About that New York Magazine feature story: How the Pill Changed the World, that had so many smart folk talking last week: Besides the fact that it was somewhat inaccurate, derivative and kinda insulting, it also seemed to miss the point. In my opinion.
But first, since I’m sharing my opinion, I feel I should also share my background story on this one. I’m on the pill and have been for almost 20 years. BUT, and this is a big but, it’s not for birth control. It was/is prescribed to help control 2 separate health issues. And, my health would be negatively affected if I went off of it. And I’m not going to say anything more about that.
Now that that’s out of the way – YES, many women (of my generation SPECIFICALLY) take the pill for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years straight. Some of us have absolutely no idea what our body’s natural rhythms would be like. None.
And, some of us are hyper-focused on our careers in our 20s and 30s and wait until after 35 to have kids. Which isn’t the wisest thing to do. We’re not stupid. We know we shouldn’t wait that long.
But, and here’s another big but, there are a lot of people on this planet who do dumbass things. Make dumbass choices. I make them all the time. In this particular case, I’m going to hazard a bet that most women in this situation (the pathetic women in their late 30s and early 40s that Vanessa Grigoriadis, the author of the NYMag piece writes about) weren’t blinded by the pill. Nor weren’t they too stupid to realize their fertility was declining with age. They were just focused on trying to have it all.
I’ve written about the whole, having it all, thing before. I don’t think it’s possible. Never did.
The superwoman with the great career, fabulous husband, well-behaved kids, amazing home and no household help = MYTH. At least for most people. Maybe there’s the rare exception. But they’re rare.
Life requires choices. And most of us make our choices without realizing we’re making them. Millions of women have CHOSEN to focus on their careers during their 20s and 30s, instead of having kids. And some of them, when they get to their later 30s/40s have buyer’s remorse. They want to undo that choice. Pretend that they didn’t know.
But they knew. OK, some people are really stupid. This country elected Bush twice. So a portion of them might have not known. But the majority KNEW.
You can’t have it all. You can’t spend your 20s and 30s focused on everything but babies and then wake up one day and say, “Oops. I want a kid. I’ll do anything to make it happen. If only I’d known.” Because that just perpetuates the myth that women are foolish and stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to have complete control over our own bodies. ’cause, gosh, look how irresponsible we are.
So basically, my issue here is with the narrative. The cause and effect. Who/what is getting the blame. Yes, it would probably be smart if women (ALL WOMEN) thought about fertility in their early 20s and made a personal choice – when do I want kids/if ever? They could always change their minds in the future. But they should think about it and make a conscious choice when they/we are young. So that they realize that the X number of years of school and the Y number of years they’ll need to get firmly established in their careers… will bring them to approximately aged whatever. Or maybe they’ll decide to defer one of those things. Or not.
Most of the women I know didn’t do this. Make a rational choice while the rational choice is still theirs to make. Instead they opted to try for EVERYTHING. And some of them ended up as married moms with careers who are struggling to live with the facade that everything is perfect. STRUGGLING (and frequently miserable). And others are my age (or near it) and unmarried and thinking, Holy shit I hope it’s not too late. All of which makes me sad. Because, y’know, we’re free to do and be whatever we want. But lots of us bought into the whole, you can have EVERYTHING superwoman bullshit. And that’s just a lot of self-defeating nonsense.
Tags: Broadsheet, choice, Daily Dish, fertility, health, nymag, the pill