The XX Factor

Women Don’t “Forget” To Have Kids

While conceding that Huffington Post might write headlines for its celebrity bloggers, I still have to admit that I knew no good would come from an article titled ” Don’t Forget To Have Kids. ” This myth of the woman who “forgets” to have kids is so common that we don’t stop to think about how sexist it really is, since the implication is that women are prone to such heights of stupidity that they could forget about the existence of marriage and babies, even in a world that has multiple cable channels (especially TLC) dedicated to marriage and babies. If you think about the myth of “forgetting” to have kids even for a moment, it falls apart, because the more common problem is forgetting to use contraception, and having kids because of it.

The post’s author, Mika Brzezinski , did nothing in the article to dispel my eye-rolling prejudices, either. She clearly thinks her intended female audience is stupid. I can’t think of any other explanation for her expecting us to believe her when she says that it’s much harder to find a man and have a baby than it is to start a career in a competitive industry (like hers) in your 30s and compete against people who didn’t take a break to procreate before their careers even started. That’s right-she’s not only arguing that you should take time to have kids, but that you should actually have kids before your career starts, and trust that when you enter the workforce a decade after everyone else, it’ll be a breeze to catch up. I noticed that Brzenzinski doesn’t assume that men are so stupid that they can also be told that it’s harder to find someone to marry you than it is to start a career in a competitive industry.

I know we’re all supposed to nod politely when someone says that having kids is much harder than getting a job in an incredibly competitive industry, because we know that the people saying this have suffered a great deal of sleep deprivation in their lifetimes and we should honor that. But c’mon! We live in a country with a high teen birthrate, so we have got to know, deep down inside, that platitudes about parenthood like this are off the mark. 16-year-olds find someone to impregnate them and raise kids. But you don’t see many 16-year-olds hosting their own talk shows on major news networks. Having a baby is a lot of work, absolutely, but if it required the genius-level capabilities, the human race would have died out a long time ago.

Brzenzinski also sneaks in the insulting premise that the right husband will invariably be the one you meet early in life, and if you wait to get married, that somehow will mean that he’s never coming along. We have statistical evidence that this belief is pure poppycock. States where early marriage is encouraged and long-term cohabitation is discouraged also have the highest rates of people marrying three times or more . I guess even people who take Brzezinski’s advice find out what the heathens already knew, which is that your personality changes too much between your late teens and late 20s to really believe that the person you find compelling in your youth will be the same kind of person you want to be married to in your maturity.

And let’s not forget how these arguments sound to people who can’t have kids, because they’re infertile or for some other reason. Telling women that having kids is the most important thing they can do makes the deliberately childless laugh at you, but for women who can’t have kids, it’s much like telling them they aren’t even real women.

Photograph of a mother and her baby boy by George Doyle/Getty Images.