Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Warning: I'm angry

Right, this is going to sound like an over-privileged whinge and I'm sorry for that, but as you may have previously noticed I get pretty irritated when people make assumptions.
So, this is dedicated to the person who said the following to me today:

"Present company excepted, I don't understand how these young girls can get themselves pregnant, It's just so stupid." (paraphrased)

Firstly, saying a line like 'present company excepted' (or 'Oh I don't mean you' or 'I know plenty of young mums, but...') does not detract attention from the hideous, prejudiced thing you have just said. Nor does it remove the fact that I will now always label you as a hideous prejudiced idiot.

Whilst you think that your limited knowledge of my life gives you clearance to state that I'm not 'one of those girls' you fail to see that what you have said will STILL OFFEND ME.

Not merely because you have suggested I might be thought of in such a way, and you needed to re-iterate that you didn't mean me, but because you DO MEAN IT about other women.

Yes, young women get pregnant. Sometimes they plan it, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they want it, sometimes they feel obliged to have it, sometimes they have an abortion. Sometimes, shock horror, they actually have the means to bring up a child, isn't that amazing?

What do you plan to do? Stand over them as they have sex and demand they use triple contraception? Demonise sex so they are scared of having it before marriage? Make them give up their children for adoption? Sterilise them?

Plenty of young men and women are more than capable of bringing up a child. Some are less capable. What gives you the right to decide who is able to be a 'good parent'? Have you proved yourself as a shining example? Are you qualified to dictate who should breed?

You have been unbelievably lucky in the life you have led. You have had the means to do whatever you want, and work for pleasure, rather than necessity. You need to step off the Daily Mail pedestal you live on and look around you. There are plenty of mums of all ages who make fantastic/terrible parents, why attack those who are younger purely for their age?

Finally, I'd like you to ponder over the issue of young fathers. Do they have any say in this? Do they take any blame at all? Just a thought.

4 comments:

  1. Here, here. It's good to hear this side of things articulated. Many women are at the other end of the spectrum and leave having children too late. Not to mention biologically it is best to have children between 20-25. Sometimes it seems women can choose matters of their own fertility, but only if they are over 30...

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  2. Thank you, Frank.

    I tried not to get too personal about the issue and rant and rave about my choice to have a child because I'm acutely aware of my position as a privileged and educated woman and didn't want to come across just as judgemental as the person I was complaining about. But yes, my fertility is my choice and tarring all women who have children under 21 with the same theoretical brush is ignorant, to say the least.

    Futhermore, I *hate* the attitude that young parents are stupid for 'getting pregnant', and that they are to blame for that 'stupidity'. Surely the society we live in is just as much to blame for those circumstances? Poor education, few options, a lack of emotional support and limited social connections are all things that can be out of the hands of young women finding themselves pregnant.

    Hope to see you around here again soon :)

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  3. I just read this...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/03/deborah-orr-hilary-mantel-young-mothers

    It touches on some of the issues you raise.
    :-)

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  4. Interesting read, thanks. Shame about the comments but what else is to be expected?
    I was most taken by the original comments by Hilary Mantel though: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/01/women-careers-motherhood-teenage-pregnancy
    The idea of a strict timetable controlling when women decide to have children is very striking to me, seeing as my partner and I decided to break the mould and the attitudes of most people around us were less than ecstatic (at the time). It turns out that having a baby when we did has suited us quite well and hasn't prevented us from achieving thing we've set out to do. But again, for some people our route just isn't an option.

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