Skip Nav
Real Weddings
The Groom's Tearful Reaction to Seeing His Bride Is the Absolute Sweetest
The Telling Sign You're in a Toxic Relationship and Need to Get Out Now
20 Classic and Unique "Something Blue" Ideas For Weddings

Hilary Mantel on Teenage Pregnancy

Having Sex and Babies Is What Young Women Are All About!

Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall, has nothing if not a point. Women, she says, should have more flexibility to start a family and a career simultaneously. But women have placed themselves on men's timetables, which is incongruent with their biological ones, in order to catch up in the workplace. Fair enough! But then she gets extreme.

"Having sex and having babies is what young women are about. And their instincts are suppressed in the interests of society's timetable."

What young women are about? How about teenagers?

I was perfectly capable of setting up a home when I was 14, and if, say, it had been ordered differently, I might have thought, 'Now is the time to have a couple of children, and when I am 30 I will go back and I'll get my PhD.'"

Not to sound like all adult, but who would pay for that home? Who would care for the baby until the 14-year-old finishes school? Or is she to just raise a baby with the education of a ninth grader until she's 30?

Join The Conversation
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Hey, kid first, career second, that's my plan. With any luck I'll be thirty when I finally have a degree.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
If there is something that I don't want is children. Yes, I like my nephew, as a matter of fact I like him a lot, but after a few hours I'm more than ready to give him back. I know I can't be, nor want to be, a mother. I'm too selfish to be a mother. I don't think 14 year old should be mothers, they are not ready for that. Children deserve mother not mother-sisters.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
This post makes me think of the movie "Away We Go" - has anyone seen that? There's a scene where Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski's characters go visit friends of theirs that live in Montreal. The couple that they're visiting is in their early 30's and the wife just had her fifth miscarriage. Her husband says, "But, I wonder if we've been selfish. People like us we wait till our thirties and then we're surprised when the babies aren't so easy to make anymore and then every day another million fourteen year olds get pregnant without trying. It's a terrible feeling, this helpless, man. You just watch these babies grow and then fade. You don't know if you're supposed to name them, or bury them, or... I'm sorry." I know it's just a movie, but I've felt so differently about having children young since seeing it.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
There is a difference between being physically able to be a mother and be financially, socially, mentally, and emotionally ready. I'm 27, married for almost 5 years, good job, homeowner, blah blah all that adult stuff, and I'm due in October -- and I'm terrified ! How many 14 yo are ready to raise a child? And who is going to PAY for these babies? They don't come cheap... diapers, clothes, feeding, hospital bills, pediatritions, child care, etc. A couple babysitting gigs/ week ain't gonna cut it.
Monique-Marie427757 Monique-Marie427757 7 years
Not all women want babies or the typical family. In reality there really is no good time to have a career and a baby so that is why you just do what feels right to you. Always remember that you cannot always fall back on men because they do not go through the pressures that women do.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Snarky - I love your narwhale! I didn't get a period until I was almost 16 - I most certainly could not have had a baby before then. Besides the fact that an education was my priority. I'm 29 and at no time in my life has having children been a priority, rather for me it would be a nightmare if I got pregnant.
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
SKG, I am a mother and by no means is my life wasted and meaningless. You don't want kids? Great, fine with me. But please be a little more careful with the words you use. I am sick of being made out to be a nothing but a 1950's housewife just because I have child. It is actually possible to still be a normal and -gasp- fun person, even t people who don't have children. I don't even talk about poop all the time, can you imagine? I have more interesting things to discuss.
MSucre MSucre 7 years
14 year old women are ready to have children. Even if we accept that point, do we think that 14 year old BOYS are ready too? Maybe the 14 year-old's 30 year old husbands will foot the bill....
Venus1 Venus1 7 years
Ready to set up home at 14? No way!
secondstar secondstar 7 years
I'm 22, and while my body may be ready for babies there is no way my life is. Raising a child is a huge task, financially and emotionally. I can't imagine many girls younger than me being stable enough for that.
chillchic chillchic 7 years
And as far as health effects, my mom's cousins both had kids at 14. They had all kinds of health problems like fibromyalgia, stomach ulcers and hypertension in their 20s, and they both think it's due to the young age in which they became mothers.
chillchic chillchic 7 years
Speak for yourself lady. I surely was no where near ready to be a mother during my teenage years. I couldn't even take care of my clothing at that age! And I wasn't even ready for sex, much less what comes after sex.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
Whoa whoa whoa, teens should not be having babies just because their bodies are capable. Ever seen 16 and Pregnant? Those girls can't even take care of themselves. Also, there are many health risks associated with teen pregnant. From WebMD: "Pregnant teens have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure -- called pregnancy-induced hypertension -- than pregnant women in their 20s or 30s. They also have a higher risk of preeclampsia. Teens are at higher risk of having low-birth-weight babies AND premature birth. Pregnant teens may be at higher risk of postpartum depression." Sounds like a wonderful idea. This woman is way off, who is going to pay for these women to pop out children? I don't have children and am not sure I ever want them, but what's the point of reproducing? Its stressful, expensive, and a lifetime commitment.
bryseana bryseana 7 years
My grandma was 14 when she had her first baby. She ended up having eight children.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 7 years
She has a good point: Teenage and young adult bodies do a great job of bearing children. The rest of reality doesn't quite match up with that idea, though. It must be heartbreaking for women who become infertile later in adulthood (I can't imagine what they go through, so I will not even attempt to try). From a strictly biological standpoint, the teen years would be a great time to start a family. Unfortunately, things like school and finances have rendered that impossible in today's world.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
being a mom is so not a goal of mine
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Hilary Mantel is unable to bear children. This is where her feelings stem from: regret. A family at 14 is not realistic. There are so many other factors to consider other than being physically able to.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Bravo to her if she was capable of running a home and raising children at the age of 14. I'm 26, and I'm still not there yet!
reesiecup reesiecup 7 years
i admit that i agree that a lot of women have maternal instincts, but i much prefer to be able to provide for a family by first establishing my career.
Unusual Maternity Products
Funny Ideas For Pregnancy Announcements
Woman Shamed For Complaining About Pregnancy
Sarah Stage Second Child Baby Bump
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds