I want to say this: your worth as a woman is in no way tied to your reproductive capacity.
Whether you can reproduce, whether you have, whether you choose to, is in no way a determinative factor of your right to walk the earth, to be loved and respected and admired, to hold your head high and know that you are every bit as good and worthy and valuable as the next person.
Please understand that I in no way mean disrespect to any woman, be it the childless-by-choice, the childless-but-yearning, the mother of living children, or the mother who has lost a child. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s long past time that we set aside these artificial distinctions and recognize that each of us, regardless of age or reproductive status, is as worthy as all the rest.
Some women bear easily. Some bear only after great difficulty and pain and struggle and heartache and loss. Some never bear, despite an endless ache and longing and much effort. Some choose not to bear at all. Some bear, and give up their progeny to the love and care of others. And guess what? They’re all good. They’re all beautiful and precious and worthy of love and respect, because your worth as a human being is not decided by your ability or willingness to perpetuate the human race. In aeons past, it was different, but today we are certainly in no danger of extinction through lack of numbers.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Given the seething mass of humanity currently smothering the surface of this planet, I think it’s high time we discarded outdated and outmoded notions that tie the worth of any human being to his or her ability to produce more of the same.
I have two children, both of whom I love and cherish and value far beyond my ability to express. I have reached a point in my life where I will bear no more, both by choice and by the dictates of circumstance. I can see both sides of this issue, and while I have never suffered the agony of unfulfilled desire for a child, I have witnessed it. Though I can never fully comprehend it, certainly I can empathize. So I don’t mean to imply that those yearning for a child should discard that, even if I thought it were possible, which I don’t. What I do hope is that those who have chosen not to bear, or those who through circumstances beyond their control simply cannot bear, will be able to see past the ingrained notions of our race and recognize and acknowledge that they are worthy. They are valuable. They are every bit as valuable, in fact, as the woman who has borne and may continue to bear.
Women ( I can’t speak for men, though it seems to me that the societal pressure to be a father is perhaps somewhat less than the pressure to be a mother?) have, for all time, labored under the burden of having our worth tied to our sexuality and reproductive capacity. Youth and beauty and fecundity are prized and lauded, while the strength and wisdom and grace of age are relegated to a secondary, tolerated but not celebrated, status. We pride ourselves on being more enlightened these days, on taking back our rights as human beings and demanding respect and equality…while we limit and shackle ourselves with the surgeon’s knife, the aesthetician’s needle, the shakes and the pills and the creams and the regimens. At the same time that we declare ourselves “woman – hear us roar”, we buy into society’s notion of us as possessing worth merely as sexual and reproductive beings, by desperately chasing this pipe dream of eternal youth and beauty.
I find far more beauty in the woman who knows herself to be of value regardless of wrinkles, age spots, or a non-functional uterus. I find her fascinating, liberating, strong and wise and fierce and joyful. I love her. I admire her. I want to be her.
I want us all to be her.