I'm a broody feminist - now what?

Admitting that your ultimate goal is having babies has become an embarrassing taboo. But feminism needs people like me, and I'm sick of being silenced

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I’ve got a frightening confession to make.

I say frightening because it’s the sort of thing that has terrified past boyfriends, reducing them to shriveled-up boys in a corner, holding their head between their hands. “No!” they cry as I utter the offending statement.

“I’m broody,” I repeat. The two words that are up there with: “I have herpes” and “Can you come to a Michael Bublé concert with me?” when it comes to snuffing out the erotic impulses of men.

So aversive have I found my broodiness to be that, over the years, I’ve kept it closely under wraps. If I am prompted to discuss reproduction on dates, I will only say: “Oh yeah, that might be nice” about children, as if deciding whether to have some ice cream at a restaurant.

In this commitment-phobic age, telling men you love babies is contraception in itself. Most of the guys I have been with have misunderstood my broodiness as an immediate desire for their sperm, rather than an impulse that can be logically managed and planned around.

But it’s also a societal issue. Because, as feminism has progressed, saying you want babies has become deeply unfashionable – synonymous with “I have no career ambition.” On the other hand, a child-free existence has been painted as progressive and exciting, sold successfully by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Kylie Minogue. Record numbers of women are now saying no to nappies – with the US Census bureau Current Population Survey revealing that 48 percent of femkind between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children in 2014 (an increase on the year before).

People say there’s a stigma attached to childlessness, which – of course – there is, but I can’t help feeling in campaigners’ determination to appease sprog-shunning women, they have accidentally demonised and neglected those of us who marvel at small cuddly things. Those of us who don’t mind photos of other people’s kids bombarding Facebook, and delight in celebrity news about babies (how I cooed yesterday over photos over Lily Cole’s squirt) are now being relegated to the uncool, unambitious, uninteresting, unsexy dustbin.

There’s a rhetoric out there that’s silencing broody feminists. At a careers conference, or an outing with friends, you will never hear a woman say to another (never mind to a man): “My real ambition in life is to have children.” Quite simply, such a revelation would be deemed embarrassing.

 

But for me, my main goal in life has always been to pop out some mini Chazzers. Sure, there are other things that matter, but the desire for babies is in my DNA. That’s how all broody women feel: they’ve got the urge, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

So we shouldn’t feel silenced by society – which is overwhelmingly what’s currently happening. We should be able to discuss our feelings without being seen as ‘bunny boilers’ or regulars to the Cath Kidson shop. A deep desire for kids just shouldn’t be that controversial.

This is not only about being able to express one’s desires and hopes for the future, but is an important part of progressing reproductive rights for women. Discussions on accessible childcare, IVF and freezing eggs – among a host of other issues – need broody feminists. After all, we’re the ones who are most invested in these topics.

There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy desire to produce offspring - just like there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a lawyer, or deciding to live on a boat sipping daiquiris for the rest of your life. So I’ll make a stand and say it: I’m a broody feminist and I’m proud. Let’s hope the others like me now feel a little bit more empowered to come out of the woodwork I know they’re hiding in.

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