Mum's the word when it comes to asking people about their pregnancy plans
'PSST ... have you seen her dress? It looks a bit tight around the middle. Maybe she's pregnant?'
Mum’s the word as motherhood, the lack of it and speculation over who may or not be pregnant has been rife.
First, there was “Mothergate” after Andrea Leadsom was accused of suggesting being a mother made her a better candidate for being Prime Minister.
And now former Friends star Jennifer Aniston has hit out at at the constant speculation and obsession with if she’s pregnant or not.
I’m a mum-of-two myself and while having children was the best thing I ever did making my life richer in so many ways (although a lot poorer financially), it doesn’t define me as a person.
I would never judge anyone who wasn’t a mum whether by choice or design. Newsflash: becoming a parent doesn’t make you a better person.
It’s insulting to those who are childless when people say: “You’ll understand being a mum?’ when discussing an emotional or heartbreaking tale.
What do they think - that those who aren’t mums have had their hearts surgically removed and are devoid of all feeling?
You don’t have to be a parent to empathise, sympathise or care. All you have to be is a human being.
However, it was Jennifer Aniston’s blistering attack on people’s scrutiny of women’s pregnancy status that really resonated with me.
It is a teensy bit hypocritical for the actress who has made a fortune from her airbrushed appearance gracing the covers of numerous magazines to accuse people of being hung up on body image.
But I do agree with her words “the objectification and scrutiny we put women is absurd and disturbing”, especially when it comes to pregnancy rumours.
This is an issue which affects many women as us mere mortals are often subjected to the same “Pregnancy Watch”.
“When are you going to have children?” was one of the first questions almost before Hubby and I had finished cutting the wedding cake.
Do we live in some kind of Victorian Dark Ages where people are only expected to have children in wedlock?
Firstly, marriage and having children are not dependant on each other.
Secondly, it’s no one else’s business as people’s reproductive decisions are not fair game for public discussion.
Despite this, as soon as a woman has a ring on her finger, so begins the endless speculation.
If she goes to the doctors, eyebrows are raised and rumours start circulating. Even if in reality she just has an ingrown toenail.
If a woman feels nauseous, the knowing looks begin. Even if she just ate something dodgy.
When a woman chooses not to drink - usually because she’s driving - she is interrogated with eyes narrowed with suspicion.
Just because you’ve put a few pounds on, are wearing an unflattering outfit or have been photographed at a funny angle, it doesn’t give anyone the right to muse whether you’re with child.
Sadly, other women are usually the culprits. And men don’t tend to get the same questions.
It’s rude, nosey, intrusive and a lazy conversation tactic to ask someone about their reproductive plans.
Why would anyone want to discuss something so private and personal with a complete stranger or mere acquaintance?
Would you go around asking people: “Are you planning to have unprotected sex anytime soon?” Because in essence, that’s exactly what you’re asking.
Having been subjected to it myself, I take pains to never ask people about their family plans.
Quite apart from the fact some people might not want children and that’s completely their choice, it’s cruel if couples are struggling to conceive or going through the anguish of fertility treatment.
Even after you’ve had children, there’s no let up and I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked: “Do you think you’ll have any more?”
As Jennifer Aniston says: “We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after”