Dare to touch upon a woman’s womb? Why stop there?

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If you don’t find it off limits to advise a woman on the subject of motherhood, then you certainly shouldn’t be squeamish about asking revealing questions about marriage, family, relationships and society.

A woman’s role in society isn’t half as important as what society can learn from her about itself.

While we celebrate motherhood and heap dollops of praise upon mommies for performing this Herculean task, we forget to acknowledge the labours of those without whose aid many of these women would never have discovered the stairway to motherhood heaven. When we cheer for moms, we must also pay a not-so-silent tribute to those who keep coaxing, cajoling, prodding women to become mothers, rattling them like the they’re vending machines that won’t dispense the candybar. These people do the tough and thankless job of telling women what to do with their bodies by telling them when (there's no if, of course) and how many they should reproduce, bravely rubbishing the newfangled idea that the subject is something personal and intimate to the people concerned.

In fact, if these championers of motherhood would go one step further they would be doing humanity an even greater favour. Here are some of the things they should discuss when introducing ignorant women to the glory of motherhood.

Is s/he that into you?

They should ask about the kind of emotional and intellectual relationship that exists between the couple, in general, and at that specific point in time. What is the current status of their relationship? Is it in the doldrums or blooming or somewhere in between? Are they planning their next holiday destination or considering a divorce? Once they have the answers, they should also probe the role, if any, that family and society have to play in determining all this.

Inside the bedroom

The friendly neighbourhood uncle-aunty, the worried relative, the vegetable vendor and the chimney-service executive, when gently instructing you to prepare a fertile ground for flamboyant geraniums, should also ask about your sex lives: frequency, mutual satisfaction level, duration of activity, who initiates it, and so on.

Society finds pre-marital sex unacceptable while it could be such a useful indicator in ascertaining the compatibility between two people, the lack of which commonly leads to marital stress and separation. Yet when people are prodded to produce children, nobody wonders about whether the couple enjoys a healthy, comfortable sexual relationship.

 

With this data in hand, these well-meaning friends would have enough material to raise some important questions around marital rape, individual sexual preferences, different kinds of sexualities, sexual compatibility or a lack thereof as being the reason for marital strife or separation, and the utility of the much-stigmatised pre-marital sex as a possible indicator of the relationship that will take shape post marriage.

The work-life conundrum

Well-wishers advising couples to embark on parenthood should find out how the couple is placed professionally at that particular point in their lives. Do they earn enough to raise another being? Do their work lives allow them the time and mental-emotional space for equal opportunity parenting? If not, maybe this advisory board should challenge insensitive company policies, poor and unequal pay, employment statistics, and, while they are at it, the larger capitalist system that harps on material productivity with not enough emphasis on the well-being of the people that are being produced.

Climate breakdown

At a time when already-born children across the world are joining school strikes because they believe they have no future in the face of a climate crisis and families are resolving not to procreate in order to prevent a further strain on the earth’s limited resources, the family-planning advisors should come right in and share their plans to bring the climate crisis to a forceful halt, just in time for women to reproduce before their biological clock stops ticking, which they keep warning women against.

Division of labour

Any wise person worth their salt-and-pepper hair would tell you that it takes a village to raise a child and therefore it is only natural that these concerned pro-lifers should make a list of the inhabitants of the village who would contribute to the different stages of child-rearing physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. It is but expected that they would put their own names on the top of the list of volunteers, not with the flakiness of the intern who joins an NGO only for the sake of the certificate her B-school would appreciate but with the commitment of the grassroots activist whose cause is always top priority for her.

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People in the United States are upset because the state of Alabama is telling its women what to do with their bodies but back here at home in India people are keeping calm and carrying on because they have always told women what to do with their bodies. They might disagree with the west about the formalised punishment because people this side of the globe have successfully used emotional manipulation, threats, ostracism and blackmail over women for Centuries without giving them the monetary compensation for therapy. It is about time they closed the circle by getting one step closer to women and making them reveal the answers to the questions above, as well as showing that they mean business as the emissaries of reproduction and are willing to do everything in their powers to facilitate the process and its consequences.

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