When I first developed the Axios Charlotte Confessions series, I had so much fun asking strangers probing questions that I started to do it all the time. I would ask people I just met questions about their lives that would normally only be shared anonymously and, to be honest, it wasn’t cool.
I finally stopped after I asked a young woman if she wanted to have kids. She responded quickly and simply with, “I can’t.” And that’s when I knew I had officially gone too far.
As it turns out, some of the biggest offenders of asking prying questions aren’t men, it’s other women. Let’s all do better to respect one another and avoid questions that are hurtful, insensitive or just plain annoying.
Here are the 14 questions we need to stop asking women. Now.
(1) When are you going to have kids?
Unless this woman is your daughter or wife, this question is not acceptable. She may be having issues getting pregnant, doesn’t want children, is unable to have children, having issues in her relationship, recently had a miscarriage, or 1,000 other reasons that are none of your business.
(2) Are you tired?
Oh, my bad I forgot to put on eyeliner this morning. Also, yes.
(3) Are you going to keep working after you have kids?
Let’s make it even and only ask men this question from now on.
(4) You up?
Do you want her to come over or are you just being flirty before you pass out after your bar crawl? Don’t make her waste 20 minutes of texting your drunk ass to know whether she should put on her jams and a face mask or re-apply some deodorant and call an Uber.
May I suggest: “We should hook up right now.” Or “Come over please.” Or even a straight-forward “Bang time now.”
(5) Why do you wear makeup?
Answer: Women wear makeup because it makes them feel more confident. You asking this question makes us feel less confident. It also makes us question our blending techniques, so please don’t do this.
(6) Are you pregnant?
I was asked this in an airport once after a week-long trip to Iceland with my husband’s family where I was too nervous to poop. You can imagine I felt pretty “shitty” after that. Get it? No? Ok.
(7) How old are you?
Everyone knows the rule about this one, but no one seems to follow it. My favorite is when people try to guess your age in order to get you to say your real age. “You must be what—25?” My go-to move is to just answer with, “Yes! Good guess!” at literally any age they say so I’m currently 23, 35, 27 and 31.
(8) Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
First of all, do you know that this woman is straight? Second of all, why does she need one? Try instead, “Are you dating anyone?” But even then, is it really necessary?
(9) Why aren’t you changing your last name?
I’ve been asked this with the delightful follow-up question of, “Is your husband OK with that?” Good thing it’s not the 1800s, because I don’t have to get permission from my husband to do anything. Except pluck his unibrow. I do ask his permission before I do that.
(10) Is that your real hair color?
If you have to ask this question the answer is probably no. And even when you try to recover by saying, “Oh, but it looks so good on you!” We know that there’s a reason you asked, and it’s because our hair doesn’t look completely natural.
(11) Why don’t you smile?
The classic, “You’re a lot prettier when you smile” is a favorite by old men standing around in Food Lion who are seemingly only in Food Lion to tell women to smile.
(12) How many people have you been with?
Are you at the gyno? No? Then there’s no reason to answer this question. For those asking you could try a question that actually matters such as: “Have you been tested recently?”
(13) Are you on your period?
Fun fact: Women can be sensitive, irrational and/or pissed off at any point in their cycle. Another fun fact: Men also have these emotions; they just don’t have a cyclical hormone shift that gets thrown in their face every time they communicate their feelings.
(14) “You look good! Did you lose weight?”
Ah, the most back-handed of all compliments. There aren’t enough Lizzo songs in the world to not make the recipient wonder, “Did I not look good before?” There’s also the issue of not knowing the circumstances for the weight loss, e.g., stress, grief, or a serious illness.