Concerns about the ticking biological clock after 40 have a huge impact on women. And, more recently, on men. But where did this morbid fear of the biological clock after 40 come from?
Contrary to what you might have thought, the term "biological clock" is a modern brainchild that first began its ceaseless cry in the late 1970's. Moira Weigel's wonderful article traces the history of this adhesive expression and the associated fallout on the female fertility experience. Below, I share an extract from the article, before addressing 'the biological clock after 40' issue through another window of feminine wisdom.
"The story of the biological clock is a story about science and sexism. It illustrates the ways that assumptions about gender can shape the priorities for scientific research, and scientific discoveries can be deployed to serve sexist ends.
We are used to thinking about metaphors like “the biological clock” as if they were not metaphors at all, but simply neutral descriptions of facts about the human body.
Yet, if we examine where the term came from, and how it came to be used, it becomes clear that the idea of the biological clock has as much to do with culture as with nature. And its cultural role was to counteract the effects of women’s liberation".
The culture to which Moira is referring is the global patriarchal culture. Which leads me to the message I received, that prompted me to create this audio post in the first place.
"Because of my age, I feel I'm always against the clock."
For me, the matter of the biological clock reveals not only a patriarchal relationship with woman, her role and her fertility. It divulges also our patriarchal relationship with time itself.
One of the cornerstones of this relationship is that it is linear. It's a straight line. One that sympathetically satisfies the mind, the mental, logic and reason. It meets the needs of the masculine within.
And while that is the way we've been trained to relate with time, it is good to remember that it a relationship that omits the feminine.
Her relationship with time can be observed in nature. In every single day there is a time of darkness. When everything is asleep or appears to be. There is a time of awakening. There is a time of great energy and activity. And this is followed loyally by rest and darkness again. Every single day.
For those of us submerged in the seasons, we can perceive a similar pattern each and every year. Winter is a time when, on the outside, it seems like the plants could be dead. Or that nothing is happening. Then spring comes along to greet us with fresh new buds. Soon be persued by summer which yields to autumn before it, in turn, surrenders gracefully again to winter.
This cycle, this gorgeous feminine circle is repeated continuously. Nature clearly has a relationship with time that embodies both the masculine linear idea and the feminine cyclical one. She reminds us that the creative process is not just linear. She whispers unwaveringly that nor is time.
So when you are saying that because of your age you feel you are always against the clock, I invite you to experiment with the following instead:
Because of a patriarchal understanding of time and female fertility, I feel I am always against the clock.
Does that change anything for you? My intention is that it creates at least a crevice of feminine space for you to develop another relationship with time. One that engages also your deep feminine wisdom. Patriarchal ideas about time have inspired the 'baby biological clock anxiety' phenomenon. And this, in my view, is the most important of the 'female biological clock facts'.
When you're intending to have a baby, I invite you to recall that co-creation requires the contribution of the masculine and the feminine. And for you to allow that to emerge now in your story of fertility and time.
Could it be that you are being invited into a more circular relationship with time in your fertility? One that nourishes you as a woman and mother. And is not overshadowed by the idea that time is running out....
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