REPRODUCTIVE MICROAGGRESSIONS- A stab in the heart
The heteronormative lifestyle – man and woman get married, get pregnant, and raise a family. For the majority, this is the ideal life. For others, like those with infertility this path is not ideal or easily obtained. Yet, this group tends to be shamed, stigmatized, and blamed for not following this ideal lifestyle. That is the curse of the majority representation on people who do not fit the norm. By default, the majority representation denies space for atypical reproductive methods or family structures. Such marginalization and oppression are not intentional, but they are not less harmful or destructive to those of us in the fringes.
Living in a hetero-dominant society, where marriage and procreation are highly valued, leaves the rest of us in the dark. We are the invisible group of people who are not reproducing in the typical manner. Instead we are the warriors fighting to have a baby, fighting for equitable medical treatment and access to care, and facing reproductive microaggressions.
“Just try harder.”
“What are you doing wrong?”
“Where are the grandkids?”
These are examples of reproductive microaggressions perpetrated in the heteronormative society we live in. Most of us with infertility have heard these statements before and have felt the stab in the heart that they create. Not only do we have to suffer from multiple failed attempts to get pregnant, we also must endure such microaggressions. Microaggressions are “brief, commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults to the target person or group” (Sue et al., 2007, p. 273). Reproductive ones communicate that not being able to conceive is a personal fault or inadequacy, and a disappointment. Somehow you are not like the rest of us, who can easily get pregnant.
However, suffering from a medical condition, like infertility, is not one’s fault. Not getting pregnant is not a sign of inadequacy or abnormality. It is a sign that the reproductive system needs medical treatment to procreate. Stop shaming us for something out of our control and listen to our pain. Hear our silent cries for help emanating from the core of our being. We are people struggling to achieve the normative dream to procreate and raise a family. Support us by saying, “how can I be supportive?”, “tell me more about what living with infertility is like for you”, “I admire you for preserving”. Provide space for the pain and walk along us on our infertility journey. That is what we want and need.