then again, maybe not
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October 17, 2005

It may seem obvious…

But a pregnant woman is not a walking, talking incubator. So saith Nick Kiddle over at Alas, a Blog. Nick's been pregnancy blogging over there for a few months. Really riveting stuff in general, but this post in particular struck a chord with me.
Before I was pregnant, I thought "woman, what woman?" was an attitude held only by fairly extreme pro-lifers who had never come into contact with a pregnant woman in all their sheltered lives. But to my surprise, I keep seeing a very
similar attitude from people who provide health care to pregnant women on a
daily basis. They talk to me, they look me in the eye, they ask me how I am, but
under the surface, I get a distinct impression that they see me as an incubator.
The baby is all that matters.
Why are we so obsessed with pregnant women? For me, it's like seeing someone walking across a tightrope 500 feet in the air with no net. I'm jealous and horrified and amazed all at the same time. I know I want to have kids some day, but I can't imagine what it feel like to be pregnant. The whole process is shrouded in so much mystery and mythology, that it's hard to find out the truth. A friend of mine recently had a baby, and she was refreshingly candid with me about the entire experience, good and bad. It's completely natural, right? Then why do so many women describe pregnancy like demonic possession? Hmm. But our amazement doesn't mean we should be able to treat a woman like a container. How many people have you seen touch the stomach a pregnant stranger? I see it all the time on the meto. But would they ever do that to someone who wasn't pregnant? If you see someone on the street with really shiny hair you wouldn't go grab it, would you? Please don't tell me if the answer is yes. You're a crazy freak. Same thing with grabbing some woman's belly. It's like having big boobs. Just because it's obvious doesn't make it public property.

Regardless, the whole fetus first, woman never attitude is extremely common. Even among progressive people. This woman I used to work with said she was pro-choice because even though she believed in personhood from implantation, she thought forcing a woman to continue an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy was tantamount to slavery. That's an inflammatory but interesting argument, but not the point here. My point is, most people think being pregnant, and then being a parent is above all else about sacrifice. Stories of horrible women eating what they want or gaining too much or not enough weight, or working too long during and too soon after pregnancy all really boil down to the same thing. A woman failing to completely put aside her needs and wants for her child. Hell, even the Roe v. Wade decision talks about competing state interest, woman versus fetus.

What the fuck? It seems to me that pregnancy is hard enough, wanted or otherwise. The last thing women need is constant harassment that they're selfish for thinking about themselves. Blah blah blah. Seriously, just go read what Nick says. There are some interesting comments as well.

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