I turned 39 recently, it’s such a blah age that I hadn’t really given it all that much thought. I am always a bit disassociated with my age as I don’t feel like it reflects how I feel or the stage I am at in my life but I’m not sure if that’s how everyone feels as they get older. I certainly feel much younger than I thought that I would feel at almost 40.
Since turning 39 though, I have noticed a big difference in how people respond to me when they find out. There have been a few situations recently where for some reason the subject of age has come up, when I reveal my age, the general reaction is shock, which I suppose I can take as a compliment but then there is a definite change in the way they regard me. I feel like I start being looked at differently because I am not where society thinks I should be: I am not in a senior position, I am not married and of course, I have not had children and being 39, I am veering towards being someone whose ovaries have packed up. The initial “wow, you seem so much younger” is quickly replaced by an unvoiced “what’s wrong with you?”.
Of course, I may well be projecting all of this but it’s coming from somewhere, my conditioning, the pressures I feel around me, even some of my friends. As soon as someone knows my age they will undoubtedly ask in the next few moments “but don’t you want kids?” “when are you going to get married?” “you’d better get a wriggle on, times ticking!” like it’s not fucking 2017, bitch please.
When did it become ok to quiz me on this stuff? for all anyone knows I could have been trying for years and torn up about it. I could have just had a miscarriage. I could have any of the many hormonal problems that affect millions of women, causing infertility and chronic pain. I could have made the choice that the world is too fucked up right now to bring another life into. I could be prioritising my career (Though this one is blatantly not true). I may not have a maternal bone in my body. I could simply have decided that I like my life the way it is. All of the above, none of the above. None of anyone's business.
I’ve been a feminist ever since I understood what it meant and I would say that most women I know are too but I still feel a little judged because I have not yet fulfilled my traditional female role. In 2017, in the West, and by women. I find it surprising and I don’t think it’s ok or appropriate to casually ask a woman about her choices, and ask why not? Ask when?
I’ve always felt so unsure about my choices but I feel like there is so much pressure and judgement and ideas of “shoulds” coming from all angles that I find it difficult to reveal what my own desires are. It’s hard to know what’s left when all that is stripped away.
And I feel like if I do decide to take a different journey, will I ever hear the end of these questions, this judgement and pity, that I am pretty sure that a man in the same situation does not have to deal with.
That right there is some sexism, and that shit ain’t right.