Does The Worth of a Woman Only Lie In Her Womb?

It's time we destroy outdated ignorance.

Stop telling women they have no say in their households unless they have children.

An interesting (and heartbreaking) conversation with my mother and her helper led this author to write her thoughts out on the topic. The topic in question is how Pakistani society determines the alleged worth of a woman by her ability to have kids as soon as possible, after her marriage. This is a cruel idea that has been in place for decades, where women are told that they are worthless or can have no place in the decision making of a household until they bless their in-laws with a child, better yet, a son.

My mother’s helper recently married off her only daughter; it was later discovered that her daughter would be unable to have a child due to an ovarian cyst that would have to be operated immediately. The behavior of her in-laws instantly changed when this information was revealed to them, she was being made to do all the housework, while the other women of the house ordered her about, she was excluded from important family decisions simply because she could not have a child until the tumor was removed.

This behavior isn’t only typical of uneducated families; such mindsets exist even in the most privileged of households; childless women are treated with contempt, all the other women hide the news of their pregnancies just to avoid the nazar that these women could potentially cast their way, they are constantly made to listen to the advice of those who view them piteously. As if all that a woman is, is her womb, all her dreams, ambitions and thoughts reduced to her ovaries.

“You don’t get it.” The helper said, sighing. “A woman is weak and powerless unless she gives birth.”

But I do get it. Women aren’t weak, we’ve made them think as if things will spiral out of their control unless they provide the family with an heir, as if her worth will be measured against these false, cruel standards that should have died with the death of monarchic rule; this tradition of being worthless unless you bless the Crown with a male heir. Stop telling your daughters and sisters that the world will end, that doors will be closed on them if they do not give birth, stop victimizing them and weakening their spirit.

Childbirth doesn’t determine anything. Your womb and what you produce from it is not your identity. Stop enforcing ideas that hurt people, that reduce them into a shell of what they are supposed to be. It’s high time we get rid of outdated ideas that have no logic to them, ideas that make women think they are weak, ideas that tell women to shush up simply because they’re not mothers.

Don’t tell your daughter to be quiet. These are the times when you should tell her to speak up, to be brave, to follow her dreams. It’s the least you could do after putting her through endless childhood, mental trauma.

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