I was not prepared for the reception, both good and bad, that my post It’s None of Your Business How Many Kids I’m Having (first published on this blog) received on Huffington Post Parents. Because I didn’t expect it to be so controversial, I found it hard not to take some of the comments to heart. Welcome to the life of a blogger, right?
But I did want to address one facet of the criticisms against the post. Those who called it “garbage,” said I should “get over it” and that I “wasted [my] time writing it,” here’s what I have to say:
The reason this conversation was important was not because it affected me so greatly that I can’t get past it. It’s not that I’m trying to air my dirty laundry on social media because I couldn’t confront this person directly. And it’s not that we can’t have discourse and that we have to be so PC all the time so that we don’t hurt each other’s feelings.
But it is a moment that mattered.
Every day, little incidents, offhand remarks and snippets of conversation happen that perpetuate bias, stereotypes, ignorance and prejudice. They reflect a lack of understanding, sympathy and plain old manners. The way that we as a society view certain things are revealed in the most subtle of ways. This is the case whether we are talking about racism, sexism, ageism or (what should we call this?) reproductive-ism. This is why the moment mattered.
When people are going through infertility or miscarriage, they often feel isolated and alone. No one seems to understand their pain. We don’t have a way to talk about these topics. People, like the man I talked to, don’t even recognize or remember their existence. It is our responsibility to take into account what might be offensive to someone else when we speak. This is not to say we can’t have discourse or that certain topics are off limits. But the how and when we discuss certain things is important.
Throughout my journey to have a baby, I was on the receiving end of a lot of unintentionally hurtful comments and actions by people who didn’t know what to say or how to act. Now that I have a child, I feel like I’ve reentered the “normal” world – except that I am not normal. But because you wouldn’t know that to look at me with my son, the offensive conversations still occur.
Should I have confronted the man directly, as said another of the criticisms of the post? Maybe. But as I said in the piece, in the moment I was so taken aback at the awkwardness of the situation that I just couldn’t. That may have been my mistake. I chose to write about it not because I want to passive-agressively complain about it, but in order to bring awareness to the inappropriateness of what was said.
Look, I’m sure that man was a perfectly nice person who didn’t mean anything malicious. But that’s the point. Even if he didn’t mean it, it was still hurtful. And a lack of awareness about infertility and miscarriage means the silent suffering will continue.
Some people who responded positively said the article helped them because they never thought about it like that, and maybe they had said something in the past that was offensive even though they didn’t mean to be. It made them aware of something they hadn’t recognized before. That outcome – giving people a new perspective and actually inspiring them to change their behavior – is why I wrote the piece.
Words matter, even if they’re not on the grand scale of offensiveness of those of a certain pair of fashion designers who will remain nameless. But they still matter. That’s why I posted the piece. That’s why I write.