Pregnancy is great in many ways, but it can also be really annoying and inconvenient. I’m not just talking about the fact that your body becomes a vessel for another creature, making your daily routines significantly more difficult, either. No, I’m talking about the ways society actually fetishizes pregnant women. No, no. I’m not talking about fetish in the sexual way, like having a fetish for feet or for latex outfits or for sexual role-play. That’s all well and good, but this goes far beyond an individual's preferences inside (or outside) the bedroom. What I’m talking about falls more into the realm of how we police a pregnant woman's every move.
Yes, as a society, we tend to be pretty fixated on how pregnant women act and look while pregnant. Some of this stems from a place of well-meaning concern. Many folks want to make sure that pregnant women "remain safe,” if you will, from any dangers that might harm her or her fetus. Some of it stems from antiquated beliefs of how women in general should look and behave. And, of course and for some reason that I just cannot comprehend, some people feel as though they have the right to police women regardless, so controlling pregnant women is just par for the patriarchal course.
Don’t believe me? See if any of the following rings true for you.
Society Tells Pregnant Women Whether Or Not They Should Reproduce
The preoccupation with whether or not a woman wants to keep a pregnancy is never-ending. Many folks will try to shame a pregnant person who wants to have or has had an abortion, even though that doesn’t directly affect them. However, at the same time many women are also shamed for having multiple children (because for some reason that’s “too many”). This is especially true if the pregnant woman in question, regardless of what she decides to do, is of a lower socioeconomic class.
Society Believes Pregnant Women Can’t Or Shouldn’t Be Sexual
Pregnancy mainly happens via sex, right (although, yes, there are other ways for a woman to become pregnant)? Why, then, are pregnant women treated as though they should be chaste the moment that positive pregnancy test turns up? This has never made any sense to me. Suddenly, these women should wear more clothing and not act like they’re interested in sex. It’s ridiculous.
Society Constantly Tells Pregnant Women To Relax Or Take A Load Off
Yes, I know people usually tell pregnant people to "relax" because folks know pregnancy is tiring, and I totally appreciate the thought. However, when folks are constantly telling you not to go out at night or to carry a small bag of groceries “because of the baby,” it gets old real fast.
Society Polices What Pregnant Women Put In Their Bodies
Don’t drink coffee. OK, fine, you can have one cup of coffee, but no wine or beer. Alright, alright. Sometimes a glass of wine is OK, but definitely don't smoke cigarettes or cannabis. Oh, and put down that greasy pizza. Too many sweets are bad for you.
Yes, a lot of the aforementioned is great advice because certain foods and drinks can be harmful to a growing fetus. That said, this kind of control starts pretty damn early, and some folks will say it even if you’ve made the decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Let pregnant women make their own decisions. Most of us who are pregnant will be doing everything we can to ensure our future babies are healthy, so stop with the constant reminders.
Society Puts Limitations On Where Pregnant Women Should Go
Remember that scene in Knocked Up when Katherine Heigl's character, and her sister, go to the club, but Heigl is pregnant and the bouncer doesn’t want to let them in? That’s an excellent example of how society polices where pregnant women should or shouldn't be.
Granted, once we’re in our third trimesters most of us don’t feel like going out anywhere late anyway, but that doesn’t mean others should decide for us. If a pregnant lady wants to go out dancing for a bit, damn it, leave her alone.
Society Has A Preoccupation With A Pregnant Woman's Size
I wonder if non-pregnant folks just feel like they have to make a comment about the size of our bellies because they don’t know what else to say. Seriously though, people will constantly talk about us being "too small" or "too big" for our current gestation and it’s obnoxious. Why are y’all so fixated on this?
Far Too Many People Touch Pregnant Women Without Their Consent
One of the absolute worst ways society fetishizes pregnant women is by believing that simply because they are pregnant, suddenly it is alright to invade their personal space. It's as though becoming pregnant also means becoming public property. No, it’s never OK to touch a pregnant person’s belly without consent. It’s not OK to touch anyone without their consent.
Society Criticizes Their Future Labor And Delivery Decisions
I’m not saying we just shame pregnant folks for their future childbirth choices, but rather that we seem to believe it’s OK for us to interject with our opinions about it. Sure, it’s perfectly to ask your best pregnant friend where they’re delivering, but you don’t need to know about her ideas on pain management, or who her medical provider is, or anything else. Let her volunteer to share that information if she wants. Otherwise, there’s plenty on Netflix to talk about, right?
Society Criticizes Their Future Parenting Choices
Is the mom-to-be going to breastfeed? She better breastfeed. Is she going for an attachment parenting style or free-range parenting or who-the-hell-cares parenting? Will they circumcise their child?
Are we this preoccupied about how people are going to raise their new puppy or kitten? No, so let’s just step back and stop acting like we know better than the folks who are about to become moms.