As Charles and the rest of the world have announced by now, a royal fetus has taken up residence in a newly-minted royal womb! If all goes according to nature's plan, in about eight months, the Duchess of Cambridge will be squatting over a red carpet lined with trumpeters and pushing out an heir to the throne.
Congratulations to the happy couple on their very intentional pregnancy. But it also underscores how, in many rich and developing parts of the world alike, a woman's primary duty (and desire) is still assumed to be childbirth, regardless of her wishes or talents. Prince William marries a lady and after "oohing" over her dress for a day, all eyes dropped to her womb. We've been watching that thing like an egg timer for years now, just waiting for it to go off. I can't count the number of articles I've read about the speculative contents of her womb. It's a bit creepy.
Many women want children, and have children, at their own pace. But increasingly, that pace doesn't align with traditional societal or familial expectations, as little girls in western societies are encouraged to "be anything you want to be!" until our mid-20s, when the pressure to reproduce starts mounting.
When I graduated college, the first thing my grandmother said to me was, "Congratulations! Now you can settle down and have a baby!" I get some variation of that every time I go home for a visit, which is aggravating for women like me who ritualistically salt their wombs every morning, right after brushing their teeth.
Ain't nothing growing in that neck of my woods except the occasional UTI. I've given my grandmother permission to name my UTIs but that's all she's getting out of me for a few more years, at least.