Viral Facebook Fertility Shaming Post Sparks #NoneOfYourBusiness

A woman's social media post has launched a worldwide conversation about butting out of people's baby business

One character from movies (and books) that I can really identify with is Bridget Jones. Impossibly clumsy, partial to vodka and an undying fan of oversized and thoroughly unattractive underwear, the woman truly is my spirit animal. So when, in one of the opening scenes, lecherous Uncle Geoffrey slithers up beside her at her mother’s turkey buffet and asks her when she intends to get “sprogged up”, warning her that career girls can’t wait forever, “Tick-tock, tick-tock”, I felt my hackles rise on her behalf.

Sure, at the time Bridget Jones came out I was only fifteen years old, and was nowhere near ready to hear these dreaded questions from creepy relatives. But despite it being 2015, my being under thirty and never having confirmed whether I will or will not have a family, it has not stopped the question from being asked once or twice already. At this moment in time, I am unequipped to answer such questions to myself, let alone a stranger at a party or a third cousin twice removed (not nearly removed enough, in my opinion). Yet, on occasions when I have given these prying questions a curt but polite response, I am invariably greeted with the same reply: "There’s plenty of time for all that." 

But what if there is not? What if I don’t ever want children? Or what if I do, but I can’t ever have a baby, no matter how old or young I am? 

A Michigan woman rocked the internet last week, when a random picture of an ultrasound she found on Facebook along with a post about how starting a family is nobody’s business but your own, went viral. After her boyfriend’s family made a joke about her having children, Emily Bingham, 33, wrote a lengthy post, detailing how unwise and hurtful it can be to ask personal questions to friends, loved ones and family about their decision to get pregnant.

The public service announcement which was posted on September 20, has since gained over 60,000 likes on Facebook as of Tuesday, and a slew of positive responses from women who have felt shamed by questions over their fertility, and with whom the message really struck a chord.

Emily, a freelance writer, said that she did not intend to attack anyone; she merely wanted to encourage people to pause before asking a question that may, however unintentionally, offend or upset someone. She said to ABC News: "My goal was to kind of make people aware of how many different experiences people might be having and step back and let them decide if they want to share for themselves if they want to have kids." 

In her Facebook post, Emily said: "Hey everyone!!! Now that I got your attention with this RANDOM ULTRASOUND PHOTO I grabbed from a Google image search, this is just a friendly P.S.A. that people's reproductive and procreative plans and decisions are none of your business. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Before you ask the young married couple that has been together for seemingly forever when they are finally gonna start a family ... before you ask the parents of an only-child toddler when a Little Brother or Little Sister will be in the works ... before you ask a single 30-something if/when s/he plans on having children because, you know, clock's ticking ... just stop. Please stop."

The post has also launched the #noneofyourbusiness hashtag which has been trending on twitter. We’ve seen headlines that claim celebrities are desperate to have children time and time again, so it’s easy to believe that it’s simply a clever construct by the media to brainwash us into thinking all childless women are secretly unfulfilled. But recently Chrissie Teigen and Tyra Banks showed us that the struggle is real for them too, when they broke down on FabLife, while discussing their own fertility issues. And Gabrielle Union talked earlier this month about the shame placed on women who chose a career over starting a family earlier.

And the message that prevails across all these stories is that, put simply, these women’s feelings are hurt. As Emily Bingham suggests, lets start by asking women what’s important in their lives right now—because if or when they decide to have a baby, you’ll be the first to know.

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