My most painful admission as a woman made me somehow attractive to hoards of men.
I'll never forget the first time it happened. I hadn't been blogging very long, but I shared enough intimate details about my story to make me vulnerable to strangers.
I was in my mid-twenties, single, and facing infertility and the very real possibility that I would never be pregnant. I was devastated as I shared with the Internet the unique minutiae of my case and the brokenness of my heart.
I was also, apparently, a target.
That first email came like so many others already had, from an address I didn't know or recognize. The only difference was that the ones before it had all been from women; soul sisters around the world who had read my words and could relate to the devastation, reaching out with words of encouragement and camaraderie.
This email, however, was from a man. And he wasn't offering comfort or understanding; he was propositioning me to be his bride.
He was raising two young children by himself; he didn't say what had happened to their mother. He explained that he didn't want any more kids, but he was hoping to find a young and attractive wife who would be open to helping him raise the ones he already had.
Admitting to Googling "Single Infertile Women," he went on to tell me that I was exactly what he was looking for; that my infertility made me desirable. He offered to fly me to whatever state it was he and his children were now living in and to support me in a comfortable lifestyle if I was willing to take on the main duties of child rearing.
Implied, I assumed, was also the role of sex slave. Because why would he be on the search for an infertile partner if he didn't want to stick it to her without worrying on the regular?
I read his email mostly in shock, just because ... did women exist who would respond kindly to this? I found the whole thing horrifying. And gross. And sad. Infertility was the broken piece of me; I wanted nothing to do with any man who viewed it as a convenience.
Obviously, I ignored that email, writing this man off as some random kook who I probably shouldn't engage. But then there were others. Over the next two weeks, I received three similar emails, all from different men.
And over the next few years, I received hundreds.
I've never responded to any of those correspondences. Some of these men have very clearly been suffering from mental issues I've been too afraid to engage, while others have seemed mostly normal; though, if this is the way they were choosing to find women, how normal could they possibly be?
Many have boasted about the dollar signs in their checking accounts or sent pictures of them engaging in various athletic pursuits. Some have had children already, while others have admitted to infertility themselves; seeming to think that being with an infertile woman would somehow level the playing field and restore their own sense of manhood.
The one and only thing they have all had in common is the fact that none of them wants children and therefore, they've viewed me as the perfect match.
When I adopted my daughter, these emails all but stopped.
Over the years, it pissed me off. Here was this thing about me that I loathed and these men were treating it like nature's gift to them, like my infertility came to be purely for their pleasure.
Meanwhile, I've spent the last several years worrying about what my being infertile might deny the man I one day choose to love. Because the type of man I want? He's a man who wants kids as desperately as I always have; a man who would be willing to adopt a houseful with me in order to build that family.
And it makes me sad to think of denying a man like that his chance at a biological child. Not because I think there's anything lacking in adoption (I know there is no world in which I could possibly love my daughter more), but because I know how much grieving I had to go through to come to a place of accepting that I would never be pregnant. I hate the idea of being the sole reason another person won't ever see themselves in their child's eyes.
Even with that, though, a man who wants me because I'm infertile could never be the man for me. It will always baffle me that those men exist, but even more so, that they would so unabashedly admit to where their interest stems from.
The Internet is a creepy place and the men lurking behind those screens are likely creepier than they even realize. So, boys, as a general rule of thumb, hitting on a woman because of a medical condition she's desperately mourned is probably not going to get you anywhere. And honestly, hitting on a stranger in another state because of something she's written online probably won't open any doors, either.
Those other guys have pretty much ruined it for you. Close your email browser before it's too late; you just can't take back being a creep.