Women of my generation grew up under the shadow of radical feminism. Gender is a social construct, high-profile feminists taught us. “Biology is not destiny!”, was the banner under which we were told to march.
In other words, differences between men and women are entirely made up. We don’t have to bow to the oppressive expectations of a patriarchal society. We can redefine ourselves. We can recreate reality.
Women followed the path recommended by the feminist leadership: they attended college, got advanced degrees, and postponed marriage and family until after they were well established in their careers. There is plenty of time for children, they were reassured.
Slowly, women who once felt liberated by such rhetoric began to feel betrayed. Believing the lie of feminism, they learned through much pain, that certain differences between men and women are a biological fact, not a social construct. And the consequences of ignoring this reality have brought suffering to the lives of women.
At age 39, Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha Stewart decided that the time was right at last to have a child. Sadly, her body disagreed, and she was unable to conceive. Alexis was shocked to discover the biological truth: by age 30 a woman’s fertility decreases by 7 percent; by age 45 it declines by 87 percent.
She is downright angry when she discusses the ways in which women have been hoodwinked. Magazines herald celebrities giving birth to their firstborn in their forties or beyond. No one tells you what her gynecologist told her about those celebrities—those aren’t their eggs.
She was dismayed to discover how rare it is for a woman to conceive naturally in her forties. Even those who can afford fertility treatments are often turned away because of their age. At forty, you are too old, the clinic insists.
Alexis Stewart’s story has a somewhat happy ending. After painful and expensive (she was paying $27,000 a month) fertility treatments, she did conceive and have a child. Sadly, there will not be more children in Alexis’ future and she feels that loss. She’s made it her mission to get the word out to women that they cannot wait to have children. The clock is ticking. It’s surprising that something so obvious needs to be taught.
Rebecca Walker, the daughter of radical (Rebecca says “rabid”) feminist Alice Walker, tells an even more heartbreaking story. In addition to being instructed on the wisdom of waiting to have children, Rebecca was further taught by her own mother that motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.
She writes, “My mother’s feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn’t even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.”
But Rebecca sought out marriage and motherhood anyway, and at age 34 gave birth to a child. To her surprise she discovered that motherhood can make a woman blissfully happy and that children are a blessing.
Sadly, after trying to conceive again, at age 38, she is unable. As much as having a child has enriched her life, she regrets that she discovered this joy so late in life. She should have had children when she was younger.
And what is Rebecca’s reward for exposing this harmful lie? Her mother will not speak to her, nor will she acknowledge her own grandchild. Rebecca has betrayed the movement and she is paying the price.
Ideas truly do have consequences, and sometimes bad ideas are irreversible. Once the window of fertility closes, it closes forever. There are no second chances. I applaud the women who speak this truth.