Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why It's Sexist to Think Women Should Love Pregnancy

"But I loooooved being pregnant."

My community of friends has been universally supportive of this blog, and of the challenges associated with pregnancy (particularly when you're nine months along in 105-degree Atlanta heat). But every time a friend shares a blog post, at least one comment expresses befuddlement that I don't love every single second of pregnancy.

It usually comes from a woman who is well past her childbearing years. Occasionally there's also a comment from a guy calling me a bitch or a shrew. They're ultimately just two sides of the same sexist coin, borne of the notion that biology is destiny, and that women must universally love the bizarre and often frightening changes that accompany pregnancy.

I love my baby. I love that my body can undergo this incredible transformation. When your superpowers include making a human, it's difficult to accept lies our society tells us about how women are weak. I feel stronger than I ever have, more in love with my body than I ever thought possible, and more dismissive of sexism than I have ever been able to be.

Still, I am not under any obligation to love being pregnant. Telling me otherwise is sexist, and assuming that women don't love their babies if they don't love being pregnant is woefully reductive. Let's talk about why.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Where's My Medal? Why Pregnancy Should be an Olympic Sport

The Olympics are here again, which means it's once again time for us all to pretend that athletic prowess is the same as character, and that the basic decency of helping an injured comrade somehow constitutes a triumph of the human spirit. I, for one, am extra excited about all those travelers to Rio who will return with Zika, spread it to our local mosquitoes, and contribute to an outbreak. It's a fine time to be a human being.

No, seriously. I love the Olympics. When they came to Atlanta in 1996, my brother and I turned into miniature hustlers, conning everyone into giving us their Olympic memorabilia, then selling it for double and triple its actual value. Dreams really do come true during the Olympics.

I think it's time for pregnant women to start seeing some Olympic dreams come true. So let's ditch the facade that pregnancy is a time for rest and bonbon-eating and treat it like the epic athletic event it really is. A few proposed pregnancy Olympic events:

Monday, August 15, 2016

5 Baby Gift Rules That Make Everyone's Life Better

I pride myself on being a good gift-giver. I see gifts as a way to show that you really know someone, so I'm loath to give a gift certificate or an impersonal trinket. But this pregnancy has made me realize something: I was a terrible gift-giver to new parents and their kids until I got pregnant.

When you're childless, you just don't think about what new parents might really need. Case in point: when my neighbor had her second baby, I got her a bunch of basic baby supplies and onesies--as if she didn't already have dozens of those. My friends Daniel and Krystle were the first in my circle of friends to have a baby, and I spent way too much on frilly, useless shit that I am sure left them with a pile of clutter and a side of guilt (sorry, guys).

So I'm not here to judge anyone for not knowing what to get for a baby shower, new baby, or as a token of affection for a new mother. Know better, do better. My job is to help other hapless, childless people like my former self know better now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

General Pregnancy Update: 35 Weeks

I'm 35 years pregnant (one pregnancy week is the equivalent of one human year), so we are truly in the home stretch. Everything feels very, very real. I've been so focused on finishing our house renovation project, getting everything set up for the baby, and steeling myself for the birth that I've had little time to blog, take pictures, or socialize with other humans.

I wish I had done a better job logging this pregnancy. I really wanted this to be a start-to-finish account of everything. I'm sure it would be interesting for me to track my shifting emotions across the life of this pregnancy, or to see how I feel about pregnancy after its over as opposed to when it was happening. Alas, I am only human, and I already spend eight hours a day writing. It's hard to feel motivated to do even more on top of that. Especially when your hand is numb (one of the many, many common pregnancy side effects that precisely no one warned me about).

Folks have been asking for an update, and Jeff is preparing for a trial, so I thought I'd give a largely random overview of the pregnancy, the birth, and life these days. Enjoy the boring horror that is the wait for a child to arrive.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why Doesn't the Feminist Movement Care About Mothers?

Last week, a jury awarded $16 million dollars to a woman who was sexually assaulted in a hospital.

It's probably the biggest news in reproductive rights all year, and a huge victory for advocates of sexual assault survivors. But you won't see anything about it on feminist blogs. And you'll probably even see some feminist women downplaying the verdict's importance.

Why? Because the woman in question was giving birth, and the people who assaulted her were nurses. You see, the feminist movement simply does not care about pregnant and laboring women, nor about mothers. Even though more than 80% of women are mothers. Even though misogynists constantly tout motherhood as a fair basis for inequality. Even though pregnant women and mothers are far more likely to experience violence, discrimination, and virtually all forms of oppression.

Why is this? Because Third Wave Feminism operates a lot more like a cool kids' clique than a meaningful social movement. Perhaps it's because much of feminism has focused on helping women avoid motherhood. Maybe it's because feminism is primarily a young movement, and mothers remind young feminists of their hopelessly uncool parents. Since so many feminists are young, maybe they just haven't thought about how motherhood affects women.

Whatever the explanation, and there are many, my pregnancy has taught me that the mainstream feminist movement would prefer to pretend mothers don't exist. Even when that means projecting misogyny onto mothers.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Another Privilege Checklist: The Privilege of Not Being Pregnant, and Not Being a Mother

As I've written before, there's no clear line dividing mothers from non-mothers, since our society treats pretty much every woman as a potential mother, and then uses that status to oppress her. Thus the list below is a work in progress, only designed to draw attention to some of the ways motherhood hinders women's lives--not an exhaustive list, and not at all intended as a clear line of demarcation between mothers and non-mothers.

Note that I have deliberately excluded privileges that can all be written off as the inevitable result of parenting. For example, childless people have the privilege of leaving their homes at a moment's notice, or of travelling without having to find childcare. These are absolutely privileges that are taken for granted, but I think most childless people would be quick to insist that parenthood is a choice (even though it isn't always), and that these struggles are inevitable results of parenthood (even though they don't necessarily have to be).

Feel free to comment with additional privileges, and remember this blog's only commenting rule: if you intend to lecture pregnant women and mothers about what they don't understand, please preface your comments with "In my experience as a pregnant woman...:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Five Ways Childless Feminists Can Support Friends Who Are Mothers

The feminist movement has largely abandoned mothers, but this doesn't mean that all feminists think mothers have no place in the movement. Yet a weird societal notion suggests that mothers are fundamentally different from non-mothers. Give birth to a child and suddenly you're a raging bag of hormones who can care about nothing but diapers and layettes. So it's hard for non-mothers--even those who get the feminist struggles associated with motherhood--to know how to be supportive, especially if they don't know a lot of mothers.

If you want to break the divide between mothers and non-mothers--and you should, since most women become mothers, and feminism and motherhood need each other--here are some incredibly simple ways to do so.