10. “You can always adopt/use the services of a surrogate.”
This isn’t inherently bad to say, but it also shouldn’t be the first thing out of your mouth when you hear someone has had or is going to have a hysterectomy. If they bring up parenthood, it’s totally fine, but otherwise, it sort of suggests that reproduction is all you are thinking about. Instead, ask if they are okay, if there is anything they need, if they want to talk about it, etc.
9. “I’ll pray for you.”
Again, this is not an inherently bad thing to say and it might be a good thing to say if they mention being worried and you know that they’ll find comfort in these words BUT if you say this in a different context it can kind of sound like judgment, not unlike the sort of religious judgment discussed below in number 4. If they seem to have accepted the surgery and everything that comes with it, don’t say this.
8. “I could never date you.”
I’ve heard this a number of times, and the funny thing is never once have I actually been trying to date the person expressing these views. When you offer this up without any prompting, what I actually hear is “No one could ever date you,” which is something I honestly struggle with and don’t need to hear reinforced. So, unless you’re actually in a dating situation with someone who has had a hysterectomy, don’t say this. If you are in a dating situation with someone who has had a hysterectomy and you don’t think that you’re okay with that, be nice and don’t actually say it. Yes, they may figure it out, but trust me, I’ve both had people I’ve dated tell me that they couldn’t be with a woman who can’t reproduce and I’ve had people make up excuses to spare my feelings, and the latter is always better, even if I know the truth and it makes me sad.
7. “But having babies is the most important thing a woman can do!”
Funny enough, I’ve never heard anyone say that fathering babies is the most important thing a man can do.
6.”You’re betraying the sisterhood/in collaboration with the patriarchy,” or any version of “Having this surgery is misogynistic/makes you a traitor to women.”
Stop. Just stop. I have a lot of thoughts about the abuses of hysterectomies in medical culture. I think this is an important subject, one that warrants much discussion and I’m glad that there are feminists willing to address this. But any critique that is rooted not in how the procedure has been applied but the fact that it exists is essentialist and cissexist. Furthermore, extending that critique to women who choose the surgery for themselves is really insulting. I’m not a choice feminist. I hate choice feminism with a fiery passion because it is reductive and intellectually lazy. But I find it odd that in a world where the dominant feminism is all about respecting women’s choices even if they are inherently anti-feminist choosing to have a hysterectomy stands out as the betrayal of all women. I don’t owe it to other women, feminist or not, to have a baby or to even have a uterus.
5. “You practically have male privilege now.”
This is something I want to write a larger post about, but there is an idea pervading certain branches of matricentric feminism that women can “opt out” of experiencing misogyny by not having children. If that were the case, wouldn’t there be more women who don’t have children? As you can see from this post, I’ve been harassed about having unprotected sex, more or less fetishized for not being able to reproduce, told that my life has no meaning and I have no worth, and told that I’m not a woman. It’s kind of hard to think that this is not misogyny.
4. “You couldn’t get married in my church” or any other variety of “my religion thinks you’re worthless now.”
If you don’t know me well enough to know what my religious views actually are, it’s pretty fair to say that I’m not practicing any religion that would treat me any differently because I can’t reproduce. Even if the person you are talking to does practice the same religion that you do, it’s really not going to do any good to tell them this. I mean, odds are they’ve sought spiritual counsel on this subject, and even if they haven’t, it’s really none of your business.
3. “So you can have all the unprotected sex you want?”
Yes, and I can get all the sexually transmitted infections I want, too! Avoiding pregnancy isn’t the only not to have unprotected sex and I really hope that most people actually know this. It is worth mentioning that a lot of times I get the impression that the people saying this are really asking is if they can have unprotected sex with me, which is creepy and gross, so don’t do that.
2. “You don’t have periods and you can’t get pregnant? You’re like the perfect girlfriend!”
Your standards for “the perfect girlfriend” seem to be pretty low in that case. When I think of the perfect romantic partner, I think of things like “loves to read” or “finds dachshund puppy videos as adorable as I do” or “Accepts that I am a flawed human being but doesn’t see my lack of a uterus as one of those flaws” or “finds dachshund puppy videos as adorable as I do.” (Yes, it really did need to be said twice.) When people say this what I hear is “It would be fun to have sex without worrying about consequences for a couple months/years before I’m ready to settle down and have children.” Because, while not everyone sees children as part of “settling down” people who take this view inevitably do and they don’t understand that I will get hurt in the process.
1.”Are you really a woman?” or “You aren’t a woman.”
Ah, yes, gender identity. Gender identity is complex and complicated and something I intend to spill a lot of virtual ink on later, but I’m not going to get theoretical here. So in the simplest possible terms: a uterus does not a woman make. (I want that slogan on a coffee mug, like, really badly.) That is really all you need to know. Also, who made you supreme arbiter of gender?