As a woman I think the most common question we get asked is, 'when are you having children?' I don't think I've meet any woman that hasn't been asked that at least once. You think men face the same pressure when it comes to bearing child? I doubt it, despite the fact it takes two to make a baby.
A lot of people are talking about the TV The Handmaid's Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. A dystopian future where the world as we know it is gone. It isn't place is a horror regime called Gilead, birth rates have been declining due to infertility and the US Government has been replaced by Gilead in order to solve that problem. All women who are fertile must become handmaids and bare children for those who cannot, men are tested for infertility, if a handmaid fails to become pregnant it is assumed to be her fault.
Watching the series is scary, and not just because of the fictional world and the characters on screen. The handmaid's tale is happening in real life all over the world. President Trump is attacking women's rights and paving the way for attacks on freedom of choice, including the right for women to have an abortion.
Ireland recently said YES to abortion and it caused a huge debate between women's rights and the rights of an unborn child. I've always been pro-choice, with the view that there should be a 12 week limit on abortions. That being said I still don't 'agree' with abortion, in a ideal world women wouldn't feel they need such a thing, but we aren't living in an ideal world and sometimes hard choices have to be made.
Watching the handmaid's tale and seeing a women being held down, raped and forced to have a child she didn't consent to makes me realise that women must have a say in what happens to their bodies and that includes having children. The above happens in real life and it's scary, the thought of women having no control in what happens to them. I'm not saying the life of an unborn child doesn't matter because they do, but sometimes that is not the only life that should matter.
Some women know 100% that they don't want any more children and have asked their doctor to be sterilized as a result, only to be denied because they are too young. Yet, if a man were to ask for the man thing his wishes would be honored. It creates this underlying assumption that all women should have children, regardless of how they are feeling. That statement might seem a little extreme, but when we see that men and women get treated differently when it comes to having children it isn't far from the truth.
But let's look at the other side of the coin, children are our future. Imagine what would have if no one in the world had children for just 5 years. What would happen? For starters nursery workers, health visitors and midwives ect would be out of a job. Without babies for a few years would society truly value the importance of creating new life? Probably, after all society as a whole seems to take the next generation for granted, assuming that they are always going to be there and that in itself is dangerous.
So where does that leave women and the untold pressure they face in having children? I Think society should never take having children for granted, and at the same woman must be respected and it should not be assumed that they will have children or that they should. Balance is key and how that is done is down to individual choice.