HEALTH, SEX AND SEXUALITY

My worth is not found in the womb

By Nobantu Shabangu

It is always that question, that maddening question that makes me go into frenzy. “Do you have children?” they always ask, they being the hedonistic men who are always hitting on me. “Why not?” they ask appalled that I have no children, no boyfriend and I’m not seeking either of the two.

First of all I am twenty one, a student, freelance writer and casual worker, having a child at this stage would be utterly devastating, selfish and quite frankly stupid. Secondly the last time I checked it is the year 2012 and the stature of women has changed from merely being baby producing machines to actual beings with aspirations, dreams and choices to have children or not.

I have lost count of the number of men who when they find out that I have no children are disappointed; it is as if I am a product that has some deformity and is then rejected to oblivion.  I thought this sort of thinking by these men attributed to their old age but even younger men (as young as me) don’t understand why I don’t have children.  I fumble to understand their way of thinking.

My cousin told me that some of these men think that if a woman does have children she may not have HIV. I scoffed at this reasoning because it is dangerous and baseless. If men think that way then the HIV rates in South Africa are only going to climb exponentially higher. HIV is a serious epidemic, especially in South Africa and if stupid reasoning about HIV infection continues like this, the young women and children of South Africa are in grave danger. Education on how HIV works needs to be emphasised in every way, every single day, in the workplace, at home, in the malls- everywhere.

Another reason for this thinking is that men still do not see women as possible life companions, there is no romanticism to being in a relationship; the females are simply there to produce offspring for them and serve their men until God knows when. Could this way of thinking by men be the reason for the high teenage pregnancies? I don’t know but women, young women need to understand that their worth is not found in their fertility, that children are not bait to tie a man down and that most importantly that is not the only reason they are on this earth.

I am okay, I am not insane, and I don’t need a man or child to put my life into perspective. I understand how HIV is contracted and no thank you I do not want a dose of it. My worth is not found in my womb, it is found in my actions to society, it is found in my individualism, it is found in my talents, it is found in my mind, in my heart, in my soul. Do young women know where their worth lies but importantly do men?

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12 thoughts on “My worth is not found in the womb”

  1. Great article!
    I must say I haven’t quite got the babies question, and I’m shocked that guys your age expect you to have children! I’m 24, also still a student, and I think guys my age would have the opposite response…
    One thing that I have found is the marriage thing. As if any self respecting female my age is looking for a husband asap and it seems sometimes frowned on that I’m not. As if I’ve been wasting my time and not putting in enough effort if I don’t have a husband yet.

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    1. That is hilarious- husband searching is not my hobbies- I don’t know why everyone else thinks it should be. The baby question could maybe arise from a cultural basis, I’m black and Zulu, though I try my best to not be stereotypical I think that could be one of the contributing factors.

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      1. haha should totally put that on my CV! It could be that… It could also be because I live in a fairly conservative area so having babies out of wedlock is simply scandalous!
        As a side note – I just found this site and it’s great to find some SA feminists 🙂 Really great articles!

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  2. Great piece. You raise an issue I’ve struggled with for many years both in my family as well as my social network. At 27 years, its unheard of in my hood and family not to have a child. Interestingly, my fertility has been the subject of many a family fueds yet no one applauds my achievements. Also, re the men, men my age are ACTUALLY very excited to meet a woman with no kids. This may be an education and class issue, but I haven’t had that question posed by men. In fact, I agree with Nicole, marriage is more of an issue than the childbearing issue. Thanks for the piece and for voicing a vital issue and its link to HIV prevalence in SA.

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  3. Oh wow, as a 27yr old married women I am often asked about babies… I don’t want any and my husband has been snipped so there won’t be any. People are horrified at this! I recently told someone I was unhappy at work – her solution: “Have a baby!” – as if changing other things in my career are not far more appropriate suggestions to make in response to being unhappy at work…

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    1. I am also of the “married without children” set, and my husband gets admonished by his colleagues, because they blame him for the fact that we don’t have children.

      Because, of course, it’s not possible that I just don’t want kids, apparently. According to them, every woman must want children, so it’s entirely his fault.

      Thanks for the article, Nobantu, it was great.

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