A best-selling author has announced fourteen is a great age to get pregnant, and society is letting men dictate when women make babies.
Hilary Mantel, a celebrated British author who won the coveted Man Booker Prize, is childless – the result of an illness in her twenties that left her unable to have children. But the Sydney Morning Herald reported this weekend that Mantel says she was perfectly ready to take on motherhood at fourteen.
”Having sex and having babies is what young women are about, and their instincts are suppressed in the interests of society’s timetable,” Mantel is quoted as saying.
After just last week debating whether teen pregnancy has been given star status with MTV’s attempt to expose its realities, Mantel’s comments are proof that even adults can be caught up in the romanticism of “having a baby.”
She references her own ability at fourteen to “set up house,” but there’s a marked difference between the knowledge of what it takes to do the laundry and the grocery shopping and the fiscal ability to back it up. This isn’t some mysoginistic method to hold women back from meeting their emotional goals.
It’s reality. At fourteen you can’t get a job that will pay you enough money to support a child. Period. You can’t “set up house” without the fiscal means to set one up.
This is setting aside the fact that most girls aren’t as mature as Mantel insists she was at fourteen. One viewing of 16 and Pregnant will show you that – in the last episode few episodes, the girls couldn’t even stomach burping their own kids, not to mention their solid belief that they should still be allowed to go out each night while their babies stayed at home with grandma. Mantel may have been old for her years. Most kids aren’t.
Nor should they have to be. Pushing pregnancy on girls to fight the male timeline does nothing more than push women back out of the workplace, back out of colleges and back into the kitchen. If we have to risk our daughters hitting their twenties and facing infertility, for the sake of female kind, I think it’s a risk I’m willing to take over putting my daughter back into the fifties.
Hilary Mantel might wish in hindsight that she was barefoot and pregnant, but I wouldn’t wish that on my daughter. Would you?
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