5 Reasons Why Saying "We're" Pregnant Is Sexist
I've always hated the term "we're pregnant." It has really creepy undertones and makes me dry heave a little. So much so, in fact, that my husband used to say it as a joke because he knew how much I hated it. It's not just that it feels like a clumsy attempt at solidarity that ends up sounding insincere and patronizing, it's also because there are some really compelling reasons why saying "we're" pregnant is sexist.
When I had just given birth to my son, I had to share a mother and baby room with a couple I didn't find particularly charming. They had a slew of visitors at all hours of the night, and were just all-around inconsiderate. So, when I heard the new father telling a nurse "we had an episiotomy" I lost it. He was not trying to support his wife with this gross statement, he was trying to elicit some sympathy for a procedure on a body part he doesn't even own. Yeah, I wasn't a fan.
A uterus is not shared. A man can be fully invested and supportive of a pregnancy without trying to take ownership of the experience. The baby has been jointly created and both mom and dad have full parental rights to the child, but the pregnancy itself is very much a solo venture and any attempt to claim "we're pregnant" is, in my opinion, totally sexist for (at least) the following reasons:
Because 'We're' Not Pregnant
Listen up cisgender men: you're not and never will be pregnant. You can get your partner anything she needs to get through this experience — all the pickles and ice cream, foot rubs and cuddles she needs — but you are not pregnant. You are not dealing with nausea, sore breasts, swollen ankles, and aversions to smells (or, worse, serious complications). When this baby arrives, you will not be the one bleeding, sweating, and laboring to bring it safely into the world.
Because It Questions Women's Independence
Every woman, pregnant or not, has total and complete autonomy and independence over her own body. When you say "we're pregnant," you question a woman's ability to govern her own body. Whether my body houses a potential child or not, it is mine and mine alone.
Because Only One Person Will Birth This Baby
I've noticed that most people who say "we're pregnant," usually do so at doctor visits or lamaze classes, when everything is calm and peaceful. When it's "go time" and the baby is crowning, there is only one person who can do this. (Hint: it's not you, dad.)
Because You Don't Have To Sacrifice Anything
When a woman gets pregnant there are inevitably things she will have to give up. Each woman will take her own doctor's or midwife's advice, and do her research in order to make the best decision for herself and her unborn child. Still, it's likely that things like caffeine, alcohol, high intensity sports, and even work will have to take a back seat (for at least some time).
The non-pregnant partner, on the other hand, doesn't have to give anything up in the name of pregnancy. No one should be claiming stake to the glory without the sacrifice.
Because Only One Of Us Faces Discrimination
Historically women have been disenfranchised due to our ability to grow and birth new life. Right up until the 1960's, in fact, women had almost no control over their reproductive health, courts sanctioned marital rape, birth control was unreliable or non-existent, and, once pregnant, women were treated like pariahs and were often not allowed to leave the house. In the '60s with the invention of the pill, women finally had a say over whether or not they wanted to get pregnant (a right that is still being systematically taken away as more legislations are passed to strip women of reproductive rights).
Today, many women face employment discrimination when they leave their job to have a baby. Men will never have to worry that a pregnancy will affect their job stability, men will never face discrimination due to the likelihood that they may get pregnant again, and men don't have to face street harassment simply for being visibly pregnant. For that and so many other reasons, I beg you: stop saying "we're pregnant."