Serena Williams on giving birth: ‘I am about to be a real woman now’

serena stellar

Serena Williams covers the Melbourne Herald Sun’s weekly magazine, Stellar, and I’ve been seeing quotes from this interview all week. I apologize for not getting to it sooner, I just thought that Serena had given some milquetoast “I can’t wait for the baby!” interview. While I’m so excited for Serena – she’s due to give birth during the US Open – I realize that not everyone is as jazzed as me. And now Serena has stepped into controversy because of this interview. She talks about her excitement and apprehension now that her due date is so close, but she also says that she’s about to be a “real woman”… now that she’s going to go through childbirth. Because only moms are real women? You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

On birthing videos: “I don’t think watching birthing videos helps. I actually think it makes it worse. Having a baby, nothing is guaranteed.”

How a baby will affect her game: “That’s the scariest thing. [But] I think [giving birth] will give me more strength, if that’s possible, and a lot more confidence. I feel like I will be ready for anything.”

The idea of giving birth: “I have so much respect for so many women [for giving birth]. I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”

Growing up as a devout Jehovah’s Witness: “I really like how I grew up. I had a lot of humility. No matter what’s happened, I am the most level-headed person you will ever meet. I am no better than anyone else. It’s something we are working on: ‘How do we keep our baby humble?’ We haven’t come up with an answer yet, but having a strong spiritual background helps. I really think we have to keep referencing the importance of humility.”

Alexis Ohanian is taking a daddy-class: “Who knows, maybe it’s a gambling class, maybe they hang out and have beers or watch sport,” Williams jokes. She is actually a little envious. “I have never been around babies. I need a Baby 101 class — they don’t have one for the women! He’ll probably know more [than me] after his four-hour course.”

Whether she’ll force her kid to play tennis:
“Whatever they want to do, they can do. If they want to be a piano player, I’m here to support them. I’m not going to say, ‘You have to play tennis.’ I wouldn’t even put a tennis racket in their hand. That may be a little bit of pressure. What they want to do is up to them.”

She doesn’t get why she’s compared to male players: “Why are they not comparing Roger [Federer] to me? There are barriers I hope to break so my baby, whether boy or girl, won’t have to live under those stipulations. I definitely am a feminist. I like to stick up for women and women’s rights. So many things happen and I just think, ‘Wow, why don’t we have a chance?’ If that makes me a feminist, I am proud to be one.”

[From The Melbourne Herald Sun]

First of all, I think she’s probably terrified of giving birth. She’s been through a lot of physical pain before, but I bet you anything that she’s like me, in that birthing videos make her nauseous and the idea of childbirth is really scary. So put the “real woman” comment in that context – I’m not saying Serena should have said it, I’m just saying… give her a break. We know by now that she doesn’t believe that womanhood is determined by the ability to give birth, or that one can only be a “real woman” if you’re a mother. If I truly thought Serena really believed that, I would be yelling too.

Here’s a photo from Serena’s baby shower, which she had last weekend. It was ‘50s themed.

Photos courtesy of Instagram, WENN.

 

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276 Responses to “Serena Williams on giving birth: ‘I am about to be a real woman now’”

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  1. Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

    Oh really? Then women who don’t have children or don’t give birth are not real women? What the h*ck?

    • Kitten says:

      Yeah…..I get what she was trying to say. Terrible choice of words.

      These threads always get crazy because we end focusing so much attention on one innocuous phrase (in what is usually a sizable interview) to the point where it gets blown WAY out of proportion. That being said, on a cumulative level these kinds of statements are just annoying as hell to hear, especially from those of us who are child-free.

      • FLORC says:

        Kitten
        Exactly.
        I’ve made the choice to remain childless. And I don’t need the 1st hand experience of childbirth to qualify as a real, full, complete woman.

        This type of poor phrasing reminds me of a few statements made about a double mastectomy.
        I am going to side eye the he’ll out of her. She has proven herself well spoken and socially aware. She’s not new to the spotlight. Just carried away maybe. Still… these statements can be incredibly hurtful.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        I agree. And I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe because she has a strong history of credibility and she has had to put up with being treated as almost un-womanly because of who she is and what she has achieved.

        And yet, let’s say it again: Real women are real not by virtue of being mothers, and real mothers are real not by virtue of pregnancy and delivery.

        There, I said it and I’m glad. ; )

      • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

        The comment is hurtful as hell. I wanted kids. Still do. I had No choice, but to have a hysterectomy. Sorry, people give her way too many passes. She’s a feminist? Not in this context. The guy dumped his partner for her and she knew and didn’t care. That’s not feminism, that’s a bitch.

      • Ally says:

        I love it when one or several of the first comments nail it. Thanks, Kitten!

        If for one reason or another she was not interested or able to have a baby, she would never have said this. But since she is, now it’s self-realization mode — ‘this thing I am doing will make me fully me, and since me is a woman among other things, I will now fully be a woman!’ She’s talking about herself, but sounds like she’s generalizing, hence the groans.

        It’s unfortunate, even as a slip of the tongue, because it confirms one of the male arguments from keeping women from being in the work arena with them: that biology is destiny and that women should be at home baking babies in their wombs, and that it’s suspicious if they don’t want to do this because then they’re not real women. (But goodness forbid you try to take maternity leave: also bad. Lose-lose, ladies!)

        I’m glad she says she’s a feminist and obviously she is in the way she lives her life. It just shows how much we all have to strive to transcend the limiting scripts that have been drilled into us to keep those with less societal privilege in line.

      • otaku fairy says:

        “She’s a feminist? Not in this context. The guy dumped his partner for her and she knew and didn’t care. That’s not feminism, that’s a bitch.” That doesn’t make her not a feminist though. If they were sleeping together/dating before he dumped his partner, that’s selfish and wrong on both their parts. But if he wanted out of the relationship, had the decency to dump his partner first, and then they started sleeping together/dating, it’s not even wrong or selfish on her part.
        I see why her comment is problematic- even though she’s definitely not the first pregnant woman to say something like this- but I’m not going to rake someone over the coals for having that kind of feeling about their pregnancy, especially when it’s someone who has had people attacking and trying to deny her her womanhood and femininity over and over again. But not having kids doesn’t make a woman less of a woman either.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      I don’t have children yet, I want to though, and while I am a real woman now, when I will have children I will be a mother.
      I just wish public persons could be more aware of what comes out of their mouths. I am not in the least offended by what she says, but that can be uber-offensive to other women, especially to those who cannot have children due to medical issues outside their control.

      • Kitten says:

        I completely agree with you on every statement, esp regarding women who are unable to have children.

      • LadyMTL says:

        You nailed it, Pumpkin. I don’t have kids and probably never will have them (by choice) but I was a bit offended by her choice of words. I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it to sound the way it came out, but it was a bad way to put it.

      • FLORC says:

        Should have scrolled down before typing my own… all of this! Agree to all of it!

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        All true.

        I don’t follow tennis and so I don’t know much about the Williams’ sisters, but would imagine they’ve had to put up with a lot of guff about not being “feminine” and “womanly” because of their appearance, athleticism and achievements? Haven’t they had to talk about this being a sore point? It may account for how it came out this way, it being more particular to her rather than general to all women.

      • Esmom says:

        Amen. While I have had kids it in no way affected my “womanhood.” I’m the same person I’ve always been. I know some people can be highly sensitive about motherhood for so many valid reasons, and I feel for them. Very unfortunate comment by Serena.

      • Crimson says:

        WATP? – Your explanation makes sense. I grew up much like the Williams sisters (big, strong, tall, athletic) and took truckloads of cr*p from people. Couldn’t wait for the day I could finally be accepted.

        With that being said, however, I believe that hormonal changes for women during and after pregnancy are no joke. They can literally short-circuit your brain and make a normally clear-headed woman sound looney. I’m cutting her some slack because of this.

    • Jess says:

      I just want to apoplogize to you women who have to hear this mess. It’s not how most people feel, you are no more or less of a woman because of giving birth, period. I don’t understand why women say things like this, or you’re not a “real mother” unless you have more than one child. If you have a vagina you are in fact, a real woman, if you have a child, by any means including adoption, surrogacy, etc, you are a real mother.

      • godwina says:

        “If you have a vagina you are in fact, a real woman”

        Well, trans people and trans activists would disagree with you there, I’m afraid.

        Serena: come now.

      • tracking says:

        I know , such a dumb thing to say. It shows a lack of sensitivity to women who make different, perfectly valid choices, though I don’t think she intended to paint with such a broad brush. She’s speaking about her own feelings about pregnancy, I took it more as a unique thing a woman’s body can do not as a claim for superiority.

      • ISSAQUEEN says:

        This is a perfect example. Jess meant well, she was trying to say all women who identify as women are women but ended up excluding trans women who don’t have vaginas. See how that works? It’s impossible to think of every scenario under the sun. This rush to condemnation is just ridiculous.

      • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

        Thank you. You made me cry! My hysterectomy makes me feel so ‘unwoman’ every day. Things I have always said, suddenly don’t matter. I feel like I am natural selection or something and am not powerful. Then I realize, I DO NOT DEFINE MYSELF THIS WAY.

      • Jess says:

        Godwina, I almost mentioned the transgender community as well but couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted to say and I was in a hurry to leave for work. I figured no one would say anything, so of course you did! Lol😉😉

        Anyway, so much for trying to be positive and supportive.

      • Cannibell says:

        All of this, plus whatever your parts are, if you identify as a woman, you are a woman. Having kids MIGHT make you a lot of real things, but the only real thing it DOES make you is a real parent. Full stop.

    • Cc says:

      People are so easily offended these days sheesh
      She wasn’t talking about all women. She said SHE feels this way about herself and those are her feelings.
      I am child free by choice and I am sick of the easily offended pc brigade.
      When did we get to this point?

      • Lalu says:

        Careful CC… You will hurt someone’s feelings.
        Dang. Can’t we just be happy for her that she’s happy to be having a baby? She seems like a decent person. Why does everything have to be “problematic”?
        I am offended on her behalf. I am offended that everyone jumps to something negative instead of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
        I hope she doesn’t apologize… Because she didn’t do anything wrong.
        If you are a person that always reads something hurtful into everything that people say, I have to wonder what you have in your heart.

      • HadToChangeMyName says:

        I wish I could upvote you. I think people are just waiting around for something to feel outraged about.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        This, completely. As I tell my teenagers about reacting to others’ comments: If it doesn’t apply directly to you, ignore it- you don’t need to waste energy responding.

      • Horse Marine says:

        Completely agree with you and Lalu. *shakes head*

      • JenB says:

        I agree with you Cc. I’m amazed that celebrity moms-to-be even give interviews about this because there’s always one comment that is zeroed in on to a ridiculous level. Serena is amazing and she wasn’t trying to demean other women. Her entire life speaks to her character.

      • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

        Ya’ll get offended by other comments? It’s a gossip site. Don’t come on and read it! Boohoo, a celeb who has done great things steps in some shit for a dumbass interview. Well, we are HERE to talk about it. Like I said down thread, when something is for International consumption we will all have a say!

      • Lua says:

        I agree with you CC. Child-free by choice & nature’s will, and every time I see this I think about how exhausting it must be to get offended by every little statement. She doesn’t have to apologise about how she feels. Having a baby makes her FEEL like a real woman. I always say being child-free makes me feel like I’m not an adult. That’s how I feel. Unapologetically.

      • NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

        I actually do get what you all are saying. I make sure to try my hardest not to take things personally. And I do have to agree that I don’t feel like an adult either sometimes. I was at a bday party and people were jumping in after kids without floaties. My fiance and I were actually relieved. I get it, but I still think whatever a celeb says about something so personal, people will talk.

      • Cinderella says:

        Thank you a million times over. Serena should be the last person that gets jumped on for saying something directed toward herself. She’s had to endure insults about being “manly” her entire career. Instead of going off on her critics, she handled it with grace, which I bet would be difficult for many. Does anyone ever look at the whole person anymore?

    • Malibu Stacy says:

      First of all she’s being really extra with this pregnancy let’s be honest. She’s not the first woman in the world to be pregnant.

      Secondly, I hate these off handed comments about being a “real” woman only after having given birth. I’m child free by choice and trust me I’m all woman. I find it more brave to not have children. I have to field hatred, questioning and doubts almost weekly from people who disagree with my decision. I’m more than my womb and it’s unfortunate that some women can only feel complete once they’ve created a spawn.

      • Missy says:

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her sharing about her pregnancy, she’s obviously very excited. I don’t think Serena is hating on anybody who chooses not to have children, she’s gotten a lot of shit her whole career and called every name for manly and ugly in the book.

        It’s unfortunate that people judge you for your choice, but it’s also a little unfortunate that you can’t see where some women are coming from. I knew my whole life that I wanted to be a mother, and create a “spawn”, as you so delicately worded it. ..and I would’ve been very upset it never happened for me.

        And I guarantee you if you chose different and did have a child, the same people who hated on you would find another reason to do so.

      • Missy says:

        For years, friends and family were asking my boyfriend and I why we haven’t had kids yet, then when I had my daughter I got so much shit for not being married to her father. We’ve been together for 15 years, just never felt the need to be married. You should’ve seen the looks on everyone’s faces when we decided not to have our kid christened in a church.

        No matter what choice you make for your life, there will be someone who will be ready to judge your choices

      • Jen says:

        @Malibustacey complete agree. Most people are incredibly dismissive (the “you’ll change your mind, you wait and see” attitude), judgemental ( the “how selfish, motherhood is the most noble, rewarding, etc etc” attitude) or just seem completely thrown when they find out you don’t want children. It’s something I’ve stopped telling people post 30 because I was so sick of the reactions I would get.

      • Horse Marine says:

        Choosing not to have kids is not “more brave”.

        Anyway, Serena is allowed to feel however she feels about her pregnancy and imminent childbirth. If it makes her feel like a complete woman, well, good for her. She wasn’t making a comment about you or anyone else. Not everything is about you.

        People are incredibly fragile. Sheesh.

      • Nic919 says:

        Not having kids is still something that many people criticize so yes it is a brave decision, because women who don’t have kids or don’t get married constantly have to defend that decision. Women who have kids do not have to defend that decision to society. It’s what women are expected to do.

      • otaku fairy says:

        “She’s not the first woman in the world to be pregnant.” Maybe not, but it’s a special, new experience for her. I’m not at all bothered by women celebrating and being extra about childbirth, or being super private about it, whatever suits the individual. Especially since pregnancy and women’s responses to it (like anything else that has to do with women’s bodies and sexuality) is already an aspect of women’s lives that has been policed. The calls for modesty are more of an annoyance IMO.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I think she only meant that as it pertains to herself, not branding only mothers as real women. That’s just silly.

    • Seraphina says:

      She may not have meant it that way but she needs to choose her words very carefully. Especially in this day and age. And she should be ready for people to be offended. Why should I hide my offence and tolerate that view. If I offend some one I want to know because maybe I haven’t looked at the subject through their “lens” and that’s what also helps us grow mentally and emotionally. And I will add that I have kids and I have a friend who does not, NEVER has it crossed my mind that she is less of a woman than I because she chose not to have children. We are all woman. Now we pick and choose who a woman is if she gives birth or not? Or we tell mothers they are less because they had a caesarean instead of a vaginal birth. Give a damn break. People need to think before speaking.

      • Missy says:

        I don’t spend much time worrying about offending people…these days people are offended by anything and everything. It’s so easy to take someone’s words the wrong way, especially just reading an interview, text, email…it’s hard to convey your feelings through written word sometimes. If someone was to say to me that I’m more of woman then my mother because I gave vaginal birth and she had to have a c section…I wouldn’t take any value in their opinion because it’s idiotic. If I spent my time worrying about the opinions of idiots that’s all I’d do.

        For someone like Serena who’s been criticized her entire career because of her looks, I highly doubt she actually thinks she’s more woman then someone who’s never been pregnant. The comments and anger here toward her is so blown out of proportion. Let’s redirect that anger at a topic that really deserves it…I mean the world is like on the verge of nuclear war

      • Seraphina says:

        Missy, she hit at the heart of being a woman. And that needs to be tread on lightly. And that Ian the problem today, too many people speaking without a filter. And they should know the backlash because it’s being respectful and THINKING before speaking. We have a president who has the same damn problem. And just like Serena, we too are vocalizing our thoughts and feeelibgs – at our displeasure with her words.

      • Janetdr says:

        I feel that just maybe she is just talking herself through the fear of the unknown that labor is by reminding herself of the shared experience that so many women have had. Gosh, it was surely on my mind before my first. Not knowing what to expect, not having any control of your experience,etc. I’ll agree that someone who is a public figure should expect to have every comment disected…..but it gets a pass from me. I sincerely doubt that the purpose of her remark was to throw shade on people who have not given birth.

    • imqrious2 says:

      Oh really??? Hmmm… guess I’m not *real* then. I couldn’t have kids, should I go live out my existence in a cave, away from society, because I’m not “real”? Or would, perhaps, my being a “surrogate” mom 5 days a week to 30-36 kids teaching for 30 years (35 if you count volunteering in classrooms) quantify me as a “partial” woman?? Serena needs to take SEVERAL seats and sit the hell down! Seriously! She acts like she is the first woman to ever have a child. Get over yourself honey! Just be grateful you’re having an easy pregnancy and (hopefully) a healthy child. That’s more than a lot of other women, oh, excuse me, UNREAL women, can do. Sorry for the rant, but, this “real woman” crap REALLY ticks me off!

    • Barbie Doll says:

      I agree that she used the wrong choice of words and didn’t mean it in that sense because that’s very hurtful. There are a lot of trolls and haters out there on different websites (especially daily mail) always calling her derogatory names and such, saying she is a man, or animal, not a woman. So very sad.

    • Hannah says:

      This! Plus…since when are there no pre-natal classes for women or couples for that matter?! This interview is so ridiculous.

    • Ellie says:

      Sometimes people misspeak, but quite often they mean exactly what they say.

  2. Giulia says:

    Uh-oh. Girl, you in danger.

  3. Mermaid says:

    I was terrified of childbirth too. Both my kids were scheduled c-sections because they thought my son was 12 pounds on the ultrasound. He ended up 10. Good luck Serena!!!

  4. bluhare says:

    Very sad to discover I’m not a real woman.

  5. Lulu says:

    Wow that was a really poor choice of words. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she didn’t mean that women who don’t give birth aren’t real women, because she doesn’t seem that out of it. I hope she clarifies what she means.

  6. milla says:

    Well i don’t wanna have kids. So i will never be a woman…

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      Me neither.

      More disappointed then offended. Maybe she suffered from the criticism thrown at her concerning her appearance (that she was manly or not a woman because she was muscly) but honestly…. then I am not a woman because I am childfree by choice and also quite muscly.

      I refuse to bow down to this mindset and it seems to me as a setback on her ‘feminist’ stance.

      • Ksenia says:

        Despite the fact that she’s a superb athlete and very symbolic, to women,, of talent and ambition and perseverance and strength, I never thought of Serena as a feminist. That is, not since her response to a gang rape several years back, her saying something about women who drank too much at parties sexually endangering themselves, to the point where, in a way, sexual assault is their fault; she was definitely blaming the victim. So I’m not surprised by her ignorant and hurtful comment about “real women” being those who give birth. I don’t think she has ever really identified herself as a feminist, though, despite the fact that she is an iconic female athlete. Her remark, though offhand, was offensive and extraordinarily insensitive.

  7. grabbyhands says:

    I really hope that was just an insanely poorly worded sentence, because that was incredibly insensitive.

    Being pregnant doesn’t make you a real woman.
    Being a parent doesn’t make you a real woman.

    There are all kinds of womanhood and none of them is more real than another. Why do we keep having to have this discussion???

    • Alix says:

      Because every pregnant celeb is the FIRST WOMAN EVER about to give birth! Only she can reveal the grandeur of such a moment, and how meaningful it is!

      • Lindy79 says:

        The Beyonce School of Childbirth

      • Runcmc says:

        To be fair to celebs, a LOT of my first-time-mom friends are like that. And they’re like that with the babies too- all oversharing and omg-parenthood-is-transformative-your-life-is-nothing-til-you-have-a-kid.

        Celebs just get to do that in magazines, everybody else uses Facebook 😂😂

      • Kitten says:

        This though. I struggle because I want to be supportive and happy for everyone’s choice re: childbirth and I’m terrified of coming off as bitter.

        But there’s an annoying air of self-righteousness in the way that *some* mothers-to-be talk about themselves. I mean…she has a right to be excited and to talk about her pregnancy but for once, I’d love to hear a celeb say that they’re scared shitless. Or maybe just make a more inclusive statement about women’s choice to give birth or not. Or maybe just stop inferring that procreating is the biggest contribution one can make to this world.

        (how am I doing in not sounding bitter?)

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Kitten, you don’t sound bitter. You sound bored as f*ck. Like me. I would be on board with discussions that go further. As in, how do we normalize breastfeeding. How do we support working moms. What about childcare and the affordability of it. Paid family leave (not a big issue here btw). The treacherous terrain that is society’s idea of “traditional family” and the roles of “mother” and “father”. Why do people on social media turn into assh*les when boys paint their nails. Etc. etc. These all have an impact on society and therefore, on me. But the specific yoga poses some model used to give birth like the earth goddess she is? GTFO.

      • godwina says:

        No Kitten, you make all the sense.

        “But there’s an annoying air of self-righteousness in the way that *some* mothers-to-be talk about themselves.”

        That attitude is especially eye-rolly, since reproduction is something mammals just do reflexively. Fertile mammals don’t need a fancy degree or or a five-step plan or even an intellect to get that done. Talk to the cows and the cats and our hunter/gatherer ancestors.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Thanks for this, really:
        “That attitude is especially eye-rolly, since reproduction is something mammals just do reflexively. Fertile mammals don’t need a fancy degree or or a five-step plan or even an intellect to get that done.”

        Wish folks would remember this. People like me who adopt get told way too often, “You did it the easy way.”

        Sure, all they did was have sex. Me (and my husband), we had to fill out a boatload of intrusive forms, build an elaborate dossier about ourselves, travel around to get things certified at the right levels of government, obtain multiple personal references, subject ourselves to multiple personal interviews (separately, like criminal suspects – to see if we got our stories straight), get police clearances, have our home inspected, wait far longer than 9 months, deal with lots of nosy people asking stupid questions or making insensitive comments (before, during, and after), be treated as if our parenthood were somehow ‘lesser’ or we wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be “real” parents, and worse, have our child be treated as “lesser” too, and pay stiff fees (at the time, far less subsidized by the government/employers) on top of everything. And that’s just before.

        We chose adoption from the start and it’s been a wonderful (and still emotionally and logistically complicated) way to make a family. I’d do it all over again. I’d do it in multiples if I were younger and richer. But no one tell me I did it “the easy” way just because I didn’t give birth!

        This week of N Korea/Google manifesto is getting me all, like, riled up!

      • Mle428 says:

        Being pregnant is crazy, and the hormones seemed to give me word salad when I went through it. I’m going to give her a pass on this statement.

        I live in a part of the US where many women stay at home. My husband actually cares for our son while I work and complete grad school. I feel very out of place in a region where this role reversal is essentially unheard of, and am often mommy-shamed for having a career.

        It’s tough out there for us ladies. Judged if you don’t have kids (I didn’t, by choice, for a long time), and judged if you do….

      • Sixer says:

        Here you go, Kitten!

        I thought pregnancy would be boring but it wasn’t. It was utter, unadulterated shit from start to finish. And nothing went wrong – I had two perfectly normal pregnancies. I just hated being pregnant for no obvious reason (but presumably hormones ruining mood or somesuch) and couldn’t wait for it to be over. If you’d asked me about it while it was happening, I would have responded in four letter words and thrown something at you.

        Childbirth 1 went by in a haze of drugs and I really couldn’t tell you anything about it. Mr Sixer and my mother experienced it more than I did in my pethidine haze. Childbirth 2 – thought I probably should at least give the experience a go and went drug free. Hurt like hell, swore a lot, bit Mr Sixer hard enough for him to get a scar.

        Newborn phase – BORING.

        Post-newborn phases – loved, love and probably will continue to love having kids.

        And that is maternity according to Sixer! It is one experience of an aspect of womanhood among countless billions of experiences of various aspects of womanhood that women on Planet Earth could relate. None more or less valuable than another.

      • Kitten says:

        @ LittleMissNaughty- Yes—”BORING”! “Boring” is the word I was looking for.
        I also agree that it would be more interesting if we could broaden the discussion a bit beyond vague and trite platitudes about pregnancy.

        @WATP-Preach!

        @Sixer-Hahahah…finally, some truth! I have a couple friends who are just straight-up REAL about pregnancy and how much work it is to raise kids. They love their kids unconditionally and don’t regret their choice for one second but they don’t glorify parenthood and I find that so damn refreshing.

        @Godwina “That attitude is especially eye-rolly, since reproduction is something mammals just do reflexively. Fertile mammals don’t need a fancy degree or or a five-step plan or even an intellect to get that done. Talk to the cows and the cats and our hunter/gatherer ancestors.”

        YESSSSSSS! Thank you!!!

      • paranormalgirl says:

        @Sixer, I am SO glad I wasn’t the only one who hated being pregnant. I love being a mom now that my kids are 14 and 16.

      • Sixer says:

        Paranormalgirl – I’ve never had PMS at all but pregnancy was as I imagine PMS to be with orders of magnitude added. I was in a foul mood the whole time.

        Apropos the whole thread, I do think some people romanticise and lionise the whole shebang of pregnancy to cover anxiety. It’s not all mean girl stuff, you know? I also think my 9-month filthy mood was probably hormonal and likewise, the exuberance of some is also hormonal.

        I think Serena’s phrasing was unfortunate and tactless here but I’m not about to call out any woman who’s expressing irrepressible joy about something in her life, whether it’s a baby, a new man, a job, or anything else. Sometimes other people get to experience something joyful that I never will even if I want to. That’s life. It seems unnecessary to slag them for not remembering to be pitch perfect tactful about it.

        So I guess I’m not a bellweather on this topic!

  8. Odette says:

    Sorry, but she needs to apologize for this one.

    • anonymous says:

      No she doesn’t . She is allowed to talk about how she feels. I don’t have kids yet and I don’t even know if I will be able to have them but yet I don’t feel offended by her comments.

      • Odette says:

        Good for you. But as someone who can’t have kids, I, personally, will admit I was a bit offended, yes. Her statement perpetuates a negative stereotype that us women without kids are somehow less than.

      • Tanguerita says:

        Oh yes, she does. This comment is demeaning to all women. everything that reduces person to something less than what she is according to a rigid view of culture she exists in, is. She of all people should have known better.

      • lightpurple says:

        As someone who wanted children but lost the ability to do so because of chemotherapy for breast cancer, I found her remark incredibly insensitive. I find it incredibly insensitive every time someone utters it and I don’t understand how others don’t learn from the reaction. I don’t think she meant to be hurtful but she was extremely insensitive. I like Serena. I’m glad I got to live in the Serena-era to see her play. I wish her and her child well. But, yes, she owes an apology, as does every insensitive woman who makes that statement.

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        @lightpurple

        Hugs xx

        And yes, the sanctimonious parade of moms saying this stuff should stop; disappointed it came from her because I like her a lot.

    • godwina says:

      At least to the trans community. It’s pretty exclusionary language.

    • HadToChangeMyName says:

      No, she doesn’t. she was clearly speaking about herself and her experiences. I had my son at 33 and didn’t feel like a “grown up” until that moment. It was a very serious thing (for me) to have to care for another human being. So I get what she’s saying. I saw it as that, she is now a real woman, an adult. Not that ONLY women who give birth are “real” women.

      • AmunetMaat says:

        I agree HadtoChange. Her language doesn’t have to be inclusive in this instance because she is not talking about the totality of womanhood, she is discussing herself and her own experience and situation. She’s not infertile, she’s not trans, she isn’t #nochildrendforme. She is walking down a particular path and used language that expressed her particular journey. She shouldn’t have to qualify that or use board language. That’s ridiculous. After having just given birth at 34, trying for a year and going through a rough pregnancy, I understand the emotions and thought process she has because motherhood and caring for a little human has made me feel like a grown-up, the changes to my body make me feel older. The stress of motherhood makes me feel a different type of tired. However, that is my personal experience which is different from anyone else’s. When I describe my journey I discuss it through the lens of my womanhood.

      • Odette says:

        We all say dumb shit in life — including Serena Williams. And when we say dumb shit, we should have the maturity to apologize. In this instance, Serena was insensitive and giving into an old-school b.s. notion that childless women are somehow less than. I expect people to learn and be sensitive about language that contributes to systemic racism, and I expect people to be sensitive and aware about language that contributes to systemically holding up the patriarchy. Language matters.

    • Horse Marine says:

      She doesn’t. She has the right to express her feelings about her pregnancy and imminent childbirth. She wasn’t talking to or about you.

      She did not say that women who don’t give birth are less than, incomplete or not real. She talked about the way SHE feels. Sure, the way she phrased it was a tad clumsy, but she obviously did not have malicious intentions.

      Demanding an apology is an absurd overreaction. I hope she ignores the hysteria.

  9. OhDear says:

    Considering all the crap she gets for being thought as “not a real woman”/”manly” because she’s black/muscular/etc., I’m willing to cut her some slack on the “real woman” thing.

  10. Loopy says:

    Maybe it was a sarcastic statement to all the people who always said she was too masculine/a man etc like I am having a baby,i have a uterus etc

    • Bea says:

      I agree, perhaps she used “real woman now” in terms of femininity since hers is always being questioned or challenged.

      Yes Serena should’ve used better words to express her praise for women who have given birth but I don’t think her statement was intended to slight to women who have never given birth.

  11. third ginger says:

    She’s a legend, and I wish her a safe birth and healthy baby. Definitely a poor choice of words, and although Serena and others who make these remarks have no hurtful intentions, this kind of language is particularly painful to those with pregnancy losses or fertility issues. Then, of course, there are the many women who decide, for perfectly rational and highly individual reasons, not to have children. All of these people are real women.

  12. adastraperaspera says:

    I never had kids. I don’t think she meant that would make me less of a woman. I think she’s just trying to explain her sense of wonder about birth.

    • Brunswickstoval says:

      I completely get what she’s saying. I don’t think everyone who says this sort of thing means it as a personal attack on anyone with a different experience.
      We live in a world where thanks to the internet we take everything people say as a slight on ourselves whether it’s intended or not.

  13. AppleAnna says:

    Now that I know I’m not not a real woman, can I get equal pay?

  14. Lucy2 says:

    She is overall amazing, but this is a misstep. Sadly she isn’t the first and won’t be the last to say this, it’s a pervasive idea, and it’s very hurtful to those who don’t or can’t have children.

  15. anonymous says:

    I know she will probably get dragged for this but please give her a major break. There are so many attributes in being a woman and giving birth is just one of them sure not the only one or the most important one. Her statement shouldn’t make anyone else feel less of a woman.

  16. Svea says:

    Ugh. Women can be so dumb as they feed into antifeminist rhetoric.

  17. Em' says:

    Err I don’t know… Are we supposed to give her a pass because we like her ?
    And even if it’s “just” a poor choice of words, how many time, on this very website, were they threads about how much words matter.
    She is a role model, she should know better.

  18. Lolo86lf says:

    She should not have said that. It is demeaning to women unable to have babies. Years ago someone said to me a man is not complete until he plants a tree, writes a book and has a baby. Whoever said that was wrong.

  19. Rapunzel says:

    As a woman who has known, since childhood, that she cannot have kids, I give NO passes to any person who utters the phrase “real woman” in conjunction with pregnancy. Infertility is something that happens to real women.

    The pain of childbirth is temporary. The pain of being ridiculed, patronized and rejected because of biology is forever.

  20. I adopted because I can’t have children. And last month, shockingly, I miscarried after I was told I could not get pregnant. So I guess I’m not a real woman. She is a great person, but really, she should have used better words. It’s hurtful to any woman struggling, or not choosing children. Having children does not make us a woman or not.

  21. Lalu says:

    I think she probably meant more along the lines of feeling like an adult. Sometimes certain things that happen to us in life make us feel like more of a grown up (landing a big job, buying a house, getting a dog).
    I think it’s sad that grown people want to get offended that their ideas of what life should be aren’t shared by everyone else. Maybe she felt like a child did complete her life. It doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same or that they should.
    There’s enough ugly in the world… We don’t have to go out searching for things to offend us.

  22. Blue says:

    So where did she say that the women who didn’t give birth aren’t real women? Where? Please let her be. She’s obviously talking about herself. Y’all tried this shit when Beyoncé said being a mother was her greatest achievement saying bollocks like “she has achieved so much why is this the one that matters most to her she should apologize to women unable to birth children like us” nah… Y’all take some chill pill and know that every woman sees things differently

  23. magnoliarose says:

    Oh for goodness’ sake. She is talking about her own feelings about herself. She didn’t say it is a universal truth for everyone. Are we so thin skinned now that someone can’t even express their feelings truthfully in case someone somewhere is hurt? This is PC taken too far.
    I know what she is saying. She is excited and feels powerful growing a person after being a tough athlete for so many years. She is thrilled about it. Serena doesn’t need to apologize for her own effing feelings. She isn’t responsible for anyone’s infertility or choices to be childless. This is about HER moment and HER happiness.
    I feel different being a mother than I did as a single person. Being pregnant the first time was a new thing and I was fascinated by my body’s ability to make a person. Where is the controversy? Men can’t carry babies only women can so again why is that weird to acknowledge that. Or is this another “outrage”.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      Nobody is asking for an apology. But why is she allowed to express her feelings and the ones among us who find what she said strange at best aren’t?

      • AmunetMaat says:

        Because littlemissnaughty in essence outraged people are censoring her voice on her personal experience because it does not include them. That’s quite nonsensical and is superficially anti-feminist, which I find ironic as she is being accused of being anti-feminist for speaking freely about how she feels about her pregnancy.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @littlemissnaughty I don’t begrudge anyone’s opinion and I don’t believe in censorship and I think we should all be free to express our thoughts.
        I am just at a place where I wonder what ever happened to the benefit of the doubt? It seems like people are hunting for something to take personally. Any time a woman says how she feels about motherhood or pregnancy there seems to be a negative reaction and I truly don’t get it. How can someone’s feelings about themselves be offensive to someone else?
        She has been called a man and a monkey and transsexual so maybe for her, it is affirming. I don’t see the issue with her expressing her feelings. Especially after all the racist cruel things she has endured. I take that into account when I read what she says.
        There is nothing judgmental in what she said.

      • Sixer says:

        I’m inclined to say there’s a touch of the over-reaction in what was a slightly tactless slip of the tongue by an over-excited pregnant woman who has a history of being kind and dignified about everyone, even in the face of abuse.

        However, in the context of those awful mommy blogs and mommy wars that seem to proliferate stateside (they happen here in the UK but it’s not quite so intense), I can see where it’s coming from.

        Just y’know. Context is a two-way street. And I think Serena is allowed a badly phrased comment.

      • Nicole (the Cdn One) says:

        Ummmmm “a history of being kind and dignified about everyone”???? Tell that to the Steubenville rape victim. I’m not saying crucify her and this in no way diminishes her incredible athletic accomplishments or excuses the unfounded criticism she receives, but it’s also not appropriate to ignore that she has expressed some problematic opinions on women’s issues.

      • Sixer says:

        Mea culpa. I had forgotten all about that.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Yes, she has. That was 4 years ago, and she reached out to the family to apologize. It wasn’t the right thing to say at all. I read a different view point that explained that her words were wrong but in her world, as a black woman from a tough neighborhood playing a mostly white sport her mindset rejects the idea of being weak. I dug around to find it because it was interesting. I make no excuses for her and it wasn’t a thoughtful thing to say but perhaps it had less to do with gender and more to do with victim hood.

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/understanding-serena-williamss-steubenville-comments

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        AmunetMaat: That’s not how censorship works and I’m getting really tired of people misusing that word.

        magnoliarose: That’s okay and I agree that jumping on someone for an unfortunate expression is not great. If you read my first comment on this post, you’ll see that like many others, I wasn’t outraged. I was annoyed. However. This “real woman” thing is something so patently ridiculous and yes, offensive to a lot of women who struggle with fertility/pregnancy, that it should be something we all pay attention to. I tend to roll my eyes at pregnant women who suddenly discover their femininity. I mean really. If getting knocked up is what it took for you, fine. I don’t begrudge Serena her happiness or her newfound earth mother identity. If anything, she is so inspiring that I tend to give her the benefit of the doubt far more often than others. But come on. Pregnant women can be so damn extra.

        And please, again, don’t come at me with “PC” or “censorship”. That’s not what this is.

      • Sixer says:

        As a devil’s advocate…

        … if you are a woman who has spent years and years fending off troglodytes calling you a man, then you really might feel – entirely separate from the usual excitement about having a baby – that pregnancy is the thing that proves to the world (and yourself for that matter) that you are a Real Woman.

        Like I say, context is a two-way street.

        As I implied above, to me pregnancy for me was an irritation that I was the female half of Mr Sixer and me and I was the one who had to do it. No Real Woman feelings for me vis a vis pregnancy. But then, nobody had lit up the internet calling me a man for years on end.

        Women are legion. All of them have their own individual sense of womanhood and all have had experiences of things that have made them feel womanly. No experience is more valid than another and no experience invalidates another.

        FWIW – the day I first felt like a Real Woman was the day my mum, my aunties and my gran admitted me to their Very Important And Womanly Cryptic Crossword Circle. You lot might laugh, but it meant a lot to me!

    • Cc says:

      Agree, magnoliarose.
      Thank you, people seem to love to overreact to every little thing….I’d hate to constantly take offense to every little thing or throwaway comment someone makes. What a miserable way to live.

  24. Maria says:

    Was she not a real woman before? Strange comment.

  25. Kake says:

    I had a lot of humility. No matter what’s happened, I am the most level-headed person you will ever meet. I am no better than anyone else. It’s something we are working on: ‘How do we keep our baby humble?’

    LOL. just stop.

    • Esmerelda says:

      I am so humble and level-headed – quite the definition of humblebrag.

      She has an unfortunate way with words in this interview – the comment about ‘being a real woman’ is both inappropriate and offensive.

      • Carrie says:

        This one and the feature about how she met her man revealed more about her personality for me.

        I like her sister better and prefer her sister actually.

        Wish her well, and her baby, new family etc but I’ll always think her sister is a better human being. Serena can be GOAT, I don’t care. Lol

    • manta says:

      I knew everyone would fix on “the real woman “part, but that one struck me.
      She couldn’t stop at level-headed. She had to be the MOST level-headed person you’ll EVER meet, the most humble person on this planet. I just can’t stand that type of self-aggrandizing sentences. She’s one of the greatest athletes but humble isn’t exactly a word I’d associate with her. And nothing wrong with that. She’s actually one of those rare people whose career and titles can back up a little smug.
      You’re special, you’re totally aware of it. That’s OK.

  26. Allie B. says:

    Weird statement. I’m 9 weeks today and I don’t feel like a “woman”, I feel like Bella in Twilight, slowly losing life to give another o_o.

  27. EOA says:

    I have no problem with what she said, but I somehow suspect that if it were, say, Taylor Swift, people wouldn’t be saying, “oh, give her a break.”

  28. magnoliarose says:

    Kaiser I have to agree about childbirth videos. They can be horror movies. I saw one that my birthing teacher had that was made in the 70s with weird corny folk music and tambourines. The father was talking like he had just smoked 4 bowls and kept talking hippie. She screamed and moaned constantly and it was edited all choppy.
    My teachers hippie flag flies high but it scared me all the way until my baby was born.

  29. Sofia says:

    I would love to watch her tell someone like Oprah that she isn’t a real woman because she’s never given birth.

  30. Suzanne says:

    Disappointing comment about being a real woman. She’s always been a real woman and would have continued to be one without giving birth. I’m hoping it was just a poor choice of words and she doesn’t truly believe that statement.

  31. Deee says:

    Oh serena ….. foot in mouth

  32. Skylark says:

    She looks beautiful on that cover.

    I really hope she doesn’t feel she has to waste valuable energy defending herself publicly over this patently throw-away and very likely nervously over-excited comment.

  33. HelloSunshine says:

    I agree with other posters above me. I’m wondering if she’s saying it because people have been questioning her femininity her whole career and it’s just phrased poorly? I really like her and want to give her the benefit of the doubt lol

    At the end of the day, I hate the whole “real woman” talk that comes with child birth. There are people in the world who believe that because I had an emergency c section, I’m not a real woman who had a real birth *massive eye roll*

    Btw, you know what makes a “real woman”??? Being or identifying as a woman. That’s literally it. You’re doing it right and you’re beautiful!

  34. Megan says:

    That cover photo is stunning. She is such a beautiful woman.

  35. FishBeard says:

    She’s referring to herself and her own body, and isn’t making a grandiose statement about womanhood or the meaning of the term “women” whatsoever. As someone who hasn’t given birth and may not ever have kids, I’m not offended in the slightest. Womanhood is entirely subjective, and this is her personal view regarding her own experiences.

  36. Prairiegirl says:

    What a misguided comment. Childbirth is a uniquely female experience but there’s more to womanhood than childbirth. Hope she manages to pull her head from her @ss.

  37. Bobafelty says:

    Guess I’m a #fake woman. Better put that on the #fake news.

  38. Justjj says:

    I think she misspoke but I don’t think an apology would be a bad idea considering how sensitive childbirth and having children are for many women. I get what she’s saying, when you’re pregnant you’re kind of in awe the whole time of a woman’s body and you do anticipate birth and think it’s the end of the journey or that you’ve ‘arrived’ somehow-especially at the end. (You haven’t and birth and the months following are a very long process) I think she just didn’t articulate this well.

  39. Jenn says:

    Give her a break. She has spent her life being told she’s too manly because she is an amazing athlete, and now is feeling like more of a woman than she ever has before. It was not a slap to women who haven’t given birth, it was an description of her. Nothing else.

  40. Sage says:

    For years she has been referred to as manly or an animal. That had to have done a number on her as a young lady. I am not surprised by her comment and I didn’t find it offensive. She’s talking about her experience.

  41. Lynnie says:

    Lol people can’t just win sometimes. Especially with the “I’m about to become a real woman,” in between the entire quote. Like what would you have rather she said? How else was she supposed to preface it to not “offend” people who don’t want children/are infertile? Not to mention, as others have said before, it was an “I” statement.

    Also you can miss me with the anti-feminism argument some of you are trying to pull. Like did you guys stretch before that reach 🙄 She’s clearly a first-time mom excited at this milestone in her life. How is that her condemning the movement? You wanna talk feminism? Let’s talk about all the abuse she’s taken in terms of looks, accomplishments, abilities to earn money (all the major ad campaigns going to that one blonde caught doping even though she has a fraction of Ser’s talent), from her fellow athletes, representation, and that the only defense she gets from the feminism crowd is the token “women in sports are awesome!!1!” Please.

    • Kitten says:

      I mean…you can both be outraged by the way Serena has been treated and also side-eye the “real woman” comment. Those two thoughts are not somehow mutually exclusive.

      Mainly, I find it difficult to understand how people could read the comments here from women detailing their painful experiences with being unable to have children and not understand why they would find Serena’s comment a tad hurtful. Really, if someone can’t find even an ounce of sympathy there, then I question their judgment.

      So was what Serena said the end of the world?
      Nah of course not and I don’t think she should be cancelled or mercilessly dragged for it.
      But I truly believe that we become better as a society when we take other people’s feelings into consideration. It’s really not that hard to chose your words deliberately and carefully when you have access to a public platform as well as a team of people crafting your public image.

      *shrugs*

      • Lynnie says:

        They’re not mutually exclusive, but let’s not even pretend that the general response to both occurrences are the same. A quick perusal of the comments on the average Serena article on this site will show you that. (And I’m not going to even get into the lack of positive reinforcement from the outside world.)

        I don’t think anyone here is dismissing the stories of those who can’t have kids. What I’m just confused about (idk about the motivations behind those who also think Ser’s quote wasn’t some sort of attack on womanhood) is what part of her quote made it seem like she was.

        “I have so much respect for so many women [for giving birth]. I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”

        If you take away the “real woman” part does it still deserve the outrage? Sure someone could argue that now “I have so much respect for so many women for giving birth,” could now be a problem, but she never said anywhere that she didn’t respect those who didn’t. If anything, the “real woman” part just sounds like an outsider now insider reveling in the behind-the-scenes. I felt the same way last year when I started living on my own for the first time and I had a new appreciation for how my parents made adulthood and taking care of 4 kids (I only had to watch out for myself!) look sooo easy. Many times I remember thinking “Oh I’m a real adult now (help!!!)” Didn’t mean that I thought those parents with fewer kids or nanny help were all of a sudden inferior adults than I or my parents were, and I’m sure Serena feels the same way towards those who can’t/won’t have kids.

        Which brings me to your last point, and my question I raised earlier. “How else was she supposed to preface it [the quote] to not “offend” people who don’t want children/are infertile?” Are people who are asked this question supposed to put a big disclaimer before their answer going “THIS QUOTE OBVIOUSLY IN NO WAY REFLECTS ON THE QUALITIES OF THOSE WITHOUT KIDS” ? Was she supposed to go on at length about the successes infertile women can still achieve afterwards? Is she supposed to say I understand what they’re going through? In all three scenarios someone would still come out of the woodwork and say she’s being flippant, patronizing, giving lip service, humble-bragging, etc and she still would not satisfy everyone. I could see how this would be a problem if the question had been on “What does it mean to be a woman?”, which based on some of the comments that’s how people have personally taken it, but it wasn’t. It was on “the idea of giving birth” and in that context she answered the question based on HER experience fully and kept it moving.

        Just because it sounds like an attack does not mean it IS an attack. In light of her whole history, and reading the whole interview a lot of the analysis of her words here feels like projection (that’s a whole issue in and of itself). YMMV.

    • Lalu says:

      I do not think Lynnie and I have ever agreed… But I am 100% on board with her.
      This is a woman that has worked her butt off to be where she is. I expect her to be over the top about her pregnancy because I assume she gives all things 100%. She’s awesome. That’s who she is. She’s an incredible role model for anyone, with or without a child.

      • Kitten says:

        No one is offended that she’s excited about her pregnancy and nobody is telling her that she doesn’t have a right to be excited about it. People are simply pointing out that she could stand to chose her words more carefully.

        On issues like this I almost always side with the offended party (within reason) because that’s how we grow and learn; that’s how we become more understanding and kinder people.

        Is that really such a bad thing?

      • Cc says:

        But she didn’t say all women, she said *I*. I am about to become a real woman, those are her feelings about herself. Is she not entitled to feel those feelings about herself?
        I don’t think it is healthy to be so personally offended by someones personal feelings. I don’t like where our society is headed when we constantly have to censor ourselves.

      • Lalu says:

        Kitten… I see what you are saying and I think of you as being reasonable even when I don’t agree with you. I know that you try to see other sides.
        I think at some point maybe instead of the moral outrage being on the side of the offended (and many times easily offended), it should be on the other side.
        I assume, because I have never heard otherwise, that Serena is a good person that wouldn’t have said something like this to purposely hurt or exclude anyone. I assume she is speaking of her own experiences and she is not judging me or anyone else on our choices or circumstances.
        I just see everyone going down some crazy path of erring on the dark side.
        And I see the same women that talk about women tearing down other women, really quick to jump on something that sounds like more of a misunderstanding than a claim of superiority.
        A lot of people are saying she should choose her words more carefully.., and that I agree with. Because there is no room for common sense anymore.

      • magnoliarose says:

        That is what I mean too Lalu. No one will ever win if we expect someone to think of everyone in the world when they talk about themselves. She didn’t say anything about other women. This isn’t a general discussion. It just seems like picking apart someone’s words to find outrage.
        No one has said they have no empathy for infertile women. But she isn’t talking about that. She is talking about being a first time mother.

      • Kitten says:

        I love you Magnoliarose but I think it’s really dismissive to say that it’s “just picking apart someone’s words to find outrage”, especially when we have women here who are sharing personal and painful stories and explaining why comments like these are hurtful.

        Look, we can’t help what we’re offended by. You can’t tell someone “don’t be offended because I’m not offended”.
        Why?
        Because we’re all different people who come with our own distinct life experiences that help to form varying degrees of tolerance. We all have different sensibilities. What offends you might not offend me and vice versa. It doesn’t make either of us wrong.

        Because I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen celebs raked over the coals on these boards for some comment that I find completely and utterly innocuous and inoffensive. But I don’t feel a need to tell others not to be offended because that’s not my place. It’s one thing to say “her words don’t offend me” but it’s another to insinuate that people’s very real feelings are somehow invalid or even worse, that they are fabricated for the sake of faux indignation.

        As LP said up-thread, Serena is not the first to make a statement like this. Countless other celebrities have said similar things and have been dragged for it. When you hear shit like this over and over again from women and you are unable to have children yourself, it understandably stings.

        So while Serena’s comment alone isn’t the worst thing ever, the repetitive message that is sent by our society is that motherhood = womanhood, that the two are inexorably intertwined and that women who don’t/can’t have kids are somehow *less than*.

        You don’t have to understand why that is frustrating to hear, but I think you should accept that people’s feelings here are very real and as such, shouldn’t be dismissed.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @kitten Love you too le chat
        Hmm when you put it in the context of the other women who say it I can see what you mean. I only thought about Serena. I feel a little protective of her because she has endured so much cruelty and racism. She is often dismissed or minimized for her accomplishments. Lesser players like Anna Kournikova had huge endorsement deals but only because of her looks while Serena was winning and working hard.

        This is what was in my head when I responded:
        “At the French Open in June 2015, Williams was compared to an animal, likened to a man, and deemed frightening and horrifyingly unattractive. One Twitter user wrote that Williams “looks like a gorilla, and sounds like a gorilla when she grunts while hitting the ball. In conclusion, she is a gorilla.” And another described her as “so unbelievably dominant … and manly.”

        I imagine that hurt but she still kept going. So when people say she should apologize I can’t agree. I give her the benefit of the doubt and a huge break.
        I do think some reactions are from a place of pain that probably never quite goes away. I would have been interested in that conversation or discussing judgey people who think people who don’t want kids are defective. Or the Mommy Mafia who get on my very last nerve. For me, those conversations are separate from Serena’s interview.

        Now if Lena Dunham said it I would be all over this thread dragging her gleefully and as often as I could.

    • Lightpurple says:

      What would I rather she say? How about that she’s excited to become a first time mom, that she is amazed by what her body is doing and she can’t wait to see, hear, smell, and hold her child and is looking forward to the experiences they will share? All of that conveys her joy, her anticipation, her personal change & journey. None of that is offensive. None of that defines anything or anyone beyond herself. None of that is insensitive. I got to experience an extremely aggressive tumor spreading through my chest so forcefully that it bruised the entire upper left side of my body and ached so much I couldn’t use my left arm, turn my neck or sleep at night. I got to be poked and prodded and scanned. I got to debate with myself the choice between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy and how that choice would impact MY femininity. I got to stand in the shower while my straight blond hair fell out in clumps until I buzzed what was left (I have a LOT of hair) and then it stopped falling out and turned a weird orange shade and the new growth was curly and white and I got to decide whether to show this unpretty mess to the world or wear a wig or hats and I never learned how to cope with scarves. I got to go through months of having highly toxic drugs injected into my body. Because those drugs would cause increased fertility when a pregnancy would threaten my life, I got to bring up the subject of double barrier birth control with my then boyfriend. I got to have months of radiation that made me really itchy and then really burnt and ruined all my bras because they would draw a circle around the tumor bed that would then transfer to the bra. I got to get more chemo! And at this point, my body had enough and my ovaries shut down forever, stealing from me the chance to have the children I wanted. And then I got to go on Tamoxifen, which caused a 20 pound weight gain in the first month alone. I’m scarred. I’m in chronic pain. I will have problems related to the treatment for the rest of my life and because of that, I can’t adopt. But I’m grateful and happy to be alive and I am every bit a real woman as anyone who had a baby. The statement is insensitive, no matter who says it, and this is something women do to other women. Frances McDormand did it. Olivia Wilde did it. And countless others. None should get a pass.

  42. Extremely bad choice of words! There are plenty of REAL WOMEN out there who are kid-less. Believe it or not there’s more to a woman than our womb. If all we were meant to be was sperm dumpsters then we wouldn’t be able to think.

  43. Maria F. says:

    on a totally unrelated note, I really like the Shake Rattle and Roll theme. Funny.

  44. Shannon says:

    Yeah, she sounds pretty scared. I was the same way with my first (and second, tbh, but I knew a little more of what to expect). I mean, I got the point where I just couldn’t anymore with books and stuff. I had to just walk through the fire, so to speak, and let it happen. I’m sure she’ll be fine. I side-eye the “real woman” comment, but not too hard. I’m sure she just spoke off the cuff and if pointed out to her, she surely knows a woman doesn’t have to give birth or be a mother to be a “real woman.” From experience, I do recall that pregnancy did make me feel more in touch with my “womanly” self for whatever reason. But of course it didn’t make me more of a woman; I was a woman the whole time I just didn’t have to think about it as much. When you’ve got a doctor up in your junk every few weeks … yeah. It’s a thing you think about LOL

  45. Kitten says:

    Honestly sometimes I think the art of nuanced thinking is dead. It’s like we jump to outrage and people react with outrage at other peoples’ outrage.

    Sad that we can’t see some gray areas–everything is black and white, this or that, and nowhere in-between.

  46. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I have three boys. I’ve also been criticized and it’s been suggested I didn’t go through ‘real’ birth (real mothering) because I had three c-sections…one emergency and two planned because of the first emergency where my uterus was about to rupture and both lives were in freefall. Can’t articulate how that has hurt over the years, and I think it’s shameful what women can do to each other.

  47. Luca76 says:

    Here’s the thing about Serena she’s a great woman and role model in terms of what she’s achieved on the court and she’s definitely the GOAT. But she’s said (and will probably continue to say) problematic things. I’ll never forget what she had to say about Steubenville rape victims. She’s not necessarily ‘woke’.

  48. senna says:

    Oh, Serena. I don’t doubt what she meant to say was that she is excited about going through this process that is exclusive to being a woman, in which so many women before her have participated, that is part of the full range of available human experiences as a woman. It doesn’t define a “real woman” though. Trans women, infertile women, and childless women are all real women and don’t need babies to legitimate their womanhood. She needs to think through her words carefully. Unfortunately, tennis players other than Andy Murray don’t have a great track record of being thoughtful and precise with their words in public.

  49. ANOTHER DAY says:

    There is nothing like producing the next generation that makes people lose their heads. You become so freaking self absorbed with yourself / your body / your experiences……and then you become obsessed with that blob you pushed out.

    Meanwhile those around with the exception of the grandparents are bored silly with your blather, and only smile politely so they can exit quickly and without incident,

    Everyone — everyone — thinks theirs is the brightest, smartest, most beautiful, most unique experience and blob EVER. And everyone is wrong.

    Because mine was. 😎

  50. Jenlovestea says:

    It’s offensive and she needs to be more thoughtful before she speaks (all celebrities/athletes/politicians who give interviews do). I still love her obviously – but we can’t make excuses for people who say stupid things. They need to be called out. If a friend of mine said something like that- they’d get an earful. Just saying.

  51. Lori says:

    Im 30. Have no kids, will not have any either. And I get what she was trying to say, but she has been childless up until now and must surely know how obnoxious that statement would sound. Im really tired of all the women who speak down at me because I dont “understand” life because I dont have children.

    I dont put all of that on her though, but its just so very similar to what a lot of moms are like that its difficult not to get annoyed..

  52. ISSAQUEEN says:

    Before any person talk about pregnancy joy or whatever they should have a disclaimer. ” This is about ME and does not meant to discredit infertile people, adoptive parents, people who don’t want kids, step parents, trans people, people who only want one child, stay at home parents etc etc etc…”Maybe then there will be less outrage? I feel though one is bound to forget one group and will have to eat no matter what. This is the world we live in.

    • Kitten says:

      It really doesn’t have to be all that involved or complicated. LightPurple gave some good examples of things Serena could have said up-thread.

      Why is it so hard to just avoid defining womanhood as the ability to procreate? Even if it’s from a strictly personal standpoint, why is it so difficult to just NOT say something careless about a sensitive topic?

      A lot of people here are so angry that people called out their fave but honestly, if even three readers walk away from this thread with a bit more sensitivity about this topic then I personally think all the (quote-on-quote) *outrage* was worth it.
      As for the people who are digging in their heels? They came here to defend–not to understand–so nothing would have changed their minds anyway.

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        Because she isn’t “defining womanhood” she is talking about her own experience of being in her body and how she feels. I say this as a childless woman in her late 30s on the verge of a hysterectomy for health reasons who was not offended because I was able to recognize that she was not talking about me but her own experiences.

      • Kitten says:

        That’s your experience and as I said up-thread, great that you’re not offended—but that does not in any way, shape or form give you the right to tell others not to be.

      • ISSAQUEEN says:

        I think a woman it perfectly entitled to define HER womanhood by the ability to procreate or anything else she choses. Just as long as she’s not forcing that belief onto other women. Some women like to define themselves by their children, some others by their careers or both or their humanitarian work etc. I bet you wouldn’t bat an eye if a woman said being a doctor makes her who she is, amirite? What it is about the love of motherhood that makes people so mad? I say this as a mom of two who has NEVER try to force my beliefs onto anybody, in fact I’m pretty quick to lay out to challenges of parenthood to potential parents just so they know what they’re getting into.

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        You absolutely have the right to be offended by anything in life that you find offensive, no one can take that right away from you. But the flipside is not every single comment that another person makes is about *you.* And that other person isn’t responsible for you being offended by their experience.

        If she had said, “A woman isn’t a real woman until she’s pregnant.” I’d be carrying that torch right alongside you. But she didn’t say that. She said, “I am about to be a real woman…” Her perspective, her experience, her emotions about the situation she is going through. And that experience is valid. I think this expectation that an absolute stranger structure every sentence to accomodate the experiences of every possible person is a recipe for anxiety. The alternative is what she did, she framed it around herself. And she is being picked apart for it.

      • Lightpurple says:

        @issaqueen, I have absolutely no problem with any woman who defines HERSELF as a mother or a doctor or saying that being a mother is what makes HER happiest or that she didn’t really know HERSELF until she became a mother. There is no hatred of motherhood. The equating of motherhood with being a “real woman” is the problem. No matter who does it. And yes, I know you’re all screaming “for her” but that just means for her, she doesn’t see herself, which is sad, or anyone else as a “real woman” without the pregnancy. As I said above, I LIKE Serena but this is just really insensitive. I have family members I avoid because they share that view. And again, this is something women do to women. Nobody talks about men this way.

      • Erica_V says:

        SA – by saying “I’m about to be a real woman” is she not by proxy saying she was not a real woman before she got pregnant?

  53. Guesting says:

    Can’t we just move past the superficial reaction to that phrase and understand that all women, people are individuals. If she feels having a baby makes her a real woman or a fulfilled woman then that is HER perspective about her womanhood. It would be different if she said all females have to give birth to be considered a real woman.

  54. NicoleinSavannah,GA says:

    When something is for International consumption we will all have a say!

    • Nic919 says:

      If she was overhead saying this to a friend then fine. But this was a magazine interview and she knew her words would be read by the general public. If you are going to make insensitive comments then expect to be called on it. Maybe she didn’t intentionally mean to make women who can’t or don’t want kids feel bad, but she is still helping perpetuate a harmful idea. It’s like if someone made a comment that could be seen as racist but they didn’t mean it that way. That person still caused the pain, whether or not they meant to.

  55. Ozogirl says:

    So I’m not a real woman? Good to know.

  56. Ayra. says:

    Damn, I get WHY some women would be offended by this, especially women who chose or can’t have kids, as it was a poor choice of words but jeez.

    I understood her comment as a joke, she has been constantly told that she’s a man, a gorilla.. because of her physique. So her having a child and giving birth would be “proof” per say, that she’s a woman.

    Then again, on a serious note, if she thinks having a baby makes HER a “real” woman, it’s probably some sort of internal validation for her.

  57. hogtowngooner says:

    Honestly, I think she was just explaining what becoming a mother means TO HER. I didn’t get the sense she was making an all-encompassing statement on what makes a woman, a woman.

    Honestly, some people have to tear apart this woman because she didn’t phrase it with the ideological purity they want. Lighten up, people. Jeebus.

  58. Cee says:

    I feel so sorry for women struggling with fertility issues and not being able to be pregnant (due to health and/or money) AND THEN having to read this shite. We all develop into women, all of us. Children have nothing to do with it.

  59. kay says:

    while i fall in the camp of having read it as a woman who is jubilant with experiences, and agree that the years of being labelled “mannish” (yeah, never saw a man with curves like hers, but i digress) are behind her terminology, i am grateful to have read this thread all the way through.
    there were some really interesting points raised.
    the funny thing is i get not feeling “feminine”, or identifying as “feminine”, and that changed for me when i got pregnant. it certainly didn’t make me a woman, as biology took care of that already, but for someone who usually identifies as “human” i found that for me the pregnancy was the first time i really “felt” like a woman. and then when the kids were weaned, i went back to “feeling” like a human.
    so unlike serena who has literally been called “mannish” through her career, i can see what she meant. i can see why she would not preface her thoughts, as she is speaking of her own experience, but i can see *why* some of you feel she should have chosen her language differently. i don’t know if i agree fully. brewing on it. but i certainly get it now.
    and at the end of the day, i can’t wait to watch this beautiful woman go over the moon and back with her motherhood experiences.
    i think that we attach too much weight to celebrities opinions and words, overall, sometimes. even the most “evolved” human is still a human at the end of the day, and they are going to have opinions and thoughts that we don’t like or don’t agree with or sometimes that seem completely at odds with what we thought we knew of them. humans are multifaceted, and every one of them will mess up at some point. including each one of us. happy thursday, celebitchies <3

  60. pinetree13 says:

    She’s a Jehovah witness? That’s so disappointing. I grew up with a friend in that CULT (that’s what it is, seriously) and it is so, so problematic.

    I’m way more concerned about that then her other careless statement.

    • Justjj says:

      Whoa. How did I miss that? Yikes.

    • Pip says:

      How the hell didn’t I know she was a Jehovah’s Witness? Blimey. We lived next door to a bunch of them once & I accordingly did a lot of research into their beliefs. They’re not pleasant & this particular lot were bloody mad & made our lives misery. I’m really, really surprised by that – I thought she was too fierce & intelligent to believe that bollocks.

      Sorry Serena. I’ve loved you for years but, in an instant, all gone.

      &, oh yeah, I’m not a real woman either. But now I know she’s not all that, do I care? Meh … Shrugs. The Jehovahs think women are second class citizens anyway so who’s she to judge.

  61. seesittellsit says:

    It’s an unfortunate choice of words – I have not one but two friends who have gone through the anguish of infertility, with differing outcomes for each. They felt exactly that way: that they were failures as women. Women are endlessly made to feel inadequate – their breasts, their ankles, their hair, their skin, their fertility, their age, their marital status. It’s never enough, it’s never right, and someone is always there to remind us that while men are allowed to be imperfect, women aren’t.

  62. Her Higness says:

    I get what she is saying. I am a woman who doesn’t want kids, when I tell ppl thet they say’ but ur a woman’ bcuz ppl still define birthing as a part of real womanhood. There are people who are dumb, but as soon as they have a baby are validated know it all’s. So i get what she is saying.

  63. Christina says:

    Nope, I will NOT give her a break. No way. Go ahead and be a REAL woman, while I sit here childless and be an UNREAL woman.

  64. LawBabe says:

    Perhaps this is pretty typical of *some* pregnant women to be a little self absorbed and not really think about the impact of what they say. Their brains are busy making a human. Maybe it’s a biological thing that makes us more protective of ourselves to protect our child and focused on gestation. I truly don’t think it was meant to imply that anyone with fertility issues, single, or no kids is not the “real woman” that they believe themselves to be. I say always cut a pregnant lady some slack. August is an awfully uncomfortable time to be pregnant.

  65. greyparrot says:

    I agree with those who think she is speaking from a place of having been brutally maligned for her appearance. I have no problems with what she said either as there are some woman who suppress their natural instincts to nurture only to reach a sense of fulfillment when eventually they become a mother.

  66. BJ says:

    It’s how she feels about herself.When I bought a house, I said I feel like a “real adult now” obviously I had been a legal adult for 15 years at that point.Obviously renters are adults.

  67. scootypuffjr says:

    I don’t think she meant it in an offensive or derogatory way, although I can definitely see how it could come off that way. I got more the vibe that she was like “Yasss I am woman HEAR ME ROAR I’m creating a human!!”. If anyone has experienced her share of hatred regarding her womanhood, it’s her.

  68. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    The “real woman” comment stings me a tad, but meh. It’s okay. People, self included, accidentally say stupid crap all the time. The difference is that I’m not a famous multi-millionaire who is getting interviewed. So, since I can’t have children, I’ll just proceed in carrying on as a fake woman.

    I have to re-read, but I think she called herself a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Unfortunately, my family are JW’s and although I couldn’t care less, they would definitely not think well of having a child out of wedlock. They’re old fashioned that way lol

  69. D says:

    I totally get what she means, I probably even said it and I’m super loving and accepting of every type of woman in the world. But shoving a giant baby out of your tiny lady parts does allow you to say I feel like a real woman just let the woman live jeebus

  70. Guesting says:

    “When something is for International consumption we will all have a say!”

    We all have a say about what she feels about her OWN womanhood? I think not. Just the same way no one has a say about a transgender’s feelings about their womanhood even discussed in a public forum, we don’t get a vote, input, or right to explain the ‘right’ way for them to view their womanhood.
    IF she has included other people outside of herself then that would be a topic for discussion, yes. But we don’t get to explain to her what she should feel about herself. It’s different for everyone and we need to start accepting that instead of trying to push people into our boxes.

  71. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    Girl bye. I am so over being viewed as less than because I’ve never gotten pregnant and have taken permanent steps to remain so.

    If any of you think that the childfree people who are angered by this comment are easily offended snowflakes, I promise you: when your private life decision is constantly challenged, mocked, and debated right in front of you at every single family gathering and holiday, by friends and complete strangers, for DECADES and you are constantly kicked to the side and treated like your life goals aren’t nearly as important or valuable because it doesn’t involve having a child–yes, you do have a right to get offended.

  72. Guesting says:

    @POLITETEASIPPER You don’t get to decide what she should feel about herself and her womanhood, THE SAME as others don’t get to decide what you feel about yourself and your womanhood. They do not get a right to ‘correct’ what you feel about who you are as a woman. The concept is the exact same.

  73. Baltimom says:

    Gee, when I was in 5th grade and got my period, my friend at the time told me I was a real woman. Who knew that didn’t happen until birthing a kid? I get all the comments above, but I think she is excited and swept up in the moment and the hormones. Her comment left me with an “ouch” (I’m a proud adoptive mom), but I think she’d readily apologize if she saw all of this. Her sister doesn’t have kids, but I doubt she thinks Venus is less of a woman because of that.

  74. khaveman says:

    Oh Serena, still like ya but stupid word choice. Am I offended? No, I don’t need to compare myself to someone who has a baby. I chose wisely for myself no to. Guys, she’s a tennis player. I’m not expecting brilliance — unless you’re talking about her work on the court. She is brilliant there.

  75. IsThisReal? says:

    Serena Rocks. She is a STAR, totally under appreciated. One of the greatest athletes of all time, always having to prove herself.

    So she meets a guy, falls in love, and unexpectedly gets pregnant, and is now about to have a baby. This is a whole new world for her. WHY are we always SO CRITICAL OF EVERYTHING?

    Whatever she says, it is always with a joy of life and living. She is an inspiration to me, an infertile adoptive mom whose girl is about to go to college.

  76. CatherinetheGoodEnough says:

    Apologies if this has been said above, but…

    Serena Williams has been the victim of so much misogynist hate, with a common theme amongst her trolls being that she’s “built like a man” or “unfeminine” or whatever. Can’t we accept the possibility that this comment is a reaction to that? “I am a woman giving birth and nobody can ever take this away from me or call me unwomanly again.” It’s about HER, not about the rest of us.

    Lest we forget:
    http://time.com/3954611/jk-rowling-twitter-serena-williams/

  77. blairski says:

    TL:DR the comments, but… did anyone else see that photo?! That’s AWESOME. I love the 50′s theme and the hot pink truck and the costumes and the poses! Attitude!