deviant thing that went on behind *other peoples’* closed doors.
While it is true that there are lots of other medical uses for birth control, I think we’re forgetting the main thing is that people just like having sex. Face it, contraception or not, you’re not going to stop people having sex for fun rather than for reproductive purposes anytime soon. Think about it. Sex for the sake of sex and not for the purpose of babies is really not as bad as you think. You’ve probably done it! We need to stop the whole stigmatization of women who want to just have sex and not worry about the consequences. In fact, the word “consequences” is not the best word I could have chosen. I mean, it’s perfectly fine for men to go out and have sex simply for fun. However, in society’s eyes, women who have sex just for the sake of having sex are considered questionable at best. Remember the whole Sandra Fluke debacle? I remember my mother telling me about how when the Pill was first widely available, in order to get a prescription, she had to prove not only that she was married, but also had to get her husband’s permission. God forbid women not be held accountable and/or have a babysitter to account for their whorish antics!
So yes, it’s true– birth control does have uses other than for preventing babies. I don’t know the statistics off hand, but I’ll bet that most women who are on birth control are using it for –gasp– preventing pregnancy. The sooner we acknowledge that sex is just sex, and that it’s not this heavy moral thing, the better.
Will we, as a society get over it? Probably not in my lifetime.
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