Apparently, Avra Siegel missed the Women’s Studies class where they explained pregnancy. Or perhaps the subject never came up in her lean-in group.
For whatever reason, Siegel was surprised to discover how difficult it was to be pregnant. She was even more surprised to discover that pregnancy made it more difficult to do her job.
Being a card-carrying feminist Siegel likes to pretend that pregnancy is not a disability. At the same time she describes it as disabling.
One understands that for this ideologically committed woman reality is what you say it is. If you say it isn’t a ransom, it isn’t a ransom. If you say it isn’t Islamist terrorism, it isn’t Islamist terrorism. If you say that it isn’t a disability, it isn’t a disability.
Even Siegel understands that she is not the first woman to get pregnant or to have morning sickness or to suffer the multiple indignities that accompany her condition. And yet, she acts as though she is.
She acts as though no one ever prepared her for this. Perhaps she does not read very much. Perhaps she never talks to other women about pregnancy. Or, perhaps she is suffering from the feminist bias against pregnancy. It is too obvious to have to say it, but feminism believes that women’s health issues are limited to contraception and abortion. What happens during pregnancy is not part of the Women’s Studies curriculum.
In any event, Siegel pretends that her experience is really, truly unique. It is so unique that it merits an article in Fortune, of all places. And it is so unique that she never mentions her husband, the father of her child. She does acknowledge that under normal conditions a man does contribute to the process, but she never mentions her husband.
One understands that politically correct thinking does not allow you to refer to your husband. Because if you do you are expressing your deep-seated bigotry against those women who are pregnant but do not have husbands. And it would express a deplorable bigotry against those women who conceived via parthenogenesis.
Allow Siegel to recount her tale of woe:
I had been up all night, stricken with nausea, frantically Googling “heartburn or heart attack?” because my epic chest pains were so bad that they were making me feel faint….
I was totally unprepared for how challenging pregnancy would be–and felt uncomfortable voicing this to anyone but someone else who was also pregnant….
I didn’t want to be seen as complaining or ungrateful — or even worse, not committed to my career. And I know I’m not alone. For the millions of American women who work outside the home, the career consequences that frequently accompany starting a family can begin during pregnancy, well before the baby arrives. The truth is, pretending pregnancy doesn’t sometimes suck isn’t doing anyone any good.
Stop and take a breath. We now know that pregnancy sucks. But, is this the kind of information that you expect to find in an august business publication like Fortune. And besides, being up all night Googling? Hopefully, her husband was there to comfort and console her. Besides, why not call her obstetrician? Isn't that better than frantically googling your symptoms?
We have also learned that, however uncomfortable Siegel feels taking about this with outsiders, she has chosen to expose it all to the world in a magazine article. So much for her sense of shame. If she wants to be respected for her professional achievements she should not be going out of her way to draw attention to her bodily functions.
Despite what she says, she is certainly complaining. Yet, she wants you to know that this minor inconvenience has not in any way compromised her commitment to her career.
She is a feminist, so career must come first. Any suggestion that a pregnant women, or a woman with an infant, might be less of an employee is anathema to her raised feminist consciousness.
And yet, Women’s Studies classes did not explain morning sickness. And they did not explain how inconvenient it was to feel like you want to throw up all the time.
Of course, Siegel takes it as a given that a pregnant woman and a woman who has just had a baby will naturally want to keep working. In many cases such women are forced to keep working, but why is it unthinkable—another lapse in her article—that women might want to take some time off from careerism in order to have and to nurture babies? Obviously, if you present yourself as husbandless, it’s the only option. But most women do have husbands, don’t they?
One ought to mention a point that does not seem to enter Siegel’s entirely self-centered narrative. Different women have different experiences of pregnancy. Some find themselves nearly incapacitated while others have a much easier time of it.
Beyond telling us far more than we want to know about her pregnancy, Siegel also uses her pregnancy to promote a political agenda: paid family leave. What good is pregnancy if you cannot politicize it?
She wants pregnant women and new mothers to continue to do their jobs, even if their focus and concentration are elsewhere. If they cannot do their jobs, she wants them to be paid for it. But, repeat after Siegel: pregnancy might be disabling but it is not a disability.
Even though Siegel presents it as a win/win situation for companies, she has described a mental and physical condition that cannot allow most women to work as well as they did before. The notion that a woman undergoing what Siegel says she underwent is going to contribute as much to the bottom line is simply a lie.
But, Siegel works at CARE, at a do-good organization that, I am guessing, has a considerable number of female employees. So, when she suggests that pregnant women should advertise how they feel, and especially tell their managers how they feel, she is assuming a company that is run like a charity. And also, a company that is run by and for women.
All of us pregnant women who are in a position to do so can do our part to speak up at work. Because each and every time you tell your manager how you are feeling, you empower other women to do the same. This single action gives confidence and credence to those around you and helps to change the workplace culture from the ground up.
As for the male who has contributed to a woman’s misery while pregnant, Siegel does not mention her own situation or her own husband, but, she has come to the realization, that the male role in pregnancy is severely limited. There is only so much that even the most attentive male can do.
In her words:
Let’s be real: it’s not like women got pregnant on their own – there was another person 50% responsible for that pregnancy. But men just happen not to be the biological sex that bears the child, and so all the consequences of the pregnancy fall on women because of our physical role in childbearing and rearing. When our laws and workplace policies do not account for the reality of pregnancy and childbirth, it is the height of gender inequality. We must do better, not because pregnancy is a disability, but because it is actually a condition that should be honored, revered and celebrated.
It’s good to be real. Biology counts here. It does more than count; it is decisive. This, despite the fact that feminism has been telling us that gender differences are a social construct.
A woman who has been dining out on feminist pabulum will obviously have a difficult time dealing with pregnancy. If she spent her formative years learning all of the different ways to avoid pregnancy she will be unprepared for the changes that her body is enduring.
We all agree that pregnancy should be honored, revered and celebrated… but how well has feminism done its part, how well has it served women by associating women’s health with contraception and abortion?