When I tured twenty-six, my mother commented that she had my brother at that age. I had nothing to say to that so I shrugged and dismissed it from my mind. Quitck backstory. I realized when I was tewnty that I did not want kids. Like, definitely did not want them. I had never been that sure about anything in my life. Ever. Not before and not since. It came down like a message from the angels above, and I shouted out, “Hallelujah!” Ok. No. I did not do that. But the relief I felt when I realized that not only did I not want kids, I did not have to have them, was immense. I can’t describe the weight it lifted off my shoulders.
Before that, i just assumed that I had to have them because that was the culture I grew up in. The Taiwanese culture, I mean, though it was backed up by the American culture, too. Women were nothing if they did not get married and have children. It was what they were born (and bred) to do. We were chattel and cattle, and more than one person referred to my birthing hips when I was in my twenties. Excuse me. Not person–but woman. Because it was only women who pushed me to have children, who nagged me about not having them, and who tried to make me feel selfish for not having them.
It was never men. I emphasize this because women are often the worst when it comes to upholding the patriarchy. There are many reasons for that, but that is not the point of this post. The point is that the fifteen years I was pushed to have children, mostly by my mother, is what planted the seed that I was not comfortable calling myself a woman.
My mother actually said at one point that it did not matter if I wanted children or not because it was my duty as a woman to have them. Think about that for a minute. Let it marinate in your mind. I was supposed to put aside my personal feelings and procreate because that was my express purpose as vagina-bearing person. That was what my mother was saying to me. That’s pretty horrifying if you think about it.
Oh. the one exception to men not pushing me about kids–when it came to the question of an abortion. More than one man I’ve talked with was firmly against it. One was a Catholic guy (claimed liberal) who said that if a woman ‘played’ then she should have to ‘pay’. Which was another terrible way to view parenting. It’s a punishment for your sins. That’s literally what he was saying. He claimed it was the same as if you were skiing and broke your leg. You had to deal with the broken leg. I pointed out that ‘dealing with a broken leg’ did not include leaving it broken and saying, “Well, I broke it, so I have to keep it broken.”
I mentioned that if iwere forced to have a baby, I would probably kill myself to get out of it. And the fetus would die with me, so two entities would be dead. How was that any better? He said that I could get a note from my doctor in that case. I said why should that be necessary? Why should I have to prostate myself and reveal my mental health issues just to be able to do what I wanted with my own body?
In the other case, a guy I was dating said he did not want me to have an abortion if I got pregnant. An ex of his had done that and newer recovered from the abortion. I asked if he was willing to be the primary caretaker of said baby. He said no. I said that his opinion didn’t matter, then. Not the most diplomatic thing to say, but it was how I felt. He wasn’t willing to man up and take care of the baby? Then his opinion was of no worth to me.
I am so hardcore when it comes to abortion. In part because I believe in the humanity of living people, and I believe in the right to decide what your happens to your body. I believe it so passionately. It’s probably the driving belief in my belief system.
Anyway. I didn’t want kids. I never have. I just assumed I had to have them because that’s what girls did. They grew up to be women and then got married and had babies. That was it. No other path was acceptable. It was one of the reasons I was depressed–even though I didn’t realize it. I know this because when I had the realization that I did not HAVE to have children, I was filled with such joy. There was a lightness to my body that I hadn’t felt before.
I didn’t have to have kids! Why didn’t anyone tell me this when I was younger?!? It was such a seismic shift in my mentality, it…I can’t explain it. Once I realized it, it was as if it was off my radar. It wasn’t off fother women’s radars, though. Nor my mother’s. This was when I was hit with the ‘you are not a woman’ feeling to the nth degree. Their purpose was to force me into being more womanly (in their eyes), but I am a contrary bitch. Not just unthinkingly, but deliberately.
The older I get, the more I understand myself. And the more I know what I do and don’t like. Back then, it was instinctual. I did not like kids, even when I was one. I did not play with dolls nor did I dream of being a mother. I liked stuffed animals because they were squishy and cuddly. But I never played mommy–indeed, the thought of it horrified me. As did the thought of actually having children.
I was raised by my mother to be an endless giver. An emotional dumping ground. This was couched in terms of it being a woman’s duty, but it was really for her benefit. She wanted to be able to dump all the problems she had with her husband (my father) on me, her purported daughter. In fact, that’s why she had me. So she could dump on me. And then got mad if I pointed out that she shouldn’t do that.
I have a hard time deciding if I would have balked so much at being called a woman if there weren’t so many women deciding I wasn’t acting like a woman. How many times can I type woman in a single sentence? I’ve thought about this often without coming to a definitive conclusion. But, I do think that if the women including my mother had been more chill about it, I would have been fine with being called a woman. Like if it were, “Yeah, you’re a woman. Welcome to the club!”, I would have been fine with it.
But, no. It was woman after woman telling me how I was womanning wrong. Thinking about having sex with the hot stranger on the street? Not a woman. Didn’t want to get married or have children? Not a woman. Didn’t want to cater to a man and inflate his ego? Not a woman. Didn’t wear a bra or makeup? Not a woman. Didn’t care about fashion, cooking, or sewing? Not a woman.
On the filp side, the fact that I am interested in more typically masculine pursuits also makes me not a woman. I used to follow sports really closely. This was back in the day when it was considered unladylike to care about sports. Now, it’s video games (though more specifically, FromSoft games) and martial arts weapons. Mostly Taiji weapons, but also other weapons.
This is running long again. More in the next post.