Australian actress Margot Robbie is making headlines for her role in the new film Mary Queen of Scots, and also for the role that probing journalists assume she’s ready for, after getting hitched in 2016.
Robbie is fed up with the questions about “babies” and “motherhood” particularly from “old guys” who wouldn’t dare harass her male counterparts with similar inquiries.
This tradition of stalking notable women with the sexist halo of potential baby bumps or baby making isn’t a new phenomenon, and while the habitual invasiveness may seem harmless, the damage that’s exacted on blindsided participants, who are employed to sell their services, but end up being mentally abused by strangers, is a reality that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Actress Gabrielle Union and her all-star hubby, Dwyane Wade, recently welcomed their bundle of joy, after years of miscarriages and failed IVF attempts. The journey to the finish line was quite bumpy and very private, and during those periods of duress, Union was also forced to field questions about impending motherhood, with the stoic strength that women resourcefully rely on when engaging in dangerous territory.
It’s absolutely unacceptable that after all the advancements that we’ve managed to muster from decades of activism, we are still stuck in the muddy waters of shaming women for waiting too long to get knocked up, as their celebrity husbands are spared the pain of having to address why fatherhood is taking longer than normal.
There’s also the trusted “baby bump watch” brigade that’s inexplicably instituted by women editors, who shamelessly stalk the odds that their viral sensation is stylishly hiding a burgeoning bump underneath the sheaths of designer fabric.
We can’t continue to tolerate the sentiment that allows for this climate of overt sexism, that’s permitted by this regressive mindset of how successful women have to be disciplined by the “ticking biological clock” that demands adherence to the pangs of motherhood.
Perhaps, the fact that fatherhood can happen at the age of 80, is the reason why successful men are able to attain the heights of enviable trajectories without the assault on their manhood, and how they need to swiftly ensure that they meet those standards in a timely fashion.
Either way, it’s embarrassing to realize that we still haven’t arrived at the destination that showcases how women are capable of coining their own narratives without outside interference.
Not all of us desire to be mothers, and if we do want have kids, it’s not always an endeavor that matches the expectations that we’ve been conned to predict.
It’s never cool to interject societal themes into the personal journeys of established individuals, who may or may not fit the perfectly constructed scenario that endorses the validity of the “Hollywood ending.”
It’s also very wrong to casually assume that motherless women purposely chose their disposition, because while some are adamant about not being outfitted for motherhood, there are others like me who hoped to birth our own children, but tragically became victims of the chiming biological clock.
You never forget the instances when you almost lost your breath after internalizing comments, made in your honor, that ended up dishonoring everything that formulates who you really are.
This happened during the baby shower festivities of my sister-in-law, who was expecting her first child. The whole affair was challenging because of the shock of being a stranger in the house that my brother bought. Marriage is an amazing rite of passage until logistics take over, and you’re quickly tasked with the assignment of “making nice” with people who are permanent visitors.
The mother of the expectant mother was expectedly excited at the prospect of being a first-time grandma, and the boost of mixed drinks made her more talkative than usual.
The lively discussion progressed into the territory of how selfless mothers are, and how those who successfully made it out intact, with the privilege of graduating into the appealing status of spoiling their grandkids, can completely understand those who choose to avoid that route.
Somehow, I was elected as the prime example of “smart women” who were savvy enough to choose freedom over the chains of motherhood.
It was righteously offensive to be effortlessly categorized by someone who didn’t even know me, and never bothered to get to know me well enough to know better than to recklessly assess decisions that weren’t mine.
That painful episode was worth it because it revealed the inconsideration that’s levied on women like me, who have reached the age that exposes our shortcomings when it comes to satisfying the demands of womanhood — that directs our ability to rise up to the expectations of adequately tackling the quest to become mothers before time runs out.
And if we happen to be unattached after surpassing the respectable age bracket, the only way to be tolerated by prying eyes, is to submit to the standardized summations of how we boldly chose to reject the blessing of a loving companion, with the bonus of offspring, because that radical method of existence is the only explanation for our eye-raising disposition.
My brother’s mother-in-law unleashed her words without warning, and since I wasn’t prepared for the unwanted explanation about my motherless position, the only response I could deliver was a wide shaky smile, and the immediate escape to the nearest restroom.
Once I was out of the suffocating bubble of awkwardness, the stinging tears stayed off my face, as I defiantly reassured my fragile emotions to wait until later.
Yes, I am not married, and I don’t have kids, and at this stage of my life, the odds are against me, but that doesn’t mean that I wanted it this way.
The meaning of my name literally translates to “good mother,” for Christ’s sake, and there’s also the added pressure of being the first child and only daughter of Nigerian parents, who were counting on my ability to multiply — accordingly.
This trust in my capabilities to find a man, and birth at least three kids was the silent non-negotiable, that’s still being negotiated, even though it would take a miracle to erect the scenario where I am able to bequeath my parents a grandchild that was extracted from my womb.
The age factor is just the tip of the iceberg, when you consider the biological handicaps that are out of my control, and that I never imagined would befall me.
You never calculate the disadvantages of early menopause, or hormonal attacks, or any of the other disorders that stem from genetic and environmental exposure.
And so, all you can do is to navigate the torturous storms of life’s betrayal with the belief that you will one day be able to confidently confide in your own mother, who still doesn’t know that her only daughter can’t get pregnant.
This personal pain belongs to me and isn’t sharable with strangers who listen to a strange woman in my brother’s house, as she rudely divulges information that is neither accurate or within the scope of her duties.
Heavy burdens inspire you to make it a little lighter for others who can relate, and so I’m begging you to stop giving women the hassle of evading questions that shouldn’t be asked, or the sad reminder of what they don’t have — despite how much they wanted it.
It’s wrong and unnecessary, so please stop!