Why I Hate When People Ask Me 'So... Can You Have Kids?'
“So… can you have kids?”
It’s a question that makes me want to fist fight the patriarchy.
I struggle with writing about this. Not only because the subject of having children is an emotional minefield for me, but because it is such an intrusive thing to ask in the first place.
The issue, I’ve decided, is that we’ve been trained to believe that talking about our reproductive systems is uncomfortable. And men — through no fault of their own — have been trained especially hard that being in the presence of a woman talking about her reproductive system must make them uncomfortable. It just must. Or manhood dissolves! Ack!
So when I talk about my experience with endometriosis, I’m talking about this thing that we’ve been trained to believe is taboo, right? And I’m trying to normalize it. And I suppose because I’m doing this, it emboldens the listener to ask:
“So can you have kids?”
Or: “But you can still have children though, can’t you?”
Or: “But what will you do if you can’t have kids?”
And at this point, I go from speaking openly to wanting to shut the conversation down. Inside, being asked this question makes me so very sad, but at the same time so very angry. Because it is not an easy topic for me. And because the whole thing is so fucking complicated. I want to normalize the disease, but an instinctual question that pops in people’s head as a result of me wanting to raise awareness just shuts me down.
What if I don’t want to have children, regardless of my health? What if I want to adopt? What if I don’t know yet? What if the subject of kids is actually none of your business? My point of being — in their view — isn’t just to create babies, is it?
I wonder if a man was talking about a similar disease, would this be one of the first questions people ask? Would they align as much importance to child-bearing with him as they do a woman?
A question so personal. A question that, no matter how strong I think I am, gnaws away at my “I’m a woman and I work fine” qualifications. A question that, yet again, makes me question whether I should just be single in case I can’t have children. Just so that I don’t let anyone down. Because apparently, that’s basically the reason I’m here — and, let’s be honest, the odds are stacked against me.
And that’s the thing right there. I don’t know if I can have children. But here’s the other thing. None of us do, until we start trying — prominent health issues or otherwise.
So let’s just leave it at that, can we?
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Getty image via Anetlanda