So this is an ironic title: in the last two years I, indeed, have been a foetus factory. Even as I sit here writing, my production line is at its 5 month stage, preparing to launch Sheppard/ Demblans-Dechans 2.0 in time for the New Year sales. And like many women who have had children close together, I have experienced the raised eyebrow and shock, accompanied by, “again?” “already?” “Gosh, that was quick!”
The fact is, that some women are baby makers. Also a fact: biologically, some women are not. Also a fact: some women are, but choose not to be. Also a fact: some women benefit from medical science to beget babies. Also a fact: some women appear to have babies without having made them themselves – crazy, right – how does that work?
And this is the most profound fact of all: some men are baby makers. No! Yes. Were you listening in your biology lessons? Since the birth of Jesus at least, there have been absolutely zero cases of a woman making a baby without some sort of equal contribution from a man. A lonely little egg, waiting patiently in a uterus or a petri dish, unfortunately, does not a baby make. Now read the previous paragraph, but replace the word ‘woman’ with ‘man’. Enlightening, hey?
Now this seems to be the essential misconception that leads to all sorts of things like the gender pay gap; unequal representation of women in leadership roles; unequal parenting and domestic responsibilities – society seems to forget that men, too, are baby makers. They therefore lose out on a lot of the benefits that are so helpful to women when they become parents, or the support and empathy that surrounds them if they would like to become parents, but are not necessarily able to do so.
Where they gain, however, is in those equally mythical spheres of masculinity: they earn higher salaries, they get promotions, they avoid parent-related discrimination (in fact, their reputations improve from becoming fathers), their bodies don’t take as much of the hit.
But in the 21st century, when we don’t actually have to kill mammoths to survive, and women – shocking – are on an intellectual footing with men, is this really what fathers want? Or, if society took the time to ask them, would they actually quite enjoy being considered ‘baby makers’ as well?