Thursday, February 7, 2019

What pregnancy has taught me about sexism

Here are a few things that have been historically true for me:
  • I've felt misunderstood and that I misunderstood others. I constantly ask Kevin to translate humans to me.
  • I was ambivalent about having children. Sometimes, I really wanted to. Sometimes, I saw that I could create a rich life with the freedom, time, and money that I could reserve for myself and my projects. I've known you can have a full life with or without children and I wasn't entirely sure which path was for me.
Then I became pregnant.

I was kind of stunned by how quickly my interactions with others changed.

One of the first things I noticed is that suddenly I was visible to people with whom prior I had felt largely invisible. Meaning, these people were newly interested in me. They were curious and attentive.

It made me super mad.

Because it showed me that they had the capacity for interest and engagement all along. They just hadn't offered it to me.

Prior, I thought maybe they weren't capable. They were just defective. Now that I knew better... and knew that I was acceptable because I was pregnant?! Oh no no.

To be generous, (and this is largely Kevin's voice) some people are perfectly nice and this is simply a recognizable experience. They might not have known access points to connect with me prior but now I'm entering into pregnancy-land and they know that so here is common ground. Okay. I get that. I didn't quite know what an inside club it was (and in all honesty, not loving that) but I can get that. Pregnancy is a far more all-encompassing experience that I previously realized.

But other people aren't that kind-hearted. They simply don't know what to do with a woman who isn't having children. They don't know how to relate to her and worse, they don't even try.

And that makes me boil.

Most of my closest relationships are with women who do not have children for a myriad of reasons. They are rich, full relationships with such interesting people. I mean, I guess more amazing people for me, but also, what in the actual fuck. Kevin is not treated differently now that we're expecting a child. He was given the benefit of the doubt of others interest and curiosity whether or not he was a parent.

Not so for women.

But I didn't know. Because prior to this I had never had kids. No point of comparison.

So, it started there. Incredulous acknowledgment that I had more access to people and community due to my breeding. 

Then. The pampered pregnant princess.

Dear lord.

Okay, granted, pregnancy can be a LOT! And it changes day to day. During the first trimester, I was often tired and nauseous. I was really grateful for kind folks who pulled up a chair for me to sit down or offered me ice water (has had to be ice water, since conception). It has been nice that so many people understand that this is a big experience and are kind about it.

There are also people who feel like now is the time to spoil you. And baby you.

I don't like spoiling in general. Humans, babies, vegetables. Not really my favorite. It does no one any favors. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was so annoying about this indulgence trend until I realized it's because once the baby arrives I'm invisible again. I think this is why some people get addicted to being pregnant-- it's the one time they're treated with some kindness and attention.

What fucking bullshit.

I don't need to be coddled or spoiled right now. Normal respect, consideration, and kindness are perfect. The same I'd hope to offer anyone else whether they're a grown-up, child, elder, pregnant person, etc. Like, just baseline humanity. Across the board.

Then, the babying. Some spaces dedicated to maternity are really into treating pregnant women like they are the babies. It's super weird. Like, baby talk. Indulgence. So... I am pregnant. But I'm still a grown ass person. I just want the information, oe maternity clothes, or whatever the thing is. I don't need to be coddled. I just need communication.

Obviously weird.

Then there's the, "enjoy the spoiling/special treatment now...!" because the implied message is, my life will end when the baby arrives. How nice!

My life will obviously radically change. In ways I can't currently predict. But seriously?!

Another implication (and reality) is that once the baby arrives I don't matter so much. I gestated and carried the kid. Delivered. Now, the kid is the star and the Mom is not a thought. 

Here's the thing: I'm pretty into this kid right now, and they haven't arrived yet. I have a feeling I'll be pretty into them when they're on this side too. And I think I will be really grateful for all the other people who are also invested in this baby and attentive to them. 

And, I will remain a whole human who deserves as much consideration and attention as anyone else. As Kevin. As the baby. As every other human.

That's the bottom line: baseline humanity is offered to some. I had no idea how incredibly mutable that baseline was applied to women. Overzealously. Not at all. Ebbing and flowing in a complete and utter mind fuck.

I love being pregnant. I am so excited for my baby to arrive. And I would fucking love it if I could consistently be treated as a human, before, during, after, and even if I hadn't gone down this particular life path.