Freelance writer Emily Bingham’s Facebook rant begging everyone to stop asking other people about their reproductive plans has sparked a fire online.
Bingham, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, posted an ultrasound image she found on the Internet, and then, after catching everyone’s attention, she wrote: “This is just a friendly P.S.A. that people’s reproductive and procreative plans and decisions are none of your business.”
“Whether you are a wannabe grandparent or a well-intentioned friend or family member or a nosy neighbor, it's absolutely none of your business,” she wrote in the Sept. 20th post.
She later commented that the post was inspired by her friend who had to “go through a stressful and heart-wrenching year of fertility treatments before conceiving her son, only to begin fielding, ‘When’s baby No. 2 coming?!’ questions within a month of his birth.’”
The online community appeared to agree with her take. The post had been shared nearly 40,000 times as of Sunday, and drew supportive comments.
“Amen!” one woman wrote, while another added: “A hundred times yes.”
The intensity of the response was gratifying.
“I felt really validated and I felt really glad it was seen by such a large audience,” Bingham said in an interview with ABC News. “I don’t want to shame anyone. I would like more people to pause before they consider if what they say would have unintended consequences.”
Bingham said she has received messages from “strangers from all over the world” from people who are sharing “really personal stories about all this,” she added.
Bingham said she wrote the post to raise others’ awareness and sensitivity.
“My goal was to kind of make people aware of how many different experiences people might be having and step back and let them decide if they want to share for themselves if they want to have kids,” she said, adding that she herself has inquired a little too much.
“I have been there. I have been the person who has pried a little too hard with a friend because they got married and I assumed that baby would be the next step only to find out they weren’t planning on children at all,” she said.
The topic is also personal for her. At 33, Bingham is sick of being asked when she is going to have a baby.
“People expect me to be a mom already and when they find out that I have never been married and I don’t have children then they the next question is ‘Well, do you want to?,'" Bingham said. "And it is either insinuated or explicitly said that the clock is ticking” … It is not something that is anybody’s business.”
Instead of asking questions about when someone will be having children, Bingham suggested that people rethink their question and ask, instead, about what the person is excited for in the immediate future, or what the person is currently working on.
These kinds of questions open the door for people to open up if they want and it shows that the questioner is interested in the person’s life, not just about whether or not they’re having a baby, she said.
“Even if it feels like it’s not a big deal for you it might be a really big deal to the person you are asking,” Bingham said, adding that it’s important that people consider the “spectrum of experiences.”
“People could feel hurt or frustrated or pained in response to an assumingly innocent question from a parent, friend, or neighbor. It could be that someone is infertile and unable to conceive or someone might be going through a separation with a spouse or partner. Someone might have decided they don’t want children at all ...,” Bingham said. “There is not just one story. A lot of people can relate to having others pry into their lives.”