Interestingly, some of the biggest judgement comes from other women. In fact, it isn’t just mums judging non-mums – they are judging each other, too. The conversation might be around a natural birth versus a C-section, breast versus bottle feeding, working versus staying at home, real versus disposable nappies, how many children you should or shouldn’t have and so on.
Kate Hudson was recently blasted by a barrage of mums after she made comments about her C-section being the laziest thing she has ever done. Suddenly, women around the world jumped on the ‘let’s bash Kate’ band wagon, with fellow C-section mums expressing their discontent on Twitter and Instagram.
As Gwyneth Paltrow says, ‘I never understand why mothers judge other mothers, like, “What do you mean you didn’t breastfeed? What do you mean you didn’t do this?” It’s like, “Can’t we all just be on each other’s side?”’
As a childfree woman, I’ve felt like some mothers look down their nose at my life choice, somehow determining that they are superior to me. (These are the same ones who tell me that being a mother is the best job in the world and that I am missing out by not experiencing the love of a child.)
The judgement often comes in the form of verbal criticism or even exclusion from groups that are for ‘mums only’, and some common verbal barbs include: ‘What would you know about kids? You’re not a mother,’ ‘Those of us who have kids understand what true love is,’ and ‘You aren’t a real woman unless you have children.’
I do get defensive about and resentful of this implied criticism that I am not a real woman. I would like to think it is not meant maliciously and maybe they are just curious about my life choice, but I think, often, it comes from their own fears and insecurities – just being projected onto me.
In fact, one of my old school friends sent me a direct Facebook message a few years ago preaching to me about my choice not to have children. Not only was I enraged by her barrage of messages, I was stunned by her belief that she had the right to tell me what to do with my life. She had no qualms in telling me what a big mistake I was making, how I would regret it, how I was missing out on so much and that I was basically living an empty life. I am not sure why she thought she had the right to preach to me about my life choices when I was perfectly happy.
I have been seriously shocked by some of the statements said to some of the women I interviewed for this book. Pressuring women to have children by trying to guilt them into it is the equivalent of bullying, and it is unacceptable. Polite comments turn into intrusive ones very quickly.
I, for one, would like women, and society in general, to focus on the positive, and stop judging and saying we are not real women because we defy our traditional roles. Start supporting the women around you for their choices, whether you agree with them or not.
We all face enough judgement as it is, and it’s time for women to turn that judgement into support. It’s time for a revolution, one that moves from feminism to fempowerment!