Oct 16 2016
What makes a woman, a woman?
‘A woman is a human who is generous, full of compassion, affection; possess grace with lots of patience. She has a strong will power.’
How a man can’t be defined with these characteristics?
‘Well yes, but woman is associated with everything that is love.’
But still, why you call someone a woman?
‘Man and a woman have different anatomies. A Woman is called a woman because she creates new life. She gives birth.’
What if she can’t?
(poker face, don’t know the answer)
If she can’t give a birth, she is not a woman?
(still searching for the answer)
This week, I put people around me in a situation where they responded in the way, you just read.
A Woman, or a female of the species, is someone who carries a child in her womb and gives birth. Man or a male who gives sperm for the reproduction process. What if a man or a woman for any given reason is not capable to reproduce?
Infertility is considered as a taboo. It is as hurting for a man as for a woman. When we are living in a society where it’s a habit of encroaching somebody’s personal problem and brutally trolling them in public that it actually becomes a curse for them, one can imagine how abusive it can go for women.
Women who are infertile are considered inauspicious and not allowed to perform certain rituals. Many times they are not welcomed at celebrations and festivities in families, in the fear that their presence will bring bad luck to the host family. Why are infertile men not treated this way? Why no one stops socializing and chuck them out of the society as any infertile woman is subjected to? This is a bizarre thing to not invite a woman who can’t have a baby (and in many cases who doesn’t want to have a baby at that phase of her life) to a baby shower ceremony. A female doesn’t get pregnant or lose her ability to get pregnant by touch or presence of some person in the room or the house!
The focus here is not to compare as who is treated how, the pain they are going through is same, whether being a man or a woman. It’s a personal issue; problem arises when others start making it a big deal and go on to label the woman as ‘Banjh’
It’s a personal issue; problem arises when others start making it a big deal and go on to label the woman as ‘Banjh’
Infertility is a disease
A human body has many systems that make it function and work properly. Digestive system, Circulatory System, Endocrine system, Exocrine system, Immune system, Skeleton system, Nervous system, Urinary system, Respiratory system and Reproduction system. If any system does not work the way it is meant to be, we call it as a disability or a disease.
We take care of blind people, physically handicap, people who are going through depression and various other ailments. Unfortunately, people who have medical problems with their reproduction system are chucked out from the society instead of helping them. I look for a logical reason and found none.
If a person who is not able to speak, hear or see things due to their disability is not put down as ‘bringing disgrace’ to their family, then how a woman who is not fertile can be cornered like that. Till the time we educate our own society against this prejudice, that infertility is a disease, not a curse, we inadvertently add misery to a woman’s (and in some cases a man’s) life. These women have already lost their mental peace, confidence, some relationships and a huge amount of money in treatments, isn’t it enough?
I look for a logical reason and found none.
A woman’s nightmare
I met this lady who has just turned 38, some days back. She is married for 6 years and is now in dilemma. She wants to have a baby but at the same time is no rush for now. Her husband is quite okay with this, in fact, they together took this decision. They do not want a baby till last year because of their professional struggle and financial crunch. Now they are trying but not that desperate. Her doubt is, as her biological clock is ticking and if she is not able to conceive, her husband may leave her and marry someone else.
Theirs is a love marriage. During this sensitive discussion, while she was opening up and sharing her fears and dilemmas, I was thinking it’s all in her head and nothing of this intensity is going to happen. Now, my rational mind backed this thought. They both have not met any doctor. They do not know the issue if there is any and with whom. It might be not their right alignment with the time to have a baby.
It was difficult to sleep that night. Her question kept bothering me ‘my husband may leave me, to marry someone else.’ They were not trying earlier because of both of their financial insecurity. If they need a treatment and they delayed it for some reason, how is it her fault? Why she will be shown out the doors?
How a woman becomes ‘not a good wife’ if she can’t deliver a baby?
I understand when one decide to end the marriage on grounds of infidelity, compatibility, lack of love, cruelty etc. What I don’t understand is after so many years of marriage one decides to divorce the partner because they cannot produce a baby. How can a relationship break over not having a child? Does she stop loving and supporting her husband? Does she stops taking responsibilities of a wife and daughter in law? Does she stops being the kind of sane person she used to be? Does she become inhuman? She remains the same. She can be going through depression, partly because she is upset with herself, partly because of the treatment of the society. All she needs is a support not isolation.
Solutions and Scars
Our medical sciences have advanced so much and now there are many treatments that a woman can undertake to be able to have a baby (other than suggested fasts and rituals by the society). All these methods are extremely painful and horribly expensive. One can take years and years to respond to them and results are not always guaranteed. Both husband and wife get drained themselves and deplete all their savings in the hope. They are already going through a lot. We as a society should take the responsibility of not taunting them all this while #InfertilityIsNotATaboo .It is plain simple medical problem and the couple is already taking treatment for that.
If nothing works, adoption is also a solution. What more beautiful can be, to be parents to someone who needs them. Unfortunately, adoption is also scrutinized by some in society. They go one labeling the woman as ‘banjh’ and abusive titles for the child.
Adoption is a personal choice. A woman may not want to give birth, it’s her choice. In any situation, her motherly feelings are not lost. She will play with kids, love them the same way. Motherhood is experiencing or raising a child. Infertility has nothing to do with behavior, likes, dislikes and emotions. She is still a woman if she can’t give birth.
So I finally ask again
What makes a woman, a woman?
This blog is to #SpreadAwareness about Infertility through Infertility Dost, India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. You can find other links on Write Tribe