Anti-Testosterone Thursday... Why Are Infertiles Easy Social Pickins?
Society is becoming more politically correct every day. As society evolves, fewer and fewer groups are marginalized by society. Years ago, you were either a rich white Christian male or a second (or third, or fourth, or etc.) class citizen. As society has progressed, we have become more encompassing of other groups based on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. While I do not even begin to propose that society has advanced to a point of enlightenment towards each of the aforementioned categories, being an infertile, sadly, is not one of them.
Beck has spoken many times on the things people say to an infertile that mean well, but still come up feeling hollow, callous, and/or cruel. We have all heard the “it will happen when it's supposed to” or the ever popular “relax, it'll happen.” In honor of what Beck has called Testosterone, let me tell you about the most emasculating and hurtful comment I have ever had directed at me as an infertile.
In my former job, It was typical to unwind with some beverages on Fridays with those I taught with. Most of my former colleagues are Facebook friends of mine so they have seen this blog and knew about our struggles with infertility. Personally, I am not shy about talking about our struggle but I don't seek to engage someone on the topic out of the blue. A colleague (and friend) of mien was asking about our current round of treatments and was just generally curious about how the process works. These are the conversation I wish I could have with everyone so that I can educate others and not get another “relax” comment. Another colleague, who is not a Facebook friend, obviously, heard me discuss what IUI was and asked why we were undergoing that procedure. After explaining the science of it, he quipped that, “Are you sure it's because you don't have the size to hit the hole?” (I hope no one reading this is so ignorant to know that size has nothing to do with infertility, so NEVER conflate the two.)
As a man dealing with infertility in a society where the stereotypical image of a 20 to 30 something heterosexual man involves being powerful and virile, that hit me like a ton of bricks. This particular individual is the type that probably knows he struck me and just doesn't care. Beck has talked about what it is like to be a woman living with this, but this event probably best puts into focus what it means to me.
At my current job at another small school, one colleague just gave birth and one is due very soon. It's baby this and baby that at the lunch table. Like I said earlier, I just sit quietly and don't engage. I don't feel resentment towards the fertiles; it just brings it contrast that which I do not have. I do not feel like anyone I work with would be so brazen as to say anything like that; however, it is always in the back of my mind when I am discussing infertility with someone new.
Society has advanced for multiple groups. It is less acceptable now more than ever to make light of all those categories I mentioned earlier. However, it seems that infertiles are still not only the receiver of ridiculous platitudes, but also the butt of needlessly hurtful jokes. While one of my true friends in the group let me know embarrassed he was that this colleague has said what he did, the rest of the group just said nothing nor really acknowledged it happened. Please, not only tell your story if you are going through what Beck and I are, but fight this stupidity as well.