T.Swift doesn’t want to talk about her future hypothetical children, and frankly, we’re here for it.
The “Me” singer just politely declined to answer whether or not she wanted to start a family, telling German outlet RTL, “I really do not think men are asked that question when they turn 30. So I’m not going to answer that now.”
Excuse us while we applaud. In case anyone needs a reminder, it’s incredibly inappropriate to ask a woman when she’s going to get pregnant, for all sorts of reasons. What if she just doesn’t want kids? What if she can’t have kids? And most importantly, what if it’s just not anyone’s dang business?
It’s 2019 and, as Swift so deftly pointed out, this line of questioning should be irrelevant. *Men* are very rarely asked when they’re going to have children or what’s it’s like to be a working dad. And if it’s a question that wouldn’t be posed to a man in the same scenario, consider it inconsequential.
But this question doesn’t only highlight society’s innate sexism, it also whiffs of racism. Are media outlets repeatedly asking these same questions of women of colour? We obviously don’t want to put an undue burden on WOC, but the fact that white women get asked this question so much more often than they do seems to indicate that motherhood is seen as an important part of only white womanhood.
And that’s why we’re applauding this tactic by the soon-to-be 30-year-old. Because, sadly, her fellow celebs haven’t always felt like they could truly speak their mind. Jennifer Aniston has had to answer this question ad nauseam through out her career (even still!), and often had a hard time saying outright whether or not she wanted children, something that likely has a lot to do with old-fashioned social norms. As recent as this past winter, the Friends star told Elle, “Who knows what the future holds in terms of a child and a partnership—how that child comes in or doesn’t? And now with the science and miracles, we can do things at different times than we used to be able to.” But why should she have to answer this question at all?
Okay, we do know why. Americans, and to a lesser degree Canadians, can be practically evangelical about women bearing children (see: the abortion debate, both south of the border and closer to home). And it’s not all anti-woman rhetoric; even super progressive North Americans have internalized the idea that a woman’s ultimate achievement is getting married and having kids—as a mother of one who was unsure about having kids when I was younger, I still have to stop myself from going down this rabbit hole when talking to a group of girlfriends who all adamantly Do. Not. Want. Children. (Of course, we are also judged if we have kids “too young” or have “too many kids.” We really can’t win.)
But maybe things are changing. Helen Mirren, Betty White, Aisha Tyler, Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Handler and Tracee Ellis Ross have all talked about their lack of desire for children. And Margot Robbie recently contended with the procreation question during the press tour for Mary Queen of Scots, and she had a similar outlook to Swift. “I got married and the first question in almost every interview is ‘Babies? When are you having one?’” Robbie told Radio Times in January 2019. “I’m so angry that there’s this social contract. You’re married, now have a baby. Don’t presume. I’ll do what I’m going to do.”
But something about Swift’s rebuttal feels particularly of the moment. Maybe it’s that she is currently seen as America’s sweetheart, a role that comes with certain strict expectations—i.e. she is under pressure to seem virginal, but also sexy, have a sweet-as-pie demeanour, and (of course) stick to hetero relationships. And when America’s Sweetheart so succinctly puts a reporter in their place on this topic *and* it goes viral, it’s not just a rejection of sexist ideals, it’s (hopefully) a sign that things are changing.
This isn’t the first time Swift has flexed her political power. Though she has avoided talking about politics for most of her career, in October 2018, the pop star posted her first politically-tinged pic, an Instagram post about voting that, according to Buzzfeed, actually caused a spike in voter registration in the U.S.—to the tune of over 600,000 people. And she’s owning it, recently telling Elle, “I definitely think there are political undertones in the new music I made… I’m not planning to stop encouraging young people to vote and to try to get them to talk about what’s going on in our country. I think that’s one of the most important things I could do.” It’s clear that someone of her stature can make a difference.
But in the meantime, she can go on living her life, traveling through Europe with her beau Joe Alwyn, promoting her soon-to-come album, minding her own business and her own womb.
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