Be honest: have you ever found yourself asking a question whose answer you knew was absolutely none of your business? Of course you have. We’ve all done it. And because we’ve all done it (yes, me too), I can hardly get upset with people who do it to me. I know that no matter what I’m asked, the choice to respond (and what to say) is mine, so the actual questions now just roll off my back. I do wonder about the motivations behind the questions, though. The ones that stand out for me are almost all connected to sex and breeding (as opposed to my other well-known hobbies of gardening and chess).*
1) Was your pregnancy planned?
I was asked this several times during both pregnancies. I wonder about the purpose of this question. Is it that shared fear of contraceptive failure? The disbelief that I could choose to have babies at the times that I was pregnant? For the record, no, I have never had a planned pregnancy. I would wager that most egg-having folk who have sex with sperm-having folk have gotten knocked up unintentionally at least once over the course of their sexually active lives. It’s just how it goes for mammalian types: even those of us who try really really hard to make sure it doesn’t happen, sometimes nature wins.
2) Were you using anything to prevent pregnancy?
Does prayer count? Seriously, though, this question is entirely related to people deciding whether someone’s “predicament” is worthy of pity and empathy, or derision and judgement. If you do it right and still get pregnant, that’s a terrible thing, but you’re not in any way at fault. If you get pregnant because you were too lazy/ignorant/caught up in the moment/stupid to use contraception at all, you deserve what you get. Because pregnancy is a punishment for making poor choices, you know.
3) Do your kids have the same dad?
This is my FAVOURITE one, because it’s the one that’s code for “Are you a whore?” We need to know who owns the children, and our culture has been set up in a way that we identify child parentage by patrilineal lines. This has never made any sense to me, because it not only posits that the children come from X man, but that the woman involved in the equation is by necessity somewhat possessed by X man as well. It is entirely possible that a given man could have a child in the world he doesn’t know about. The odds of a ciswoman having that same experience, in the absence of memory loss, is pretty much impossible.
(though I admit I do joke about it – “Do you just have the two kids?” “That I know of.” “…”)
All three of these questions essentially ask the same thing: Are you following our culture’s rules around repopulation, or are you transgressing, shifting, bending, breaking, remaking?
*Not really. Everything I plant dies a horrible death (I appear to be much better with fauna), and I just can’t keep the rules of chess in my head. I am not a strategist. Really – you’d cry tears of winning joy if we played Scrabble together.