“The beggarly question of parentage--what is it, after all? What does it matter, when you come to think of it, whether a child is yours by blood or not? All the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time, and entitled to our general care. That excessive regard of parents for their own children, and their dislike of other people's, is, like class-feeling, patriotism, save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness at bottom.”
― Thomas Hardy
As I approach my 30's, I, like many women of our world, are faced with the question of not only getting married, but having children, too. This is a controversial subject, but because I am a woman, I feel that having a voice on this is not only okay, but necessary. I have female friends who are in their 30's and even 40's who do not have children and have no desire to bear one. They are both happy in their lives and think the same way I do about having a child of their own. On the flip side, there are many women of the world who physically are unable to bear children, which in turn lessens their perception of life and happiness, that of which they're unable to have because they can't bear a life that human nature is designed to do. I've also seen marriages fail because of this, and husbands then viewing their wives as unworthy because they are unable to provide a blood children. I can't imagine how this feels.
When I was 18, I learned of the harsh reality of sexual abuse and rape on young girls. I visited an orphanage in Nicaragua designed for young girls to go who were raped, fell pregnant, and were abandoned by their families because of it, which was completely and utterly out of their control. Just to be clear, we're not talking about 18 year old or even 16 year old girls. The girls I met with were 9 and 11 years old. They looked so young, they were tired, skinny, and yet bestowed a big smile on their face when they looked down at their premature infants that they cradled in their arms. There I was at 18, thinking that when these girls are my age, they will have had to care for a child whilst in an orphanage and unable to have a proper education or upbringing. For the purpose of her safety and out of utmost respect, I'm not going to provide her name or show her or her baby's face, but she offered to have her picture taken and I still have the picture today. It's 10 years later and she is 18 today, the same age I was at the time of visiting her and her baby. When a woman or girl faces the reality of caring for a child of her own or her sibling(s), nothing can kick the natural instincts of loving them and doing their very best to ensure their proper safety and survival. And while I personally haven't experienced this, I've had my fair share of education through my experiences both internationally and in my own country.
At 18, I had never envisioned myself having children, it just was never a goal of mine. And after learning of what these young girls had endured, I became angered by men and obsessed with the unfairness that females around the world face when it comes to sexual abuse and rape.
Perhaps it was this experience that drove me to view men, marriage and bearing children through a completely new lens. I would spend the next 10 years of my life experiencing harassment in the workplace by my male employers, catcalls while walking the streets, being cheated on by a boyfriend who I trusted, experiencing unfortunate and scary situations and learning of situations that my female friends and people I knew had suffered from when it came to their male employers or male strangers. While I like to advocate that the world is a safe place to travel as a woman solo, there's one disadvantage that we have over men, that leaves us completely vulnerable in certain situations.
Today, it is much easier to speak up as a woman, but even just 10 years ago when I was 18, it was not, and having any sort of feminist thoughts and sharing them with others, especially men, could be dangerous. Many women and young women I've spoken to throughout my life and travels have chosen to accept things the way they are, and to keep their mouths shut, and so had I. Even to this day, I feel limited when sharing my views on women and reproduction, but as a woman, I know that it's important to share my views on the matter. I have never considered myself a feminist, but I guess to everyone else's account and based on my accomplishments and works, I could be. I don't like to label myself or others, which is why I've stayed away from the word, "feminism". Speaking freely here, while I do think women and men should be equal, they genetically are not. Until the minds of men around the world can change where rape does not occur, or until there is a device that women can use to protect themselves against rape, we will not be equal, no matter how hard we try. Rape is degrading, and leaves many young girls, unfit mothers. It leaves many children abandoned. It spreads disease and completely degrades women and girls. Fearing that I might be raped has me always watching my back, even in the safest of places, because as women and girls, we owe it to ourselves to hold our guard when in public places or even living alone. Many women will have knives and guns by their bedside in order to protect themselves against men entering their homes and raping them. As a women, I've witnessed all of the above occur as a result of rape, of inequality due to simple male vs female physiology.
By now, you can probably see why the topic of this post, bearing children, has had me thinking. And out of pure transparency yet hopes for understanding, I'm going to share my personal thoughts on this.
Humans are designed to reproduce, increase population, to carry on their legacy through their own children, to carry on their genes, and to have someone to take care of them as they age. Humans in modern society want to bear their own children with (ideally) the person they love, in order to create a specimen that has their features and that they can raise and (ideally not) tell how to live their lives. Humans bear children to bring them their own happiness, without knowing whether or not their own child will be happy and healthy, a parents happiness comes before the child. Parents want to instill their knowledge and life experience to their child, so that as their child grows up, they will lead either the (ideally not) life their parents set out for them or (ideally) lead an independent and fruitful life for themselves that their parents can witness. Essentially, humans want their own little, "mini me". But, they also want to grow their population and give their own personal being a chance to experience the joys and sorrows that life has to offer. Whether or not life has been generous and devastating to that parent, either way, they want their child to experience the same. In modern society, humans also assume that once they birth their own child, the child is then tied to having to care for their parent as they get older. Most (good) humans will want to care for their parents as they age or in times of distress, but when a human births a child, they already know that this will be the case, and they won't have to worry about being alone on their death bed with no blood family to care for them, since they will have already had their own blood child to do so. As lovely as it sounds for a human to bear their own child, in my personal opinion and saying this with the kindest heart, especially knowing that our world is overpopulated, the act is a greedy aspect of human condition. Now, before you contradict and criticize my thoughts, I'd like to reiterate that bearing children is a necessary aspect of human nature and without it, we'd have no population, we would not be where we are today with the technological and humanitarian advancements and generations that continue to enhance the world we live in.
Allow me to explain my thought process on why I believe that intentionally bearing a child is greedy in this day and age, and why I choose not to take part. When I was born, I had no idea as to my health, financial status, or whether or not my parents were my own. We are both with what we have, for some of us, we are lucky and for some of us, we are not. We zero say or choice at birth, that is 100% for our parents to decide, except in the case of rape. When a woman births a child, they do not know if that child will have cancer, depression, diabetes, or die young from dementia, of the many other elements of life. When a couple decides to bear children, they may or may not know their genetic history enough to know the chances of their child having a hereditary gene that will leave them dying early of diabetes, CF, cancer or dementia, for example. I once asked a friend, since his father died of cancer, what he would do if he had his own child and his child died of a hereditary cancer what he would do, and he said, "Well, I'll just have more!". Whether or not he was kidding, I didn't find it funny, because many people do think this way. The joy of bearing their own child outweighs the negatives that that child might face due to a hereditary illness. On the flip side, many children are born with hereditary illnesses and disorders that leave the parents without that sense of joy and happiness they were selfishly hoping for, and lead to putting their child up for adoption. Scrolling through adoption sites like WIAA, I noticed that many of the children who were previously adopted and then put back into an orphanage by their adopted parents, had hereditary illnesses or disorders. After watching this 60 Minutes Australia video, it's apparent that even many parents who adopt, decide that they can't handle a child that is not their own who may or may not have an illness or disorder, and therefore make a decision to then "get rid of" the child through placing them back into an orphanage. Most good parents who bear a child with an illness or disorder will care for the child for the rest of their lives, but for those parents who do not, the child is left bouncing around orphanages and never truly having someone to love them throughout their lives. Now, this isn't a blog post dedicated to telling you what you should or shouldn't do, what's right and wrong. I'm choosing to share my thoughts with you on this since I am faced with the question so often on when I am getting married and having kids.
People have criticized my decision for not wanting to bear children. Male strangers online have told me that because I don't have or want children, that I'm a worthless woman. The truth is, I've seen this behavior around the world of men not wanting to be with women because they don't want children or can't bear children. While two completely different things, the underlying understanding is that women are perceived useless either way. And while personally speaking, I don't want my own children, I also don't want to bear a child to add to the current overpopulation, I don't want to be cheated on leaving me to rase a child on my own, and I wouldn't want to witness the death of my own child knowing that certain hereditary illnesses run in the family. The thought on what if my child suffers from anxiety and depression like me and ends up with my mind set is really disturbing, and I'd rather not bear my own child than bear one and see my worst thoughts come to life.
The most important thing I learned throughout all of my travels and especially through Expedition 196 is that, all humans just want a roof over our heads, a hot plate in front of us, clean drinking water and a loving family member. With all of that said, there are many children who already have been born who do not have the one vital essence of human survival; a loving family member. Without getting political, I think that we can have a much more educated, stable and peaceful world if we think before bearing our own children, and instead raise the ones who are already left alone and ensure their fruitful and inspirational survival.
I get it. If I wanted children, I would want my own, but I believe that I've been brought here on this earth and have had enough real life experience to be able to share my views on what bearing our own children really means, how new, planned pregnancies are increasing our overly populated world, and what we can do in order to positively enhance and shape our world as a whole. Birth control and contraceptives are not readily available in many developing countries where rape among women runs rapid. If a woman has no say on whether or not she endures sexual intercourse in the form of rape, and if the man is not willing to wear protection (in the case of most rapes), she should at least be provided an opportunity to prevent bearing a child she alone can not care for. If providing contraceptives and specifically, birth control, is too much of a controversial issue among politics and religion, then those who are educated on the matter in first world countries should, in my opinion, think twice about birthing their own child before considering adopting one who unwillingly, has no home.
I hope you have read my words with an open and understanding mind, and please know that in no way am I intending to tell you what to do with your life; to bear your own children or to adopt. I will be honest in saying that I have neither had my own children nor adopted, so my thoughts on the matter are simply based on my own research and knowledge gained through personal experiences lead by others; friends, family and strangers. Thank you for reading.