Biological clock and women: When a relative of mine turned twenty-nine a couple of years ago, she was pressed by elderly women in our family to settle down quickly. “The clock is ticking, if you don’t get married soon, you’ll have difficulty having an issue (a term used to describe conception of a baby).” It was befuddling, for women of our generation, to see our relative get pressed to get married, simply because baad mein dikkat hogi. What was she supposed to do? Marry the first person her parents introduced her to the next morning? Convince her husband to have unprotected sex soon after their wedding so that she could beat that damn biological clock? Would these aunties have given the same advice to our male relatives in the same age group?
I’ll answer that for you – they wouldn’t, they didn’t. I have unmarried male relatives on the brink of turning 30 and while their parents are not pleased with the situation, no one is pushing them against the wall and using their biology as a threat to force a “yes” out of them. Reason? Wo to ladka hai, uski late shadi hui to chalta hai. Haven’t we all experienced this? The minute a woman turns 25 in our society, it is as if a siren begins to emanate from her body, warning her parents and relatives of ill-consequences, if she is not married off quickly. She is then harassed at every family gathering afterwards about when she is giving the good news.
While we are okay with a man embracing parenthood even in his 40s and 50s, women are constantly told to speed up, because age is not on their side. So many women who have embraced motherhood in their 30s and above that- actors Neha Dhupia, Kareena Kapoor and Dia Mirza from the top of my mind. Numerous women have proved time and again that age is lesser of a factor to worry about when it comes to conception – it is will power that matters more.
Besides, natural conception isn’t the only way a woman can become a mom. We are blessed to live in times when we have options like surrogacy, IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and can also choose to adopt a child. Why, then should the sword of the biological clock continue to hang over women’s heads? Why can’t we encourage women to focus on their careers, living their life as single or married women to the fullest or pursuing higher education instead?
There is more to ageing than gradually losing the capability to bear a child naturally. Sadly, society finds sly ways to discriminate against women on those parameters too. A man with salt and pepper hair is sexy, but how many times do we say that for a woman too? While wrinkles make a man look more distinguished, we have magazines offering tips to women on “How to age gracefully” or “How to look younger than your actual age”. Hide those greys with hair colour, use a ten-step skincare routine to crease out wrinkles and dark spots, follow a strict diet and exercise regime to tighten that flabby tummy. Agreed that with changing times, vanity has found a way to bother men as well, but the burden still largely lies on women.
Society needs to stop making women feel that their biology somehow makes them inferior to men. Shouldn’t our life be about living it to the fullest, rather than simply ticking off things from the list of validation that society forces us to live by?
Views expressed are the author’s own.