Earlier this month, American actress Jamie Chung made headlines when she opened up about the fact that her twin sons had been born via surrogate.
The Dexter: New Blood star has 7-month-old twin boys with her husband, Bryan Greenberg, also an actor.
Nothing new there, plenty of people use surrogates. What got people up in arms about it was Chung's revelation that she used a surrogate by choice, not because she could not get pregnant herself.
"I was terrified of becoming pregnant. I was terrified of putting my life on hold for two-plus years. In my industry, it feels like you're easily forgotten if you don't work within the next month of your last job. Things are so quickly paced in what we do," the 39-year-old actress said in an interview with Today Parents.
"It's a compromise that we made together as a couple," she added.
Chung went on to talk about the stigma that still surrounds surrogacy, explaining why the couple decided to keep the decision secret for a while.
"I think there's a little bit of shame. It's still not a very common thing and we weren't ready for judgment," she said. "We really just did it to protect ourselves. We announced things when we were ready to."
"People probably think, 'Oh, she's so vain. She didn't want to get pregnant,' and it's much more complicated than that. For me, personally, and I will leave it at this, it's like, I worked my ass off my entire life to get where I am," she added. "I don't want to lose opportunities. I don't want to be resentful."
Many people took to social media to very quickly prove Chung right by pointing out the many ways they believed her surrogacy choice made her a bad person. On Twitter, many decided it'd be a good idea to say that the actress shouldn't have become a mum at all if her career was that important to her. Others criticised her for using her position as a rich woman to "choose" to use a surrogate, rather than seek a surrogate out of necessity.
Surrogacy is a wonderful option for people who are unable to carry a pregnancy and it is an avenue that people take for many different reasons. The reasons behind why a child is born via surrogate are truly no one's business. The uproar, it seems, is about the fact that a woman made a choice.
Regardless of whether you think her decision was a good or bad idea (it is, after all, as she said a complicated issue), the reality is that Chung's comments - and the subsequent backlash they received - prove one thing above all others: women cannot win.
The reality is that a pregnancy is, more often than not, a professional setback for a mother. So why do we blame women for worrying about what that setback will do to their careers? Actually, never mind, don't answer that. We all really know the answer.
Jamie Chung voiced what is a very real concern for many women during child-bearing years, highlighting a difficult decision many women are forced to make. She could choose to delegate the pregnancy and birth to a different womb, and so she did. Of course, that act raises many valid, important questions around the privilege of choosing to outsource the pregnancy and labour and the impact on women who cannot choose the same option. But what we cannot do is pretend that Jamie Chung's concerns over what a pregnancy would do to her career are not very real.
Rather than judging a woman for her choice, we should take a good hard look at the system that forces her to feel like she had to make that choice in the first place.
It's a lot easier to slam a woman for daring to admit that she didn't want her career to suffer. It's a lot harder to admit that we live in a society that, through its profound inequalities, forces women to choose between motherhood and career progression, while at the same time trying to sell them the idea that they can have it all.