Never do the following out loud

1.  Assume anyone is pregnant unless she has told you herself.

2.  Assume that the person is the nanny.

3.  Assume that the person is the grandmother.

4.  Assume that a person wants kids.

5.  Assume that a person wants to discuss his or her fertility plans with you.

6.  Assume that you have any right to comment on anyone’s fertility decisions.

7.  Assume that everyone has equal access to fertility control and decision-making.

8.  Say, “I’m not defending rapists, but–”

I think that about covers it for now.

68 Responses to “Never do the following out loud”

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    LOL, oh my goodness. I have witnessed a lot of these unfortunately. One day at work, I saw a random person ask a women if she was expecting….and if looks could kill he would’ve been dead! I felt sorry for both of them because it was so unbelievable awkward.

  2. Leah Says:

    one more:
    – assume the person is a mom (from my days babysitting, when I got the nastiest looks from ladies in public who must have thought the two kids were *mine*)

    Some of my students tried to make rape comments/jokes when we were learning constellations. The worst part is they didn’t understand why it was okay to talk about Virgo the Virgin but that they were being sent to the office for the rape part. Um, maybe because rape isn’t funny?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our mother’s helpers occasionally get that when they’re out and about with DC2.

      Ugh, good call on the students.

      • Leah Says:

        I try to smile now at any young lady who has kids with them in public. I figure one of two things is true, and either way, that lady deserves a smile:

        – she’s the babysitter and good on her for working with kids
        – she’s the mom and could use some extra support (yes, teen pregnancy is bad, and I rally against it and teach my students not to get pregnant, blah, blah, blah, but once the baby’s born, that cat is out of the bag, and we need to support all mothers)

  3. AnonP Says:

    I think an even worse one is:

    10. Assume that any woman is actually able to have children (for those that can not have children, this is horrible)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ugh, yes. One of my senior colleagues stopped badgering me about having a second when I finally detailed the year and a half of infertility treatment that led up to the first miracle baby. And I’ve been lucky.

  4. Jacq Says:

    Never assume everyone wants to be married or be with a SO or even insignificant other.
    It’s highly annoying.

  5. Pamela Says:

    Yes, yes, yes to all of this. Also, don’t assume that because someone isn’t living the way you are, that it’s a judgement or comment on your choices!

  6. Michelle Says:

    Love this.

    Never assume that someone isn’t married because they aren’t ready. Marriage to us doesn’t mean anything but a piece of paper, so I HATE when people jump to that conclusion. We get judged all the freakin’ time and people are always telling us that we’re wrong. We’ve been together for 7 years, lived together for 6, have a house, 2 dogs, have joint accounts, gone through parental deaths, and are as close as we could ever be.

    Also, never judge that the girl next to you is 12 years old and ask to see her ID to see if she can even be outside by herself. I’m not 12. I just dress my age, whereas most people my age dress like they are 10 years older.

    Also, never judge someone and go up to her and say “you can smile, your life can’t possibly be that bad.” Yes, this happens all the time and happened AGAIN last night. How do you know how my life is?! Why would you go up to someone and say that?

  7. moom Says:

    I’m a man and get asked all the time about having children. I’m infertile. I don’t mind the question so much now. Maybe because I’ve been asked so many times. So, depending on the person I say “umm we have problems” or get into more detail…

  8. Foscavista Says:

    This is going in another direction, but, to get it off my chest:

    Don’t ask a same-sex couple who lives in a state that doesn’t allow gay marriage why they don’t get married in a state that does allow it.

  9. rented life Says:

    Yes! I’ve seen a lot of those happen. I had to walk away from a relative that started the “I’m not defending rapists, but–” because I was shaking so badly at the awful things she was saying.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Why would someone do that?

      I mean unless it’s something like, “I’m not defending rapists, but I don’t think we should cover anybody in sulfuric acid.” But it never is.

      • Leah Says:

        The one I’ve heard is “I’m not defending rape, but why should we ruin those boys’ futures?”

        They forcibly raped someone! who was passed out! I don’t care if you’ve never been directly taught that it’s wrong — that should be obviously wrong!

        We had a conversation in the staff-lounge about the sitch at school. And my coworkers were mostly supportive but lamented the boys’ future. And then I shared a near-rape story of mine and actual rape stories from some of my friends. In this day and age, we really should all know better about rape. There’s no excuse. Maybe actually punishing “good kids” will make a difference.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, that’s the pretty standard one. I’d rather it be about sulfuric acid, personally. Maybe the death penalty, if you think that’s inappropriate for any crime.

      • rented life Says:

        My relative finished with “but if a girl is wearing a short skirt she’s asking for it.” I began listing all the young female relatives in our families and said “really? You think those girls would deserve that for something they wore?” She went on to criticize one of the girls outfits, continually implying that short skirts mean you deserve it. Walking away was the only way to prevent me from hitting this person.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I’m not defending people who do assault and battery, but… sound like she was asking for it. (Kidding! Nobody deserves to be hit.)

  10. Leigh Says:

    Never tell someone that high school was just last year. Or ask them what high school they go to. It’s understandable if they’re running a high school outreach event, but still. Don’t assume!

    Don’t ask a woman “Are you the recruiter [or the HR person]?” – Ask her what group she’s from.

  11. Zee Says:

    May I add, never ask a pregnant women “was it planned?”, I am very visibly pregnant now and this is the number one question I get from co-workers and strangers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      UGH! YES you may definitely add that. What on earth?

      Later be ready for questions about where that X came from, where X is, for example, blond(e) hair when you and your partner both have black hair. I’ve been tempted to answer, “the mailman.”

      • Zee Says:

        My reply has been “I am 36 years old, this sh*t doesn’t happen by accident anymore”

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I dunno… I’ve had 42 year olds confide in me that the triplets were not planned and were initially thought to be a combination of flu and menopause. (I’m old enough that they give references to Family Ties.)

        Not something I ask about though!

    • Rosa Says:

      Haha. “Is your boyfriend…okay with it?”

      It’s came from a place of concern but, Jesus, really?

  12. bogart Says:

    A minor peccadillo set against the above, but “You look tired!” not so helpful. Or kind.

  13. EMH Says:

    Assume a person is a parent.

    I get asked “How many kids do you have?” quite often. We can’t have kids due to infertility so my answer is always “none”. I need to come up with something snarkier.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My reply would be, “F*ck you.” But that’s just me. People who ask that question are not just trying to make polite small talk; they are legitimately people I don’t want to hang out with.

      • EMH Says:

        Ha! I should drop the f-bomb and let the middle finger fly but I am usually in good cop role. My husband has a good response to this question. He tells people “We can’t have kids”. Then they usually look distraught and he finishes it with “because we hate them”. Obviously we don’t hate kids but it shuts people up.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That is an AWESOME response from your husband

  14. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    This is much more minor, but don’t ask someone you don’t know “whose lab do you work in” just because they look young or are dressed like a grad student. I used to get this all the time at conferences when I first started my own lab.

  15. Donna Freedman Says:

    “Why aren’t you out enjoying some of this beautiful sunshine?”
    A1. Because I’ve already had one skin cancer removed and don’t want more.
    A2. Because I have seasonal allergies and outdoors is where all the allergens live.
    A3. Because I have a medical condition and have been advised to avoid the sun.
    A4. Because where I sit is none of your business.

  16. darchole Says:

    Assume that women’s opinions about marriage or children will change as they get older, especially in those over 30.

  17. Stonalino Says:

    I have dark hair and dark eyes (I’m a white lady), but I also have some recessive genes somewhere. My husband is blonde with blue eyes. We have two blonde, blue eyed children.

    Years ago, when the kids were all little, we went camping at the beach with my blonde, green eyed sister and her blonde blue eyed little boy. As I was frolicking in the surf with the kids, my sis and husband were relaxing on a log on the beach. Another couple walked by and said “Oh, look. They brought their nanny.” (I get this ALL. THE. TIME.)

    Without skipping a beat, my husband stage whispered to the man “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m sleeping with the nanny.”

    I love that man!

  18. undinenotofgeneralinterest Says:

    An excellent, excellent list. Miss Manners should pick it up–really.

  19. femmefrugality Says:

    This should be written into the ten commandments somewhere. The 18 commandments. Then I’d be able to say I follow more than 50% of them.

  20. oilandgarlic Says:

    Love this list, and femmefrugality’s idea of adding these to the commandments! I never understood why people are so inquisitive about other people’s reproductive choices.

  21. chacha1 Says:

    One of the last straws, when it came to me deciding to leave Georgia, was when a woman I had literally JUST MET asked me “so when are you going to settle down and start a family?”

    I think I said “never,” but that may be my brain rewriting history. :-)

  22. hush Says:

    Retail check-out employees in my small town are particularly guilty of #1. It happened to me while my week-old baby was clearly visible in the damn cart next to me. Happened to another friend of mine who gave birth last week, and she called me crying and feeling shame. Ugh, I can’t believe the thoughtlessness of some people.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Good grief. Gives a new meaning to the idea of Irish twins, eh? Or maybe you just stole the baby.

      And I hope you told your poor friend that it takes a while for the extra water weight to go away! You still look pregnant for a couple of weeks after giving birth. Seriously! She’s still cleaning out her system. (And even if it were later… she shouldn’t be feeling shame about that.)


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