One of the great things about not working is the cinema. Not that I’d want you to think I’m lazing about or anything but when you’re no longer a slave to the nine to five, you can go to the movies in the afternoon. On a weekday. I’ve seen the new Woody Allen. I’ve seen Everest (and since swimming the Channel, don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind). And last week I went to Suffragette.
If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go. Especially if you’re a woman. Because what you’ll realise on watching it is that the Suffragette movement wasn’t just about women winning the right to vote, it was about women winning the right to be. If the film itself doesn’t make you cry then the credits at the end will get you. Well they certainly got me.
It’s a really important film and what’s shocking is that when you think that humans have been around for about two million years (and may I request the anthropologists among you to forgive me if I’m a couple of hundred thousand years out) then the fact that it’s charting history that is just a hundred years old is a profound and humbling thought.
But what it has also made me think about a lot is that where fertility and motherhood is concerned there is still so much inequality that needs to be addressed. I do get why I was encouraged to go to university and climb the career ladder in my twenties (because that’s what men did and do) but it also meant that when I started trying for a baby in my thirties my natural fertility was running out. And I do therefore get why there is currently so much emphasis on women freezing their eggs but is it right to encourage them to put their future hopes of motherhood into what is still a far from perfect science? And I know there was a change in paternity leave earlier this year but has it really gone far enough? I write about the pursuit of motherhood but if I were a mother maybe this blog would be about the pursuit of my career instead. And in addition to all this there’s another question that really haunts me. Why is that when a man becomes a father in his forties or even fifties, society thinks little of it, yet as a woman in her forties why is that I feel society thinks I’m getting too old to become a mum?
The women’s movement has allowed me to be who I am. I don’t underestimate the magnitude of that for a moment and it’s why I believe every woman should go and see Suffragette. But on Sunday 25th October 2015 I also feel there’s something else I need to tell you.
The fight isn’t over. There are two million years to make up for. It’s only just begun.
If I listened to the doubters I wouldn’t have persevered and had my beautiful daughter when I was aged 46.
Joanne, you are so right and I’m so glad you didn’t listen and you had her. You are changing the world for those that are coming after you and for that I am so grateful xxx
You raise some very interesting points. My male friend just turned 50 and will more than likely have a baby within the next year or so. And yes, we don’t think too much about it. If it was a female on the other hand..,
Thanks so much for your comment and I’m so glad you found the post interesting. I wish your male friend the best of luck but here’s hoping that society will allow the females among us to follow along in their acceptance soon….
your post made me feel like watching this movie! my mum brought me up having me read feminist literature. so I really look forward to seeing this. I agree, there is still so much to be done to achieve equality. xx
You must! I hope it comes to a cinema or DVD near you soon! Jessica x
I think the equality I’m searching for is not to be judged as less because I cannot achieve motherhood. I had a few friends warn me of IVF at 46 – my final and 7th attempt left with me the biggest heartache of my 17 year journey with emergency surgery at 8 weeks for an ectopic. Hope is important, and I don’t think I would have done anything differently – I have survived for 17 years on hope. However, I now wish that society were more open to “you are enough as you are”. My pursuit of motherhood is over (I promised the 7th was the last) – I will be 48 next month and for the clinic I attend I cannot pursue IVF at 48 (with donor eggs). So its over – I struggle with hope now from society because its helpful and good but more “you will be ok if you let go of the dream you have dreamed of all your life”. “you are enough as you are”. Would help me. I say this only to balance the expectation/reality a little. I am getting there with acceptance – its a struggle most days however. I truly hope Jessica that it happens for you. Thank you for these posts they really help.
Thank you so much for sharing a little of your story with me. My heart goes out to you because I can imagine how hard it must be to end 17 years and your 7th attempt at IVF with surgery for an ectopic. You’re right society hasn’t yet found a peaceful place for women who desperately wanted to be mothers and couldn’t but one thing I can promise you is that on this blog you’ll never be judged less because you cannot achieve motherhood nor will anyone be judged for anything they go through to get it. Never. I understand more than anyone, I really do. Sending you all my love and solidarity. Jessica x
Thank you Jessica for your reply – its takes courage to post our hearts on our sleeves and I have been doing it here and there, so rarely though have I had a direct response and its so comforting for you to acknowledge me personally. Thank you. Its been a tough few weeks with my 48th looming (the official end). I also came across packs and packs of blood tests, letters, referrals, hope/devastation, hospital reports and ultimately, no answers, no baby and no more hope. I shredded everything through tears that had not flowed for a few months. It felt like such a waste – waste of hope, waste of life being trapped in so much sadness and denial for so long – I believed so strongly that it would work eventually. I have been living again more freely this past year – although I still secretly hoped every month for a miracle!
And thank you so much for yours! I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to reply back but I’m finding life not working full time so busy! It’s quite a shock to the system. I know why you might think that your 48th birthday marks the ‘official end’ but to give you another perspective I feel more and more that there is no finite end to becoming a mother. Obviously biological motherhood becomes harder but I do think there are many ways to become a mother even if it’s not the one you dreamed of, and I also increasingly feel that life without formal motherhood can be really fulfilling and I never thought I’d say that. I hope that your ritual throwing away of your fertility things has proved cathartic and marks a new beginning. I love new beginnings, even when they’re not the ones you hoped for, and I hope you can find a new dream to follow and stay in touch and tell me what it is. Much love Jessica x