The other day on Twitter I got into a row with a woman who I had been following for years. The crux of it was I disagreed with a tweet one of her mates posted which said something like “why do men who put never married or had kids on their dating profile see it as a badge of honour when it just shows you cant commit”
I put forward that marriage and kids does not equate commitment and a few other people commented in this way too. Apparently the tweet was a “joke” but honestly where is the joke? I can’t stand that kind of judgement on anyone who has not quite lived up to the social conventions we apparently need to follow. Joke it may have been but there is a serious load of bullshit behind it all. I engaged with this tweet in a reasonable way saying I wish we wouldn’t judge people like this as I am an unmarried and child-free woman and yet I have had serious commitments in my life and that perhaps people putting it on their profile isn’t about a badge of honour but about wanting to find similar people who may find that important. Also, why can’t it be a badge of honour?
But aside from that tweet which I wasn’t offended by (just disagreed and wanted to add in my view) what followed was offensive.
This woman proceeded to tell me that I must be deeply unhappy as a person (from my three quite measured tweets!) and that this must have touched a raw nerve with me and that she hopes I find some kind of happiness in my life. What the actual fuck? I was told I should have scrolled on by if I didn’t like it and that I obviously have a very sad life to be seeking out offence. But also in the same way her mate could have just shut the fuck up about what people write on their dating profiles right? Why is SHE so bothered? Oh sorry yea it was a joke, ha ha ha ha dead funny like…..comedy gold.
Remarkably this is a woman who tweets daily on twitter that she is having a pretty tough life to which I always felt empathy for if I am honest. What is it that makes people feel they can psychoanalyse others’ on the internet – what is it that your only defence to a disagreeing tweet is to try to create a narrative about the life of that person? What made me feel sad about the whole thing was that at no point was my tweet directed at anybody, it was pretty standard twitter commentary, but then to have someone try to say you’re sad and angry just for having an opinion is the worst kind of gaslighting. Women doing it to other woman too is pretty gross in my mind – us women are always being analysed; told we are too much, too happy, too sad, too angry. The whole exchange made me feel totally shit if I am honest as this was someone I actually liked and thought was okay.
Then I started to question – am I okay? I couldn’t sleep, I was radiating with anger – how dare a fucking stranger try to patronise me for no reason. The fact another woman couldn’t see what I was trying to say as in these things you are laughing about have a real life impact on people like me. When I sensibly told her that she said that I shouldn’t sob about being judged as she is a disabled single mum – ahhhhh it is judgement top trumps is it! Then I realised that everything she was saying was more a projection of perhaps her life choices and that there is probably resentment there. Not my fault it looks like she made some shit choices (she moans enough about) and I honestly don’t ever look for empathy from strangers, but I also don’t deserve aggro.
After a few hours of gnashing my teeth I realised that my life choices are 100 percent what I am happy with. Society might paint me as slightly odd as I didn’t have kids (SIGH) but I want people to really understand that I do not regret not having kids one little bit! I know people often don’t believe that and think I must be crying into my pillow every night about it but honestly no. Not everyone is maternal/paternal and that is totally okay. I had a phase for a few years around age 35/36 where I did have a little hankering and I could have had a kid then if I wanted. I also could have had a kid with someone this last four years but I decided to get the IUD fitted so that I had no accidents! No regrets at all.
Now the marriage thing – I am not sure where I stand on it. It seems a load of bollox in some ways and most people around me who got married also got divorced too. I have this thought that I will get married one day but maybe in my sixties, less chance of divorce, unless they are a complete murderer – have you ever seen “The Devil I Married”?! My friends gran got married in her eighties…
Marriage is not off the menu for me, just I am not that arsed about it and I never dreamt about being a bride – I was a tomboy who wanted to be a stunt double when I grew up.
So as I lay there ruminating it all I realised I am pretty damn content in my choices and yes maybe a raw nerve was touched because frankly I am just sick of feeling like a failure or that I lack commitment because I didn’t do certain things – it weighs heavy sometimes. All of the times I am told “don’t worry you will find someone” or “don’t worry you are still young at 44, Halle Berry didn’t have her kids until she was in her late forties” or the worst when people nod sympathetically at you with worry in their eyes when you say you don’t have or want kids! They sometimes just can’t compute it.
Luckily for me, I have loads of friends around me who are the same as me – a bunch of hot, sexy, clever, happy, free women who have made big commitments like owning property, doing PhDs, founding businesses and charities, some have lovers that come and go or long term partners, but most of all they seem to be certain about their choice and they enjoy every single minute of this life!