‘There’s no winning’: Shelagh Fogarty opens up about the shaming of women’s choices

11 November 2022, 16:33

Shelagh Fogarty opens up about women asking why she had no children

By Hannah Holland

Shelagh Fogarty recalls being spoken to as if her life was a "gaping hole of grief and awfulness" for not having children, despite "having quite a nice time".

Shelagh launched into a discussion on the “shaming of women” that takes place around their choices to have children or not.

She revealed that she was inspired to discuss the topic by actress, Jennifer Aniston, who recently opened up about her attempt and inability to get pregnant through IVF, whilst facing barrages of intense media scrutiny.

Shelagh acknowledged: “It must’ve been incredibly painful for it to happen on that very, very public scale.”

She then propelled into her own experience during “a small window of time” in her late-thirties.

She recollected: “For some reason, for their own reasons, a number of people would just, and I’m pretty sure it was always women, it was certainly mostly women, would ask me, or almost sympathise with me, before they even knew what my feelings [were] on whether or not I have children.

“And speak to me as though my life was somehow terrible and a failure and a gaping hole of grief and awfulness, when in fact, I was having quite a nice time."

She added: "For a while I thought, I’m happy, I’m a happy person and I’m enjoying what I do and I have lovely friends and family and I have beautiful children in my life who I love dearly and who love me back and my god, why are these people treating me as though I’m some kind of leper?”

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Shelagh then explained how she “decided to play back” with the unrelenting questioners, recalling one experience in which she told a woman she'd “eaten" her children.

“There is no winning is there?” Shelagh posed, before repeating: "There's no winning."

Continuing, she said: “If you have children, hooray you’re a success until somebody decides they can tell you how to do it better or you shouldn’t go back to work or you shouldn’t have called them that or you need to have another child really quickly or whatever else.

“And if you don’t have them, people have all kind of strange ideas about why and also assume they should know why.”

Shelagh wondered: “Do they doubt the choice they made? Is that what makes somebody challenge a person about the choices that they themselves are making? - is it that?

“That they just need to feel like the choices they’ve made in life are the only route to a happy life?”

“I think there’s something in that actually", she added.

READ MORE: 'Difficult' is a codeword for 'b*tch' used to gaslight strong women, claims Meghan Markle

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