The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock (Paperback)
A candid assessment of the pros and cons of delayed motherhood.
Biology does not bend to feminist ideals and science does not work miracles. That is the message of this eye-opening discussion of the consequences of delayed motherhood. Part personal account, part manifesto, Selvaratnam recounts her emotional journey through multiple miscarriages after the age of 37. Her doctor told her she still "had time," but Selvaratnam found little reliable and often conflicting information about a mature woman's biological ability (or inability) to conceive.
Beyond her personal story, the author speaks to women in similar situations around the country, as well as fertility doctors, adoption counselors, reproductive health professionals, celebrities, feminists, journalists, and sociologists. Through in-depth reporting and her own experience, Selvaratnam urges more widespread education and open discussion about delayed motherhood in the hope that long-lasting solutions can take effect. The result is a book full of valuable information that will enable women to make smarter choices about their reproductive futures and to strike a more realistic balance between science, society and personal goals.
About the Author
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer, a producer, an actor, and an activist. She has produced the projects of many artists and directors, including Chiara Clemente, Catherine Gund, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jed Weintrob. She has performed around the world in shows by the Wooster Group and the Builders Association, among others. Since 2008, she has been the communications and special projects officer for the Rubell Family Collection. As an activist, she has worked with the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Third Wave Foundation, the NGO Forum on Women, and the World Health Organization. Learn more at http://tanyaturnsup.com.
Praise for The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock…
“A courageous, deeply personal, and unapologetically feminist exploration of delayed motherhood and infertility. This enlightening and empowering book should be required reading for every woman.”
—Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke
“Forty may be the new thirty, and women are looking and feeling younger than their years—but try telling that to your ovaries! There is a disconnect between what women see in the mirror and what’s happening to their reproductive organs. Selvaratnam’s book will help women better understand their biological age and fertility health. It will also educate on the incredible advances being made in fertility treatment so that women are informed about their fertility options and choices. So pleased that Selvaratnam is furthering this dialogue.”
—Carole Kowalczyk, MD, board-certified reproductive endocrinologist; director Michigan Center for Fertility and Women’s Health
“As a fertility specialist, I am confident that this book will be a wake-up call for the many women who are (voluntarily or involuntarily) postponing reproduction. I applaud the desire of Selvaratnam to dispel myths and tell the truth about the ‘biological clock.’ We cannot ‘rewind’ it, but today we can stop it with egg freezing. This technology is powerful, revolutionary, and will change the lives of women in the twenty-first century.”
—Pasquale Patrizio, MD, MBE, professor, reproductive bioethicist, and director, Yale Fertility Center
“We all have to take responsibility for our choices, but what happens when we don’t know we are making a choice? What if we thought we were solving when but realized the question was whether or not? Selvaratnam bravely shares her heartbreaking, exhausting, and ultimately enlightening experience of being blindsided by fertility problems. Haunted by hindsight, she perseveres in her desire to have both a successful artistic life and a baby. Selvaratnam engages us without sentimentality or self-pity and, in the process, helps us all understand that there are ways to achieve our personal hopes and dreams when given honest information, guidance, and support.”
—Catherine Gund, documentary filmmaker and cofounder, Third Wave Foundation
“With vulnerability, insight, and honesty, Selvaratnam uses her personal journey with health, fertility, and career to illuminate one of the biggest issues of our era. Have women lost out on fundamental happiness by following the call to have it all—a family and a career? How can women and men reshape the losses of our time into better choices and better outcomes? Selvaratnam takes us inside her medical and emotional journey and uses the stories of women across the country to examine how to put an end to ‘the big lie.’”
—Farai Chideya, television and radio journalist; author of The Color of Our Future
“The ability to choose to become a mother (or not) is playing itself out in real time every day, and there is no question in my mind that the right to plan one’s family on one’s own timetable continues to have more pros than cons for this generation. However, it is also important that we examine the impact of a societal shift of this enormity. There is great potential in Selvaratnam’s journey to bring similar stories of disappointment, frustration, and hope to light. In sharing, there can also be healing.”
—Christy Turlington Burns, founder, Every Mother Counts; director/producer, No Woman, No Cry
“The Big Lie will leave readers with many big truths—truths about women’s wants and desires and revelations about our limitations. The book is part memoir, part maternal-health manifesto; taken together, it is an important read for anyone contemplating and assuming future motherhood.”
—Amy Richards, author of Opting In: Having a Child without Losing Yourself
“Through detailed research and personal insights, Selvaratnam sheds light on one of the most important issues facing women in today’s society—that is, infertility. The path to parenthood is not linear, and Selvaratnam delicately yet passionately reminds us of this. As an infertility consultant and advocate, I believe knowledge is power when it comes to facing this issue, and Selvaratnam bravely shares her story so that we can all reexamine our notions of how a family is built. This book not only arms us with the information, guidance, and support to face infertility but also provides the honesty, vulnerability, and hope to comfort us.”
—Mindy Berkson, infertility consultant, Lotus Blossom Consulting