Everyone is entitled to have an opinion, which is good because I have many but I am struggling with the latest opinion voiced by Kirstie Allsopp. While I do agree with the sentiment that we women should not assume to have fertility when we want it, I just don’t think it’s as simple as that.
Kirstie is stated as saying: “At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home, and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.” I agree to a certain extent that if you are settled in your twenties, maybe don’t keep putting off starting a family because you may reach a point when it becomes harder to do but it also about choice and if people aren’t ready, then they aren’t ready.
The mortgage and the bills still need paying and it often takes two wages to do that now. If we are meant to be focusing on finding a man, buying a home and having a baby by the time we are 27, how are we meant to afford that home if we don’t have a decent education and a decent job? As a feminist I have never liked the idea of being looked after by my man. My understanding of what Allsopp is suggesting is that women be dependent on men and be disadvantaged in money and opportunity – it’s a very traditional view of relationships and family that will most definitely work for some but will seem outdated to others. I guess the danger of this traditional view is that some women could then become trapped in a life with little money, freedom or opportunity and striving for a degree and a career later in life may be impossible when also paying for a family.
Having a baby does change things and many women choose that time to change gear, to work part time, to change focus so they can be there for their children and their education and career may have afforded her the opportunity to do that. And, yes some women do want to wait until well into their thirties before starting a family but for others it is simply because they haven’t found the right relationship yet.
This subject will be very personal for everyone. For me, my drive for an education and a career motivated me to get out of a town with few opportunities and away from difficult family – it gave me experience, confidence, fulfilment, strength, skills and adventures, it gave me an identity before I became mum. Having a career before starting my family also meant that I was more secure – both personally and financially – and that gave me more freedom to work part time and to develop a new career around them.
Fertility shouldn’t be taken for granted and I knew I wanted children – I gave birth birth three times in my 30s – but I started my family when I was ready for that responsibility. I wanted more choices, experiences and opportunities in my twenties and I don’t regret a second of it.