CF no likey

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When my husband and I first moved into our new house, an elderly neighbor came over to introduce herself just as we were getting ready to go out to lunch with my visiting in-laws. At first, she addressed my husband’s parents because she thought we looked too young to own property, which kind of annoyed me. After she rambled on for a while, she said to me, “When you start having babies, I can babysit.” Well, jeez, lady, why don’t I link my vagina to your house via pneumatic tube and I’ll crank ’em out as fast as I can.

I’ll never get used to the idea that being a woman means I have to reproduce, especially since I can’t stand children and have zero maternal instinct. Apparently one baby isn’t even enough. I’m supposed to have multiple babies. And why would I let an obviously confused, feeble person take care of a baby? This lady hardly knew where she was. I didn’t say anything rude because she was old and a bit senile but #MFIF for expecting that people not make assumptions about what I’ll do or not do with my uterus.

Childfree, US

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24 Responses to “CF no likey”

  1. Indigo Says:

    In her case, I’d make allowances.

    If she’s really old, she’s from a timeframe less enlightened, where it wasn’t taken into account that women might not want children of their own. I say this as a black person who has to make allowances for old people who use certain terms for my people which are not considered appropriate today.

    After all — regardless of her opinion, you are still gonna live your life as you see fit.

  2. Ophelia Says:

    How was that in any way offensive. She wasn’t forcing you to REPRODUCE at all. She’s just a nice old woman offering to babysit in case you get a kid/kids. She was just being FRIENDLY and you’re having a go at her for it. Because she “hardly knew where she was”. Even if she didn’t, that’s no reason to be such a twat about it. You’re just being incredibly sensitive about a completely innocent comment.
    And I’m not a man, I’m a woman who doesn’t like children either; so don’t say that “I wouldn’t understand”.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Wow, cool using an offensive term like twat, and telling her that she was being overly sensitive when she said in the fucking post that she didn’t even respond to the woman about the baby comment. And she didn’t say “if you have babies” she said WHEN. Big fucking difference. This is a ranting blog, if you can’t handle that fuck off asshole.

    • Brittany-Ann Says:

      Please refrain from using body parts (or slang for body parts) as degenerative insults. There is nothing “bad” about female genitalia.

  3. H Says:

    I disagree with Ophelia, I think it’s offensive to assume that someone will do anything simply because s/he is a particular gender, which in this case was the especially loaded assumption that the OP would have children because she is female.

    I was thinking about commenting on this saying that I’d prefer to judge old people less harshly when they say things that are offensive, but then, for christ’s sake, feminism has been around and awfully long time and to not have realised the basic fact that women and men should be treated as equals two hundred years after Wollstonecraft, one hundred after the vote, and fifty after Roe v Wade – it’s just ignorance. Feminism has been around in popular culture and popular consciousness for an awfully long time.

    Plus, we might say that old people are harmless, allow them their ridiculous prejudices, and so on, but they really are not harmless. Old people use racist terms, say sexist things, we think ‘oh they’re just reactionary because they’re old, it doesn’t mean anything’, and THEN they go and read the Daily Mail and vote for the Tories/UKIP/BNP because of their ‘traditional’ policies and ‘anti-immigration’/xenophobic stance. Old people have a lot of political power, and unless they are really really senile, I think they need to be told that what they’re saying is not ok.

  4. longanlon Says:

    Yeah, its amazing how fast the world and people morals and behavior have changed over the last 50 years or so. As Indigo said above, this goes not only for how we now see and act towards women, but almost everything in life. Older people sometimes cant cope with all the new ideas, and sometimes they just dont give a damn because they knew we’ll forgive them because of their age.

  5. sz Says:

    I think she was just being sweet.

    • CM Says:

      Ignorance is not a defence.

      Older generations have something to teach us, but they should also be open to being taught something by us.

      • sz Says:

        To be fair to the old woman, most people do eventually have children. And I didn’t say she was ignorant, I said she was sweet.

  6. Jessica Says:

    I called my grandma last May to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, and she replied by telling me she can’t wait until the day comes when she can say the same thing to me. She’s my grandma, and I love her, and that still annoyed the hell out of me, so I totally get why it would be irritating to be told something similar by a stranger.

  7. Amita Says:

    I’m a little amazed by how you reacted. No matter how far feminism advances, women are probably going to have babies. Its generally the plan for a young couple who move into a place of their own… Unless you had stated that you hated kids and had no maternal instincts and THEN she offered to babysit, I really don’t understand why you are taking offense.

  8. JR Says:

    Another vote here for giving the old lady the benefit of the doubt. I imagine that, being of a generation where women DID tend to have children as a matter of course, the woman was simply trying to be nice and ingratiate herself with the OP. I’m not trying to piss all over the OP’s point here but I believe that if she HAD raised her objections to the comment then the woman would have been politely baffled and just not ‘got it’. I think that CM has a point where s/he says that older generations should be open to learning lessons but I would be more inclined to let this one go, which would appear to be what the OP did. I personally wouldn’t have considered this comment to be hurtful or even particularly damaging, although of course we all respond differently to situations and I wouldn’t presume to second-guess or judge the OP’s emotional response. My opinion though is that we pick our battles. Several older people can often make hurtful, discriminatory and often derogatory comments regarding ethnicity and gender and this is the behaviour that I feel needs addressing, not an old lady making a genuine and heartfelt mistake in an attempt to be helpful.

  9. Linni Says:

    again, I’d like the OP to be a bit more considerate to the older woman (I’m almost one of them!). If we want to be treated fairly, I think we should also treat others fairly – which means not dismissing older people as “a bit senile”.
    Remember, it’s thanks to older women that we have the vote (Emily Pankhurst) and contraception (Marie Stopes).

  10. Liz Says:

    Whether the woman was just trying to be sweet or not and whether most women will have children or not, it’s insulting to automatically assume a woman that you don’t know is going to have children. It’s simply rude to make an assumption like that.

  11. JuneBug86 Says:

    Give the poor old lady the benefit of the doubt!

    Perhaps she was one of those older ladies who hardly gets a visit from anyone. Her comment was perhaps the only way she knew how to communicate to a new neighbor that she’d like to get to know. Perhaps she didn’t have any children either, and would like to interact with some.

    I used to work at a nursing home, and many of the older people expressed that they would LOVE to interact with younger generations, but they don’t know how to communicate in their “language”. My guess is that her comment was a genuine attempt to try and identify with you.

  12. jesurgislac Says:

    Actually, my elderly great-aunt (born 1908) who was suffering from dementia by the time she died, was absolutely stringent on the subject of asking other people “when” they planned to have children, or making statements assuming they would: she considered it incredibly rude and potentially very hurtful. (Admittedly she was thinking more of people who might want to have children and be physically unable to do so, than people deliberately childfree: but her point was, you don’t know WHY, and you should never ask or speculate.)

    “Being old” is no excuse for rudeness/hurtful behaviour. Really isn’t.

    But being senile – suffering from dementia – that is. Sorry. If she really is slightly demented, can’t quite tell where/when she is, she may well come out with some even more hurtful comment someday, just because she’s confused: and it would be mean to blame her for this. Dementia often lifts inhibitions, so that someone comes out with stuff they would never normally have said, and would have apologized for at once if they were still in their right mind.

    • H Says:

      Thanks for this. If the woman in the story was senile then it’s really important to be sensitive to that, and I know that my granddad’s personality totally changed once his dementia set in, and he said and did things he never would have agreed with in a right state of mind. Thanks to you and Linni for the reminder that not all old people are necessarily regressive in their social thought too – as I tried to get at in my post, without some of the people who are now old, we wouldn’t have had many of the freedoms we have today.

      Still, it might just be that the OP is using senile as an insult to discredit the old person, and that she was in fact just one of those annoying types who’d managed to let the advances of feminism pass her by. It’s the OP’s judgment call on whether she actually appeared senile, and it’s hard for us to speculate after the facts.

  13. Charlotte Says:

    No, none of this benefit of the doubt, I totally get why you’re angry and it is damn irritating. No matter how old or from what generation someone is, they still have the decency to maybe stop and think, hang on, not everybody has the desire to want children therefore have them and I’m not going to make up my mind for them and say ‘WHEN’ – that’s the key word here, because the OP is a woman, it’s continuously hammered down women’s throats that she WILL be having children. Giving her the benefit of the doubt is just another way of excusing the matter of being a woman being automatically tied with wanting kids. I’ma woman, I don’t.

  14. Emma Says:

    Are you me?

    My husband and I bought our first house together at 21, when many of our peers were still living at home. Not only did it take a while for the neighbours to realise that we were the actual new owners… when they did finally get it, they suddenly thought we were ten years older, and started going on about “when [we] have children”. Being childfree, though, we just smile and grit our teeth. Five years later, that’s the general way of dealing with certain neighbours, I feel. I mean, they also have a lot to say about how long I let my laundry hang out to dry, how I should just use roundup on my weeds instead of going organic, how I feed and train my dog the wrong way, how we paint our windows on the wrong day, how my brand new garden furniture look like it’s second hand, how I don’t shovel snow first thing in the morning… some people just can’t mind their own business and you’re only hurting yourself by letting it wear on you.

  15. Alibelle Says:

    Yeah, this benefit of the doubt thing is pretty annoying. I hate how people act like just because it was common to be sexist or racist years ago that it was also impossible to think for yourself. I mean how do you guys figure we’ve move forward in any form of activism? People went against the hurtful bad stuff of their generation. She bought into all that and it’s her problem. There are a lot of reasons not to bring up children with the assumption that people want them. One commenter pointed out that some people are physically unable to have children. Some people don’t want them. Some people can’t afford them. Some people have lost children. This constantly asking about WHEN people are going to have kids can be extremely hurtful.

    That said, it’s not like there’s any reason to yell at the woman or tell her that she’s an asshole or something. Just move on, like the OP did, when you have to deal with this kind of person. If they’re very insistent then is the time to give them a talking to. But, this is a blog where women come to tell stories that frustrated them to make them feel better about the problems they had to deal with. Most of the stories here don’t involve a person acting on their anger or annoyance (women are constantly told not to yell or cause scenes, can we stop acting like this woman was too stupid to know not to scream at an old woman? Maybe?) that’s why they felt the need to post here. So this benefit of the doubt and you shouldn’t have gotten so angry stuff is really ass-y.

  16. breathofawen Says:

    I still get the “when you have your own kids” from family. It’s really, really annoying– almost worse from people that know you, know why you don’t have kids and know why you won’t have them– people that still push the issue even though they KNOW.

    Them, at least, I can tell off if I have to. I’m somewhat gentler with strangers.

  17. fiona888 Says:

    What Alibelle said! ^^

  18. darlingvioletta Says:

    We should address racism and sexism wherever we find it, no matter how old the person at fault is. However, there’s a difference between an old woman calling a black person the n word and assuming that a young, married woman of childbearing age is actually going to have a child at some point. One shows a deliberate lack of respect or attempt to hurt. The other is a well meaning fluff. I agree with one of the previous posters who said that we need to pick our battles.

    Also, whilst I agree that this should be a non-judgemental space in which anyone can rant I really do like that we can also discuss and debate issues like this. I think that’s why there should be a difference between posts which respectfully disagree and posts which insult OPs and accuse them of oversensitivity. I do find it amusing, and somewhat depressing, that this site has been up for two months and already there’s schisms and fighting in the ranks.

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