February 17, 2006

The Mummy Returns (The Baby)

There is a contest between two kinds of women for the position of Mainstream Middle Class Ms Condemnable: the single woman who stubbornly remains so, and the childless woman. Both these can be in their respective “conditions” either because of circumstances (assumed to be the default reason unless there is proof otherwise) or out of choice. The latter category is the most intolerable, in its dogged determination to go against the purpose for which humanity was created (Yes! Despite what you and I believe, humanity was not created to beta test Firefox 1.5.1 or Windows 9.0 or whatever crazy version we’re at!)
The voluntarily childless married woman is about as useful as the naked cardboard tube in a toilet paper holder. (This analogy comes less out of my scatological mindset and more out of my opinion that women who have children just because it’s the done thing end up leading lives no better than toilet paper.) Why get married if you don’t want children? Doesn’t your uterus go dhak dhak when you see cute babies all around you? Is that job so important that you cannot give it up?
Do some women who do not want to have children give in just to put an end to those question marks?
Nobody knows why Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up (We won’t be surprised if they themselves don’t know) But Brad Pitt is the media’s “Man who wanted kids but his wife didn’t” and is beaming all over the magazines with his arm around Ms Jolie, who is carrying the world’s most talked about foetus (last heard there was more than one in there). Jennifer Aniston, meanwhile, is the “pathetically sad woman with sidey boyfriend who lost a catch because she refused to have babies”. Obviously, it doesn’t happen only in India.
If it’s “unnatural” to not want to have kids, then is it “natural” to have them, leave them in the care of others, unleash ungrateful uncouth little devils upon the world, buy laptops for three-year-olds, or to get all this going, put your body through chemical hell to get pregnant artificially? What about our daily lives, from waking up on coir foam mattresses to taking sleeping pills to be able to last the night is natural? If you do not want to have children, isn’t following that instinct the most natural thing to do?
Not everyone is meant to be a parent. It requires a sacrifice of the self at all levels of existence. The argument that our sole purpose on the earth is to reproduce our own kind is the most pessimistic kind of truth that there can ever be. If the best reason to have children is to have someone take care of you in your old age, then children have forsaken that “natural” role already.
Choosing not to have kids is not about choosing a career over a family either. Many mothers are more passionate about their work than they are about tending to their kids. If choosing not to have kids is “selfish”, then buying your little one shoes made by a child in a sweatshop is not exactly the height of philanthropy.
A few years ago, I had asked all my friends what they thought about marrying but not having kids. They were all against it. One said there was no point marrying in that case. One said she wanted kids, and that was the reason she would marry. One said he wanted to see his face reflected in another’s before he died (God, let his wife not cheat on him!). Either I made friends with the wrong people, or the world is mostly like that.
If everyone spends half their life becoming an individual and the other half making sure their child does, then who “lives”?
The price of opting out of the system, in terms of admonishment from family and disapproval from the society is huge. But the determination to not give in is much stronger.


neha vish said...

What really worries me is that this isn't about a generation gap. My own peer group puts a lot of pressure on me. I am constantly chided for not thinking along "family lines". Invariably every conversation becomes about when we want to have a child.

If i breathe - No idea, Seven Years, Maybe Never - they look at me like I'm killing them. Then there's the other edge of judgment from my single friends -"You got married?" and therein they look at me as though I betrayed the entire feminist movement. Then they attempt to ridicule me by saying I'd probably have kids in a year. I don't see why having kids is ridiculous proposition if someone has a kid! (It's another thing they can't seem to tell feminism apart from their backsides)

The ease of edging people into distinct categories. Hence, we live in various polarities. Constantly judged. .. Either way.

Anonymous said...

all this discussion of right & wrong choices has to be divisive? why must our babies , the new generation thinkers & philosophers always think of people or women as different groups? can the whole thing be examined as a matter of the society as a whole? can we study individuals as parts of a whole, in the context of a scheme of things for the whole? feminism, bullshit! if women can"t tolerate men can they tolerate other women? with the oft sung jealousy, their most typical trait?
all"s well if this is to only discuss and propagate some thing shocking and revolutionary.but when it is a question of values and principles to live by, a more wholistic ,less selfish view where life centres around paying back to society , family, spouse, children is what has maintained balance and life itself..
in case of some medical problem, ok, no pressure of compulsory motherhood. but just to escape a little effort & sacrifice, not to have children is to plug the natural feminine emotion to a point where it will burst some day in the form of nervous breakdowns or aversion to the very joys which one was chasing so hard.
inky ji, u have the sole right to let this remain or erase it.

Mridula said...

I am in the same category, married for six years and no kids but two lovely nephews living with us. That is enough for us for the time being.

richtofen said...

if i had a hat, i would have taken it off. we need more people like you.

sudha said...

people have been stealing my lines all day today, just because i * rotted * in a stupid class all day. lifes unfair ..but yeah .. agree with MvR .. and neha, you just tell people, you can do and say anything anytime (and neither do they have to be the same), they can just mind their own business :)) ...

Jade said...

Inkyji, apologies that I have to use your comment space to take exception to Anon's comment.

@Anon: So what you're saying is that women must not be selfish and must "pay back to society , family, spouse, children"? Pay them back for what, exactly? For letting them live?

The parents of the women want grandkids to play with and spoil in their old age, so the women must make "a little effort and sacrifice" and have kids? Sacrifice nine months of their lives for something that they don't even want?

I know that people might jump down my throat for describing a future child as "something they don't even want". But it's the truth. As Inkyji has said, woman who decides not to have children because she doesn't want one is not being selfish. She's being practical.

Anonymous said...

I hope to be married some day, but I have absolutely no desire to have kids. The parental gene just isn't in my system. But people look at you funny if you say that. As if you are vastly different from the rest of humanity. Some people have said, "you don't have much chance of finding a woman who also doesn't want to have kids" (alas, that is true) and "you'll change your mind when you grow older."

Our society still is one where everyone feels like it is their right to dictate how other people should live their lives. I wish it would change some day...

Charukesi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

superb post! you have put into words what I think - but never actualy dare to say out aloud - as Neha says, those shocked looks I am not ready for... as of now, it seems to me that having a baby is more for the "pleasure" of others in my life - my mother for instance, or even my neighbor! and how selfish can I get denying them the pleasure of a grandchild, nephew, baby neighbor whatever...
and oh, the free advice from utter strangers...
and here is a plug - (my excuse is that I had written along similar lines - about marriage and motherhood only recently - the comments / discussions as always are more interesting thaan the post otself!) - http://indsight.org/blog/archives/2006/02/02/past-her-shelf-life/
do read it some time...

Anonymous said...

Dear Ink Pill,

What a wonderful world we shall have when every woman withholds her wee!

Lip LinkS.

PS. I would love to die to have your child :)

PSps. Irrelevant and irreverent comments aside, I have to agree with you. We have people enough to breed until and (from the looks of it) decidedly towards doomsday. What I don't understand is our ever passive acceptance of sometimes marring marriage. What are you thoughts on ‘Ms. Condemnable’ number I – the singular single?

Anonymous said...

A scientific alien view - has nature finally found a way stop the human virus from spreading further?

Anonymous said...

Hey. Zoya here (I am not the author of the previous comments by 'anonymous'). I have been a regular reader of your blog and quite like it. Wonderful post...and I thought my husband and I were alone and isolated in our decision. Actually its not even decided that we shall not have children...it is just that we don't want to have them just because everybody else is having them / our parents, friends, relatives etc. etc. would be happy if we did / our children will support us in our old age and other such reasons. We decided that we would have children if and when we felt like having children, wanted to have them. Having children is not the 'be-all-and-end-all' of my existence. Like Neha's friends, mine too think I'm off my rocker to say that so far I haven't felt like having kids. They have argued that I am so good with kids, kids naturally tend to like me, then why don't I feel like having some of my own. Many have pointed to the ticking of the bio-clock, questioned me about my maternal instinct etc. to which I have replied, if we feel like having a child and it is physically no longer possible for us, we'll adopt one (and that opens up a whole new area of arguments, upon which I shall not dwell here and now)...we're perfectly open to the idea of adoption...and further, if nothing works if and when we wish to have kids, so fine ! We'll live with it...one makes choices all the time and lives with them, makes the most out of them...but no matter what, we shall not have kids just so that we will 'fit in'. On a closing note, having children is not the only way in which one can pay back society and life in general.

Anonymous said...

Well, that is the way we want to be, carefree and so called selfish if my better half is able to hold on to the fort and not yield to social pressure. She is a very naughty childlike girl and i wish that girl remains a girl, sees the world and lives her life to the fullest. Rather peer and family pressure ,for sake of falling in line , want all this taken away

Ink Spill said...

It's great to hear from so many people that they have made similar decisions. To have the choice is a right we must not foreit, for therein lies our only agency. Thanks for the responses!

Anonymous said...

one more to the list
ten yrs and successfully evaded all the pressure

f e

Blahsfemmy said...

and another ^:)^. and a sigh of relief...I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!! YOOHOO!!

useless said...

Sorry for this long Had been done that post..Can't help it :)

24 - When are you getting married?
27 - done.When are you having a kid?
30 - done.When is the second kid?

So We succumb to pressure.have baby.Now when I say No,1 is enough for us.Oh How selfish, They need siblings to share bla bla bla..

Kid or no kid, It never stops,people seem too interested in what other people are upto.I have a baby now and I get this cooing,'Aren't babies a delight and a joy to behold'..The emotional schizoid that I am grunt a mono syllabled reply,after a long day of wiping ass.All thru this having a baby period,I had all kinds of women of all shapes and sizes ,coo,hug and planting unwanted kisses on me.

But then it's 2.00 AM and a tiny smile on a tiny face looking up at me,makes me go..May be it was'nt a bad decision after all.

But then does'nt give me the right to go about asking every couple with a sperm and an egg when they are gonna have kids and if it is right or wrong.
And I will be as excited or as not excited about babies and baby-talk as I want even if I had one.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous's comment, specifically "not to have children is to plug the natural feminine emotion to a point where it will burst some day in the form of nervous breakdowns or aversion to the very joys which one was chasing so hard."

I'm curious: how precisely did you obtain this startling expertese regarding the psyche of every woman on Earth?

More to the point, the hell it will "plug the natural feminine emotion." The only thing that interferes with a woman's happiness when she's chosen not to have children is people like you who say things like this.

Irritating sexist thing. I hate variations of "everyone will be happy if only they truly accept the roles I set out for them." Impossible to disprove, as well, as the sources of such ideas decline to believe that, in this case, a childless woman could possibly be really happy, or that a woman who has a child despite not wanting one isn't really secretly in complete bliss.

Anonymous said...

The original anonymous comment, that is, not the second one that I just discovered the existance of.

Miliana said...

Yeah, I'm with kyra about the original anonymous comment. Blech!

While reading the comment, rather than 'natural feminine emotion bursting in the form of a nervous breakdown', coffee was bursting out of my nose and spewing my keyboard.

I am nine years married and childless. I actually prefer the term childfree, as the "-less" designation indicates I'm missing something, when in my mind I'm not lacking a thing. I married my husband because I love hiim and wanted a permanent relationship with him, the end.

The insane pressure that is so often applied by families, peers, and perfect strangers to a couple's private reproductive status never fails to drive me crazy. Just because I have a uterus and viable ovaries doesn't mean I have to use them, and certainly not to satisfy another's desires.

Last time I checked, a person's reproductive bits aren't either an open window or topic of discussion for the rest of the world.