FYI: Childless Women Aren’t Villains by M Crum
Belle Boggs, author of ‘The Art of Waiting,’ talks fertility treatments, and the problem with how childless women are portrayed in literature.
…The Art of Waiting explores negative portrayals of childless women and families in popular culture (as sinister, resentful). It manages also to delve deeply into the scientific and political processes of IVF, a treatment that’s much more accessible to some communities than it is to others. Boggs gracefully touches on her own brush with infertility, and by sharing stories of those in her support group, she shows that the experience of yearning for children is multifaceted, not so easily whittled down to a harsh stereotype.
…What was one of the biggest myths you encountered while writing this book, and while undergoing IVF yourself?
I think there are so many myths and preconceptions and stereotypes that inform all of our thinking, whether we are experiencing infertility or planning to get pregnant, or planning a family in some other way, that it’s hard to just choose one.
I suppose the biggest myth would be the stereotype of the infertility patient. I was familiar with that stereotype from the media, from literature, from being a person in the world. Infertility is so often described as a woman’s problem, and typically an older, privileged woman’s problem. Women who put off having children until it was too late. And that’s really not the case. It’s just as likely to be a male problem as it a female problem. It’s also more likely to affect women with lower levels of education, it’s more likely to affect poorer women and men. That was something I thought about a lot as I researched this book.
…What did you learn about the psychological impact of infertility on men? It’s not discussed as often as what the experience is like for women.
You’re right, it isn’t discussed as much. And to be honest with you, there were not as many men at the support group that I attended, as there were women. I haven’t spent as much time talking to men of reproductive age about [it].
And yet, it is something that does affect men, that affected my husband.
One of the people I talked to in the book is Lois Lynch, who is not an infertile person, but a man who is in his 80s now who was sterilized by the state of North Carolina as part of the eugenics program.
Mr. Lynch was incredibly brave and incredibly open about what his inability to have children meant to him and his wife, and continued to mean to him into his 80s, the grandchildren he didn’t have to spend time with, to help him with things, to go and hear him play music at the VFW.
I don’t mean to compare my situation at all with Mr. Lynch’s situation. This is not a biological fact of his life, this is a crime that was committed against his body when he was a child. But I think I learned more from him ― not only his sorrow, but also the strength that he had, and the growth that he experienced in other areas of his life. He’s very close to his nephew. He’s very involved with music. He experienced post-traumatic growth after coming to terms with what had happened to him.