Obviously, you don’t have to answer any questions, ever. You have the blessed right to do whatever you want, answer whomever you want, whenever you want. You can answer ALL the questions if you want. You can be an open book in any kind of way, shape, or form that you want. But you can also request privacy by not answering certain questions (or any of them). Life is not actually a series of MySpace questions. If you don’t want to talk about your personal life or your decisions, you don’t actually have to. When someone asks you a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer to be polite.
Recently, a friend of a relative asked me how much money I make. As a freelance writer, that’s not really a sore question as much as it’s a complicated question. And I get that people are curious. They're all like, "How do you support yourself as writer? Aren’t writers super poor and like, "starving artists"? Don’t you guys have day jobs? Do you actually work at Starbucks, it’s okay, you can tell me."
I can, technically, tell them – But I won’t. Because it’s none of their business. A lot of questions are nobody’s business, and we shouldn’t feel compelled to answer them. The following are questions that, unless you really want to, you should never feel obligated to give an answer to:
1. "Do you want children?"
Unless the person asking this is your significant other, who is genuinely involved in the potential of baby-making, no one actually needs to know this. A friend asked me this the other day, and I replied, “Probably. I don’t know. Yes. When I have time. And after I'm done with school. Actually, I don’t know.” Having a kid is complex, huge decision. I feel like women are expected to just know whether they want one or not right off the bat, and that’s ridiculous.
2. "How many people have you slept with?"
If you played Ten Fingers in your college dorm while passing around a handle of Smirnoff, this was the perfect opportunity to find out how many people your friends or roommates have banged. Why are we so curious about this? Why do we care? Are we secretly or subconsciously measuring the level of self-worth this person has? Are we comparing our number to theirs? Going back to the question: you don’t have to tell people what your number is. That’s your business, and no one else’s.
3. "Do you ever want to get married?"
As progressive as our society is, we still put marriage on a pedestal and deem it as the ultimate goal or achievement for women. Which is why like, 7 out of 10 rom-coms are about women trying to find the right guy to marry. Every woman is expected to want marriage, and if she doesn’t, we figure she’s just resentful or bitter. Or that she’s a “Samantha” (i.e., sexually reckless and hyper-career involved.) Can a woman lead a substantial existence without pining for the married life? (The answer is "no duh.")
4. "How much money do you make?"
A million dollars. Per hour. Go away with this mess.
5. "Do you regret majoring in [insert your major]?"
It almost feels like people expect me or want me to say that I regret majoring in English. “Do you regret majoring in English?” is really a rhetorical question because you are expected to say, “Yes. Yes, I do. What a fool I was. I should have majored in business like you did, because look at you go.” And maybe you do regret your major. Or your college experience. Or whatever. But your regrets are deeply personal and yours alone; no one should be (consciously or subconsciously) making your feel worse about them. Or making you feel regretful to begin with.
6. "Are you exercising?"
You might as well be asked, “Are you okay with being overweight, you unhealthy oger?"
7. "How did you afford that?"
No one is allowed to judge you for your lifestyle that you work for or are able to sustain by your own means. You might have donated your eggs, sold your car, or taken up two jobs — no one needs to know how or why you spend your monies.
8. "What’s your racial/ethnic background?"
Unless a person decides to reveal their background on their own terms, asking them "what they are" is a really dehumanizing.
9. "What’s your favorite band?"
Never put someone on the spot like this. Never. Ever.
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