On the heels of this week's buzzy little blog-storm about older fathers being linked with autism and schizophrenia (short version: older fathers have been linked with autism and schizophrenia), Ann Friedman at NY Mag breaks down why we care so much. The reason, she says, is women's deep, latent, kinda passive-aggressive yearning for a male biological clock:
We've long wanted to share not just the parenting burden with a partner, but also our fertility anxieties. And here's some solid science that shows we're not alone. Or rather, that we shouldn't be alone. We resent being asked by older relatives and well-meaning coworkers if we're planning for kids yet, while our brothers and uncles and boyfriends are blissfully unquestioned. Rather than come right out say, "the way we talk about age and gender is fucked up"—because then we'd be not just dried-up, but dried-up and bitter—we express our annoyance and anxiety by recirculating the same handful of studies about sperm that's passed its expiration date.
I love this. It speaks directly to the false dichotomy so often used to derail feminist arguments: the idea that justice is somehow binary, that being pro-woman automatically means being anti-man. So many people (dumb people or shitty people) have convinced themselves that the goal of "feminism" is to position women ahead of men—letting women "have it all" so that men have nothing. But that's not what it is at all. (I mean ugh, who wants responsibility for EVERYTHING!? I can't even make it down to the basement to do laundry so I've been using a small collection of kitchen towels to shower with. I can't imagine also taking on all other things.)
Feminism is about this. It's about sharing burdens. It's "Dear partner, Please help me carry some of this anxiety, because it's heavy and you love me." Or it's "Dear society, Please take some of this anxiety off of me, because you guys are being dicks and I'm tired." This should be obvious to anyone who is not a deliberate, cynical troll, but gender equality is the point—not female supremacy. (Again, SO TIRED. Please don't make me reign supreme from atop Tampon Mountain too.)
I'm not sure how many studies it'll take until men in their 30s are fielding questions about whether they're freezing their sperm, or until they're casually deflecting questions about their plans to have children. But I am pretty sure that time is coming. So goodnight, you princes of the Mission, you Peter Pans of Greenpoint. Until then, sleep well.
We don't want "it all"—we just want less of some stuff (like degradation and domestic responsibility) and more of other stuff (like autonomy and opportunity). We just want HALF. Half seems reasonable, doesn't it?
Photo credit: zittto / Stockfresh.