by Lynette Long
When did it become politically correct to say, we’re pregnant. Gag me with a spoon. We don’t get pregnant. I’ve yet notice any person with a penis spending his mornings puking his guts out, having a speculum inserted inside his non-existent vagina, or changing his lifestyle to assure the birth of a healthy baby. I also haven’t noticed maternity stores for men where they sell elastic fronted boxer shorts or custom designed wife beater t-shirts for the newest part of the male anatomy: breasts. Nor have I noticed men giving up six packs for a forty-pound egg shaped belly. So let’s get this straight, we’re not pregnant. Until cloning is a reality, it would be more accurate to say, we’re going to have a baby, since men still contribute 23 of the 46 chromosomes needed to produce a child. Speaking of production, I don’t see men volunteering to endure the excruciating pain of childbirth, the weeks of exhaustion after delivery, or the struggle to get that pre-baby figure back. Let’s not forget about those stretch-marks, that might never disappear or the episiotomy, that “small” cut a doctor makes to minimize tearing during delivery, which ensures it will burn like “heck” every time you urinate. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “If men and women shared pregnancy and childbirth, no family would have over three children, since no man would do it twice.” She was right.
When I ask women why they say we’re pregnant rather than I’m pregnant, the responses are based on emotion not logic. “It’s sweet.” “I want to include him. I want him to feel a part of it.” “I’m scared and I don’t want to feel like I doing this alone.” “I want him to feel responsible for the baby.” “I want to create buy-in for my partner.” Whatever happened to individuation and separation? We’re pregnant is a denial of reality to create an artificial oneness. Expanding this we-ness to other circumstances highlights the absurdity of the claim. The phrases, we got a tooth pulled is not used to gain sympathy for a dental visit nor is we got a promotion and a raise used to brag about ones accomplishment at work. Saying we’re pregnant, doesn’t change a woman’s personal reality. No matter how you say it, in the end, pregnancy is something women have to do alone.
The reason the phrase we’re pregnant grates on my nerves it that it does what women too often do, share credit and diminish their own personal accomplishments. Pregnancy is a biologically expensive proposition for women. Adult men literally produce 100 million sperm a day and are physically capable of producing hundreds if not thousands of children in a lifetime. Women have a limited number of eggs and make significant biological sacrifices to have children. The phrase, we’re pregnant, diminishes a woman’s experience, by implying men and women are share equally in the experience. Women deserve full credit for enduring both the burden and responsibility of pregnancy.
Besides the psychological implications of joint ownership of a pregnancy, there are significant legal implications. When men are pregnant also, who decides when whether or not to terminate a pregnancy? In Japan, where abortion is widely accepted and readily available, women have to get their husband’s permission to have an abortion. Similar legislation could be not far away in the United States and subtle differences in the way we describe experiences may impact the way we legislate them. Ohio Representative John Adams introduced a bill this year that would require a woman to get the permission of the man she had sex with in order to have an abortion. He argued, men deserve the right to choose, too. So next time you want to say, we’re pregnant, think again. Women have fought long and hard for the right to choose, don’t jeopardize that right simply to pretend your partner is also pregnant.