Telling Women To Start Trying For Babies Before 30 Isn't Remotely Empowering
The Debrief: A professor has advised that women start making babies aged 30, we advise that the powers that be make it a little bit easier for women to just live...
A ‘leading fertility expert’ has helped solidify the Daily Mail’s mission to make women feel like if they’re not perma-pretty, demure baby-making machines just at the right time in life then they’re doing it wrong. How? By writing a letter – printed by the Mail, obvs – to education secretary Nicky Morgan. Though Professor Neeta Nargund stops short of saying, as fertility experts of yore used to do, that education is ruining women’s minds and getting in the way of their progress in the path to becoming kindly mums, she suggests that Nicky can rectify what the paper calls 'an fertility time bomb' by interfering in sex education lessons. Oh, and by pressurising women like us to start trying for babies.
Professor Nargund warned: ‘I have witnessed all too often the shock and agony on the faces of women who realise they have left it too late to start a family’
‘And so often the cry will be “Why did no one warn me about this?”
‘Information is power and the best way to empower people to take control of their fertility is through education.’
Ok, we get all that. It’s sad when people don’t get the memo that women’s fertility declines, or just assume that IVF isn’t a difficult enterprise.
But is sex education – which isn’t even compulsory, and should probably focus on, you know, the young people it's being taught to – the right place to warn girls about their future fertility? At a time when there’s no official line on what to tell kids about sexting or about sexual assault, or consent, or what the fuck is good sex anyway while at school, it’s pretty worrying that anyone could see this as a priority to maintain students’ wellbeing.
And besides, Professor Nargund pretty much lost us when she said: ‘Ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30.’
As if it’s women’s sole responsibility to get pregnant and have a kid and raise it! Sadly, even if legions of women were willing to forgo their job security (in this country, women earn the same as men, more or less, until they have children and try to return to work), their freedom as adults (even harder won when you’ve got things like the housing crisis getting in the way of simply finding your feet as a grown-ups) and go on individual baby-making sprees, they will actually need some men to help them out with a bit of the process, and it’s kind of obvious that if a woman feels pressured to do something she’s not exactly going to enjoy it.
Maybe, if experts want women to be better potential mothers, their focus should lie in making women happier and more stable throughout their lives, regardless of their baby-making plans or potential, so that, should they wish, motherhood is less of a burden. Oh, and giving men a little responsiblity to ensure decent relationships with women ahead of that supposedly crucial 30 landmark could, you know, help. After all, getting pregnant is quite literally impossible without them.
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