Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pregnant Women Are Smug

I have often written about the public attacks on motherhood, but when I came across an anthem attacking pregnant women, I realized that it made the point better than I ever have.


The following transcript comes from The Hathor Legacy.


Two white women are in front the camera. The woman on the left has short dark hair and is wearing a yellow T-shirt with a brownish sweater. She’s sitting behind a keyboard. The woman on the right has long blonde hair, is wearing a green shirt with a black sweater and is holding a guitar. The woman on the left waves and says hi. The woman on the right announces, “This is a song for all you pregnant women out there.” They begin to play their instruments, then sing:
I can’t wait to hear someone say
Don’t care if it’s brain dead
Don’t care if it’s limbless
If it has a penis.
‘Cause pregnant women are smug
Everyone knows it
Nobody says it
because they’re pregnant.
Pregnant women are smug
Everyone knows it, nobody says it
Because they’re pregnant
Effing son of a gun
You think you’re so deep now, you give me the creeps
Now that you’re pregnant
I can’t count all the ways how
You speak in clichés now
They stop singing to have a mock conversation.
Blonde: So, do you want a boy or a girl?
Brunette, affecting an exaggerated tone: Oh, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s healthy, mmm.
Blonde: Really, because I don’t think those two things are related. It’s not like one or the other.
Brunette: No, really, as long as it’s healthy, mmmm.
I can’t wait to hear someone say
“Don’t care if it’s brain dead
Don’t care if it’s limbless
If it has a penis”
Pregnant women are smug
Everyone knows it, nobody says it
Because they’re pregnant
This zen world you’re enjoying
Makes you really annoying
Another cutaway convo:
Blonde: So, is it a boy or girl?
Brunette: Oh, we know, but we’re not telling.
Blonde: What you’re gonna name it?
Brunette: Oh, we know, but we’re not telling.
Blonde: Who’s the father?
Brunette: Oh, we know, but we’re not telling.
Bitch, I don’t really care
I was being polite
Since you have no life now
That you’re pregnant
You say you’re walking on air
You think that you’re glowing
But you’ve been ho’ing
And now you’re pregnant
You’re just giving birth now
You’re not Mother Earth now
Conversation:
Blonde: Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much going on. I got my novel published, I moved, I got married.
Brunette: Gosh, you know, everything seems so trivial now that I’m pregnant.
Blonde: Well, I also helped end gang violence in Mexico when…
Brunette: You know, I can’t even remember what I did before I was pregnant. Everything else seems so meaningless.
When they begin singing the refrain for the last time, their voices are softer.
Pregnant women are smug
Everyone knows it, nobody says it
Because they’re pregnant
Effing son of a gun
You think you’re so deep now, you give me the creeps now
Now that you’re pregnant
The women look at each other. The vid ends.

Nothing like a little solidarity between women.  I watched this video and I found myself thinking that these two women have never been pregnant.  During my two pregnancies, I found that it was the most highly disciplined time of my life.  People were constantly watching what I consumed and were quick to to tell me what I should and should not eat or drink.  Some would even go as far as to force me into a seat right after I stood up because I felt the need to stretch my legs.  Then there were those who felt that they had the right to reach over and touch me at will.  I had zero autonomy over my body in all of the public spaces that I frequented.  Every emotion that I had was assigned to hormones, even when I had the right to be legitimately sad, or angry.  I wasn't really feeling anything, it was all the baby causing me to mad with their completely unreasonable behaviour.  So yeah, in short, these two have no idea what it is like to pregnant.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the ageist, classist, racist, disableist nature of their critique as well.  A young teenage mother is told repeatedly that her pregnancy is a visible sign of her shame.  We still have homes for unwed mothers for a good reason.  Fathers get to walk around with their lives unchanged, with stud status firmly intact, while young girls are shamed for having the nerve to have sex, though this is exactly what our culture promotes.  A young pregnant girl is seen as wild and irresponsible.

When poor women become pregnant, they are viewed as a drain upon the system.  How many times have we been told that women become pregnant in order to get more money from welfare, though the cost of raising a child is hardly covered by social benefits? Poor women are routinely encouraged to give their children up for adoption, because  middle/upper middle class people can supposedly give that child a better life.  It is not about how much you love your child, but how much money is in your bank account. A pregnant poor woman has no value unless she is carrying the child of a rich family.

There is also the issue of race.  Indigenous women, Latina women and Black women have all been sterilized without their knowledge.  WOC are seen as dangerous, because within our bodies lie the seeds of the next generation and Whiteness knows that.  To this day, conservatives attack Latina women accusing them of birthing anchor babies to gain citizenship.  Latina women are continually attacked as dangerous breeders. Many of the birth control options that we use today were tested on women of colour.  In some cases, benefits have been denied unless a WOC was willing to become a test subject. Black mothers are called baby mama's and our parenthood is seen as a sign of our irresponsibility, no matter how much love and care we give to our children, now that Whiteness cannot sell our babies for a profit.

Disabled women were often sterilized to prevent pregnancy, without their knowledge or their consent.  Today, some women are even forced onto birth control, once again without their knowledge or consent, because people believe they know what is best for them.  Family and Children's Services also takes a marked interest in the activities of  disabled mothers, because of the construction that they are all unfit to parent.  There is no consideration of what accommodations can be made to allow them to be successful in this endeavor, because the problem is always the disability, and not the society that makes disability an issue.

In short, these two class privileged White women have no idea what they are doing, singing a song entitled pregnant women are smug. Attacking pregnant women is not cool or ironic, it is only a display of their lack of understanding of how age, class, disability and race work to effect the lives of women.  The idea that the category of 'woman' can be so universally defined, is indicative of our continual desire to erase marginalized women and in so doing, deny our communal responsibility for many of the issues they face.