Rather than offering women ‘fertility seminars’, we should talk about the real barriers to parenthood for many young people
Female students at the single-sex Cambridge college Murray Edwards are to be given fertility seminars, because they “risk childlessness” if they leave motherhood “too late”. It’s irksome news – the seminars are only the latest example of the myth that women somehow need “reminding” our ability to procreate won’t last for ever, as though a baby were something we had simply lost down the back of the sofa.
This idea that women might “forget” to have a baby is perpetuated in modern culture. My generation spent much of their teenage years being told not to get pregnant lest it “ruin your life”. In our 20s, that changed almost overnight and we were told not to leave it too late, lest it (again) “ruin your life”. When women enter their 30s and 40s, they face a maelstrom of misogynist peer pressure, from “when are you going to have a second child” to “is it not unfair to have a baby in your 40s?”, not to mention the classic levied at the child-free: “but who will care for you when you’re old?”
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a Guardian columnist