So…Are ‘We’ all Pregnant when ‘She’ is?

Maternalization Composite

Maternalization Composite

PET PEEVE EXPOSED and WHY: I have an emotional reaction to when I hear someone saying “WE” are pregnant. Why? I am a writer. I am a stickler for using the appropriate words. It matters. Does this bother or not bother anyone else?

I once heard Desi Arnaz say that when filming I love Lucy, they couldn’t SAY the word Pregnant. Lucy was pregnant was not proper Television material. He had to say the word ‘expecting’ or as Desi said it ‘specting’. If you know the history here and lived in that time period, you understand that there was virtually NO discussion about women’s bodies and reproductive abilities on television. In some cases, it was considered obscene. Our obscenity laws reflect this type of functioning. Rape or kill a woman, fine and not obscene, but show or talk about her actual body – Obscene. Well, actually television was completely run by men at that time and they were very selective overall about what they allowed to present as women. In fact, they seemed to favor their own fictionalized versions which were compounded by the same actions in other social institutions. But that’s just some background here. Not my pet peeve.

SO……back to my writing issue. If ‘we’ now say ‘we’ are pregnant, then that CHANGES the meaning of the word pregnant. It’s not just a nice cute thing to do to share ‘love and a wonderful event’ with a father. I’m glad fathers are doing more to be involved and I’m glad when people want to express themselves in new ways. However, pregnancy is defined as the thing that a woman’s BODY does that a man’s body does not do. And while those who are saying this KNOW that because they inherited that definition and it is widespread and don’t MEAN to change the definition of what pregnancy is to include men in a confusing way, the young children born to this world DO not. They are inheriting something different now. If they hear ‘we’ are pregnant, they will get an understanding that pregnancy is more than what a woman’s body does if it includes the word We. It’s like what happened when He meant he and she but She could never mean He and still doesn’t. She actually disappeared. So I’m a little concerned about some of these traditional communication patterns and the disappearing of women again but again it’s not even that as much as the loss of reality for children as language continues to move away from anything related to physicality. However, I’m always open to change. Will ‘we’ being pregnant also include siblings then?  The whole family? I’m a grandmother. Can I say “we’ are pregnant when it’s my daughter in law giving birth? Maybe people already say this. I don’t know.

Okay.  So setting many other considerations aside for the moment, let’s say this is fine and no big deal… which is what society is doing by no one paying attention, no protest, no immediate shut down to end it or even discussion about it. And If we then create more language to clarify the difference between the actual physical workings of a woman’s body that doesn’t include the ‘other’ things that men do in creating an environment for a new baby that isn’t biological, we’ve solved part of the problem that will arise when we want to talk about what a woman’s body does alone. Or maybe it’s better to create a new word for the social reality that men are now included in the process, words specifically for what fathers-to-be do, or what ‘we’ meaning more than one person do together.  How about we are expecting? LOL. We are going to have a baby. I don’t know.

Maybe some people are modest and prefer no attention on their bodies. It’s like a secretary who does the background work and the boss goes out and makes the public presentation and it looks like he’s done it all and he gets the credit – and the pay. Some people prefer background but I’m not sure about the low pay and devaluation that goes with that sometimes.

I don’t know what others should or should not do because I believe in freedom of adults and not having some social policing in how others speak. To each his own and this expression is MY own. Enough said. I won’t be asking… So how is your pregnancy coming along to any soon-to-be father in my lifetime. I might just simply say so how is the experience of preparing to be a father coming along.

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3 thoughts on “So…Are ‘We’ all Pregnant when ‘She’ is?

  1. I have to agree. The first time I heard someone say this was many years ago and it just sounded wrong. True a pregnancy takes two to make it happen, and the experience can be shared but the male is never “pregnant”. That aspect is uniquely a female function that men will never experience. Do I begrudge women this? Not on your life LOL. Kudos to women for the strength required to carry and nurture another life. As for the term used to describe this event, I simply say “We’re going to have a baby”

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    • Oh, and I would never expect someone to ask how I was doing with the pregnancy, and any father to be expecting that would seem a little self indulged to me. People should only need ask how the mother and baby are doing.

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  2. I remember using this terminology when my wife was pregnant. It did seem awkward, but for me it was a statement about us having made a decision together, as partners, to have this child. It recognized our co-creation of this child, and our choice to co-parent this child. To me it was a statement of my responsibility and actually was intended as a way of respecting my wife and committing to partnership. It also reflected the religious framework within which we operated at the time, and as such was a “true” statement for us both.
    I can see your point, but whenever I hear it now – and I do often as a leader of groups for “expecting” fathers – I hear it as a commitment to partnership in parenting, rather than as a way of minimizing the woman involved. Maybe I will ask more questions of what men mean when they say this, and what it says to women when they hear it, in the future.

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