when you are born female you learn real early on that people are waaaaay too comfortable talking to you under your clothes. it starts with comments about how cute you are or how much they like your dress. but slowly the comments turn to weight and height and whether or not you’ve started your menses. and because the comments began benign enough you don’t even realize how invasive they are until…
you’re 25 and your aunt starts asking when you gon get married.
- how old are you again?
- don’t you hear your clock ticking?
- what was wrong with that one?
- what he didn’t want to marry you?
- was he any good in the sack?
depending on whether or not it’s sunday brunch, thanksgiving dinner, christmas luncheon, or the easter meal the inquiries about your love (read sex) life are never ending. every aspect of your single hood is fair game. every. aspect.
think about it…oprah winfrey is 62 years old, a bazillionaire, with her own television network and people are still wondering why stedman never married her! seriously?
condoleeza rice (i know…but listen anyway) was the first black woman secretary of state for the united states of america. she speaks russian. she grew up during one of the ugliest times in america’s history. i mean the 3 little girls who were murdered in the 16th street baptist church bombing were her sunday schoolmates. and yet with everything she has accomplished at 61 years of age…folk question…why she ain’t never get married?
everything in western society presses you to be boo’ed up. you aren’t whole, complete, or happy (according to cosmo) unless you got a committed lover. it’s all about getting you somebody to love you that you can love back and marry because until that happens this adele song ain’t for you!
so…if you are single no matter what you have accomplished in life, no matter what you have gained, no matter what difference you have made in your community, in your nation, in the world…folk will question your legitimacy, your legacy if you ain’t got nobody to call boo.
and not just your boo thang…your live together partner…but your married spouse. like you MUST have the paperwork in order to be fully certified as…accomplished.
so…if you bring your definitely gay best boy friend to the family luncheon because he can’t believe your aunt mable is that turnt…you best believe before you can get to your next helping of potato salad that aunt mable is going to say to you, ‘what about him?’ even though aunt mable ain’t so blind or turnt that she don’t recognize that boy is gay!
then because you do find yourself crazy madly in love and committed and totally about them papers…you get married. so you think…whew! now folk gon stop talking to me under my clothes and leave me well enough alone.
before you can take off them too expensive, too high, what was i thinking but they go with the dress shoes, aunt mable and her cohorts will be right outside the bathroom stall talmbout, ‘when do you think y’all gon have some kids?’
you’ll be like girl! i’m still trying to figure out how i’m gon eat that $49 a plate meal in this corset and you talmbout kids!? but she is and she will and so will your mother and grandmother and cousin veronica who already got 3. like everybody will want to know when will you start having kids. because once you are married…your uterus is community property.
now if you thought your sex life should have been off limits in your adulting female life as a single woman..girl you ain’t heard nothing yet! wait till you 3 years in coming home from a magnificent vacation with your deliciously sweet boo and listen to your messages that include…
did y’all make a baby while y’all was on vacation?
cause it’s coming. folks who sat in the back of the church and did not even try to look at your wedding registry but rsvp’ed for 3 will feel like it’s their business to ask you about your baby making skills and progress. it’s like they don’t even realize that these questions are really about your sex life which ain’t none of their business! at. all.
it’s so irritating!
let’s take jennifer aniston as our example. jennifer has made so much money on tv and in movies, she really just don’t gotta work. in addition to being an accomplished actor she is also a pretty phenomenal human being with her philanthropic charity work and her on point positions on a few of my favorite soap box social issues (check out www.looktothestars.org for more information on her charity work). she’s also married. BUT she ain’t got no kids. so EVERY week some tabloid actually reports on her ovulation and why it is she’s ‘struggling’ to have kids.
like someone stop the globe and tell me how that’s anybody’s business!
because no woman is really complete unless she’s popped out a baby or two. really two because they need a play mate, right? and when a woman appears uninterested in birthing babies, folk then start asking…
- well can you have kids?
- are you doing it enough?
- have you tried holding your legs up afterwards?
- you know they got all these new medications to help you, have you talked to a specialist?
- charlaine and her husband struggled too. do you want me to get their doctor’s number for you?
like why somebody think you want to talk with them about your sex life, your ovulation cycle, or whether, or your reproductive process? why is that okay?
now if you struggling and you want to talk about it…that’s okay. here’s a resource: www.resolve.org.
so then let’s say you and your legally married spouse have a kid, you’d think the conversations under your clothes would end there…they don’t. next thing folk want to know is…
- so you just gon stay fat?
- he ain’t gon want you like that?
- don’t you want junior to have a little brother or sister?
- y’all don’t want no more kids? why?
ugh! and because you in the postpartum craziness of trying to align your hormones while caring for a newborn and manage your life…you just lose it all over aunt mable at the sunday dinner. for the first time in your life you really really really let her have it! and then cause your hormones all out of whack you crying and trying to get another slice of ham and your boobs began to leak and so everybody then start asking
are you postpartum?
do you need some medicine?
maybe you should lay down?
you know you got to keep eating for two when you breastfeeding?
are your nipples chap?
it. just. doesn’t. end. but at least for 30 minutes you get ham and a nap and your cousin takes care of your baby so that you can go to the bathroom. but eventually they start asking again about the second baby. and after the second baby they kind of stop asking until you maybe get pregnant with a third and then they ask…
- are you trying for a girl?
- will this be your last baby?
- you not having another baby shower are you?
folk are foolish. for reals.
so the thing is…i’ve been single. i’ve been married. i’ve been married and child-free. i’ve been married with kid. now i’m divorced with kid. and i have to tell you after having to hear all the above admonishments and inappropriate commentary i find that hands down as a divorcee with a kid i finally get asked questions like
- so besides being a mom what do you like to do?
- where are you going now?
- when you think about your career which direction would you like to go in next?
- how often do you write?
- how often do you walk?
suddenly…my uterus isn’t community property. no one cares if i’m getting some or not. my reproduction is not up for discussion. if i pick marriage again cool. if not cool. although some folks may be leaning one way or another…it’s like they realize they don’t actually get a vote.
it’s amazing this realization that my body belongs to me.
it’s revolutionary really this idea that as a woman i might be thinking about more than getting boo’ed up or making a baby so my kid will have a playmate.
when i think about all the time that i spent in conversations telling people that my sex life, mating potential, and reproduction really just weren’t their business it makes me angry and sad.
why? i’m glad you asked.
because i start thinking about how we groom and desensitize girls to being okay with being asked very private questions about their bodies. questions that can be asked by strangers, or family members who might as well be strangers. we teach our daughters that their bodies are community property. that it’s okay for some random grown up to ask about their menses or bra size. we give them permission to answer these questions and likewise see themselves not as fully human but as parts.
- my breast are okay but my thighs are really the problem.
- if only my nose weren’t so big.
- my hair never does what i want it to do.
we teach them these things in bits and pieces. and it all seems so innocent. until you’re sitting across from a woman weeks from birthing asking her when she’s going to pop out another and get cornbread dressing tossed in your face as response.
and if my body is a separate thing…what does that mean for my rights to it? what does that mean about my ability…my right to police it…to protect it…to determine what is best for it and when?
we need to stop with these questions. they are the wrong questions. no human should have to be subjected to this type of inquiry over dinner or brunch or anywhere really…without their permission…without a right to privacy…
because women…if you weren’t aware…are completely human. no matter if they are single, married, divorced, parenting, or child-free. we’re human. we have rights.
just ask the united nations.