POST-SOCRATIC DIALOGUE – PROCREATION
by Greg Scorzo –
Post-Socratic Dialogues are moving thought experiments. They portray elaborate, unfolding situations which, at every turn, force the reader to examine his or her philosophical intuitions about a range of topics. These dialogues are called “Post-Socratic” because there is no Socrates figure, telling the reader which arguments (if any) are the best ones. The reader decides that on their own.
“I’m not saying you can’t have a happy life without kids. Of course you can. You can be happy making all kinds of choices, because people are adaptable and have a remarkable ability to make the best of things. You can also be happy as a racist, but that doesn’t make you an especially great person. I’m not saying that kid-free people are bad like being racist is bad. I’m simply illustrating the point that happiness does not equate to living a great life. My actual point is this: I don’t think people are somehow bad or wrong for not having kids – I just think it’s really, deeply sad. I feel tremendously sad for them. Why do I feel sad for people without children? Because they’re missing out on this incredible thing that gives you an entire new scope of what it means to love, and to give of yourself, and to care for someone else more than yourself.” – Sarah Larson
“Great liars are also great magicians.” -Adolf Hitler
Joe and Loraine live next to a lesbian couple named Eve and Alice. Both Eve and Alice like Joe and Loraine. Loraine doesn’t particularly like either of them, but they don’t know this.
Eve Fenn and Alice Adler are both 32. They have been in a very loving relationship since they were both 17. Alice loves Eve because she is intelligent, deep, sensitive, and always looks after the people she loves. Eve loves Alice because she is free spirited, clever, charismatic, and incredibly sexy. Since their late teens, Eve and Alice have planned on spending the rest of their lives together. Although neither of them believe in marriage, both have been living together in various flats since they were 19. Because of Eve’s income, they’ve only just been able to afford a beautiful well furnished home near the city centre of Leicester.
Eve works as an Art History lecturer at Leicester University. Her research is on important female artists that have been unduly forgotten throughout history. Although Eve loves her research, she can’t stand the aggressive environment that is academia. She feels like she lacks the cut-throat competitiveness that enables one to rise to the top in institutions of higher education. Eve dislikes most of her colleagues because she feels like they look down on her. Most of the time, she’s right about this. Neither her colleagues or her students particularly respect her. But it’s not because of her politics. It’s not because she’s a woman. And it’s not because of either the quality of her research or her competency as a communicator. It’s because both her colleagues and her students perceive her as being weak.
Alice does not have this problem.
Alice is a bartender at the Fire-Bug, a popular local venue that often showcases new rock bands, stand up comedians, independent film screenings, and other events. Although she makes far less money than Eve, Alice loves her job and is very good at it. Both her customers and her colleagues are very much enamoured by her. She recently came 3rd place in a national “Midlands Bartender of the Year” contest. Alice is revered because of her friendly personality, cheeky sense of humour, extensive knowledge of cocktails and the nearly acrobatic manner in which she can quickly mix together a drink. Alice is a great multi-tasker and can even manage to do magic tricks to amuse her custumers, all the while chatting to them and quickly taking their orders. Alice makes it all look effortless.
Another reason Alice is so successful is she openly flirts with both her male and female costumers. A few women have complained that Alice was inconsiderate of their feelings, deliberately causing them to experience romantic yearnings she had no intention of reciprocating. However, the overwhelming majority of people Alice flirts with simply find her great fun. Eve doesn’t particularly like Alice’s flirting, but understands it‘s an important part of Alice’s career. So Eve reluctantly tolerates it, as long as she doesn’t have to hear about it when Alice comes home. Eve also doesn’t like the fact that Alice regularly posts vids of her passionately kissing reality TV stars on youtube, but like the flirting, Eve accepts this is part of Alice’s career.
When Alice isn’t bartending, she enjoys rock climbing, cooking turkish food, kick boxing, listening to jazz, smoking cannibis, repeatedly watching David Lynch films, and writing poetry. She often reads her poems at a local bar/cafe called “The Crumblin’ Cookie.” Most of Alice’s poems are about the spiritual experiences of yogis and religious saints. Alice also likes to research academic literature on religious mysticism in her free time, using Eve’s university card to access Leicester University’s library books and journals. When Eve sees Alice researching and reading, Eve always feels very proud of her.
One of the difficulties in Eve and Alice’s relationship is the fact that Alice works every night in an environment where she is surrounded by alcohol. Throughout their relationship, Alice has had periods where she displayed erratic and self-destructive behaviour because of binge drinking. The reason these periods have not destroyed Alice’s life is because of the emotional support she receives from Eve. Eve often stops Alice from doing things she would otherwise regret. Eve sometimes worries she is overbearing and controlling. However, Alice always reassures Eve that she is the reason Alice can thrive and be successful in her life. Alice constantly reminds Eve that she needs someone in her life to give her boundaries. In fact, Alice wishes Eve would give her MORE boundaries.
Although Eve is typically the partner in the relationship that does the guiding and protecting, Alice sometimes has to support and look after Eve. This is particularly true when Eve experiences her own periodic bouts of depression. Eve is deeply ashamed of her mental health difficulties, so Alice is normally the only one who is in a position to support Eve when Eve is feeling vulnerable. The first bout of depression Eve experienced was when she told her family she was both a lesbian and in love with Alice.
Eve grew up in a large religious family where, as a child, she was very close to her mother and her extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Because she was a very shy and introverted child, her family were also her only friends. After coming out as gay, everyone in her family (apart from her father) decided they no longer wanted anything to do with her. A few of them wrote her long hand-written letters explaining, in great detail, how she was a bad person that deserved to burn in hell. One of these letters was written by her mother.
Eve felt both betrayed and devastated, like her entire world had collapsed. If it hadn’t been for Alice’s love, Eve would have commited suicide. Although Alice’s love and support enabled Eve to conquer this first bout of depression, it never removed the traumatic impact of being abandoned by her family. To this day, Eve has a deep seated fear of being rejected by the people she loves. She often feels like no matter what she does, she can never be good enough for other people.
Throughout the past year, Alice, for the first time, has been able to maintain her sobriety without a lot of nagging from Eve. This is largely because of Alice’s therapy sessions with Jillan Adams, a local psychotherapist Alice regularly sees. The therapy has been very good for Eve and Alice’s relationship. It’s changed the dynamic whereby Eve is always the one who looks after Alice. Because of Alice’s newfound stability and sobriety, she has been able to support Eve throughout an emotionally difficult year.
Eve has been stressed and conflicted because she works under a female head of department that is constantly making sarcastic jokes about her. On a few occasions, Eve felt that this woman deliberately attempted to humiliate her in front of other colleagues. In staff meetings, Eve often feels ganged up on by those same colleagues, who are quick to dismiss her ideas, treating her as though she doesn’t deserve to be there. Even her students constantly interrupt Eve during her seminar discussions with them. However, Eve doesn’t feel like she can just quit her post at Leicester Uni. She feels too unconfident in her ability to get another job.
More worryingly, Eve feels like another bout of depression is coming on.
One rainy and windy night, at exactly 9: 47pm, Alice texts Eve with the message:
We need to talk after I’m done with work. This is important. There’s something I can’t hide from you anymore. I’ll be home at 3. I’ll wake you up if you’re asleep.
Eve is immediately worried. She’s terrified that Alice has been secretly drinking.
Eve texts back:
Just tell me what it is! Don’t do this to me. I’m all alone tonight.
Eve spends the next six hours in a panic. There’s a storm outside. Thunder is booming. Eve can see lightening through the window.
Alice does not text back until 3: 48am. She writes:
I’ll be home in 5 minutes. Make me a cuppa.
This is their conversation, after Alice arrives back home.
Eve: So what is it? What did you need to talk to me about? Why did you text me like that?
Alice: Before I tell you this, I just want you to remember how much I love you. There’s nothing I’m going to say that will change any of that. You know that, right?
Eve: Of course I do.
Alice: …I’ve been exploring some things with Doctor Adams. Feelings.
Alice: Yeah. Things I haven’t been admitting to myself. Things I need to let out, really.
Eve: You mean about alcohol?
Alice: Well, that and some other, more painful things. Feelings that are really difficult for me to comprehend, let alone verbalise. My therapy has been a healing process for me, Eve. Doctor Adams has been amazing, honestly. Very empathetic. Very perceptive. I’ve never had one this good.
Eve: Well, that’s wonderful. I mean, it’s wonderful that you can confront so many of your demons in these sessions. That’s what I always hoped would happen.
Alice: I can manage them because of her. It’s like my mind is a ball of string she helps me unravel.
Eve: I’m glad. Everyone has things in their head they need to untangle. And it’s not often you find the right therapist for that. They’re all so different.
Alice: I think everyone would probably benefit from some therapy. You just need to find a good therapist and they are fucking rare.
Eve: You’re more right than you know.
Alice: Of course I am. You need therapy too.
Eve: You don’t have to remind me. I’ve been struggling really bad lately.
Alice: There are so many ways you could totally blossom if you were less driven by fear and self-loathing. It breaks my heart watching you, the way you are. It’s like you hate yourself.
Eve: It breaks my heart too.
Alice: It’s like you’re leading half a life. You’re your own worst enemy. It’s not other people, Eve. It’s you.
Eve: Maybe, but it’s late and I really need to get to sleep. Can you please tell me what it is you needed to talk about?
Alice: You stop yourself from being free. You stifle yourself and then you blame everybody else.
Eve: That’s what you wanted to talk to me about?
Alice: It’s part of it.
Eve: I don’t understand.
Alice: You’re not well and that’s part of why I’m having problems. You need to get help and stop putting things off.
Eve: I haven’t had therapy in ages.
Alice: My therapy has been the best thing I’ve done all year, Eve. Maybe five years.
Eve: Well, I can believe that. It’s amazing what a change I’ve seen in you.
Alice: For the first time, I feel like I actually understand how to manage my brain. Everything feels more lucid, if that makes any sense.
Eve: It does actually. When you don’t know who you are, you easily lose yourself in self-destructive behaviour. That’s a breeding ground for addiction problems.
Alice: I think part of the reason I’ve struggled so much is I’ve been in denial. I’ve been shoving down parts of who I am. That’s what I talk about in my sessions.
Eve: I thought you talk about drinking.
Alice: Well, we obviously talk about that too. It’s all related. You can’t separate any of these issues from each other.
Eve: Well, I’m glad you’re getting help but I’ve never wanted you to feel like you have to shove anything down. That’s awful. I’ve never wanted you to shove down who you are for me or anyone else.
Alice: Eve, you know I love you more than the world. I can’t stand the idea of confusing you. I just want you comfortable around me.
Eve: I know you do.
Alice: That’s why I sometimes have to hide things.
Eve: But I don’t want to be hidden from the real you, Alice. You don’t need to protect me from you anymore. Whether you confuse me or not, I just want you to be you. Don’t worry about me being uncomfortable. I can handle it.
Alice: I know I’m not helping you right now. But that’s not because of you. None of this is your fault. In some ways, this is more about me than it is about you. I know that doesn’t make much sense. But you know… I don’t always make sense.
Eve: (smiling) If that bothered me, I wouldn’t still be here.
Alice: That’s why I’m still here too. I trust you. I’ve always trusted you.
Eve: Then I need you to trust me enough to be honest with me. It’s late and I’m tired but I’m listening to you now.
Alice: I know that.
Eve: So I need to know whatever’s going on in your head. I need to know how I can help.
Alice: I’m always so worried about disappointing you, Eve. It’s part of why I have so much trouble sleeping.
Eve: You’ve never disappointed me, Alice.
Alice: I feel guilty because of all the things you do for me; all the time you’ve given up to make sure I got the help I needed. You didn’t have to do any of that and I embarrassed you so much.
Eve: Honey, you’re my bestie. Of course I do my damnedest to make sure you’re ok. But that’s not a reason for you to feel guilty about anything. If I wasn’t happy looking after you, I wouldn’t do it.
Alice: I still can’t believe all the things you did for me when I was a wreck. I feel like I owe you so much, like in our relationship, you’re the mum and I’m the kid.
Eve: That’s not how I see it. There’s plenty things you do to help me. There’s plenty of times when I’m the one who needs looking after. In fact, now might be one of those times. It’s not one-sided, Alice.
Alice: I know, I know….but I can’t help but feel like it would be unfair of me to share certain sides of myself with you. Like you deserve better. Does that make any sense?
Eve: I only deserve the truth. It would only be unfair of you to hide shit from me. We work as a team, remember.
Alice: I know that. I know that rationally.
Eve: Don’t forget that you’re the one who taught me how to be confident with people in social situations; how to believe in myself. You were there for me when my family told me they didn’t want to see me anymore. You helped me look after my Dad when he was dying. You’re the reason I got through my last bout of depression. You helped me through all of that.
Alice: I know I did.
Eve: We’re not in a relationship where one of us is sorted and the other person’s a mess. We’re both beautiful messes.
Alice: That’s true, isn’t it?
Eve: Absolutely. There’s no absolutely no reason to feel guilty about anything. This is a relationship.
Alice: You’re right, really. I’m being silly.
Eve: I’ve seen you at your worst. I’ve seen you lying on the pavement covered in piss and vomit. I still picked you up and took you home and I’ve never regretted that or anything else I’ve ever done for you.
Alice: You don’t regret it. It’s amazing to me that you don’t.
Eve: It’s not amazing. It’s what you would expect. There’s nobody who gets me more than you. No one who teaches me more, nobody that’s more inspirational to me. No one more patient when I’m making a tit of myself.
Alice: You don’t make a tit of yourself, Eve.
Eve: I do sometimes.
Alice: Maybe once every five years (giggling)
Eve: Well, even if that’s true, I still feel like I’m the one that mostly learns from you. Not the other way around.
Eve: You’re so brave and couragious and funny and confident all the time. I always feel less interesting. Even the way you conquer your own demons just knocks me for six. You push and push and push until you get what you need from people. Even with utter twats, it’s like you can move mountains. I’ve still never met anyone like you. No one I’ve ever known can get people to do things like you can.
Alice: That’s how I’ve had to be throughout my life. That’s why I still have a job.
Eve: You’re fucking relentless.
Alice: I know I am.
Eve: And that’s why I can always trust you, no matter what happens. I know you’re fighting in my corner. You always protect me from anyone whose trying to hurt me.
Alice: It’s true. And you give me the strength to do that.
Eve: You help me grow and change, no matter how stubborn I can be sometimes. You always get me to think in new ways.
Alice: I do, don’t I?
Eve: (smiling) You’re the reason I’m a vegetarian!
Alice: (giggling) I’m still working on getting you to become a vegan.
Eve: (laughing) Well, even you have limitations, love.
Alice: (smiling) I’ll get you when you least expect it.
Eve: As always, I appreciate your dedication. But don’t hold your breath babe.
Alice: Don’t understimate me babe!
Eve: (giggling) Don’t underestimate my love for cheese.
Alice: (looking at Eve affectionately) You can be such a stubborn bitch, Eve. But you’re my stubborn bitch.
Eve: I can’t help but love being your bitch. Always have.
Alice: Of course you do. It’s good for you, in the end. But it’s not easy getting you to try new things. I don’t know why I’m so persistent all the time. I must really believe in you.
Eve: I know you do because you get me. You understand how I work and what makes me smile. I trust your ideas, even when they seem a little crazy. I know there’s always a good reason behind what you have to say, even if you can’t always articulate it.
Alice: Well, you need someone to stand up to you sometimes. That’s why I row with you so much.
Eve: I thought it was the make-up sex?
Alice: (smiling flirtaciously) Well, that too.
Eve: You know, if I’m honest, with most of our disagreements, you normally convince me in the end. Even when the end is in the wee hours of the morning.
Alice: I know I do. And you persuade me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise even think about. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be sober right now. I probably would have gone to graduate school like you did.
Eve: You’d never be happy being an academic. That world is brutal.
Alice: Yeah, I still can’t believe how right you were about those arrogant tossers. I’m glad I avoided the mistakes I would have made if you weren’t there to tell me what the world is like.
Eve: Well, I know what you’re like, Alice. I know what would hurt you.
Alice: It’s like you keep my life on track. It’s like a roller coaster, but you always keep it on the rails. I always feel pointed in the right direction.
Eve: That’s what we do for each other, isn’t it?
Alice: I want you to know I never take it for granted. I know how lucky I am to have had you in my life all these years. I know I’m a handful.
Eve: (smiling) You think I’m not a handful?
Alice: A bit less of a handful than I am.
Eve: I’m just different to you, love. That’s all. But it’s a complimentary difference. It stays that way if we communicate with each other.
Alice: I just worry sometimes. I overcomplicate things in my head. I worry you’ll hate me if I surprise you with something. I know how you hate surprises.
Eve: Alice, there’s nothing you need to hide from me. Anything you need to say can become part of our lives in some way. Even if it upsets me. Even if it surprises me. I’ll figure it out and we’ll deal with it.
Alice: Will we?
Eve: Of course we will. We always deal with shit. That’s who we are. We don’t give up on each other. We don’t back down from a struggle.
Alice: I know we don’t. I’ve never given up on you and I never will. Everything in my life revolves around you. It’s been like that since I was a kid.
Eve: Can you believe it’ll be fifteen years next week?
Alice: It’s crazy, but it’s an amazing crazy. I never thought when I met you that we’d still be loving each other at this age. I never thought I’d still be with my first love.
Eve: Me neither. It’s actually one of the things I’m most proud of.
Alice: Me too. It’s amazing it worked out, with everything being so difficult. Not to mention all the bloody homophobia!
Eve: Yeah, all of that made me feel like someone stomped on my soul. Do you remember how bad it got?
Alice: I remember it more than anything. You stayed with me even though coming out made you lose most of the people you love.
Eve: That should show you how much I love you.
Alice: It does.
Eve: Alice, I don’t regret any day that I’ve loved you. Not even the day you hit me. No matter how tough things got, it’s always been worth it, because you’ve always been there with me. I can die knowing I loved my favourite person. The world told me I shouldn’t, but I did.
Alice: We both did.
Eve: There are so many people who are so unhappy being single. Isn’t that sad? I never thought love would be so difficult for everyone else.
Alice: It’s bizarre how lucky we are, really. I can’t even express the depth of love I have for you most days. I sometimes forget about it because life feels so ordinary and mundane. But when I stop and think about what I have, it’s maybe the most precious and mysterious thing I’ve been blessed to live through, even with all the problems. It’s not perfect, but nothing wonderful ever is.
Eve: Good. Now I’m struggling to remain conscious my love, so let’s please deal with the imperfect truth. Tell me what’s so difficult to get out of your head so we can talk it out and go to sleep.
Alice: This is so fucking hard….
Eve: Alice, this is me.
Eve takes Alice’s head in her hands.
Eve: Look at me….think about who you’re talking to.
Alice: Right now, I feel like I did when I came out to my parents.
Eve: But I’m not like them! I’m not judgemental. I always accept you.
Alice: I’m still worried. I’m worried you’ll think I’m being stupid.
Eve: Do I ever tell you how you should feel?
Alice: No, you don’t. You’re pretty tolerant of me, actually. You always try and understand.
Eve: Then tell me. Just tell me what this is.
Alice: I don’t know why telling you is so difficult. I should trust you. I know this should be easy. It just isn’t.
Eve: Why isn’t it easy?
Alice: I don’t know if you’re strong enough.
Eve: That hurts me, Alice.
Alice: I’m not getting at you. I’m really not.
Eve: Then why can’t you tell me whatever it is you think I can’t handle?
Alice: It’s not that I don’t trust you, really. I just think you need time to digest things and I don’t want to hurt you. And it’s never been the right time to do this.
Eve: (chuckles) Well apparently, 4am is the right time.
Alice: When I need to talk, I need to talk.
Eve: Then stop evading me and talk about it. Tell me what it is.
Alice: These feelings didn’t happen because I think you’re bad for me. You’ve been nothing but lovely in every way I can understand the loveliness of another another person.
Eve: Then be lovely and tell me what this is about.
Alice: I have these feelings….deep feelings, feelings that seem to express the core of my being, the deepest part of who I am. But I can’t share them. If I share them, you might not be with me anymore. We might want different things. I’m so scared that if I tell you, I’ll lose you. I feel like I can only keep my life running smoothly if I hide this from you.
Eve: Well, your life isn’t running smoothly if you have to lie to me.
Alice: I know. That’s the irony of the situation. Being dishonest is always self-defeating.
Eve: When your life runs smoothly, you don’t have to bury anything. You don’t have to hide any deep existential pain, especially from the woman who loves you and needs you to trust her.
Alice: This isn’t something I’ve chosen, Eve. This is something that’s been with me for a while now. I’ve tried to make it go away. I’ve tried to conquer it. I’ve been ashamed of myself for it but I wake up with it every day, staring me in the face; telling me I’m deceiving myself by not letting you see it.
Eve: Then let me see it.
Alice: There’s nothing that hurts me worse than the idea of losing you Eve..
Eve: You won’t lose me. I just need to know what I’m being kept from seeing. I’ve never let you down before, have I?
Alice: You haven’t. You’ve been my rock. I know this is crazy. You know me inside and out. You know me deeply in every way. Every way except this way.
Eve: Are you transgender?
Alice: This is so hard to talk about…
Eve: I won’t stop loving you, if that’s what it is you’re hiding. I’d never reject you because of who you are. It might be hard to get used to a man’s body, but that won’t stop me from eventually doing it. I’ll work at it until it happens. Even if we can’t have sex, I won’t reject you. I’d never reject you, Alice. I just need you to feel like you can be yourself with me. That’s what’s important.
Alice: I know it is.
Eve: You would never lose my love over who you are. My love for you transcends anything about your body, anything about the way you look, anything about how you want to live. You’ve got me, no matter what. Your gender’s irrelevant.
Alice: Eve, I appreciate that. But I’m not transgender. (laughs)
Eve: (irritated) Then what is it? What the fuck is it?
Alice: I’m scared you’ll panic.
Eve: You need to tell me, now! Holding it in isn’t good for us. It’s making me feel like I can’t trust you! It’s making me anxious, Alice.
Alice: I know it is and I’m sorry.
Eve: Have you been taking speed again?
Alice: Of course not!
Eve: Do you still want plastic surgery?
Alice: No, not anymore. It’s not that.
Eve: Is it something about work? Are you stealing money from the till? Did you fuck another guy without a condom?
Alice: No, I’ve been good.
Eve: (irritated) Then just tell me what it is. Just spit it out! Please.
Alice: I want to be a mum.
Alice: I want each of us to have a baby. I want us to be pregnant together at the same time.
Eve: …But… why????
Alice: I’m really broody now. Like, really really broody. I’d do anything to make this happen, Eve. It’s intense.
Alice: It’s totally instinctual, like my body’s telling me I MUST do this. It won’t let me not do it. It’s crazy beautiful.
Eve: But you can’t stand being around children. I like children more than you do.
Alice: I know. It’s confusing for me too.
Eve: Alice, you hate babysitting your nieces. I’m the one who plays with them while you go upstairs and work on your laptop. Whenever any of our friends has a kid, you complain endlessly about how all they talk about is nappies and formula. You rarely see them once they have a kid!
Alice: I know I need to work on that. Doctor Adams thinks that’s rather narrow minded of me.
Eve: You don’t even like to hold babies. You can’t stand working with kids. Every time a teenager sits next to us at Starbucks, you move to another seat. Even if they’re quiet!
Alice: I’m working on all of this, Eve. I know it’s bad.
Eve: Well, working on being more tolerant of kids is fine. But that’s different to wanting to be a mum.
Alice: I know it’s different, but it would help. I need to handle being around kids if I’m going to be raising my own children.
Eve: I just don’t get it. How can you want to be a mum if you find being around children that hard? This doesn’t make any sense.
Alice: I just want us to have kids together, like everyone else does.
Eve: Alice, I’m not getting pregnant. I don’t want that. I never have.
Alice: It’s not so difficult these days with all the good sperm doners. They can be anonymous, in case you didn’t know. They’re very supportive of parental autonomy for same sex couples.
Eve: That doesn’t matter. I don’t want to create a kid who doesn’t know who their Father is.
Alice: What’s wrong with two parents being female? I thought you supported LGBT rights.
Eve: There’s nothing wrong with two women raising a child. The problem is kids get fucked up when they don’t know who their Dad is and can’t contact him. I don’t want that.
Alice: That’s only because of society, Eve. It’s a social convention.
Eve: I don’t want to change society that way. In fact, I don’t even want to deal with any of this. I have no desire to get pregnant or be a parent.
Alice: (irritated) But what about me? What about my desires?
Eve: Well, if you really truly want to be a mum, I won’t get in your way. If this is serious, if you’re not just confused about something, then by all means, do what feels right. Be a good mum, if that’s if you want. But if you want a baby, you’ll have to have it on your own. I don’t want to raise children. I’ll stay with you but I can’t raise your kids.
Alice: That’s not exactly fair. What if I don’t want to be a single parent?
Eve: Then don’t be one, Alice.
Alice: So this is how it is. I’m either forced to be a single parent or I lose you. This is exactly what I thought would happen. I’m sorry I kept you awake, Eve. I thought you actually cared about me.
Eve: I do care about you, love. That’s why I don’t want you to make a dumb mistake because you’re feeling broody.
Alice: (indignant) What right do you have to tell me I’m making a mistake?
Eve: It’s not about what I’m telling you. It’s about what you’ve told me repeatedly for 15 years. You can’t stand children.
Alice: I don’t need to love other people’s children. I just need to love ours.
Eve: Alice, you’re almost afraid of children.
Alice: (loudly) I’m not afraid of them! I just don’t enjoy most of the kids I’ve ever talked to. We didn’t connect. You connect with them more than I do.
Eve: But that means you don’t want kids.
Alice: No, it means I’m still immature. I’m trying to grow up now.
Eve: Not wanting kids doesn’t make you immature, Alice.
Alice: Doctor Adams didn’t think she wanted kids. She hated kids, just like me. But when she accidentally got pregnant with twins, a switch flipped in her head. Her perspective, her personality even, just completely and totally changed. She knew for the first time that she could love children. And she knew she would love her own children more than she ever loved anything else in her life. Everything else pales in comparison to the love she has for her baby girls now. The decision she made to carry her pregnancy to term was the best thing she ever did.
Eve: She’s full of shit. She put her girls at risk.
Alice: (loudly) She didn’t put them at risk! She made the best decision of her life!
Eve: No, she didn’t. She chose to have kids, knowing full well the odds were she’d hate being a parent. She’s lucky that didn’t happen but the odds were not in her favour. That’s not a nice thing to do to your kids, Alice.
Alice: You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. When a woman has a baby, the hormones in her body produce oxytocin. Her brain chemistry changes when her body releases oxytocin and that’s what generates a life-long bond with a child. That’s how parent-child love happens!
Eve: That’s different to being a good parent. Being a good parent is a day to day process that extends over time. It’s a commitment. It’s boring and frustrating a lot of the time. Some days it makes you want to pull your hair out.
Alice: All the best things in life are like that. A good job is like that. Relationships are like that.
Eve: But motherhood isn’t something you’re well suited to just because you’ve given birth. It’s about facilitating a person’s growth from infancy to adulthood, Alice. It’s stressful and crazy making. Initially, it involves not getting a lot of sleep, trying to breast feed, changing nappies, and trying to guess why your baby’s been screaming for hours. Then a few years on, it’s about cooking and cleaning, taking them to school, re-arranging the house so it’s kid friendly, stopping them from being naughty, telling them off, putting up boundaries, having a bed-time routine. If we had kids, you my darling, would have to get better at domestic chores and routines. You couldn’t be spontanous the way you are now. You couldn’t be impulsive. You couldn’t be out every night until 4am. You’d have to do mornings. And you’d have to put all this effort into a person that might, at the end of the day, be really fucking hard to get on with. You could have a kid that doesn’t gel with you. It could be a kid that’s not someone you would even be friends with, if they weren’t your kid.
Alice: None of that matters, Eve. All mums get through that shit. Love for your children is more primal than anything. It pushes you through the tough bits. It’s not like loving a friend. It’s not conditional.
Eve: But it’s incredibly difficult and a good parent is in it for the long haul. It’s not just about feeling broody.
Alice: Any mum is already in it for the long haul once she’s bonded with her baby. That love happens because of hormones. If you feel an instinct to conceive, alongside that instinct is an unbearbably powerful and immense love for your child, once it’s born. That’s just human biology.
Eve: But a lot of parents find it hard to love children that are quite different to them. Or children with behavioural problems. Maternal instincts don’t change that.
Alice: They do if we’re talking about decent parents.
Eve: My mother didn’t find it easy to love me.
Alice: That’s because of how fucked up she was. She wasn’t a normal person.
Eve: I know she wasn’t.
Alice: Most people are good parents, Eve. People are built for that. Especially women.
Eve: Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true. I don’t know how well most women cope with motherhood.
Alice: Don’t you think you’re being a bit judgemental?
Eve: I don’t know. It’s just…
Alice: (interrupting) Good mums always do a good job of loving their kids. They love their children more than they love themselves, their parents, their partners, their friends, or anything else. That happens naturally. Personality clashes don’t matter.
Eve: But it’s not like that for everyone.
Alice: If there’s nothing wrong with you, it just happens. Everything turns out fine.
Eve: Maybe if you naturally love children. But you find it painful to be in the presence of a child, Alice.
Alice: Enjoying other people’s children has nothing to do with whether or not I should become a mother. People who find children hard love being parents once they do it.
Eve: What makes you so sure they always love it? What makes you so sure they love it on the days it’s painful and exhausting?
Alice: The fact that they love it is the reason they carry on. Women love being mums when they get to be mums. It’s only beforehand that they sometimes get nervous.
Eve: So you think even women who hate children love being mums when it happens to them.
Alice: Of course they do! It’s different when it’s your kid. Everybody knows that.
Eve: It sounds like you think nobody in their right mind would choose not to have children.
Alice: Well, I know it still happens. People sometimes make mistakes they regret.
Eve: You make it sound like motherhood isn’t a choice.
Alice: It’s not a choice, really. It’s like being gay or being trans. It’s part of being a woman. We’re built to breed. We can feel it.
Eve: Well, I don’t feel this thing you’re describing and I never have. Does that mean I’m less of a woman?
Alice: It means it probably hasn’t happened to you yet! It means maybe you should be more patient. Don’t make a judgement about it until it does.
Eve: Well, what if I don’t want it to happen? What if I like our life the way it is? What if I’m happy not having to clean up nappies and calm down tantrums? What if I don’t want to live with a stroppy teenager? What if I like only living with you?
Alice: None of that has anything to do with whether or not you want to be a mum.
Eve: (loudly) But it does! You shouldn’t be a mum if you don’t want those things!
Alice: Being a mum isn’t like choosing a career. It’s not something you do because the job description sounds appealing. Everybody knows parenthood can drive you batty on some days. Women do it because they know they can’t truly be happy unless it happens. It’s like being around other people. Humans are social creatures. We need the company of other people. It doesn’t matter who they are. Most women need to have children, just like most women need to love and communicate with others. It’s what women are like.
Eve: (irritated) But every woman is different!
Alice: People are far more alike than we like to believe. We’re all human.
Eve: But not all women need to have kids in order to be happy. Not all women are heterosexual. Not all women want to get married. Not all women need to wear make up. Not all women need to have boxes of jewelry or bake chocolate cookies or be posh or live in the bloody suburbs, Alice. Humanity is diverse.
Alice: You’re confusing apples and oranges.
Eve: I’m not. I’m just trying explain how…
Alice: (interrupting) You’re not listening to me. You always do this.
Eve: I am listening, but you also need to think about what I’m saying! We live in a democracy, Alice. Women have rights. Being a mother is a choice today. That’s why society allows women to terminate a pregnancy. That’s why supporting that right is called being “pro choice.”
Alice: I’m not against anyone having an abortion. You know I’m pro-choice.
Eve: Then why do you keep saying having a child isn’t a choice?
Alice: Women can’t control when their broody and the World Health Organisation considers infertility a disease. Everyone knows it causes depression. I thought you knew that. I thought you were educated, Eve. Your students look up to you.
Eve: (loudly) That doesn’t have anything to do with motherhood not being a choice!
Alice: Eve, calm down.
Eve: (loudly) I am calm!
Alice: Then listen to me. I need you to really listen.
Eve: (distraught) I am listening!
Alice: If you’re a normal woman with a natural hormone cycle, you will NOT enjoy life without children. If you’re psychologically healthy, if you’re body isn’t seriously fucked up in some way, you’ll most likely regret not doing whatever you can to conceive while the option is still available. That’s what it says in any fertility blog.
Eve: Alice, there are plenty of women who blog about how happy they are not having children.
Alice: They’re in denial. When you’re in denial, you go out of your way to convince other people you’re happy. When you’re happy with your choices, you don’t write a fucking blog about it. You don’t need to.
Eve: And what makes you so sure none of those women are happy?
Alice: Your body punishes you for not having children. It makes you unhappy.
Eve: Alice, that’s ridiculous..
Alice: That’s what all the infertility literature says! That’s why infertility is considered a disease! The recommended treatment isn’t therapy. It’s conception. Why do you think IVF exists?
Eve: My body hasn’t punished me for creating the life I want, Eve.
Alice: You can delude yourself into thinking you’re different. But trust me, honey. Statistically speaking, you will most likely feel broody at some point in the next few years. If you ignore it, you won’t be pleased with yourself. You’ll make yourself miserable. You don’t want to be miserable, Eve. You’ve already struggled with depression. You don’t need more of that.
Eve: And why are you so positive that having a child wouldn’t make me miserable? Why are you so certain accepting something I don’t want would make me so unbelievably happy?
Alice: Because at this point in your life, you can’t know whether or not you want to be a mum. You haven’t experienced the urge yet. You can’t know until you’ve had that experience.
Eve: Well, what if I get it and I still prefer my life the way it is?
Alice: You won’t. That’s not what human beings are like. Whether women want kids are not, they get happy when it happens
Eve: (rolling eyes) So once again, it’s not a choice. Every woman loves being a mummy, once it happens.
Alice: Any woman whose normal.
Eve: Well, then you’re with one abnormal fucking woman, Alice. Not only am I gay. I can’t imagine motherhood making me happy. I never could.
Alice: You couldn’t imagine liking sex when you were 9 either.
Eve: (confused) …What are you trying to say..?
Alice: When you’re a kid and you first find out what sex is, you can’t imagine why anybody in their right mind would want to do something so strange. It seems crazy people would enjoy something so icky. Right?
Eve: I suppose.
Alice: During adolescence, when you become sexual, all that ickiness goes away. Sex becomes hot and passionate and beautiful. It becomes fucking sexy and when you look back on your childish feelings, you laugh at them. They become absurd, crazy even…unless there’s something very wrong with you. Maternal instincts are like that.
Eve: Maybe but I don’t look at urges that way. I don’t have sex whenever I have the urge to have sex.
Alice: Eve, you should have sex more! I’ve never discouraged you from exploring people outside of us.
Eve: I know you haven’t.
Alice: You know I’d love to see you go down on another woman. That’s always been one of my fantasies, but you never want to go there!
Eve: Well, maybe it’s not one of my fantasies.
Alice: Maybe you’re afraid.
Eve: Afraid of what?
Alice: Afraid you’d actually like it. Afraid you’d actually enjoy giving into one of your urges, for a change.
Eve: Well, maybe I understand that just because I feel an urge to do something, that doesn’t mean I should throw caution to the wind and act like an idiot. I have urges to eat too much. I have urges to sleep when I should be awake. I have all sorts of stupid urges.
Alice: I just think you should just do whatever it is that makes you happy. I’m not someone that would ever stop you from being happy, Eve.
Eve: I know you think that.
Alice: The problem though is you. You’re the one that stops you from being happy.
Eve: I sometimes wonder if you don’t actually like what makes me happy.
Alice: You’re so repressed and fearful, I honestly think you’re at a point where you don’t even know what makes YOU happy. That’s how damaged you’ve become.
Eve: So I’m damaged because I’m happy not being a mum?
Alice: Eve, you can’t fool me. I can see through your bullshit.
Eve: Alice, how could you possibly know what…
Alice: (interrupting) Happiness is chemical, Eve. It’s neurological. Depression is neurological. I’m only trying to help you make the best of your life. That’s what we do for each other in this relationship, like you said. We’re a tream.
Eve: I know that. But what’s best for me has to do with what I KNOW I WANT in my life.
Alice: Nobody completely knows everything they want in their life. You can’t lead a meaningful life if you never take any chances.
Eve: Well, one thing I absolutely know is I don’t want the day to day minutia of being a parent. I don’t want to commit myself to cleaning up after babies and fighting tantrums every day. I want to enjoy children and I do that by seeing them in small doses. I can enjoy kids if I see them as much I see friends. If I had to live with any of my friends, we’d fall out. The only person I can live with is you. That’s why my life is set up this way.
Alice: Honey, before I got broody, I felt the same way as you. Trust me, you’ll change. Everyone does.
Eve: But I don’t want to change. I don’t even want to feel broody, Alice.
Alice: But why be so closed minded about that? Why not let your instincts just emerge, the way they do in most women?
Eve: Because I don’t want them, Alice. I don’t want to even WANT to be a mum. I like the desires I already have.
Alice: But you’re missing out on what every woman says is the most wonderful experience in the world! Why deprive yourself of that?
Eve: Because I like grown up conversations. I like being able to swear and talk about sex. I like being able to watch weird films with the sound really loud. I like to watch porn in my living room. I like being able to walk around my home naked, as long as I shut the curtains. I like being with someone its not my job to control; someone I don’t always have to cook and clean for; someone who knows how to share and have a conversation without interrupting or throwing shit around.
Alice: But do you think that’s healthy though? Do you think it’s healthy to be so rigid?
Eve: (irritated) You think I’m unhealthy because I don’t want to live with daily nappies and puke? You think I’m close minded because I don’t want to live with a mardi teenager I have to control?
Alice: You’ve cleaned up my puke. You controlled me when I needed it.
Eve (loudly) That’s different!
Alice: I don’t see how it is. I bathed you and drove you to hospital when you couldn’t get out of bed, when things were really bad five years ago. Don’t you remember?
Eve: It’s not the same! We’re grown ups and those incidences were complete one offs. We’re normally independent people who can do basic shit a child can’t.
Alice: (loudly) But that’s not their fault, Eve!
Eve: (loudly) I know it’s not!
Alice: Then why punish them for that?
Eve: (loudly) I’m not punishing anyone!
Alice: Yes, you are. You’re angry because a child can’t behave like an adult. It’s like you’re punishing them for boring you. That’s what’s going on here.
Eve: No, Alice. I’m choosing not to create a child that would ever bore me.
Alice: (incredulous) But why??? That child needs you to love it!!
Eve: (yelling angrily) Because I don’t fucking want to love a child!! I don’t have the patience for raising a child and neither do you!!
Alice: (loudly) But I’m trying to change! I’m tired of being this way!
Eve: Well, maybe I don’t want to change. Maybe I don’t want to give up my life for someone that isn’t even born. Maybe I don’t want to have the patience to love someone who doesn’t understand me; someone that might be the sort of person I don’t even enjoy spending time with.
Alice: You sound like you’re proud of that.
Eve: I’m not proud of it. But it’s just something about me that’s not going to change. I can be patient, but not for things I fundamentally don’t want to do. I’m not someone that wants to be a mum. I have love for you and my friends and I can babysit for them. But that’s it!
Alice: But why can’t you learn to love in new ways? Why don’t you want to grow and expand?
Eve: I don’t know why I’m this way… I just am. This is who you’ve been in a relationship with for fifteen years.
Alice: I think you sell yourself short.
Eve: I do what’s right for me, Alice. That’s why I chose you over my own family.
Alice: But how can you know motherhood isn’t right for you? You’ve never done it!
Eve: I don’t know. I just do. I feel it very very strongly. I always have.
Alice: Eve, why do doctors always refuse to sterilize young women that haven’t had children?
Eve: Because the doctors are worried they’ll regret it. I know that. I’m not thick.
Alice: Exactly. That means you can’t know how you want to live the rest of your life until you’ve had the urge. It’s life after the urge that matters. Ask any doctor.
Eve: Alice, there are many things in my life that I’m unsure about. But how I want to live in my home every day is not one of them.
Alice: Eve, you’re a kind, dedicated, loving, and compassionate woman. That’s why I fell in love with you. You’re a patient woman too. You don’t believe you are, but I’ve seen it. I see it every day.
Eve: Don’t idealise me, Alice. I’m not perfect.
Alice: I know you’re not perfect. I just think you limit yourself.
Eve: (irritated) So now I limit myself??
Alice: You underestimate what you’re capable of.
Eve: Alice, I’m capable of many things but being a happy mum is not one of them. I can be a babysitter. I can be a good influence on kids who like me. But I don’t do motherhood. It’s not fun. It’s a collection of daily activities that mostly irritate the shit out of me. Being a mum would be like taking my life and turning it into a prison. I’d feel frustrated and guilty all the time.
Alice: Of course you wouldn’t feel like that!
Eve: I’d feel even more guilty if I actually got on with my kid.
Alice: Now you’re prejudging. You have no idea how fun it would be. You’ve never done it so you’re not an authority on what it feels like.
Eve: It doesn’t matter. This is my decision, Alice.
Alice: Then make the decision that has a track record of making people happy! Make the decision that would change our lives! Make the decision your body was designed for, Eve.
Eve: Alice, I can only make decisions based on what I know about myself. Given everything I know about myself, I can’t stand the sight of blood. That’s why I’m not a fucking surgeon. Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe surgery would make me happier than writing about artists.
Alice: Maybe it would! How do you know it wouldn’t?
Eve: I can’t live my life like that Alice! I can only choose to do things that seem like projects I might possibly enjoy taking part in. Cutting people open isn’t one of them. Raising a child in my home isn’t one of them.
Alice: Maybe we should end this conversation.
Eve: (confused) Why?….I thought you wanted to talk about this…
Alice: Because you’re not listening. You’re shutting me down. I hate it when you do this.
Eve: (angrily) I’m not shutting you down!
Alice: You always lecture me about how its important to think about things carefully. You should practice what you preach.
Eve: (frustrated) I have thought about this carefully!
Alice: I thought you wouldn’t talk down to me.
Eve: (exasperated) I’m not talking down to you! I just never knew you’d suddenly feel this way! I’m trying to understand! This has come out of NOWHERE and it’s after 4 in the morning!
Alice: It’s come out for a reason. You say you love me. And you’ve never asked me how I felt about having a baby.
Eve: That’s because we planned our lives together without kids being a part of them.
Alice: (angrily) Then why haven’t we had a discussion about children? Why did that never happen?
Eve: (loudly) Because you hate children and I put up with them for adults I love!
Alice: (loudly) But I’m trying to change! I’m trying to be a better person!
Eve: Well, I didn’t know that before tonight.
Alice: Then why didn’t you talk to me about babies before tonight? Why did you just assume you knew what I wanted?
Eve: Because I thought you loved our life together the way it was. I thought I was good enough for you. I thought you could feel comfortable planning a life around us being a family of two. I thought a life without kids wouldn’t make you hate me. I thought you could be happy living with me, that I wouldn’t bore you or make you feel like a big part of who you are needs to be suppressed.
Alice: You never asked me though!
Eve: Fine, that was my mistake. We should have talked about this earlier. That’s one thing I was careless about. I admit that. We should have talked about our family plans earlier. I’ll give you that!
Alice: You’re the reason we’re up at this hour, having this fucking conversation. It’s not me. You’re the problem.
Eve: Alice, when we first got together, the only lesbian parents we knew were people who had kids from other marriages; straight marriages. Having kids wasn’t an issue then. People didn’t think it was possible. We’re only having this conversation now because we have choices we didn’t have before!
Alice: But this isn’t a choice, Eve. I can’t just turn off my feelings.
Eve: (irritated) And I’m supposed to turn off mine?
Alice: No, but I don’t want you to get careless and split us up. Splitting up is the one thing I would hate that more than anything.
Eve: (angrily) And you think I wouldn’t hate that?
Alice: If you hate it, then why can’t you give us a chance? Why can’t we raise a family and stay together?
Eve: (yelling) Because I’d fucking hate it and you won’t fucking hear me!! You’re not listening!!
Alice: You don’t have to shout at me.
Eve: I’m sorry….it’s just, I feel like I can’t defend myself. I can’t explain or justify why I don’t want kids. It’s like… no reason’s a good enough reason.
Alice: But you don’t need to defend yourself. I’m not attacking you. You don’t need to shout at me, Eve.
Eve: I know ..I know…I’m sorry. I just can’t explain…how I feel.
Alice: You don’t need to justify your feelings to me. I just need you not to belittle my feelings.
Eve: I’m not belitting you, Alice.
Alice: Then why won’t you listen to me?
Eve: I am listening. I just disagree with you.
Alice: It feels like you’re pushing me away. Like you know what I’m saying is true and you don’t want to hear it, so you’re trying to make it look like I’m attacking you. That’s so immature, Eve. You’re better than this.
Eve: I don’t think you’re attacking me. But I do think you’re trying to fundamentally change how I feel. My feelings about this aren’t being acknowledged or valued.
Alice: (loudly) You don’t even know what your feelings are! You haven’t felt the urge yet!
Eve: (angrily) And you think you know my feelings better than I do?
Alice: No woman knows what they want until they feel the urge to have kids! It can make EVERYTHING you’ve ever felt flip right on it’s head!
Eve: Well, some of us don’t want our personalities to completely change. Some of us like who we are.
Alice: Babe, I love you to bits but you can be a stubborn cow sometimes. You always resist me when I show you something new and positive about life. It takes you time to get there, I guess.
Eve: (irritated) That’s so condescending!
Alice: (loudly) You’re the one whose being condescending! I’ve actually researched this for weeks because I knew you’d be like this! You think you know more about becoming pregnant than I do!
Eve: This isn’t about being pregnant. This is about what I want in my life.
Alice: No, it’s not. It’s about your fertility, Eve. You’re preventing that side of you from being able to express itself, like it needs to. You’re letting yourself down!
Eve: I’m not letting myself down, Alice. I know I’m a very flawed, fucked up, and imperfect gal. I know I’m not always easy to live with. I know I’m not a paragon of virtue. But the fact that I don’t want to be a mum isn’t something terrible about me. It doesn’t make me a broken human being. It’s not something I need to try and change.
Alice: (shaking her head) You don’t believe in yourself.
Eve: Sometimes I don’t believe in myself! I’m not always super confident about everything I do. I get confused like anyone. Just because I have a successful career, that doesn’t mean I’m completely sorted. I have doubts about lots of things, like anyone does.
Alice: But isn’t that why we’re good for each other? We help each other with our doubts. We help each other solve problems. It’s been like that since I’ve known you, Eve.
Eve: Of course it has! You’ve helped me more than anyone! I wouldn’t be able to do job interviews if it weren’t for you. You taught me how to be more confident in my body, how to let go and be spontaneous. I love and appreciate all of that. I’d never in a million years not listen to what you had to say! My life is a product of all the things you’ve said to me over the years. I need that input! I’m not shutting it down.
Alice: I know that, honey. But we always accomplish things when we see ourselves as collaborators. If there’s anything life with you has taught me, it’s that we can do literally anything. I thought looking after your Dad would split us up but it didn’t. I thought my drinking would make you leave me but it didn’t. You believed in me.
Eve: Of course I believed in you! I love you, Alice. You’re my girl. I want to grow old with you. I want my time on this planet to be time with you.
Alice: Don’t you believe we can do anything together if we both give it our best?
Eve: Of course I do.
Alice: Then why can’t we both raise children in our home? We’re crafty. We’re both hard workers. I know we can make it work. There’s always a way. There’s always a way to create a schedule that won’t be terribly disruptive for either of us. It won’t stop you from living the life you want in your home. I can promise you that.
Eve: I don’t even care about that, Alice. I just don’t want to raise children. I never have. Nothing in it appeals to me.
Alice: Oh, shush. You know you’ll love it when you’re holding them in your arms. Once you can see their faces, you’ll change. You’ll have all the patience you need. It’ll be beautiful. You’ll see.
Eve: But that’s not a patience I want to develop. I don’t want to love being a mom. I’m happy not liking children. I’m happy preferring the company of adults.
Alice: (angrily) But that’s fucking bigoted!
Eve: Bigoted or not, I like my life the way it is. I don’t want to love children.
Alice: That’s like saying you don’t want to learn to be kind to strangers. Or get along with people that are different to you!
Eve: I know it sounds awful
Alice: It’s narcissistic. Like you can only be patient with people that are like you.
Eve: I don’t like how it sounds either. But I can’t do anything about it.
Alice: I had no idea your family damaged you this badly. It’s so sad.
Eve: Like I said, I don’t know why I am the way I am. It could have been my family. It could have been my mum. It could have been all the years I was bullied by so many other kids. It could have been a million other things.
Alice: You really do need some therapy, Eve. I’m concerned about you.
Eve: All I know is I’m not hurting anyone. I’m not hurting any child. It doesn’t hurt anyone that I have the family I’ve always wanted. It doesn’t hurt anyone that I’m not a mum and have no desire to be one.
Alice: (loudly) But you’re hurting me! It means I can’t be with you!
Eve: (Ioudly) But you don’t have to leave me! You don’t have to choose a child over me!
Alice: Then how am I supposed to feel good about us?
Eve: Because you love me and you tell me you love our relationship every day. That should be enough. You should feel enough love for me not to toss me aside for somebody who hasn’t even been born yet. I’ve already given you half my life, Alice!
Alice: Why do you get to be the judge of what I can and can’t feel? When did we agree to that?
Eve: You think you’re not judging my feelings right now?
Alice: I’m not! I’m just trying to have a conversation with you.
Eve: Alice, we both want different things. But you’re dismissing everything I want. That’s the conversation you’re creating.
Alice: Don’t blame me for making you look at yourself! You don’t even know what you want yet! You’re in the dark, babe.
Eve: (loudly) Everything I want you’re trying to pathologise! Every bit of me that doesn’t want to be a mum you’re describing as though it’s some pathetic weakness; something stopping me from realising my potential.
Alice: Well, I’m sorry but your feelings are pathological. They’re threatening everything in my life that I care about. If what you’re saying is true, it means I can’t get the acceptance I need from you.
Eve: Well, am I getting your compassion or understanding?
Alice: Yes, you are, Eve. You’re also getting my love.
Eve: Well, it doesn’t particularly feel like love. It feels like you’re putting pressure on me.
Alice: That’s because you’re confused. You need time to think about this. I know how you are.
Eve: I feel like I’m trying to communicate something important to you about who I am. And I feel like it’s being completely minimised, ignored…dismissed, even.
Alice: Then you’re reading the situation wrong. I’m not dismissing you. I’m trying to get you to look at yourself.
Eve: I already know what I am, Alice.
Alice: No you don’t, sweetie. You need a wake up call. You do that for me when I need it.
Eve: (angrily) Well, I don’t feel like I’m getting a fucking wake up call!
Alice: (loudly) That’s because you’re pushing it away! You’re not listening!
Eve: I am listening…. and what I’m hearing is you’re trying to push me into having children. And not only that. You’re making me feel crazy for thinking I should have a say in the matter!
Alice: I’m giving you your say. You can say anything you want!
Eve: Then why won’t you believe me when I tell you I’m happy being a childfree woman?
Alice: Why do you have to be so rigid in how you define yourself? Does that actually make you happy?
Eve: (exasperated) Yes! It makes me happy!
Alice: (shaking her head disapprovingly) I don’t understand you. I can’t figure you out anymore.
Eve: Well, this is who I am.
Alice: That is so sad…I’m with a woman who can’t even love children.
Eve: Here’s something even sadder: I like not having the patience to teach another person how to wipe their ass.
Alice: I feel sorry for you, Eve. That’s all I can say.
Eve: (sarcastically) Yes, I’m such a stone cold bitch…to think a woman might not want to stick her hand in someone else’s shit!
Alice: (looking very sad) It is cold and bitchy….and selfish. It means you’re not who I thought you were.
Eve: Who did the hell did you think I was?
Alice: Eve, we’re going to get old some day. Who knows what might happen to either of us. I might get a brain injury or some debilitating disease. I might become disabled. All the things you’re happy not having the patience to do….you’d have to do all those things for me. If anything bad happened.
Eve: (loudly) Of course I would! This isn’t about that!
Alice: What if I got alzheimers, like your Dad? You made yourself have the patience you needed to care for him. Why do that for him and not for me? You made me wipe his ass with you!
Eve: (loudly) I’d wipe your ass if I had to! This isn’t about the distant future! This is about choosing to wipe a kid’s ass every day right now!
Alice: (sighing)….you just said you were proud of not having the patience to wipe someone’s ass.
Eve: It’s different with you! You’re my equal! You’re an adult! You’re autonomous!
Alice: So was your Dad.
Eve: But he stopped being all of those things. He stopped being my equal. He became someone who couldn’t make decisions, someone I had to potty train. That’s why it was painful. I don’t want to look after someone like that again, if I have a choice about it. If it happened to you, it would be different. That wouldn’t be a choice.
Alice: But you’re choosing not to do that for our children! Why wouldn’t you want to potty train your own children?
Eve: (loudly) Because I don’t fucking want to have children! I just want to live with my life with you! What’s so fucking terrible about that!!?? What’s so terrible about the last fifteen years!!?
Alice: Nothing really, but we’re getting older now.
Eve: What does that have to do with anything?
Alice: We need to grow up.
Eve: I already have grown up.
Alice: No, you haven’t. You can’t just be selfish and hate people that are different to you. The fact that you don’t know that really fucking disturbs me, Eve. I trusted you to be the mature one in this relationship! I thought you knew how to manage your life!
Eve: (exasperated) …What the fuck?
Alice: If we carry on like this, you’ll miss out on the most wonderful experience that comes with being a woman! I’ll be deprived of what I need, with this big hole in my heart! You’ll break my heart, Eve. You’ll break me if I can’t have children with you.
Eve: Alice, have you actually thought about that? Have you thought about what I’m missing out on?
Alice: I think about it every day and it saddens me more than anything.
Eve: I’m missing out on having people in my home I have to look after; people completely dependent on me; people who can’t make decisions or do basic things; people I have to control; people I might not even like. I’m missing out on my life being ten times harder than it is! I’m not good with stress like that! It’s not good for my mental health!
Alice: That is pure unadulterated bullshit, Eve. Infertility is bad for mental health. Children are what make life meaningful.
Eve: They can’t be, Alice. Not for someone like me.
Alice: (angrily) WHY NOT?? WHAT MAKES YOU SO DIFFERENT??
Eve: They wouldn’t be on my level. They’d be dependent on me and I’d hate that.
Alice: You’re looking at it in such a selfish way; a spiteful and self-centered way.
Eve: (loudly) Tell me how what I said is spiteful!
Alice: You should know why it’s spiteful. Those children won’t be children forever. They’ll grow to become adults that love you. They’ll become your equals. And they’ll love you more than anyone!
Eve: (loudly) Yes, and we might not fucking like each other!
Alice: (loudly) Their personalities don’t matter! You’ll be their mother!
Eve: I’m sorry but personalities matter to me.
Alice: That’s conditional love, Eve. That’s worse than bigotry.
Eve: It is what it is, Alice.
Alice: (disgusted) I hope you don’t love me that way!
Eve: (loudly) It’s the reason I can love you! I love you because of how much I like you! That’s why I want you in my home every day.
Alice: Well, thankfully, once we have kids, you’ll change. You’ll think about our home in a completely different way. It won’t be like this.
Eve: We’re not having kids because I’m not having kids. If I devote my life to people in my home, I want them to be people that have already been raised. I want the people I love most to be people that are already my equals.
Alice: So you think you’re better than children! You won’t raise a child because you think it’s inferior to you!
Eve: It’s not that it’s inferior to me. It’s that..
Alice: (interrupting) You talk about kids like someone who would abuse them!
Eve: (frustrated) No, I don’t!
Alice: Then how can you hate the idea of raising your own child? Why is something so wonderful and magical for people so painful for you? How can you hate the one thing women love more than anything?
Eve: I don’t know Alice….I don’t know why I’m the way I am. I’m just me. I’ve always felt this way.
Alice: Who taught you that children were horrible?
Eve: (looking very sad) I don’t think children are horrible…No one taught me children are horrible… I’ve just always known I wanted to spend my life loving and looking after a grown up…
Alice: But grown ups aren’t better than children. We all started out as children.
Eve: I know that, Alice. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to feel this way.
Alice: Then do the right thing, Eve. Do the humane thing. Face your problems, head on. Don’t give in to them and be stupid. You do that enough as it is.
Eve: You know, I always thought I’d be rejected by people for wanting to love a woman. I thought people would think I’m disgusting for that. I lived all my life with that pain.
Alice: Where did this come from?
Eve: (sighing) …I never thought I’d have to worry about children…. This is mental.
Alice: You thought women in lesbian relationships hate children?
Eve: No…. I just thought you’d never act like a typical straight woman. I didn’t expect to be treated like this for not wanting kids. I thought I’d get more acceptance from you, Alice.
Alice: (loudly) You’re the one who can’t accept what people need! You think you’re enough to make a woman happy! You think you’re better than a son or a daughter! What a fucking ego you have!
Eve: (looking down in sadness) Maybe I thought…loving JUST me wouldn’t be so horrendous and unbearable to someone.
Alice: It doesn’t have to be unbearable, Eve. It’s unbearable if I can’t have kids with you.
Eve: How odd, I actually thought that if you fell in love with me, that if you stayed with me for this long…that maybe you could be happy loving me and me alone. I didn’t think that happiness was impossible.
Alice: Well, I’m sorry but it is impossible. My body needs us to raise a family together. It’s time.
Eve: Yes, and your body makes you hate me for being who I’ve always been.
Alice: I don’t hate you. I just don’t like it when you prejudge people. Especially children.
Eve: I’m not prejudging anyone. I’m just trying not to have my life destroyed in the middle of the night.
Alice: Eve, I’m only doing for you what you’ve always done for me. You always tell me when I’m being self-destructive, when I’m behaving irresponsibly, when I’m not practicing self-care.
Eve: I know I do.
Alice: When I fuck up, you pull me up on it. I need that and so do you.
Eve: But I haven’t fucked up.
Alice: You’re trying to take the piss and I’m setting limits. I’m giving you boundaries.
Eve: So am I the child? Is that how this works?
Alice: I won’t let you get away with bigotry and narrow mindedness, especially about things that are so important for the both of us. I have zero tolerance for bigots, Eve. You should know that about me by now.
Eve: I feel like you don’t respect me anymore; like you’re happy to walk all over me because you think I’ll just sit there and take it.
Alice: Eve, I’m trying to set a good example for you! I’m trying to love you and show you how to be happy!
Eve: (loudly) This doesn’t feel like love! This feels like my family all over again.
Eve: Because I thought the issue of children involved two potential road-paths for us. Not just one. I thought it was something we could at least negotiate.
Alice: We can’t negotiate unless you’re honest with yourself, Eve. You think you’re choosing not to have children but you’re not. You’re just hurting the both of us.
Eve: I never thought such a big part of what I am could make me lose everything, all over again. I didn’t think my life would wind up like this; never in a million years.
Alice: Women can’t choose to settle for relationships where their partners hate children. I love you but you have to face reality.
Eve: You’re not happy with me, are you? That’s what this is about. It’s not about babies.
Alice: I’m not happy with you, Eve. Telling me we can’t have kids is like someone forcing me to be straight. It’s that bad.
Alice: Look at what you’re doing! You’re fucking destroying our lives! And not just that! You’re destroying any chance you’ll ever have of making any woman happy. Not just me.
Eve: (sighing)…I never thought you’d make me feel this way…You of all people…
Alice: I’m not responsible for your feelings. I can’t get inside your head. Only you can make the most of your life, Eve.
Eve: (looking upset) ……I never thought I’d lose the love of my life….Not over this…
Alice: But you don’t have to lose the love of your life over it, Eve. Don’t give up on our relationship so easily! I love you!
Eve: I’m not giving up on you, Alice!…..I’d never give up on you. I need you…
Alice: I need you too! You’re the person I need more than anyone!
Eve: But I’m scared. I’m so scared of losing you. I don’t know how I could..
Alice: (interrupting) There’s no reason to be scared, Eve. Just take a deep breath and stay calm.
Eve: (sighing in a panic) I don’t want to be rejected again….I couldn’t handle that…Not by you…Not now..
Alice hugs Eve and holds her face in her hands.
Alice: You’re not getting rejected, Eve. Don’t worry about that, alright? That’s the last thing I would ever want. All the best things in my life are there because of you.
Alice kisses Eve to comfort her.
Alice: I couldn’t be happy without you anymore than I could be happy without a child.
Eve: You’ve been my life for fifteen years. I can’t just end all of that like it’s nothing. I’m not well enough. I think I’m going under again. I can feel it. I can’t even keep track of time lately.
Alice: You think I don’t know that? You’re too transparent for your own fucking good!
Eve: Last week when you were in Hull, I didn’t get out of bed for two days. I didn’t tell you that because I didn’t want you to worry about me.
Alice: Why do you think I’m not in Hull now? I know you need me to be here, silly.
Eve: …Will you promise to look after me then? Or do I have to worry about going through all of this alone?
Alice: You’ve got me, Eve. You’ve got me! I’m not going anywhere you donkey.
Eve:..I know….I know that…This is just so difficult for me. I feel like such a horrible person..
Alice: You’re a wonderful person. You’re the best person I know.
Eve: (looking down)…I feel like I don’t deserve you….I feel …like I don’t deserve anyone…
Alice: You deserve me! I just want you to be happy. We both need some joy in our lives. We need some sunny days, after everything we’ve been through together.
Eve: I know…I just feel like ….I don’t know how I feel ..
Alice: Don’t worry about how you feel! You’re feeling whatever you need to feel right now.
Eve: I don’t know why I’m the way I am. I don’t know why I’m like this. …The things I’m saying about kids sound so horrible…
Alice takes Eve’s hand in hers and stares tenderly in her eyes.
Alice: You’re just confused. Your feelings will sort themselves out. They always do.
Eve: That’s what’s so horrible. I’m not confused, Eve.
Alice: If I were you, I’d take a diazapam and get a good night’s rest. We can talk more about this more tomorrow. I’ll cook you a nice breakfast. We can watch Mulholland Drive in bed. Then we can go have afternoon tea at Mrs Bridges.
Eve: Alice, I need to know something.
Eve: …I need to know you won’t leave me if I don’t want to be a mum. I need to know that our life the way it is…that it’s not awful for you. I need to know I’m good enough, the way that I am. I need to know you won’t reject me.
Alice: I won’t reject you but you can’t be so pigheaded! I need you to listen to me! I need you not to reject my ideas out of hand.
Eve: I’m trying to hear you. I’m really really trying to listen and think about what you’re saying. I’m just scared.
Alice: It’s obvious you’re scared. You’re scared of not being perfect. You don’t believe in your capabilities sometimes. I know that about you.
Eve: I know you do.
Alice: But you always come through. You always excel and impress the shit out of me.
Eve: (smiling) Thank you love. I can do that because you’re the one I have supporting me.
Alice: Of course. I’ll always be there for you.
Eve: But I need your help when I’m doubting myself sometimes. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes I just need you to remind me I’m not a terrible person.
Alice: You’re the furthest thing from a terrible person! You think you’d be a bad mother but that’s complete bullshit. You’re already like an amazing mother, the way you look after your friends. You always give such good advice. You protect people in your life when they need you. Not just me. You do that for everyone you care about. You’re like the mum I wish I had.
Eve: I’m scared of being pressured into being a mum. I’m scared of you leaving me. I’m scared of everything.
Alice: I’d never leave you. We’re having a family together and there’s nothing scary about that.
Eve: I’m scared of giving a kid a mum that would rather live the life I’m leading now. I’m scared of resenting my son or daughter. I’m scared of resenting you and regretting this choice.
Alice: You won’t regret it. Women regret NOT having children. They don’t regret having them. Even the ones who are ambivalent about it, when they get pregnant, always say it was the greatest thing that ever happened to them. Every mother knows nothing else in their life is more important than her children. Nothing is more satisfying than loving and raising a child. Not friends. Not sex. Not even a career.
Eve: But I’m not normal…
Alice: Everyone is unique, honey. But we’re all human.
Eve: Can’t some humans be happy without having children? Isn’t that even possible?
Alice: You’re not that kind of human, Eve. I’ve seen you with my nieces. I can see your maternal streak. Not just with them. I can feel it even when you look after me. It’s there. You can’t tell me it isn’t. And I’ve honestly never felt anything like it. Not even with my mum. I feel completely and totally nurtured by you; like you instinctively love and protect me; every cell in my body. It’s unreal how good you are at it.
Eve: That’s not the same as wanting to be a mother. I’m a childfree woman with a maternal streak. Not a woman who wants to be a mum. If I had a kid, it would be because I love you. Not because I want it. I’m childfree, Alice.
Alice: Don’t define yourself with PC terms like that! When you’re dogmatic, you don’t do yourself any favours! You narrow your opportunities. You miss out on the things that could be the very things you’ve always needed. Life is always a surprise, Eve. But you have to be open to the best surprises. You can’t shut yourself off from them.
Eve: Having a kid isn’t a happiness-guaranteed surprise. It’s not like trying out a new job to see whether or not you like it.
Alice: I know it’s not. That’s not what I’m saying!
Eve: With motherhood, if you don’t like it, it’s not like you can quit and do something else. You can’t change course without ruining someone’s life; the person its your job to love more than anyone.
Alice: Would you, of all people, wilfully choose to ruin a person’s life? Would you choose to ruin the life of someone you love?
Eve: Of course I wouldn’t.
Alice: You’re not a bad person. Eve. I’ve never seen you choose to hurt another person and I don’t believe you ever would, even if you hated them. You never let people down. That’s not part of your character.
Eve: I know it isn’t.
Alice: (smiling) I mean, don’t get me wrong. You’re a stubborn bitch sometimes..
Eve: (smiling) I know I am.
Alice: And yeah, when you’re stubborn, you sometimes say stupid things that sound like you’re gonna mistreat others. But you never do. You’re always good in the end.
Eve: That’s because I care about people, Alice. But not the way a mum loves her children. I’m maternal but not motherly.
Alice: (rolling eyes) There you go again, using labels. Why can’t you just be yourself? Why is that so hard for you? Why do you feel the need to put yourself in such a stupid box?
Eve: I’m not labelling myself. I’m just trying to tell you what I am. I don’t know how else to tell you.
Alice: You don’t have to tell me anything. And you don’t have to be so defensive.
Eve: (loudly) I don’t know how to convince you that this is me! It’s like you’re trying to make me something I’m not! It’s like you’re beating me down!
Alice: Honey, I’m just doing for you what you’ve done for me all these years. I’m keeping you pointed in the right direction. I don’t want you ruining our lives. It’s important to me that you’re healthy and happy.
Eve: You obviously don’t know what makes me happy.
Alice: (irritated) Eve, I fucking know what makes you happy! You like spending time with me. You like looking at paintings that perplex you. You like good novels and interesting friends and country walks, nice dinners, good discussions with your students, interesting trips to the cinema. You like sex. You like porn. You like massages and manicures. You like vacations to Spain and cool candle stores and working out on the wii in the afternoon. You like the Leicester Comedy Festival. You like coffee with butter scotch syrup in it. You like second hand clothes. You like silent movies from the 20s. You like dancing like an idiot with me to Tigran Hamasyan records in our living room. You like Genevieve Artadi and Louis Cole. You like meeting new people and talking to them about how they see the world. You like making a difference in their lives. You like all my nieces that I can’t stand. And the one thing you love more than anything is our relationship and how much I fucking love you. That’s what makes you very happy.
Eve: (smiling) You do know me very well.
Alice: I pay attention to all those things!
Eve: I know you do. I just wish you’d pay attention to the fact that being a mum would drastically alter them.
Alice: That’s nonsense. You could have your life and still be a great mum. Nothing in your life will really change, I promise you! Everything will just get better!
Eve: But what if it doesn’t? What if I regret being a mum? What if I find regretting my child so unbearable that I feel ashamed? What if I hold it in and hate myself? What would that do to a kid? Or our relationship? Or what about my mental health?
Alice: Eve, have you ever met a single woman in your entire life who told you she regretted being a mum?
Eve: No woman who regretted it would ever feel comfortable enough to share that with me. Or anybody.
Alice: Women who regret it are a tiny tiny, statistically insignificant minority. You’re being paranoid if you think you’ll be that sort of person, honestly! That’s like worrying you’ll become a pedophile!
Eve: No, Alice. We have no way of knowing what the percentage is of women who regret having children. If half the mums in the world regretted it, we’d still never know.
Alice: Of course we would!
Eve: It’s not something you can admit in polite society. Admitting it makes people hate you. If you ever say you regret being a mum, the world treats you like you should fucking kill yourself. Like you’re scum.
Alice: Well, that’s because mums who regret it are normally child abusers or sociopaths. Any woman with a kind heart would never regret the experience of raising a child.
Eve: So it’s all quite black and white, then. All good women want to be mums, eventually. Only bad women are discontented with motherhood.
Alice: I wouldn’t necessarily put it that way.
Eve: But that’s what you’re saying. That’s what I have to believe in order to get you not to hate me.
Alice: Not necessarily. I just think it’s important for people not to delude themselves. Especially about who they are.
Eve: You think I’m crazy.
Alice: I don’t think you’re crazy. That’s not what I’m saying.
Eve: Then what are you saying, Alice?
Alice: I’m saying people shouldn’t suppress their natural instincts. People shouldn’t have to hide who they are. Its important for gay people to come out of the closet. Its important for transgender people to be brave and get the surgeries they need. None of us choose who we are. Our biology chooses it for us. When people deny that, they make themselves unhappy. When you’re unhappy you don’t just ruin your own life. You ruin other people’s lives too. It’s actually selfish not to make yourself happy.
Eve: But people know what makes them happy because they feel it very strongly.
Alice: I know that.
Eve: Alice, I feel very strongly that I don’t want to have children. I feel very strongly that it would NOT make me happy. The idea of having a child makes me feel very sad. It makes me as sad as the idea of losing you. Does that count for anything?
Alice: Of course it doesn’t!
Eve: (incredulous) …But I don’t understand… Why don’t my feelings matter?
Alice: (loudly) Eve, get over yourself! There are millions of women who feel like you! It’s not uncommon! You’re not unique!
Eve: I know that!
Alice: (loudly) And what happens to most of those women? They change their mind! Everything turns out ok because they don’t give into those feelings and hurt people they love!
Eve: (yelling in desperation) Alice, listen to me. Please just listen!!
Alice: I’m listening.
Eve: I’ve always known I didn’t like kids. I’ve always felt uncomfortable around them. I wanted to be an adult when I was a kid, so I could finally be around adults instead of children. I hated being forced to play with children. I never had friends. I never even felt like I was a child. It was almost like being in the wrong body. It felt humiliating.
Alice: Why haven’t you ever told me this?
Eve: I didn’t want you think I hated your nieces.
Alice: Well, that was stupid of you. Children make me far more uncomfortable than you.
Eve: Alice, I’ve never told anyone about this….I’ve been ashamed of it..
Alice: Well, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You were a kid that got badly bullied. And now you’re projecting all that bullying onto children, as a whole. That’s why you need therapy.
Eve: I’m not saying I think children are bullies. I’m saying I feel comfortable with adults in a way that’s always felt natural. I never felt that way with children, whether I was an adult or a child. Childhood was something I waited to grow out of. I’m happy I did.
Alice: You need to revisit your childhood. You need to sort this shit out. You’re an adult now.
Eve: When I became an adult, for the first time, I got to be with people that made me feel comfortable. I may have lost my family but I gained the world of adults. I gained you.
Alice: But now you can turn that experience into something positive! You can learn from it! You can make peace with children when you have your own!
Eve: That’s not how I want to make peace with children. I’ve already made peace with children. I can interact with some kids for a few hours at a time.
Alice: That’s not good enough, Eve.
Eve: Alice, why can’t you just let me be an auntie? Why do I have to become a mum? Why am I not good enough?
Alice: Because you’re not just an auntie, Eve. You’re like a mum. You’re like the best mum I’ve ever seen. You’re just not a mum yet.
Eve: Alice, that’s..
Alice: (interrupting) You’re also a woman and as far as I can tell, there’s nothing wrong with your body. You’re attractive. You have nice hips. You ovulate on time. You’re not cold and nasty.
Eve: So you think women who don’t want children are cold and nasty?
Alice: Well…I wouldn’t necessarily describe them that way.
Eve: How you would you describe them then?
Alice: I’d say they’re like gay people who try and cure themselves of their gayness. Or maybe they’re like black people who wish they were white; Uncle Toms. The nicer ones are like that.
Eve: I never knew you thought I was such a headcase.
Alice: But, you’re not! You’re a kind, compassionate, and sensitive woman! You’re always kind to children! You’re always kind to everyone!
Eve: I don’t feel very kind and compassionate.
Alice: But you are! It just takes you time to be brave. You’re stubborn but you always do the right thing in the end. You don’t hurt the people you love. You’re all the things they ever need you to be. That’s all you need to be a good mum.
Eve: But I don’t want to be a mum, Alice. I’m doing it for you, but it’s not what I want. I just want to be what I am now. I don’t think what I am is horrible. It’s you that thinks I’m horrible.
Alice: But I don’t think you’re horrible! It’s just not realistic to assume you’re in a tiny minority of women that are so fucked up that they regret their own babies. You’re not a hard bitch, Eve. You’re not arrogant. You’re not cruel to children. You’re warm and sweet and you feel things so deeply. That’s why I fell in love with you.
Eve: But I feel very deeply that having a kid would be bad for my mind. It’d make me feel exhausted, jealous, sad, confused, angry, guilty, depressed… maybe even suicidal. I don’t know how I’d cope with all that pain… I don’t know what I’d do. I feel like it’d be unsafe to have a child.
Alice: (loudly) That’s such a stupid fucking thing to say! In fact, it’s not just stupid. It’s dangerous!
Eve: (confused).. Why?
Alice: (angrily) You’re only 32!
Eve: What are you talking about?
Alice: (loudly) If you don’t have kids soon, you’ll be risking all those feelings you just described! Infertility causes those feelings!!
Eve: That’s not true of every woman, Alice. Different women have…
Alice: (interrupting) For any woman, having kids is always the safer option, physically and mentally! It’s even better for keeping your friends. Just trust me on this and please stop fighting me!
Eve: I’m not fighting you. I can’t fight anymore.
Alice: Then why won’t you give children a chance? Why can’t you be happy being a mum for me?
Eve: I don’t exactly know…..All I can say is I love you and…
Alice: (interrupting) If you love me, you’ll be happy! You won’t completely write off our happiness. You won’t fucking crush all my dreams because you’re selfish!
Eve: I love you, but I can’t be happy now. I’m sorry.
Alice: But why? I don’t get it. You can keep all the things about your life that you love! I’m not asking you to give up any of that!
Eve: I feel like deep down, you don’t actually believe this stuff, like it’s some belief system you’ve been conned into.
Alice: If it’s a belief system, it’s the world’s belief system. I didn’t make up it up, Eve. This is just how things are.
Eve: Well, you’re making motherhood sound like Fascism; like birth will erase my feelings about children, that it will make my personality disappear and turn me into this happy, baby worshipping robot.
Alice: (loudly) That’s only what it looks like from the outside! That’s what it looks like when you don’t have the urge!
Eve: I can’t imagine why anyone would want that urge. It sounds like brainwashing.
Alice: (angrily) Motherhood is the most wonderful thing in the world! Ask any woman what it’s like to give birth! If you think women shouldn’t conceive, you’re the one whose a fucking Fascist!
Eve: I’m just trying to understand what…
Alive: (interrupting) You live in fear! You hate what you don’t understand!
Eve: What am I not understanding?
Alice: Motherhood teaches you how to really love a person. You can’t truly love a person if the reason you love them is you feel a strong connection. That’s just friendship and friendships end. True love is love with or without a connection. It’s love because the beloved needs it; not because it’s easy to give.
Eve: Well, not all women can do that sort of love. Some of us only love because of strong connections.
Alice: (loudly) No, some women are fucking stubborn! You know you don’t love me just because I connect with you! Your love for me is deeper than that!
Eve: Yeah, but the love is there because of the connection. It’s not there because you need it.
Alice: (angrily) Yes, it fucking is! You stayed with me when I was horrible; when I alienated most of your friends. You lost your family because of me! You stayed with me even though I fell in love with a man for a year! I even beat the shit out of you the day you got your Masters! I could have killed you that night and you’re still here with me!
Eve: I did all of that because I love you. Not because you needed my love. There’s a difference, Alice.
Alice: If you love me so much, why do you hate the thing that’s most important to me?
Eve: Maybe because I thought that thing was me for fifteen years.
Alice: (rolling eyes) Everything always comes back to you, doesn’t it?
Eve: So it’s not me, then. It’s our babies. I should have known.
Alice: (loudly) Of course it’s our babies! They’re more important than anything!
Eve: Which means they’re more important to you than me.
Alice: Why can’t you be happy about that?
Eve: …You already know why, Alice. I’ve said it a million fucking times.
Alice: Well, that I don’t understand. I don’t understand why, of all the things you can choose to be, you’re choosing to be miserable right now.
Eve: I don’t understand why you find that so hard to understand.
Alice: You’re having kids with me…but you hate the idea of being a mum. That’s just bizarre, Eve. It’s like saying you hate sunsets and love. It’s a crazy way to look at something you should be celebrating.
Eve: I don’t hate love, Alice. Love means more to me than anything. It’s why I didn’t kill myself when everyone else rejected me. Your love is the reason I’m having a child.
Alice: Then why can’t you love that child for me? Why can’t you do what everyone else can do?
Eve: I don’t know, Alice….I never really thought about it before tonight…I just didn’t think it was gonna happen..
Alice: (angrily) Well, you should have fucking thought about it!
Eve: Maybe I didn’t want to think about it. Maybe I didn’t want to know what I thought.
Alice: ..But why?
Eve: (speaking hesitantly)… Alice…the reason I can’t be happy being a mother is… motherhood disturbs me, if I’m honest. The idea of some urge in me changing my personality and making me love things I hate is disturbing to me. In fact, I can’t think of anything more horrifying than loving a creature that can’t do anything and treating it like it’s more wonderful than everyone else. It’s like getting a virus that would make me give up research so I could persue a career at McDonalds. Whenever someone says they’re going to have a child, I lie when I tell them congratulations. All I can think about is the fact that they’re pushing a stranger into my world and I’m going to have to accommodate and be nice to that stranger, regardless of whether I like it; regardless of whether he or she is lovely or some dumb fucking asshole. And it never matters to mums, whether their kids are intelligent and interesting. Sometimes it seems like when babies turn into wonderful people, that’s when mothers are truly disappointed. That’s why when I hear mums talk about how much they love their babies, I actually feel sad for them. Babies can’t do anything and they get more love and devotion than the kindest, wisest adults. That may be necessary for the survival of our species, but to me…it’s just tragic. It’s a flagrant injustice. And instead of treating it like that, people worship it like it’s some sort of tear-inducing miracle. That’s disgusting to me….in fact, it’s not even disgusting. It’s de-humanising and degrading and I hate it. I hate it with all my heart.
Alice: (incredulous) Are you fucking crazy?
Eve: Maybe I am. …I don’t know.
Alice: (shocked) This is all because of your childhood! It’s because you actually hate all children! This is coming from such a wounded place in you! I can feel it.
Eve: I’m sorry but this is just how I feel. I know motherhood is necessary and I know it can be done in a healthy way. I don’t condemn anyone for doing it and I hope I do it well.
Alice: Then why do you hate it so much?
Eve: Because it’s not fair. It’s not based on what people deserve. It’s like choosing to love idiots. Love for babies is your body pulling love in all the directions it doesn’t naturally go.
Alice: But Eve, for most women, it does naturally go in those directions. You’re the one that isn’t natural. I love you but technically, you’re the one whose more like a freak of nature. It’s not women who love being mums.
Eve: Some women are like me. Some women don’t want to be mums, but very few have the courage not to cave in and be like everyone else. That causes a lot of guilt and pain in the world.
Alice: Women don’t cave in, sweetie. They realise there’s no alternative. They can’t help but love motherhood. They can’t escape it.
Eve: Well, I’m going to be one of those women for you. I’m going to join the mummy cult so we can be like everyone else.
Alice: If you think motherhood is a cult, what do you think of humanity? Have you ever thought about that?
Eve: Yes, I have and I don’t like that about myself. I don’t like that I don’t get motherhood. As a woman, that’s never been easy.
Alice: But you can change! You don’t have to just accept this about yourself! You don’t have to hate humanity, Eve. You can be happy with people, the way they are. That’ll help you be a much better parent.
Eve: You’re making me hate humanity right now. You’re making people sound like mindless drones.
Alice: No, Eve. That’s coming from you. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t believe in hate.
Eve: You’re basically saying that I’m not who I think I am; that everything I think I know about myself is bad; that my choices are delusions; that I’m making myself unhappy by doing all the things that make me feel like I’m being myself. You’re telling me I don’t have reproductive choice in any sense that I understand the concept; that my value as a human is nothing independently of my competency as a good breeder. You’re telling me that my relationship with you means nothing if I’m not a mother; that any love I have with any woman should get annihilated if she wants to join the mummy brigade and I feel the slightest hesitation.
Alice: Well, if you want to be negative, you can think of it that way. Or you can think of it like most people do.
Eve: And how is that?
Alice: They understand that women aren’t happy with partners that don’t want to give them children. They understand that infertility is painful and dangerous; that being a parent is a sign of maturity, a sign that you’re at piece with your humanity.
Eve: Yeah, and who I am doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how kind I am. It doesn’t matter if I’m funny or sexy. My accomplishments don’t matter. My creativity doesn’t matter. My uniqueness doesn’t matter. My compassion and love don’t matter. My pain doesn’t even matter. If I choose not to raise a child, I don’t deserve to be loved by a woman. That’s what you think.
Alice: It’s not that I think you don’t deserve to be loved by a woman. I’m just stating a fact. You’re not attractive to women when you refuse to raise a child. If you don’t like babies, that cancels out everything that’s attractive about you. You’re not a life partner. You’re a friend, and probably not a close one. That’s how it is for most women.
Eve: I can see that, Alice. It just tears me apart inside.
Alice: (shaking head) Don’t be such a diva! Nobody would ever tell a woman who wanted children to stay with a man who didn’t. Everyone would encourage her to dump his ass.
Eve: Yes, and I don’t fucking agree with that either. I think it’s cruel to end a relationship with an existing person to devote your life to someone who could be anyone; someone that hasn’t even been born. It’s mean-spirited. It’s treating perfectly nice people like disposable commodities.
Alice: Eve, if a woman wanted children and stayed with her childfree partner, things wouldn’t work out. There’d be nothing but resentment. She’d eventually hate that partner.
Eve: I can accept that. But I don’t have to be happy about it. Just like I don’t have to be happy with the fact that I find motherhood disturbing.
Alice: You tie yourself in knots with these ideas of yours. Life is much happier if you can just accept things Eve.
Eve: I know it probably is. I just wish things were different. I wish we were less like straight people.
Eve: I don’t know why. It’s just an emotion.
Alice: Well, I’m sorry honey, but we are like straight people in many ways. The things that make people attractive are universal. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.
Eve: Possibly. I couldn’t say one way or the other.
Alice: You know, you make me so angry with you. It drives me mad, Eve. You drive me fucking mad.
Eve: I know I do.
Alice: Not because of the babies.
Alice: Because….I don’t find it easy to be happy. I’m not very loveable, compared to you. You, on the other hand, are one of the most amazing and kind people that lives in this city. But you don’t believe that. You act like people shouldn’t care about you; like you’re not even kind enough to raise a family.
Eve: I’m not perfect, Alice. I don’t just have amazing qualities. If I did, I’d have more of the things I want from other people in my life. I’d have more of what I want from you.
Alice: You have all the qualities of a great parent; you’re intelligent, broad minded, patient, compassionate, trustworthy, able to put other people above yourself. You’re also fun, open, beautiful, incredibly sweet, and an amazingly effective teacher. Those are the qualities everyone wishes they had in a friend, a parent, a lover, or anyone else. Those are the qualities that make anyone attractive, Eve. You’ve got ‘em.
Eve: Yeah, but they all got cancelled out by my lack of broodiness, remember.
Alice: No, they didn’t. You’re not giving into that shit. You’re fighting it with me. We’re fighting it together.
Eve: I’m not fighting anything. I’m done fighting.
Alice: That’s not true, Eve. You’re fighting your delusions! You’re joining the rest of humanity and getting pregnant. That’s the most kind and compassionate thing you will ever do in your life. And for you, it’s a real achievement!
Eve: I feel like a freak…. Like I’m not a human being. Like I’m… sub-human or something…
Alice: You’d only be that if you didn’t have children.
Eve: Then why do I feel like it anyway?
Alice: Because you’re hurting. You feel like even though we’re having babies together, I’m still rejecting you. You feel like I’m rejecting what you are. I know how your mind works.
Eve: I think you’re right.
Alice: I know you more than you know yourself, Eve. You’re hurting badly. It’s in your eyes. Look at you.
Eve: I haven’t been this hurt in ages.
Alice: But pain is a chance for growth, Eve. Be positive.
Eve: ..It’s like you plunged a knife into my heart. I can’t even cry.
Alice: I know and I’m sorry it hurts like that. When you’re hurting, I hurt too. I wish I didn’t have to say any of this to you. I wish I could tell you things were fine. It would be so much easier.
Eve: (tearing up) I know it would. But it just hurts…so badly…I’m in so much pain…
Alice: But it’s ultimately more important that I tell you these things. I’m not being sadistic, here. It’s like when you told me I needed to quit drinking. The truth always hurts.
Eve: (tears streaming down face) I’m not even hurting… it’s worse than that…It’s worse than anything…
Alice: I know it’s bad, honey. But it’ll get better. Just trust me. I won’t let you go under.
Eve: …I’m already under..
Alice: No, you’re not. Not yet. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.
Eve: (sobbing)…I feel like ..I’m dying inside…I feel like I shouldn’t be here…
Alice: You’re not dying. You’re strong, Eve. You’ve just forgotten something.
Alice: You’ve forgotten that I’m going to make you happier than you’ve ever been in your entire life! You’ll get to experience being a mum!
Eve: (crying) …I wish it didn’t hurt so much…
Alice: I know you’re in pain, but trust me: You’ll thank me when this is all over. You’ll thank me with joyful tears in your eyes. It’ll be the most transformative and awe-inspiring experience you’ve ever had!
Eve (crying) …I’m sorry…I can’t…
Alice: (interrupting) Our kids will make me seem insignificant, in comparison! You’ll do things for the kids you’d never dream of doing for me! You’ll leave me if I get in the way of your relationship!
Eve: (gasping)…… I never liked my Dad…. I loved him but I never liked him…. Even before the alzheimers…
Alice: What does that have to do with anything?
Eve: (sniffing) If we have a kid like my dad…. you’d want me to love him more… than I love you….
Alice: Of course I would!
Eve gets off the settee and puts her head in her hands, facing away from Alice.
Eve: (crying again) …I can’t love a horrible fucking kid… more than you…I have to like people I love…
Alice: But you will! They won’t be horrible but even if they were, you’d still love them more than me!
Eve: (crying and screaming)I CANT!!…I DON’T WORK THAT WAY!!….I CAN’T LOVE JUST ANYONE!!… I HAVE TO LIKE THEM!!
Alice gets up and puts her arms around Eve, whispering in her ear.
Alice: You will, honey. Luckily, it’s not in your control anyway.
Eve: (crying)….I feel like I can’t control anything…
Alice: Your instincts haven’t kicked in yet. That’s all that’s going on. When the hormones start working and you see that baby smiling up at you, you’ll easily do anything for that kid, no matter how painful. Who they are won’t matter. They could be stupid. They could bore you to tears. They could be bullies. They could even commit horrible crimes. And no one will ever be more loveable to you than they are. Not me. Not even you. You’ll die for them if that’s what they need.
Eve: (sobbing loudly) …That’s fucking terrifying!…
Alice: Shhhhhh…..don’t make yourself upset, honey. It’s not terrifying. You’re just not ready yet…
Eve: (crying) I’ll never be ready for that……
Alice: Eve, it’s what life’s all about. And sooner or later, it’ll make you happy. Your body will literally push you. You just need time. Like you gave me time to quit drinking. I know you hate all this now and it’s totally understandeable, given where you are in your life. You’re in a dark place. Life is dark before you’re broody but I know how you feel. I’ve been there!
Eve: (crying)….That’s not why I’m in a dark place… But I love you…I still love you Alice…
Alice: I love you too.
Eve: (sighing) I love you…and I want you to be happy…even if it’s without me…
Alice: You’ve made me happier than anything in my entire life, Eve. I don’t regret a single day I’ve ever spent with you. You’re my co-pilot in life. That’s why I want you to raise a family with me. That’s why I’m choosing you. I’m not leaving you, like I said.
Eve: (wiping away tears) I feel like I don’t have a choice….You have choices …and I don’t…
Alice: Well, there are some choices you do have. You can, for instance, choose whether or not you want to make our relationship completely toxic. You can choose whether or not you want to make it hard for me to forgive you, let alone love you. Those choices are yours, Eve.
Eve: (sniffing) I don’t want to do that. You know I don’t.
Alice: Then you need to think about what you really want. Everything in your life is precious. But you can ruin it all by being stubborn and refusing to see what’s right in front of you.
Eve: I don’t want to ruin our lives…. You mean more to me than anything…This is just so hard…Now I feel so….fucking confused….
Alice: Of course you do. It’s natural. You don’t want me to hate you.
Eve: …I don’t…
Alice: But when the babies pop out, you’ll look at everything, even me, in an entirely different way. You’ll be a different person. A better person.
Eve: I want to be a better person.
Alice: We all do. That’s another reason motherhood is so good for women.
Eve: I couldn’t cope, losing you right now. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed every day. I don’t have any support, apart from you. You’re all of I’ve got.
Alice: You won’t lose me. Lets go to bed together. I feel like we need to hold each other. We’re both tired.
Eve: I need to be held now. I’m not thinking straight, anymore.
Alice: Which is why it’s a good idea that we go to bed now. You always feel better when I hold you.
Eve: When I’m in your arms, it’s like I don’t have to worry about anything.
Alice: And it’s true, right now. Right this minute. You don’t have to worry about anything. Everything will be fine.
Eve: I know it will. It’s just all so crazy. I can’t make sense of the things in my brain. I feel like I’m going mad.
Alice: You’re not going mad. Just trust me. Let me take control on this one. I know what I’m doing. I know what’ll make you happy.
Eve: I do trust you. You know I trust you.
Alice: Millions of men go through what you’re going through every day. They think they don’t want children. They feel like their girlfriends are pressuring them. And you know what happens? The children are born and those men can’t imagine ever feeling upset again. That’s what happened to Tim and Helena.
Eve: I know it did.
Alice: Even when women trick blokes into using a broken condom, the men are always happy when they meet their beautiful babies. When you look at another human being, and you know it’s yours, and you can see yourself in their face, it fills you with an indescribable, unfathomable joy. You can’t be upset about anything anymore. That’s what everyone says.
Eve: I know it is.
Alice: It’s better than drugs. It’s more divine than all the holy books. It’s like nothing else on this earth. It’s luminous… sacred… sublime even. It completes people. That’s what Doctor Adams says. She says it completed her.
Eve: (tearing up again)… I don’t know what to think about it anymore. ..
Alice: Yes you do. Listen to your heart, Eve. Think about our lives.
Eve: (tears streaming down face)…I am…
Alice: Then can we be good for each other?
Eve: (sniffing) I want that….
Alice: We both do.
Eve: I need you in my life…I’m struggling…
Alice: Then will you be brave and do the right thing? Or am I going to resent you?
Eve: (sighing).. I can only do what I can do… I can only try my best to be what you need me to be.
Alice: (smiling) If you take one step towards happiness, happiness will take two steps towards you. Doctor Adams makes me say that every time we start a session.
Eve: I need a bit of happiness now. I feel hopeless.
Alice: Don’t let yourself feel hopeless, Eve. That’s selfish. Especially at a time like this.
Eve: I feel like I’m scared of losing you….and so I’m about to make the biggest mistake of my life.
Alice: Eve, this is going to be the best thing you’ve ever done! Just remember, all this confusion will go away soon. It always goes away. Millions of people don’t want kids and it goes away like a bad dream.
Eve: I hope it goes away.
Alice: It will go away. It always goes away. Women always come around.
Eve: I know they do.
Alice: And besides, if it doesn’t go away, I’ll take the kids for a while and you can go live somewhere else.
Alice: I don’t want you abusing them.
Eve: (loudly) I won’t abuse them!….I’d never abuse anyone!…
Alice: You know, if you did that, that would actually make me want to kill you. I could never forgive you for that.
Eve: (sighing)….I’d never abuse anyone…I know what that feels like..
Alice: If you abuse them, I’ll fucking hurt you, Eve.
Eve: ..You won’t have to hurt me…I’d never harm a child..
Alice: You’d better not.
Eve: …I’ve never hurt anyone…I’ll be kind…like I always am..
Alice: Then from now on, you love children. That’s our new goal. We’re going to allow ourselves to naturally love children and devote our lives to OUR children.
Alice: We’ll practice. Doctor Adams says we should practice.
Eve: Practice what?
Alice: We’ll practice not caring whether or not we like or enjoy them. We’ll practice loving them more than we love each other. It won’t feel horrible if we practice. It’ll start to feel good.
Eve: I need to feel good.
Alice: Tomorrow I’m going to make an appointment with the doctor. We’ll go together.
Eve: What for?
Alice: You know what for! Don’t give me any shit about this, Eve. I’m tired now.
Eve: So I’m having kids then?
Eve: I’m having kids…even though I’ve never wanted any.
Alice: Yes, you are.
Eve: ….I’m not quite sure how that just happened.
Alice: You made the right decision.
Eve: I’m not sure I did.
Alice: Of course you did. You decided to be in a relationship with me.
Eve: So I’m having children ….even though I’m childfree. Even though there’s nothing wrong with being childfree.
Alice: You’re not fucking childfree. You’re not allowed that. Not if you want to stay with me.
Eve: (confused)….This is crazy…
Alice: What don’t you understand?
Eve: I’m having kids …not to lose you. Not because I want them. And you’re letting it happen.
Alice: For now, yeah. It’ll be different when the babies are here.
Eve: And if I don’t want them later, I’ll have to make myself happy. I’ll be a bad mother if I don’t force myself to be happy.
Alice: That’s just how life is.
Eve: I think I understand what’s going on now: If I choose not to have children, I’m not allowed to be happy. You won’t allow me to be happy because you’ll reject me. My body won’t allow me to be happy because of the depression that happens if I don’t conceive. And if that depression doesn’t kick in, the rejections from other women I love will keep me from being happy. It’s like an entire system designed to punish me if I try to be happy without babies.
Alice: More or less.
Eve: I can understand why you think motherhood isn’t a choice, now. It makes total sense.
Alice: I’m glad it’s finally making sense. There is no choice, really. Look at the world, Eve. Nature isn’t a democracy.
Eve: But… when I look at the world, I see a democracy that’s supposed to contain people like me. It’s supposed to contain eccentrics. It’s supposed to contain choice and diversity and tolerance and compassion. People are supposed to empathise with…
Alice: (interrupting) People are supposed to empathise with children!
Eve: But I do empathise with children and that’s why I’m not getting pregnant, Alice. I empathise with children that are like me. I want those children to know they can grow up and be loved without becoming parents.
Alice: (angrily) But they won’t be loved if they don’t have kids! They’ll be rejected!
Eve: Not if they are truly loved. Not if they are loved by someone who understands that deep connections with living and breathing human beings are more precious and mysterious than the chance to satisfy any biological urge. The chance to be a parent is never more important than..
Alice: (interrupting loudly) Don’t be a stupid cunt! People need to be parents to know how to love! They need to be in families! You and I need to have a healthy family, so I can support you!
Eve: Why can’t you support a childfree woman?
Alice: (yelling angrily) Because I can’t support a cold fucking bitch!! I’ll fucking hate you and that’ll make you suffer!! You’ll be tormented!! For your sake, you need to get pregnant, Eve! This is important. You’ll commit suicide if you don’t get my love and support!!
Eve: So you’re blackmailing me. I either spawn a kid or you let me die. If this is what..
Alice: (interrupting aggressively) Shut the fuck up, Eve! You don’t have the strength NOT to have kids. You couldn’t cope on your own. You need me to look after you. You said it over and over again.
Eve: I feel like….
Alice: (interrupting) You don’t know how you feel yet! When you’re broody, you’ll know. Until then, you should just shut the fuck up. You’re wasting air, like every 20 year old bitch who wants to be sterilised.
Eve: I get it now. You want me to get pregnant, with or without my consent. I was right earlier.
Alice: (yelling aggressively) I don’t give a fuck about your consent! You’re getting pregnant and you’re gonna like it, even if you have to force yourself to like it!
Eve: (flabberghasted) This is like rape, Alice…
Alice: Deal with it, babe. You’re gonna be happy. You’re loving your baby and this is happening. I’m making it happen and you’re not fucking stopping me!
Eve: But how can I love you, if this is what you’re making happen?
Alice: What you feel about me isn’t important. It’ll be different when the babies are here. When that urge awakens in you, it’ll be the solution to every problem you’ve ever had in your entire life. Nothing will matter after that! Not me. Not your family. Nothing.
Eve: It’s the final solution?
Alice: Think of it however you need to.
Eve: You know……I think I know now. I know what I need to do.
Alice: Good. We should go to sleep then. I need to be up before noon.
Eve: I’m going to give you something.
Alice: You can give me a massage. My neck hurts.
Eve: I’m going to give you the one thing you need even more than a baby. Something no one’s ever given you.
Alice: Fine. Make it quick. I’m tired.
Eve: You need to know what it feels like to be rejected.
Alice: (smiling dismissively) Whatever, sweetie.
Eve: (boiling with anger) You and every other broody bitch that rejects people for your fucking babies! You need to be rejected for a change! Every single one of you needs to know what it’s like to be rejected!
Alice: (giggling) You couldn’t reject me. You have depression. That’s part of motherhood too.
Eve grabs Alice’s cup of tea and throws it at Alice, as hard as she can. Alice quickly moves out of the way, as the cup smashes into the wall behind her, breaking into a million pieces. The tea and broken glass hit Alice’s neck and the back of her head.
Eve: (screaming at the top of her lungs) FUCK MOTHERHOOD!! AND FUCK YOU!!
Alice: (yelling) ..Bloody hell, Eve….What are you doing..?
Eve grabs a chair and holds it over her head, walking towards Alice. She looks as though she intends to break it over Alice’s head.
Alice: (screaming): …Put that down!…Please, Eve…Oh God…
Eve: (screaming menacingly) FUCK YOUR BABIES!! AND FUCK your FASCIST FUCKING URGES!!
Eve throws the chair at Alice, as hard she can. Alice barely manages to leap out of the way, as the chair smashes onto the floor, breaking and scattering across the room. With her adrenaline pumping, Alice attempts to run to the kitchen, but trips on one of the broken pieces of wood and falls down. Eve stands over Alice, as Alice quickly covers her face with her hands. Eve repeatedly kicks Alice in the stomach, while Alice curls into a foetal position. Eve kicks her hard, over and over again.
Eve: (shouting and kicking): I hope they’re STUPID! I hope they BORE you! I hope they’re SELFISH! I hope they’re CRUEL! I hope they’re BULLIES! I hope they HURT YOU! I hope they HURT PEOPLE YOU LOVE, and I hope YOU CAN’T FUCKING HATE THEM!
Alice: (smiling behind her hands)….That’s my girl…
Eve: (screaming and kicking) I HOPE YOU LOVE MEAN FUCKING TWATS! I hope your body makes you want to DIE FOR THEM! You deserve that, you FASCIST FUCKING CUNT!! You’re like HITLER!!
For Eve, this is very strange behaviour.
Eve has never been violent with Alice. In fact, Eve has never been violent with anyone. Nor has she spoken to anyone this way.
Alice, however, feels relieved. Although Alice does not enjoy being insulted or repeatedly kicked, she has a newfound respect for Eve. This, after all, was the response Alice was attempting to elicit from Eve throughout the entire evening. It thankfully confirmed to Alice some things about Eve she had recently begun to doubt. Things like:
- Eve is still a childfree woman, just like Alice is. Neither women have any urge to pro-create.
- Eve could never love a child as much as she loves Alice.
- Eve will always (eventually) give Alice consequences for her bad behaviour AND
- Eve loves Alice enough to end their relationship, in the event the relationship maintains itself on the condition that one partner suppresses something important about who they are.
In order to find out 1-4, Alice chose to lie to Eve. Alice told Eve she needed Eve to have children. She did this to test Eve. Alice made it look as though broodiness was the centerpiece of her therapy sessions with Doctor Adams. In actual fact, the centerpiece of Alice’s therapy was Alice’s drinking. However, Alice did confide her worries about Eve to Doctor Adams.
Alice told Doctor Adams how much better Eve is with children than she is. She told Doctor Adams that she worries Eve secretly wants to be a mum and is repressing this fact so as to stay with Alice. Alice also told Doctor Adams that she feels guilty in the relationship; that she can walk all over Eve because Eve doesn’t have the strength to stand up to her. Doctor Adams responded that it was important to make sure Eve was strong enough give Alice boundaries. She also said it was important for Alice to make sure that Eve had the same life goals as Alice.
Alice agreed with Doctor Adams.
It was important to Alice that her relationship with Eve wouldn’t reach a point where a certain conversation would happen. This is a conversation Alice has noticed occurring over and over again, in different variations, amongst both her costomers and friends. It typically happens among couples that are in their early 30s.
Partner A will announce to Partner B that Partner A wants children.
Then, a discussion will commence, a discussion where there is a shared presumption that a negotiation is occurring; a negotiation where the couple may decide to have or not have children. However, this appearance of negotiation is an illusion.
Like a Fascist, Partner A controls the conversation to strong arm Partner B into doing what Partner A wants.
If Partner B shows any hesitations about parenthood, these hesitations will be treated by Partner A as irrational fears.
If Partner B worries about the financial difficulties of raising a child, Partner A will respond that the financial difficulties can aways be overcome by future earnings.
If Partner B expresses an emotional resistance to their role as parent, Partner A will frame this emotional resistance as a personal weakness on the part of Partner B.
As the discussion proceeds, it will become apparent that none of Partner B’s reasons for avoiding parenthood will ever be treated as legitimate reasons.
If Partner B does not enjoy the company of children, Partner A will respond that this is irrelevant; that Partner B is destined to enjoy the company of their own children.
Even if Partner B has had a life long desire to LOVE ONLY adults in their home, Partner A will respond that this is NOT a valid reason to avoid parenthood; only a reason to get rid of this life long desire (so that Partner B can become a good parent).
If Partner B still refuses to cave in at this point, Partner A will resort to emotional blackmail.
Partner A will reveal to Partner B that their relationship will be destroyed if Partner B does not become a parent.
If Partner B is still steadfast in their refusal to become a parent, Partner B will endure an emotionally devastating break up that Partner A will then blame them for.
Partner A will attempt to convince Partner B that their love for Partner A was inept; the reason being that Partner B ONLY wanted to love Partner A. Partner B will be labelled cold, self-centered, and immature for the crime of wanting to love only ONE person in their relationship; the person they fell in love with.
This conversation is antithetical to the values of liberal democracy. In any healthy liberal democracy, decisions happen through genuine negotiations between disagreeing parties. In any geniune negotiation, the wishes of both parties are taken seriously. Proposed visions of society are treated as geniune possibilities; not pathologies to be dismissed out of hand. Furthermore, if a vision of society is eventually dismissed, it will be dismissed in a way which is upfront, rather than covert. This is because, in any decent liberal democracy, conversation partners should be treated as equals. Their perspectives should be considered and respected, even if, in the end, some perspectives get rejected.
Two-way conversations must always take place; not pseudo-conversations that are merely disguised coercions. Such pseudo conversations may create conformity, but they do nothing to facilitate human well being or respect for the diversity of mankind. If Partner A respects Partner B, Partner A should talk to, rather than covertly threaten, Partner B. If Partner A loves Partner B, Partner A should respect Partner B. Partner A should not do to Partner B what typically happens in a conversation about ensuing parenthood.
Having endured the typical conversation about ensuing parenthood, Partner B normally does the easy thing, caves in, and embraces parenthood. This is why Alice needed to test Eve: she needed to know that her life partner was strong enough to remain steadfast in a discussion where her childfree desires would be ridiculed, mocked, dismissed and demonised. Eve came through in the end, finishing the relationship, refusing to become a parent, and refusing to concede that her childfree desires were simply weaknesses and pathologies. Eve also did not accept the conventional wisdom that anyone can be a good parent; even those adults who hate children.
Moreover, Eve did something that went much farther than even Alice was hoping. It made Alice incredibly proud of her. That evening, Eve didn’t merely defend her childfree status by talking about her lack of maternal instincts. She refused to accept that maternal instincts were good reasons to have children. Eve instead hinted at something Alice had learned from her own mother; that good parents mostly go against their natural instincts, when learning to understand and accept their children. When parents rely on their natural instincts, they find it easiest to love people like themselves. Children are rarely such people.
Although Alice has no desire to be a parent herself, she understands the best parents are those parents who choose to be parents. Choosing to be a parent should be done out of a conscious love for the job of doing what a parent does; raising a baby, child, teenager, and young adult. When maternal “urges” replace love for parenting, the desire to parent stops coming from the right place. It instead comes from an extreme-right place; an authoritarian place; a place without choice; a space where Fascism takes the place of human dignity and freedom.
Broodiness may be the reason a large number of babies are conceived. Alice thinks this explains much of the pain and sorrow in the world. If there is one thing that typically traumatises young people, it is Fascism in their parents. Eve has had first hand experience of that with her own family. Knowing how children often repeat the mistakes of their parents, Alice needed to know Eve would not succumb to Fascism.
This is because Alice can only respect a lover capable of resisting the one Fascism hardest for modern women to say no to: Baby-Fascism. This is the Fascism even liberal democratic societies have a fondness for; the Fascism that destroys the relationships of even same-sex couples; the Fascism that makes even happy childfree women feel like their full and vibrant lives are shit because they don’t have sons or daughters.
Baby-Fascism arises when women confuse maternal urges with a desire to be a parent, in much the same way men often confuse hard-ons with love. Baby Fascism ironically creates the worst kinds of mothers; mothers who are completely uninterested in seeing their children as individuals. Instead, they literally see their children as extensions of themselves. If a child ever becomes TOO eccentric, or even TOO different to the Baby-Fascist mother, the child nearly always faces disapproval, scorn, and sometimes even rejection.
Eve’s mother was a Baby-Fascist.
Throughout Alice’s test, she did her best to oppose Eve’s rebuttals in a way that was relentlessly condescending and insensitive; the way Baby-Fascists do in similiar situations. This was not easy, as Alice, many times found it hard not to cry. Alice not only agreed with nearly everything Eve said. She was deeply moved by it. As the night turned to dawn, Eve begin to act like a deranged psychotic. But she stood up for herself in a way that impressed the shit out of Alice, who was routing for her the whole time.
Throughout the evening, Eve displayed an honesty, passion, intelligence, courage, and sensitivity that Alice found inspirational. Alice typically finds Eve inspirational. But the thing Alice finds most sexy about Eve is just how much she knows herself. Alice wishes she knew herself as well as Eve does. Alice can often predict Eve’s behaviour. But she can’t ever fully understand Eve in all her complexity. What she does understand is how loved and nurtured she is by this complexity; a love she feels in every cell of her body.
Alice predicted that Eve would break up with her, once Alice revealed the elaborate test she had given Eve. Unlike Eve, Alice had no problem being subsequently rejected. For some time, Alice has been wanting a temporary break from the relationship. Alice has been in love with Eve since she was 17. That means Alice never had a period in her youth where she could enjoy going on adventures or having sexual encounters with many partners. Alice has many people she’d like to sleep with; mostly musicians, athletes, artists, priests, and parapalegics who are regular costomers at the Firebug. Many pornstars and famous actresses have wanted to sleep with Alice, but she has no interest.
What interests Alice is being single and having the time to persue some life long dreams: climbing Mount Kinabalu, spending a month at a Tibeten Monestary, and learning to practice Telepathy. Alice would like to persue these dreams without inconveniencing Eve. Alice also feels like she needs some time to grow, so that she can be a more mature and disciplined person who practices self-care. Alice wants to be her best self for Eve, since she has seen first hand just how hard Eve tries to be a good partner for her.
Alice knows she will eventually get back together with Eve. She knows neither of them will ever stop having feelings for each other. She also knows they can’t be friends with each other for very long without falling in love again. Hence, Alice is choosing not to remain in contact with Eve for a good thirteen months. However, she tells another lie to Eve; that the only way they can be happy is to stop communicating permanently. Eve relunctantly agrees to this, so she can effectively move on with her life. Little does she know that Alice plans on resuming their relationship in a little over a year.
Alice moves into a small flat near Narborough Road, a much grimier area of Leicester. It makes Alice feel like a student again, which she enjoys. She loves both the turkish restaurants and the used bookshop in this area.
Meanwhile, Eve begins to create much more satisfying relationships with people at Leicester University. She works hard to gain the respect of her colleagues and students. For the first time, Eve gives them boundaries, standing up for herself anytime she senses they are trying to belittle her. When any of her colleagues act as though she is inferior to them, she becomes pushy and bosses them around. She treats them as though they are inferior to her. As a result of this, they treat her as their equal.
Eve has also learned a way to make friends with the head of department who had a habit of making sarcastic jokes about her. Eve now openly makes sarcastic remarks about herself, before the head of department has a chance to. This makes the head of department quite fond of her. Eve also flirts with this woman, primarily by gently mocking her. Sometimes Eve makes jokes about how clumsy and badly dressed she is. Sometimes she draws attention to her lisp. This woman now has a crush on Eve. Eve plans to do nothing about this crush.
Eve has an even better relationship with her students. She understands that many of her students are deliberately trying to test her patience. In those situations, Eve knows the best response is to show how unafraid she is of making them feel horrible. If any of her students interrupt her, she angrily pulls them up on it, in front of the entire class. She no longer waits until class is over to politely ask them to stop being rude during her seminars. Eve understands that the threat of public humiliation is much more effective for generating their compliance and respect.
Because of Alice’s test, Eve now knows it is always a mistake to be nice to people that are trying to cause pain. Hence, people no longer try to cause pain in Eve. They know better than to make her angry.
Eve, however, is still quite angry with Alice. She is angry at Alice for deceiving her, for causing Eve to experience emotional turmoil on par with the worst experiences of her teen years. Eve is angry that Alice toyed with her emotions, seemingly enjoying the thrill of seeing how far she could push Eve; how guilty and self-doubting she could make her; how much she could psychologically torment her. However, Eve’s anger is tinged with some ambivalence. Although she doesn’t approve of Alice’s test, she can’t help but admire the brazenness, courage and tenacity of it. She also can’t help finding it incredibly sexy-the way Alice was so adept at making Eve feel powerless, confused and angry.
Eve thinks about Alice’s cruelty, nearly every night. Afterwards, she sleeps like a baby.
13 months after Alice moves out of Eve’s house, Eve does something that seems almost out of character. She sends Alice an instant message on Facebook, asking if she’d like to meet up for drinks at Mrs Bridges, a local Leicester tea and cake shop. The two meet and it becomes apparent within minutes just how much they both have missed talking to each other. Alice tells Eve about her spiritual and sexual adventures, making Eve laugh so hard that she spits tea on her croissant. Eve winds up having the most enjoyable afternoon she’s had in well….thirteen months.
This enjoyment disturbs Eve. She thinks it shouldn’t actually be there. After Eve broke up with Alice, her perception of Alice changed. She stopped seeing Alice as an eccentric and sweet woman, plagued with the vices of erratic and self-destructive behaviour. She started to see Alice as an extremely selfish and cold bitch; someone dishonest, impulsive, and manipulative, a woman capable of harming Eve, someone wise to cut off ties with. Eve now thinks Alice could have a personality disorder; she may even be a sociopath. Whatever she is though, Alice is no longer a person Eve can trust as a friend, let alone a romantic partner.
Strangely, none of these beliefs seem to have any connection with Eve’s subsequent feelings and decisions. Eve finds herself forgiving Alice very quickly for everything she did to her. Shortly after that act of forgiveness, Eve finds herself falling in love with Alice again….for the first time since she was 17. All of this feels incredibly confusing to Eve, given everything she now believes about Alice.
Like her violence towards Alice, it feels unreasonable, irrational, like something that doesn’t flow out of either her values or her character.
In fact, it doesn’t really feel like it’s her decision.
Eve knows this resurrected love may be a giant mistake. However, it still feels better than drugs; like it’s more divine than all the holy books; like nothing else on this earth. It feels luminous, sacred, sublime even; like it completes her.
For Alice, this love feels quite different; it feels comfortable and familiar. Alice has no ambivalence regarding her love for Eve. This is because Alice’s love for Eve has always felt instinctual; like something she has no say in. Alice loves it FOR that reason.
Eve and Alice resume their relationship, a relationship that will last for the remainder of their lives. Both Eve and Alice sustain their choatic and often explosive love through a combination of passion and much needed humour. Despite great difficulties, they always give each other an extraordinary amount of patience and forgiveness. They often row. They often fail to understand each other. They even regularly drive each other crazy. Yet they both love each other more than anyone else they know. In fact, there’s no one they like or enjoy more than each other.
If you like Eve and Alice, that means they would probably enjoy your company. They’d find you interesting. They’d probably want to hang out with you on a Saturday. Maybe they’d enjoy meeting you for coffee, or going dancing with you, or walking around an art gallery, or watching a new art film. Whatever activity you did together, they’d want to talk to you about afterwards. They’d want to know how you felt and how you see the world. And they’d want to make you laugh. Or at least Alice would.
If you don’t like Eve and Alice, that’s ok too. You’re not obligated to like them. Disliking them doesn’t make you a bigot. It’s not evidence of anything wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you’re repressing anything about yourself. You won’t regret it in the future. It doesn’t make you cold and nasty.
It’s fine. Really.
It’s like what happens with children.
If you don’t like them, they don’t like you either.
COTO is a platform for expressing and exploring fresh, maybe controversial, but definitely thought provoking ideas that allow people to understand contemporary culture in new ways.