I am not my reproductive organs.

A rat terrier wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe

People clothes notwithstanding, he is not a people, and I am not a mother, and I have no interest in being a mother.

Take my uterus. Please.

I mean, don’t actually take it, because that seems like it would be an unnecessary surgical procedure under the circumstances. But I have no intention of ever using it. I don’t want kids. I love my life as it is, without the drastic changes that would come with the introduction of kids. I don’t owe anyone kids on the basis that I’m educated and middle-class. I don’t owe my parents grandchildren simply because they’ve always dreamed of being grandparents. I take umbrage at the implication that I have no idea how unfulfilling my childfree life really is from people who have never even met me. For all that I pretend to talk for my dogs, I’m under no illusion that they’re actually people and that I’m their mother — I’m their owner, and it’s exactly what I want to be, because I don’t want to be a mother. I think the argument that I should create new humans so I’ll have someone to care for me in my old age is deeply creepy. I’m fully capable of not wanting kids without judging anyone else’s decision to have kids. I’ve made it 36 years without wanting kids, and The Boy has made it even longer than that, and we determined early in our relationship that it wouldn’t result in kids, and that’s a feature, not a bug. Having kids is, from what I can tell, the sole function of my uterus, and I just don’t need it.

(Not that this has come up, like, a hundred and twelve times.)

That doesn’t make me any less of a woman. My uterus, ovaries, and vagina aren’t what make me a woman. The first two are basically unneeded ride-alongs within my abdomen. (The last one is treasured indeed, heyoooo…) I don’t need or want to be defined by a biological process and a couple of organs that I don’t even need.

I was most happy when I got my hormone-releasing IUD, because it took care of some of the unneeded features of my uterus — namely (most of) the risk of pregnancy and the annoyance of getting my period — on a long-term basis. I wasn’t treating them as any kind of disorder — I was just avoiding side-effects of something I didn’t care about anyway. Some women romanticize their periods and find them empowering and celebrate every cramp and clot, and they get to do that, but I get to not.

My period, when I had it, wasn’t some sacred moon-time when I felt connected to my ancestresses throughout history and all of womankind around the world — it was the time when I got cramps and got greasy and acted pissy and the lining of the uterus that I don’t even need occasionally ended up in my panties. Menstrual blood is wet and slippery and sometimes chunky, and that it comes from my sacred womb makes it no less gross to encounter as anything else wet, slippery, and chunky. That time was not precious to me. I’m allowed to feel that way.

Spotting, as I do now from time to time, doesn’t give me all kinds of romantic thoughts about womanhood. If anything, it makes me think of the way my mother (who loves me sincerely, and whom I sincerely love) cried when I told her that I don’t want to have kids. It makes me think about how the Catholic church essentially mandates my willingness to have kids as a matter of doctrine. At best, it’s an annoyance. That’s the case most of the time. It’s just not important to me.

I know there are a lot of people who would love to have a healthy, fully functional uterus and ovaries, and I respect that. Some people are traumatized and struggle with identity issues after losing their uterus and/or ovaries to injury or illness. Some people experiencing fertility problems are deeply offended and even hurt by my feelings about my own body. But that doesn’t make those feelings any less real or any less valid. Nor are the feelings of women who have contentious relationships with their own reproductive organs — who live with debilitating disorders, who feel like they’re being attacked by their own bodies — any less valid.

Do not pressure me to have kids I don’t want. Do not shame me for not painting with my menstrual blood and dancing in the woods every time the communists are on the march. Do not marginalize me for my reproductive choices. Do not accuse me of harming women or betraying the sisterhood when I speak up about my choices. Do not attack other women’s womanhood in my name. I am done with it. Done with it. Done. Step off.

Every woman has the right to define womanhood for herself. If she wants to identify with her reproductive organs, that’s great. If she never feels more like a woman than during pregnancy, that’s good for her. If it happens when she has a brand-new hairdo with her eyelashes all in curls, I’m happy for her. I tend more toward the latter than either of the former, but I usually feel it when I’m at the gym or out backpacking or mountain biking — at which point I kind of feel like Wonder Woman, which is a good feeling. It’s not about womanly biology or spurious accusations of reinforcing gender stereotypes — it’s about whatever floats your ladyboat.

There are few body parts with which I identify less than my uterus. I use my right pinky finger to stabilize my hand when I write, which activity is far more precious to me than anything related to reproduction. The implication that I am defined by that irrelevant organ is annoying to insulting. The implication, beyond that, that I’m defined by my potential to have babies — the potential to do something that I don’t even want to do, rather than something that’s actually is important to me — is extremely insulting.

Reproductive organs don’t define womanhood.

It’s one reason I tend to refer to the genital area as the “ladyregion” (despite some people’s annoyance at the twee expression): For one thing, I’m amused by the sheer Victorian prudishness of the term, but it’s also an acknowledgement that women have a variety of anatomical structures down there including, but not limited to, the vagina.

Not having a vagina, or having a neovagina, doesn’t keep a woman from being a woman. Having a vagina, or having a uterus, whether or not she wants to use it, doesn’t make a woman a woman. Having a uterus and not wanting to use it, or not treasuring it and worshipping it on a monthly basis, doesn’t make a woman less of a woman. Having a uterus that doesn’t function because of infertility or menopause doesn’t make a woman any more of a woman than one who doesn’t have one, or any less of a woman than one who has one that works.

It’s not about what organs a woman has down there or what she does with them. Womanhood is personal. Trying to exclude a woman from “womanhood” because her definition of woman differs from yours is reprehensible. Trying to hold a woman to the standards of your definition of womanhood even if hers differs is reprehensible. You don’t get to make that decision, certainly not on behalf of the full fellowship of womankind.

I am not my ladyregion. I might be my right pinky finger, but I’m not my ladyregion. Don’t put me in a box.

(See what I did there?)


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5 comments for “I am not my reproductive organs.

  1. Angie unduplicated
    October 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

    ++++++++++++++ If this doesn’t win the Internet today, it should.

    Smartass rejoinders to the idiocracy’s question:

    I had as many children as I could afford. That’s zero.
    I’ve worked with childish and badly behaved adults all these years, so I’ve paid my debt to society.
    I didn’t and won’t breed any little hostages for your kids to bully.

    Yours are bound to be even better and I’d love to hear them.

    End of period, though, is start of wrinkles and the dreaded Menopot, not to mention hot flashes which are southern non-airconditioned hell on earth.

  2. Sam
    November 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    But…but…How can you truly understand life if you don’t have kids?

    I feel you, author.

  3. Bob Bancroft
    November 4, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Excellent post. As a man who never had children, the expectations and comments from many are surprisingly similar. I like children; as a special ed psychotherapist, I work with them every day. That does not mean that I have a “need” to have any of my own. The patriarchical sexism of the Catholic church (as well as other “fundamentalist Christian” cults) is a problem for men and women. Ruling elites always want control of those below them by normative coercion and force of law. “Ladyparts” or “manparts” should not define anyone. Children should be based on consent and free will. That said, men must understand that the biological fact of only women getting pregnant and/or bearing children necessitates that to be free, women must hold the ultimate reproductive choice.

  4. Daniel Lomayesva
    November 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    PREACH!

  5. Medea
    November 7, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    I find all this somewhat beside the point. It doesn’t matter how I feel about my uterus. I am still oppressed as a member of the uterus-bearing sex class, and I can’t identify my way out of that oppression. Nor can someone else identify their way into it.

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