Today I was offensive.
I didn’t insult, or name-call. I didn’t criticise. I simply recounted my lived experience of being a woman in 2017. Which was soon “corrected”.
A man, who has never been a woman and who has certainly never lived my life, felt the need to mansplain my dating experiences to me. According to him, the problem isn’t my psychologically abusive exes. The problem, according to the mansplainer, is that I will change my mind when I have a child.
To be fair, it’s not unusual that I’m told by men that my opinions are wrong. And it’s not unusual that I’m told that when I have a baby I’ll feel differently about everything. But here’s the thing – I can’t have a baby. I am biologically no longer capable of pregnancy. So to tell me that I will be prepared to settle for psychological abuse if I were a mother is not only a ridiculous concept, but also scientifically impossible.
None of the above is new or unexpected; women are told daily that they are human incubators. But here’s what surprised me: the fact that I had talked about my child-free, single life had not only offended the man who felt the need to explain my life in terms of my childless uterus. Oh no, his female friends felt offended ON HIS BEHALF…
I think it’s important that I’m clear about this: I said nothing insulting. I didn’t tell him he was wrong. I didn’t criticise his life. I didn’t swear. I didn’t judge. I didn’t name-call. I simply expressed my life experience of being a single woman in polite terms. And then some of our mutual, female friends expressed their belief that he was offended. To re-iterate – they were offended on his behalf that I had dared to criticise my abusive, male ex-partners.
Half of me wants to fight back and defend my right to have an opinion, “even” as a childless, single, female. The other half of me thinks that we’ve been fighting this fight for thousands of years and I’m too tired to pander to male egos.
Whichever is right, if you are a single and / or childless woman who finds that her experience is invalidated, belittled, silenced, patronised, or just ignored: I hear you. I will listen. I want you to tell your story and I will never shut you down just in case you offend a man’s ego. Tell it all. Tell it how it is. Tell it now.