Back in more innocent times, when feminism was thought of mostly as a means to level the playing field, increasing the available options for women was part of the proposed deal, and all things considered, it wasn't a bad deal: some opportunities were not open to women as a matter of course, but, assuming equal ability, there was no good reason for them to remain so. It's all about the choices one makes, and the consequences of those choices.

God help you, however, should you actually wish to exercise an option of which the Teeming Milieu does not approve, as Holly Brockwell found out:

By the time you read this, I will be just waking up — still a little groggy and sore, but euphoric. Because for the first time in my life, today I know for certain that I will never have children.

That might seem like a strange thing to be excited about. For many people, it would be devastating news. But for me, it's everything I've been fighting for over the last four years.

I've been patronised, ignored, harassed, judged and demonised, but I've never wavered in my determination to be sterilised.

Brockwell, thirty, has been trying to persuade Britain's National Health Service to tie her tubes, to the dismay of much of the British public:

"You'll change your mind one day ... Your biological clock will kick in and you'll regret it ... You'll meet the man of your dreams and want to have his babies..." And those were just some of the kinder responses.

When I didn't bow to their idea of my life, the commentary got nastier. "You're selfish," I was told. "You're naive ... You'll die alone ... What's the point of you, then? How can you deny your parents the grandchildren that you owe them? How can you be so ungrateful that they had you?"

I should point out here that I have six grandchildren, but I consider that none of them were "owed" me: my two children are proper grown-up adults and are capable of making their own decisions without having to concern themselves with my reaction.

Of course, neither of them have to deal with the NHS, an institution which creates issues of its own:

Doing something permanent means I won't waste any more NHS time or money with prescriptions or dealing with side effects.

Another line of attack has been the claim that, in asking for an NHS operation, I'm somehow stealing from more deserving people: "It's a lifestyle choice, not a medical emergency," people say.

But having a baby on the NHS costs a great deal more, and that's a lifestyle choice, too. I even had an NHS employee sending messages claiming that I am "wasting precious resources." She went on to say something far more disgusting about me. I reported her to her employers, who were quite rightly horrified.

I do know from prescriptions and side effects. The mother of my children was always made horribly ill by the Pill; the solution was, yes, something surgical and permanent. The difference: I had the surgery. I was no older than Holly Brockwell; but we'd already had a child, with a second on the way, so no references to biological clocks and such were made, and for some reason, nobody seems overly concerned if a man makes this kind of commitment.

Things could have been worse, I suppose. Holly's cause might have been taken up by the so-called "pro-choice" folks, who have managed to convert the English word "choice" into a synonym for the clinical word "abortion" and have somehow gotten away with it. Since Holly will never be pregnant, she'll never generate any revenue for abortion providers, who, in the States anyway, are constantly hanging around Washington, hat in hand, demanding dollars.

On a less bloody, if no more subtle, level, there's the alt-right idea that the continued existence of Western Civilization depends on proper light-skinned women like Holly outbreeding the marauding wogs from [insert name of place or ethnicity currently scorned]. I don't even want to imagine the sort of woman who finds this motivation at all motivational.

So for now, things are right with the world. I admit to an occasional bit of speculation: what might a daughter of Holly Brockwell have been like? And I really don't have anything to go on: "beautiful" is perhaps heritable to some extent, "smart" and "funny" maybe not so much, but none of them exactly unique, if you know what I mean.

The Vent

  16 May 2016

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