Some questions are perfectly acceptable to ask women (and, in many cases, other human beings in general): How are you? Would you like some coffee? What's your favorite color? But there are also some questions that you should never ask women, no matter how familiar you might be with someone — and at the top of that list is, "When are you having kids?" So, tired of constantly being asked the kid question, writer Emily Bingham created a Facebook post to tell people why exactly this question was inappropriate. In her post dated Sept. 20 (which featured an image of an ultrasound she found via Google specifically because she knew it would grab everyone's attention), she wrote:
You don't know who is struggling with infertility or grieving a miscarriage or dealing with health issues. You don't know who is having relationship problems or is under a lot of stress or the timing just isn't right. You don't know who is on the fence about having kids or having more kids. You don't know who has decided it's not for them right now, or not for them ever. You don't know how your seemingly innocent question might cause someone grief, pain, stress or frustration.
Not to mention, the question stems from a number of larger societal problems: First, people still consider it their business what women do with their bodies, even though it's no one's business but each individual woman; and second, people still expect women to become mothers, regardless as to whether each individual woman actually wants to have kids. Sadly, in 2015, many still view women without children as incomplete. "I've had people say things like, 'You're getting older, do you want to have kids? Your clock is ticking,'" Bingham told Detroit Free Press.
Coming from the same place of expecting women to perform certain societal roles and feeling entitled to comment on their behavior, people also ask women these five questions that they rarely ask men. But it's time to stop asking these questions, because the answer for each and every one is, "The question is irrelevant — and also none of your business."
1. "Meet Any Nice Boys?"
This question recently came up on the website The Microaggressions Project, where people submit subtly offensive statements directed toward them. This particular submission was from a college student who receives the question from her women relatives whenever she comes home. It often reflects the belief that women are in school (or at work or anywhere they go) to get their "MRS degrees," and that assumption is alive and well: In 2013, Princeton alum Susan Patton wrote a letter to women currently enrolled at Princeton, advising them, "Find a husband on campus before you graduate." Like the "when are you having kids?" question, this one not only reflects the sexist assumption that women are trying to meet men but also can hurt those who have tried and not succeeded.
2. "Why Won't You Go Out With Me?"
While this question isn't always directed toward women, it does often stem from an entitlement complex held by some heterosexual men, particularly self-identified "nice guys" who believe that women owe them a date in exchange for simply treating them with the bare minimum of decent human behavior. If women are not going to date them, the logic goes, they'd better at least have a good explanation — which is absurd because there's a lot more that goes into attraction than being "nice," and you don't need a reason not to be interested in someone. Plus, it can be uncomfortable to explain what about a person does not appeal to you.
3. "What Were You Wearing?"
This question is often directed toward women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. It gets tedious to explain that clothing doesn't matter to someone who harasses or assaults — and even if it did, we should be blaming people who interpret revealing clothing as consent, not people who wear it.
4. "Is It That Time Of Month?"
Some men use menstruation as an automatic weapon any time they want to discredit something a woman says. Megyn Kelly wants to know why Donald Trump is so misogynistic? She's just got "blood coming out of her wherever." A woman might be president? Marc Rudov says you'd better watch out for "the PMS and the mood swings." Periods do not render women incapable of thinking rationally. Nobody ever asks men they disagree with, "Are you sure you've gotten enough sleep?" or "Have you eaten enough today?"
This question is often directed toward fat women, and the answer is usually, "Yes, because my tolerance for these kinds of questions is decreasing along with my blood sugar." The question can be directed toward fat men as well, but weight loss is an especially popular topic of discussion among women. However, only an individual herself can know whether her body requires food at any given moment because only she can feel the hunger signals in her own stomach. Furthermore, the fact that someone is heavier does not always mean they need to lose weight. Fat does not equal unhealthy.
6. "Did You Lose Weight?"
This question has become the default whenever someone wants to compliment a woman's appearance, even if she has not lost weight and never needed to in the first place. The message it gets across is that the person the question is directed toward looks better now that she has ostensibly lost weight, meaning that she looked too heavy before. The comment also implies that smaller is better, which contributes to the marginalization of fat bodies.
In short, people need to stop asking women about their bodily functions and stop asking them how far along they on their journey toward fulfilling society's prescribed role for them. That pretty much sums it up.