Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I'd mentioned before that my mother was active in the Women's Movement in the 60s.  She championed and demonstrated in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and talked to her kids about what feminism meant to her and the rest of American society.  I grew up never thinking I was less than a boy or couldn't do what boys did.  I competed with the boys in physical activities and did better than the majority.  By the time I was in high school and college, I read a lot of feminist literature and some of it pretty extreme in philosophy.  Just look up Andrea Dworkin.  I care about what rights women have around the world and am pretty aware that Western society is very unique in how women are treated and what they can do.  And I'm grateful for that.

I deliberately avoid sociology courses in college thinking that subject was soft and I'd ruin my intellectual street cred.  Ah, youth.  So, it wasn't until my late twenties did I take Sociology 101 at the local community college.  My eyes were opened.  The exact same events, actions, gestures could have very different meanings depending on what culture you're a part of.  The examples are everywhere.  Some things are small, like how you greet someone at work.  In America, we often say hello many times over the course of the day to the same person.  In Russia, the first time you see someone in the morning, you say hello.  After that, you either nod your head or totally ignore them.  It's not considered rude but I think most Americans would find that impolite if you didn't at least acknowledge your co-worker every time you saw them.

But it's often the big things in life that make a lot of difference for you depending on your culture.  Women in America and Europe have greater legal protections for women.  Your husband can't legally beat you or rape you.  That's not true in a lot of countries.  If you've been reading the news this week, you've read about rape victims being forced to marry their attackers.  If not, the woman goes to jail.  A young Afghan girl, her age was initially reported as 15 but now I'm reading 13 was beaten and tortured by her husband and her in-laws for refusing to submit to prostitution.  What's amazing about this story that a case like this would not have received any attention from Afghan police and government services but now it is.  So, hopefully this will be turning point for women's rights, human rights in Afghanistan.

I'm using an extreme example to lead up to, you guessed it, what infertility means in different parts of the world.  Thankfully, someone already did the research and published the article.  So, here it is.  If you're infertile in the US and Europe, you'll read it and feel pretty good I think about where you live relative to the rest of the world.  Thank God, I can freely move about in my community and people don't think I'll curse their family building plans.  And I can go to weddings where my presence doesn't represent an omen of barrenness.  I can go about life without children and live in relative prosperity and really greater financial prosperity because I'm not spending a lot of money on what it takes to raise a child.  The last figure I heard was $200,000 to age 18.  Anybody have the new figure?

I'm thinking about this issue now because I get the feeling the rest of the infertile blogosphere is not feeling what I am?  Sure, infertility is sometimes a devastating thought and I don't discount at all how legitimate the feelings are.  I get the feeling that I'm not fulfilling my role as a woman, as a wife and mother.  No matter how irrational I think those thoughts are as a Christian, they still exist.  You know, I'm a sinner but that doesn't discount that I believe, I know I can fulfill God's call for me.  I don't need a child to do that or even a husband. (I say that as if I had not gotten married.  I am now and regard my marriage as a ministry and a sacred calling.)  A lot of single people struggle with this but their lives are no less faithful or productive without a spouse.  Also, in my family there's just not a lot of kids to begin with so it's not strange or abnormal to not have children.  That takes a lot of pressure off of me that I have solidarity with some siblings and cousins but some amount of pressure obviously remains.

For me, I need to frame my disability in the larger scheme.  And because the emotions can be so volatile, I desperately need to provide my mind with rational ideas.  I mean, no infertile woman is an island and my life is always balanced by the lives of my husband, my family, and my friends.  I think it's something to give thanks for, that being an infertile woman in America is a much better place to be.  If I have to go through it, I'm very grateful God allowed me to suffer it here.    

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