Vogue: Do Not Ask Celebrities—Or Any Women, Actually—When They’re Having a Baby

Photo: The Cut

Photo: The Cut

In a new article, Vogue Australia brings to life a taboo. Not “are you pregnant” but when are you going to have a baby. For not just celebrities, but “real humans” this can as taboo of a question. Read here from Vogue:

In Mary Queen of Scots, Margot Robbie plays Elizabeth I, the Tudor queen who ushered in the culturally vibrant Elizabethan era but, alas, never produced an heir. Nearly 500 years later, some journalists are using this historical fact turned plot twist to not-subtly ask Robbie, who married her husband, Tom Ackerley, two years ago, when she’s going to fulfill her preordained life mission of having a child. Ah, yes, much like grandmothers everywhere, Hollywood continues to be perplexed by women who are not mothers.

Understandably, Robbie doesn’t appreciate strangers asking after the status of her womb. “It made me really angry,” she told Radio Times recently. “How dare some old guy dictate what I can and can’t do when it comes to motherhood or my own body?”

Sadly, Robbie says this isn’t the first time she’s been pressed on when she will produce an heir of her own. “I got married and the first question in almost every interview is ‘Babies? When are you having one?’ I’m so angry that there’s this social contract. You’re married, now have a baby. Don’t presume. I’ll do what I’m going to do.”

This should really go without saying by now, but Robbie’s case ought to reinforce a general rule: Never ask a woman—any woman, celebrity or not—when she’s having a baby. (This is right up there with looking at a woman’s midsection and presuming she’s pregnant before you’re told. Just no. Never do this.) It is a question that begins popping up almost immediately after a woman gets married, and it is annoying/hurtful/intrusive for many reasons.

For one, it’s a supremely private question and tends to be a sexist one at that—when was the last time anyone asked a male celebrity when he planned to impregnate someone, or whether he’s had a vasectomy? These are not women’s questions alone to answer, and yet, any sort of plot point involving motherhood or pregnancy is often viewed as open season to ask actresses about their reproductive plans. It’s highly reductive: Never mind that Robbie is an Oscar-nominated actress with her own production company. While promoting her latest film, the emergent line of questioning is: When are you having kids already?

Asking a woman when she’s planning to have kids also has the potential to be very painful: How is anyone to know if Robbie, or any woman asked about their reproductive status, isn’t struggling with infertility, actively and unsuccessfully to get pregnant, and/or recovering from a miscarriage? This a private world of hurt that is absolutely nobody’s business. Alternately, Robbie may not want children at all, which she has an equal right to keep to herself.

And finally, it’s a lazy question. Let’s not pretend any journalist should be at a loss for conversation topics when sitting down with Robbie. She’s about to play Barbie in a live-action film about the iconic doll. She’s Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood alongside Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, for goodness sake. Ask her more, guys.

Hard StuffJulie Zukof