A Washington Post reader on Friday asked the paper’s advice columnist a question that is undoubtedly on the minds of countless people: what are some ways we can be more supportive of friends or family who want to have children but are unable to do so? The answer from Amy Dickinson, the advice columnist who writes the “Ask Amy” feature, was a bit of a head-scratcher: “[M]en can bear children.”
Not a joke. That was her answer. Seriously. Here’s the text of the reader question in full:
Dear Amy: I’m pregnant and am lucky to have several supportive friends.
Some of these friends are unable to have children of their own for various reasons: One of my best friends is gay, one is unable to have children for medical reasons, and some have been trying but are unable to have children.
Having previously had a miscarriage, I understand that it can sometimes be hurtful to see other people having children when one can’t (or thinks they may not be able to).
Is there anything I can do or say to express my sympathy? How can I let them know that I’d welcome them to be a part of my child’s life? (Saying, “Please feel free to borrow my baby” seems more like a selfish request for baby-sitting.)
And here are the first two sentences of the advice columnist’s reply:
First of all, gay women and men can bear children. So, at least in the case of that particular friend, you could assume that if they wanted to have a baby, they would.
Um, what? No. No, they cannot. Men cannot bear children. They’re obviously an integral part of creating children, but they most certainly cannot bear them. I’m at a loss as to why this even has to be stated, yet alone explained, but men cannot bear children. Why? Because they completely lack the basic physiological features required to bear and birth children. And why do they lack those features? Because they are men, and men don’t have uteri, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, etc. And why aren’t men endowed with those physiological features? Because they’re men, not women. Men and women are different. Men cannot bear children. Women cannot get prostate cancer. Men cannot breastfeed babies. Women cannot have vasectomies. That’s because men and women are genetically and biologically distinct. These are all simple biological facts beyond dispute, unless you are a crazy person.
I unfortunately do not have any groundbreaking advice for the pregnant reader who just wanted to be more supportive of her friends who couldn’t get pregnant. But I do have some advice for Ms. Dickinson: it might finally be time for you to have that birds and the bees talk with your parents.