Some years ago when companies around the world offered to help young women freeze their eggs – so that they could focus on their careers and have babies whenever – there was a huge hue and cry at the obvious corporate selfishness at play.
Of course, bottom-lines needed all hands, male and female, on deck, of course, companies didn’t want to be in the red, of course, they did not want to dole out maternity leave again and again to the same woman... But, some working women huffed, office policies that came between them and their uterus were always suspect.
Now that this is a reality, and women – yes, even Indian women – are happily planning late pregnancies via hi-tech methods, the corporate angle has dimmed a bit. There is no question of missing the baby bus anymore. Brats are in plenty to be had whenever you are in the mood for them, almost as if at a self-service counter.
Infertility treatments alone net up a huge profit for those providing them; add to those late marriages, remarriages, long education years and single-minded career tracks. Needless to add, business is booming for all those involved in aiding later moms.
Surprisingly, the reason may not be as materialistic as we had begun to think when companies like Facebook and Apple made these offers about four winters ago. Women are smart, yes, and want to maximise their chances at work, but it would seem they are also smart enough to want romance.
The commonest reason girls rush to the altar is that youth ups their chances at motherhood. Chick-lit makes much of women wincing when they turn 30 or 40; whole books are written about this tragic moment in their lives. We are all chubby little Bridget Jones at heart who just wants to settle down quick with the right man so as to get knocked up ASAP. It is not so much a matter of being a young wife as that of being a young mommy.
But this whole flexi-time bestowed, which means you can choose those nine months at whichever birthday you desire down the line, gives girl more time to meet a boy. It is one thing to love blindly, quite another to find a man to multiply with. He has a hot bod, but will those hands change nappies?
A study by New York University sociologists, published recently in the
American Sociological Review, corroborates the fact that more and more women are freezing their eggs but their motives are more of the heart. Their research found that more women welcomed the freedom such delaying methods gave them in the romantic sphere rather than at workplace.
Because this basically equals the mating field; hey, women are telling men, ready when you are. With the imbalance between egg mortality Vs. the eternal sperm being redressed thus, wombs take second place to hearts in female bodies.
The Pill had revolutionised man-woman relationships once upon a time. Now eggs in the fridge mutes the tick and tock of the biological clock. The millennial Miss has time enough to meet Mr Right.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.