Children to me personally are a non-issue. I never wanted them, and since I have a distinctly younger sibling who was a baby and a toddler in my teenage years, I know very well what it really means to have children. The beauty-of-motherhood propaganda is wasted on me.
I see the emotional, psychological and political damage done by the principle ‘family’ as a whole. I also see how troublesome it is when Lesbians direct their energy towards their children, in particular towards boys. Het or Lesbian household, boys are treated better than girls in so many regards, and even those women who attempt to raise sons in a ″feminist″ manner failed, as the history of feminism shows.
When I came out, I assumed the kids topic was off the table. Things in Europe always are a few years behind the US. While across the Atlantic ocean marriage and adoption rights for homosexual couples were already a big issue in the media, the average inhabitant of my little country in the mountains never would have associated ″I’m a Lesbian!” with ″I want to get married and have children!”
In the contrary, it still was the time of ″How can you do this to me, I was hoping for grandchildren!”
For several reasons the grandchildren issue wasn’t that important for my own parents, and I enjoyed a refreshing period without anyone wanting me to have children.
Before I came out, that was different.
Since grammar school I was badgered if I wanted to have children, and when I stoutly refused, I was met with confusion or disdain.
I argued with the nurse when we were sent to the rubella shot at school. We were told that it was to protect our future children. Neither me being prepubescent nor me assuring I would not have children stopped the nurse. Of course not. Law has to be obeyed and the law says the bodies of 13 year old girls have to be prepared to carry and birth children, end of the story.
In the mountains I was born language often is brutal. When I was a teenager and still refused to say I wanted children, I usually was given the sentence: Where you spit, you have to lick up.
This is a traditional way to say ″karma will get you″ and means that I will be cursed with a bunch of kids for contempting the joys of motherhood in my youthful ignorance. I have – so I was told repeatedly – a very fertile great-grandmother and very child-bearing hips, after all.
All the psychological terror came to an abrupt halt when I told people I was a Lesbian.
But things didn’t stay this way.
Now the tables have turned once more.
Now the main goal of the local Lesbian and gay organisations is to open marriage, adoption and all kinds of fertility treatments for gays and Lesbians. There are more Lesbians on TV than all through my childhood, real Lesbians and fictional Lesbians, and most of them want, crave or have kids. It has become the most normal thing in the world that Lesbians have kids – just take a look at Grey’s Anatomy. It doesn’t get any more mainstream than that.
And I get to feel the outcome of this. The heterosexualisation of Lesbianism in the media and society have taken their toll. Again I am asked if I want to have kids, and why I don’t want kids, and how kids ever could have been the decisive factor for me to break up with my long-term girlfriend.
Again I have people – and not just nasty people or stupid people, mind you – urge some male’s semen on me. This implication is something I usually don’t point out to people who want me to have kids, because it is rude. But it sure is a valid thought: Some loser in Denmark desperate for money and/or sure of his own genetic superiority jerks off and I am supposed to want to put that disgusting slime up my vagina and have the result rip my vagina in shreds nine months later? There are better things to do in Denmark.
So I decided to make a list of all the arguments I had hurled at me, because the uterus sniffers and the fertility brigades just don’t stop hurling them.
I am convinced every Lesbian of vaguely child-bearing age who doesn’t buy into the heterosexualisation of Lesbian culture will have heard them, too.
1) The Political Insinuation argument:
It basically means I violently suppress my natural urges to have a child in order to promote my political belief. They call us feminazis, after all.
2) The Too Egoistic For Precious Little Souls Anyway argument:
This always strikes me as a clumsy attempt of reverse psychology.
″It is good you don’t have children, you would be a lousy mother anyway!”
″He called me a lousy mother! Now I’m gonna prove I am mom of the century!”
3) The If You Don’t Find The Right Man To Procreate You Want Too Much argument, or The Uppity Bitch argument for short:
This is one taken from the fundus back when I was young. No matter what women want in a man, and may it be basic health and no crime record, they will be accused of setting too high standards. Who is the uppity broad who actually wants to decide whom she mates with?
Also, whenever a father of the year ends up in the news for raping/killing his kids, there will be voices blaming the mother for procreating with the wrong man. But of course: When women set high standards, they are doing it wrong. When they set low standards or no standards at all, they are doing it wrong, too. I detect a pattern here.
(I have yet to see the het woman who draws the only resonable conclusion: Stay away from men, stay away from procreating. But I am wasting my breath here, I assume.)
4) The Nature Wants Women To Be Mothers argument:
When we are talking nature here, I’m dead. Nature decided to kill me when I was eight years old, and since nature doesn’t provide surgery… too bad.
5) The What If Your Parents Would Have Thought Like You argument:
This is a spin-off from the abortion rhetorics: ″What if your parents aborted you!″
It amazes me on many levels.
First of all the sheer stupidity of it: If I wasn’t born, I wouldn’t mind, because there would not be an ″I″ to mind. And what’s with the child that couldn’t be born because I took up the space in my mother’s uterus for so long?
Second: This rationale would be also true for abstinence (the trademark religious way of contraception) and religious celibacy. Yet I don’t see bishops preach to nuns to get out and have children? Also, every menstruation is the bloody sign of an egoistic woman who let one more month pass without granting the chance for a child to be born so that it can police Lesbians later.
Third: What if my parents didn’t think at all? Children as ″accidents″, children because abortion is impossible, children born from rape or incest – there are millions and millions of mothers who didn’t even have a chance to ″think like me″ because they have no choice. I know, something that is not very welcome in our postmodern society and not even liberal feminism who values tales of ″choice″ over Lesbian experience (of for example corrective rape).
6) The Broodmare For The Fatherland argument:
Only the wrong people have kids – the poor, the brown, the stupid. They will breed us good human material into extinction. Go on, German Mother! Give us blonde children for our people!
(And I’m not even German or blonde.)
7) The Future Tax Payers argument:
Who will pay your pension and wipe your ass when you are old and sick? You women have the vote, but you don’t do your duty as citizens and crank out tax payers!
If you don’t, MY precious tax payers for sure will not pay for your egoistic hedonism!
8) The Future Doom or The Menetekel argument:
This one comes in two versions:
″Once your post-thirty hormones will kick in, you will CRAVE children!”
″Once you are post-menopause you’ll suddenly realise you missed the best part of life!”
Both versions culminate in the same: ″And then you will realise it is too late!”
9) The Right Man or the Once You Meet Him, You Will Want Babies argument:
Again an originally heterosexual trope, but I have heard it with The Right Woman too. In particular with The Right Woman. Must be the age. Bonus version: ″You will give up the Lesbianism and have children when the Right Man shows up.”
10) The Old And Lonely argument:
″If you don’t have kids you will be all lonely when you are old and nobody visits you.”
Because it never happens that mothers end up alone when they are old or see their children only when they want money. No, that never happens. Ever.
11) The Poor Victim of Politics argument:
This is my secret favourite. They basically are concern trolls who tell me I make life decisions based on the whims of politicans who fail to provide things like attractive child support or daycare. While of course child support and daycare are helpful for raising children, I still wouldn’t reject a deep need of mine for political reasons. I’m a Lesbian. It means I’m discriminated against by politics, law, church(es) and society all the time. Does it make me give up being a Lesbian? No.
If I wanted to be a mother, I would be a mother.
12) The I Know Better Than You What You Want argument:
″If you are older you will want children. Full stop.”
Full stop, indeed.
13) The You Must Have Had A Horrible Childhood argument:
This blanket statement can make use of many circumstances: When you actually had a horrible childhood, people will ask you just why you don’t want to make it better with your own children? If you had a lovely childhood, they will not believe you or want you to ″pass on all the love you received″. If you are a single child, they will tell you that this made you egoistic. If you have siblings (probably even more siblings than usual) people will tell you ″But children from big families always want big families themselves! ALWAYS!”, brushing off arguments along the lines of “I had enough noise, shit, yelling and poverty in my life already, thanks.” with a simplistic “But children give so much back!”
14) The Breeding Is The Sense Of Life argument:
Because, you know, life is totally senseless. All you are is a set of genes that has to be passed on. If you don’t want to pass on your genes, you are biologically broken. And because you are a woman, you have the biological urge to stay at home and wipe up baby shit while I make money. WHO ARE YOU TO RENOUNCE EVOLUTION!
By the way, the evolutionary-biology-fuelled atheist community is the very corner I personally experienced the most blatant homophobia and sexism from. Not even the catholics come any close to what is going on there.
15) The Mentally Disturbed argument:
It always amazes me how freely people flaunt homegrown diagnoses of mental illness when they meet people whose values they don’t share. And no, I’m not ″on the autistic spectrum″.
16) The Spiritual Healing argument:
Once you shed your pop cultural Sex and the City party lifestyle (ha!)/university education/atheism and find true spirituality/god, you will automatically take up your natural role as giver of life. Amen and Hail Mary!
17) The Baby Smile argument:
Nothing you can achieve will ever be as good as the SMILE OF A BABY.
The more I hear about that infamous baby smile, the more that smile reminds me of the threatening tooth-baring of a baboon, really.
18) The Just Do It argument and the Sigmund Freud sub-argument of it:
This aims at every woman, but also at women unwillingly pregnant and rape victims in particular: ″Hey, probably this will turn out great! Stop worrying so much, just do it! You’ll see how great it is to have kids!”
A particularly vicious twist of this argument is ″If you truly wouldn’t want kids, you wouldn’t have forgotten to take the pill!” and the most despicable of all: ″It doesn’t matter you got pregnant by rape. God has a plan with you!”
Given the high numbers of Lesbians who are raped, there is a clear hetero agenda behind both rapes and this ″argument″: Children as punishment and tool of submission.
19) The You Are A Child Yourself argument:
We all get to hear that we are only true grown-ups and responsible adults when we have procreated. We don’t bear responsibility and deal with the hardships of life before we have kids, you know? As a truly mature individual you have to learn how to put someone else before you and your own egoistic needs. This puzzles me most: How can they advertise the joys of motherhood by telling me I have to learn to suffer? This CAN’T work.
Also, this is a very common homophobic pseudo-argument in general: Our love will always be less-than, because we don’t know the hardship of hetero family (religious twist). Our love will always be less-than, because we failed to mature into ″real women″ (psychology twist). Our love will always be less-than, because we don’t have a penis involved (porn twist).
20) The Perfection argument:
I often hear women claim they put off having children because they think they would not be good mothers. And this seems to be one of the few arguments that are actually accepted in patriarchy – a patriarchy which even makes sure women suffering of cancer have eggs frozen. It still backfires often when women decide to have children after all. This is the classical Bad Mother argument: ″Why did she even want to have children, if she doesn’t want to care for them?
All these arguments, no matter how different they may look, have one thing in common: They assume that the heterosexual/heterosexualised family is a good thing. They are patri-archal in the strict sense of the word: patēr = father and arché = rule.
Lesbians and feminist hetero women see this clear enough, and yet many Lesbians and feminist hetero women think their very own heterosexual/heterosexualised families are somehow something else, ‘queer’ or ‘rainbow’ or suchlike.
Motherhood is a complex thing. Mothers in patriarchy have the highest status of all women. Being a mother gives status, respectability, social standing and a place in the patriarchy.
This is also one of the reasons I suspect behind the heterosexualisation of Lesbian life.
And this is something I can refuse to give in to.