Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

To continue along the theme of hypocrisy when it comes to perceptions of middle/aged older women: just watched this documentary on older mothers via CBC and there’s an astonishing amount of interest, hysterical opinion on older women giving birth. It would appear we’re all experts on women, whose medical history and daily lives, we know absolutely nothing about.

“No, no, no, no” one man was yelling on the radio. Was he talking of war, injustice, oppression? Honestly he sounded like a dinosaur was coming through the window heading for his throat. Main non, he was declaring at the prospect of a woman, he does not know, who WANTS to have a child. OK she was 60 or 72, but the operative word in the childbirth experience is wants. Because if you don’t want to have a child, there’s no sense in having one.

It’s common currency now is to indict mothers and motherhood at every bend in the road. Society’s perception is mothers are never doing enough, or they’re doing too much, or their wish to do x must be thwarted, or they are responsible for the worst social problems and on and on. And women are now indicting other women with alarming ease.

Honestly if I reflect on my life from age 5 onwards I have a plethora of stored phrases, summaries, tags, cooked up around me, applied to fallen women en route to motherhood, and mothers. There was the “she’s away Nursing in England” unmarried mother whisked off to give birth to then return slender and childless from this “nursing” (not to be confused with breastfeeding). Then there’s came the pregnant teen, the pregnant teen who gets herself pregnant for a council flat, along with the wanton woman, who tricks her boyfriend into impregnating her so she too can get a council flat, then there’s the young woman (usually) who tricks her boyfriend to impregnate her, who doesn’t want a council flat (phew the run on flats by round tummies !) but wants to “keep” the boyfriend. Then there’s the ticking biological clock suspect (this can begin with a simple look across the street at a changing traffic light around age 25), then there’s the she’s stuck on the shelf and desperate and tick-tock and take pity on her, but hang on a minute she doesn’t want a baby — hell what’s wrong with her?!

Moving along to the she’s left it too late tags. Followed by the burdening what’s she thinking tags…And this is before any of these children actually arrive in the world? Then commences an entirely new theatre of condemnation.

I am thinking I don’t know what the state of any of woman’s health — whether she 20 or 72– is going into pregnancy. I think women and men need to want to have a child. Or at least be committed to embracing, adjusting what parenthood hurls at them. I cannot dictate ideal circumstances in which children should be born. Many of the 70 year olds I know have four times the energy I have.

What I am wondering is why the female body remains this bastion of fear. It’s almost becoming militaristic. This wailing fear of what this body is about to dump upon the world. People cowering from it like there are bullets coming from it they need to duck! What we really need to do is get out of security guarding the ovaries because if we are in the ovaries, why aren’t we in the testicles?

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