Women are in the privileged position of being judged if they have children or if they don’t. Those who give birth are immediately put to the “how-many-balls-can-you-juggle” test. They’re applauded for trying to “have it all,” but are just as easily denigrated when they choose their professional lives over their personal ones—or vice versa. (Plus, motherhood costs them gobs of money.) Meanwhile, women without children are often characterized as taking a stand against female stereotypes, or as single-minded careerists, or as outsiders and outcasts.
In both circumstances though, having a child or not tends to be framed as a conscious decision by a woman. That’s why Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s recent revelation of her miscarriage is so important. She told The Sunday Times that she had a miscarriage in 2011 when she was deputy first minister. “By allowing my own experience to be reported I hope, perhaps ironically, that I might contribute in a small way to a future climate in which these matters are respected as entirely personal—rather than pored over and speculated about as they often are now,” she said.
(The Times, which reported the news as part of a book excerpt, apparently missed Sturgeon’s larger point since it ran a sidebar titled “Childless Politicians” that only featured women.)
As Laura Cohn wrote for Fortune, high-ranking women in business and politics who don’t have children can be judged just as harshly as powerful mothers like Hillary Clinton and Marissa Mayer, whose maternal demeanors and parental decisions are constantly under a microscope. Sturgeon’s heartbreaking disclosure is a reminder that having a child or not shouldn’t define a woman since it’s something she sometimes has no control over.
|Not keeping quiet|
|Actress Thandie Newton, who stars in the new HBO series Westworld, talks about constantly confronting and calling out sexism and racism in the entertainment industry. “Anger,” she says, “is a positive energy.”|
|Le Pen’s pitch|
|Eight months before France’s presidential election, Marine Le Pen seems to have refined her stump speech, presenting herself as the only candidate not beholden to special interests with language that Politico characterizes as Donald Trump-esque.|
|Hillary Clinton has been criticized for keeping reporters at arm’s—er—plane wing’s length this campaign by flying separate from her press corps. On Monday, she unveiled a new Boeing 737 that will accommodate reporters, but Clinton’s still under fire for not holding any formal press conferences in the past nine months.|
|Continuing the conversation|
|Actress Patricia Arquette gave an impassioned plea for equal rights and pay for women in her Oscars acceptance speech last year. Now she’s executive producer of a new documentary about the pay gap called Equal Means Equal, which hits streaming services today.|
|Where are the women?|
|A photo of the heads of state attending this week’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China tweeted out by Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen illustrates just how few women are part of global leadership.|
|The UN would get its first-ever female secretary-general if the body’s staff had anything to say about it (which they don’t). When asked to name their top three candidates, New Zealand’s Helen Clark, administrator of the UN’s development program, got the most votes. Former Portugal PM Antonio Guterres led the most recent security council balloting.|
|Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien blasts the network for “normalizing” white supremacy with its Trump reporting|
|Ava DuVernay on why her latest project “Queen Sugar” has an all-female cast of directors|
|—U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who knelt during the national anthem in a show of solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick|