Breeding, ownership, and stupid stupid questions


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.

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5 Comments

  1. Margie said,

    August 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Sometimes I think people might think I’m not interested in their lives because in most situations I assiduously avoid asking questions that have any scent of judgment or nosiness – maybe because I don’t like those kinds of questions myself.

  2. Yellow said,

    August 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    I’ve never gotten #1 or #2, except by other pregnant people, who either are, or perceive themselves to be in a similar situation as I have (or may have) once been. I’m really ok with that.

    #3 though? I have four children, two older teens, two younger. People don’t ask. They “know” that they don’t have the same dad. They usually assume more than 2 dads. Which is really neither here nor there, but I find it amusing when they are very very surprised that yes….all four kids have the same dad.

  3. Melissa said,

    August 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    LOL I’ve been asked the “same dads” question. Boy#1 (8yrs) has my last name, Boy#2 (6yrs) and Boy#3 (3mos) have Dh’s. The older boys look nothing alike, and Boy#3 is a hybrid. šŸ˜‰

    And, yes, they have the same Dad — we’ve been married 14yrs this fall. The spacing is more a result of fertility issues and OMGtheyretoocloselyspaced(!) than anything else. It actually makes me laugh when people ask. šŸ˜‰

  4. 'Vandyke Brown' said,

    August 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    No, raising a child alone is a punishment for making poor choices.

    Sadly that punishes the child too.

  5. Cohen said,

    September 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    How much you wanna bet that I’ll be regularly asked who my kid’s Dad is??
    “My kid doesn’t have a dad, they have a sperm donor.” probably won’t satisfy the curiosity of most folks.


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