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Turning 30 doesn’t magically make you less of an idiot

Gemma Hartley is a freelance writer with a BA in writing from The University of Nevada, Reno. She lives in Reno with her husband, three young kids, an awesome dog and a terrible cat.

Smug 30-something warns internet not to listen to women in their 20s

Perhaps I should preface this by saying there is nothing — and I mean nothing — less valuable to the advance of the human race than what I am about to say, because this is the opinion of a woman in her 20s. Or at least that is the stance taken by an anonymous Australian writer who has a whole lot of opinions about who does and does not qualify for autonomous adulthood.

Apparently the only area of mastery deemed appropriate for us 20-somethings is choosing Instagram filters (and wouldn’t you know, I even suck at that). As for making the choice as to whether or not we should have children? We'd best leave that off the table until we develop some grown-up brains.

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In a bizarre response to Holly Brockwell, a 30-year-old woman who fought a four-year battle with the medical system to get her tubes tied, the writer attacks Brockwell’s decision to campaign for her bodily autonomy. The viral post that ran on the Australian parenting site Kidspot last week is largely a rant against Brockwell’s decision, oscillating between feelings of “thank God this selfish kid can’t procreate” and “she’ll realize her mistake soon enough.” The writer goes on to scold Brockwell for being insensitive to those struggling with infertility by not wanting kids, then outlines what a terrible mother she would be in the same breath. And if that wasn’t enough, she also paints all 20-somethings as narcissists with the emotional and intellectual depth of a Paris Hilton memoir and warns that “fickle” menfolk would never want a woman who won’t bear children.

The exact quote: 

"There are many wonderful things about people in their 20s. They’re funny. They look fabulous in objectively terrible clothes. They are creative, and make the best things with the least money. But, as the memoir penned by Paris Hilton at age 24 might suggest, there is quite simply no value in hearing what a person aged between 20 and 30 thinks about anything deeper than “what is the best Instagram filter’."

I mean, whoa — where do I even begin? Because as a 20-something who has three kids, has struggled with infertility and has made the decision to put a permanent end to my baby-making days, I’m seeing more than a few holes in this hate-fueled logic. I’m still a couple of years out from my 30th birthday, but I have a feeling that my opinion that this type of thinking is flat-out wrong isn’t going to magically disappear anytime soon.

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Essentially the author has written off the value of all 20-somethings, assuming we are nothing but a homogenous group of narcissistic children in adult bodies. But as this writer quite clearly shows, age is not always a great indicator of emotional maturity. Women can (and do!) have vastly different experiences over the span of their 20s, and that diversity of experience contributes to a variety of worthy opinions on things far deeper than social media and Instagram filters.

Assuming you need to reach the magical age of 30 to qualify for having a valid opinion discounts the very real adult lives of women in their 20s. There is plenty of value to be mined from the experiences of women in their 20s, aka the decade during which the vast majority of us make most of our permanent life decisions.

In fact, the average age of a first marriage for American women is 27; the average age at which they give birth to their first child is 26.3; and most Americans hold at least half the jobs they are expected to hold in a lifetime (half of 11.7) before age 25.

There are plenty of different paths women take in their 20s, and all of them have worth to that woman. I married in my 20s, had three kids and two miscarriages, decided on my career path and built the infrastructure for the rest of my life. I’m not planning to write a memoir anytime soon, but I can guarantee that if I did, it would read a tad different from Paris Hilton’s.

If you ask me, there’s precious little less valuable to the advance of the human race than perpetuating harmful vitriol against other women simply because of their age. But then again, what do I know? I’m just a girl-child in her 20s, dressed up in the trappings of adulthood.

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