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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Femininity, Masculinity, and Fertility

The last couple of days between the various CF comms I frequent I've been seeing things that make me wonder about certain societal pressures.

1. Fertility and Femininity: Am I a woman if I can't have babies?

I mean, I obviously think so, I'm CF and would cheerfully have my uterus hacked out if I could afford to. I've not no particular emotional investment in my reproductive system. It's a one-week-a-month painful mess that I'd love to completely do without.

On the other hand, I wonder if that makes me (and on the whole many of the childfree) somewhat unusual. There was a post up, ever-so-briefly on childfree in which the poster asked, essentially, whether she was weird for having the odd little fantasy/dream about children now that she's actually begun to take firm steps toward being sterilized. Several people, at least before the post was taken down, seemed to think that it was a natural by-product finally closing off the possibility of children, even if she would not normally have even entertained the thought of having them.

I've seen links to a rather nastly little wank on an IVF site, the subject of which isn't really relevant to my thoughts, but one of the ideas in the comments was... the idea that somehow a woman is not complete if she does not/can not have children.

I personally have never particularly linked my ability to have kids with my being a woman. This sounds like a somewhat odd dichotomy, I suppose, since my physical woman-ness is defined by having the reproductive organs of a female. But I've never felt as though I would be incomplete if I never experienced the "joy of childbirth", never believed that getting pregnant somehow transforms a girl into an undeniable woman... but when I think about it, about the attitudes that people tend to spring around women who are known to be barren (and isn't that a nice word, with all it's negative connotations) I have to wonder if the idea that one must have kids/have the ability to have them to be a "woman."

I mean, I've heard that childless women often feel that there is something inherently wrong with them, as though they are somehow inferior because they are unable to give birth. That they are somehow incomplete beings to be pitied... and I wonder if part of the reason that such women resist adoption/foster parenting is because it just reinforces this idea that they're somehow "not good enough" for children of their "own" as opposed to the frequent CF criticism that they're just hellbent to propogate their own genetic code.

2. Fertility and Fatherhood: Manly Men and the Wrigglers that Can!

Obviously, as a woman, I can't really associate how much men associate fertility with being "manly." It does seem to come up as an issue, though. Comedians joke about men strutting around because they managed to get their wives pregnant, it shows up in literature (good and bad), on TV, etc., so I have to assume that there's *some* kind of association that if a man can't get a woman pregnant, he's somehow inferior. I don't know if men who get vasectomies spend much time thinking about it, but then I'm unclear on how much time the average man spends thinking "I could get someone pregnant!" compared to a woman's fear of "I could get pregnant!"

But I do have to wonder, much like my speculation that women don't want to adopt out of a feeling of inferiority, do men feel as though they are admitting some kind of masculine failure if they cannot get their wives/women in general pregnant? Do they feel that adoption is somehow a sign that they're not good enough in some way? That they're not really "men" at all? Is there some kind of unspoken cachet to being fertile? Is there some kind of thing about only manly men being fathers (and, for that matter, fathering boys specifically)?

In any case, one of the points of contention that one sees between the childed and the childfree is the fairly constant cry of "You can't understand if you don't have kids" and I wonder if the lack of understanding/miscommunication goes back to something as basically fundamental as the thought/feeling that one is somehow incomplete/defective if one doesn't have children.

X-posted to cf_debate, which is really interesting for those of you who are either part of childfree or have tried childfree but found the jargon and child-hate a bit much.

Current Mood: curiouscurious

The only part of me that associates fertility with being female is the part I hate- namely, the part that interrupts my good mood, fun, and sex life by bleeding five days a month.

Then again, I'm not a very female person to begin with. I have had moments even now, 8 years after I hit puberty, in which I looked in the mirror and was shocked to see I had breasts.

've heard that childless women often feel that there is something inherently wrong with them, as though they are somehow inferior because they are unable to give birth.

As a woman who can't have children, I've certainly struggled with that, both in my own head and from the perceptions of others.

I have an odd dichotomy in this debate: on the one hand, I married a man who is very much childfree, but on the other, I do sometimes wonder what the point of life is exactly, without raising children. And I also can't know what I would have wanted if I hadn't had the problem I do that doesn't allow me to bear children.