Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Politics of Pregnancy

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.

Got it?

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.

She writes:

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?


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I would be curious to know how many Women's Studies faculty members are (a) married, and (b) have given birth themselves. Notice I didn't mention having ever been pregnant, as these ideologues are very clear that pregnancy is a remediable circumstance. I mean how many of these professors have carried their own child to term. It would be interesting to see these numbers and compare them to the general population.

Women's Studies has always been a subject that seemed like an autoimmune disease -- the body attacking itself. After all, men and women are not the same. Spreading a lie that they are, or ought be treated as such, seems to miss the point. The sign on the department door -- the name itself -- recognizes women as distinct from men. Everyone knows this, despite whatever they want to believe.

Lefties never let truth get in the way of a delicious victim narrative.

sestamibi said...

Sometimes 2+2 = 3, sometimes 2+2 = 4, and sometimes 2+2 = 5, and sometimes all at the same time. Have you forgotten doublethink?

Hey, whatever happened to Ares Olympus? (Not that I miss him or anything . . . )

Trigger Warning said...

As a former faculty member, I have a deep respect for Womyn's Studies. And all the [insert ethnic/sexual identity group here] Studies. So should you. The University of Vermont even has a Canadian Studies program, eh? It's 96 miles from Burlington to Montreal. One might think that students wanting to study Canada might just drive there and quaff a couple of Blues, but that wouldn't offer opportunities for tenured faculty positions. There's even a International [!?] Journal of Canadian Studies. Peer-reviewed, of course. Recent article: "Ramabai Espinet's The Swinging Bridge as a Refunctioning of Neil Bissoondath's A Casual Brutality and The Worlds Within Her".

Personally, I have always wanted to start a Studies Studies program to study studies.

Lindsay Harold said...

What feminists don't want to admit is that they're really very, very upset that nature is so unfair as to make women bear the brunt of producing new children. If they could change nature so that both men and women could be pregnant, they would like that. That's is "fairness" in their minds.

In lieu of this, they do everything they can to pretend it is reality. They want women treated as if they did not bear children. They want women to make career choices as if they were not the sex which bears children. They want access to contraception and abortion so that women can continue to pretend they are not the sex that bears children and are no different from a man. They want paid pregnancy and maternity leave for women so that their careers can go on as if they had not borne a child. They refuse to talk much about pregnancy because it interferes with their imaginary alternate reality where men and women are exactly the same.

In short, feminism is actually very opposed to being feminine. Modern feminists hate that which makes them uniquely female and feminine while simultaneously calling this female empowerment and pretending they value being female. They're in rebellion against biological reality and trying to make society make up for the lack of "fairness" in nature. But because the differences between men and women are real and innate, not socially constructed or superficial, society will never balance the scales to their satisfaction. They must go on forever, complaining about this or that remaining imbalance, no matter how much society caters to their fantasy.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Lindsay Harold @August 24, 2016 at 9:59 AM:

Spot on, Lindsay. And beautifully composed, as always.

My wife thinks feminists are simply angry about everything, and insatiable in their demands. They think being fanatical loons is erudite and sophisticated. She ignores them. There's no point in engaging. They're antisocial. They create nothing but vomiting their own pain all over everyone else, everywhere.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

sestamibi @August 24, 2016 at 8:38 AM:

Ares Olympus is out there right now, stalking you. You just don't see him. Make no mistake... he is there.

David Foster said...

Something I've wondered the Olden Days, women faced the pain and risks of childbirth (which was then a lot more dangerous than it is now, of course).....while men faced, in many cases, physically-dangerous jobs plus the dangers of warfare and in some cases the local bad actors. So there was a rough kind of equality, albeit manifested in different ways.

Today, relatively few men have dangerous jobs or face the risks of combat...but women do still do have to face some pain in childbirth, and even though risks are much reduced, it still has to be a somewhat scary proposition.

So I wonder if this factors, possibly operating subconsciously, accounts for some of this resentment. It's probably harder for a pregnant woman to feel that her husband is getting off easier than she is if he is working in a coal mine and facing that draft, than if he has a physically-safe office job.

Ares Olympus said...

Avra Siegel: 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.

Stuart: 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.

Its easy to agree that this "knocked up" logic is of limited value. The obvious solution is not just to "lower expectations" of the productivity of a pregnant woman, but to lower her compensation as well, but no one wants to hear that side of the equation.

I agree corporations shouldn't be seen as charities, and even things like paid parental leave seem rather extravagant, and flagrantly unequal. And a company then often has to hire a temporary worker to replace the missed worker who has a guarantee to be able to return, while the temp work may have no such protections.

On the "pregnancy sucks" side, I do wonder if things are unequal there too, and some women clearly have a harder time pregnant than others. And that would be embarrassing to learn, if you speak up at work about your difficulties, and find a half dozen other women who are rude enough to admit their pregnancy didn't suck.

I'm not against the ideals of a charity, but I might prefer to call it such, so people know they're not carrying their own weight. And its not like accepting help is humiliating, like public universities are subsidized, but under the expectation that you'll someday become a productive adult who will pay that back and more in taxes. And then "You'd didn't built it" makes more sense when you see all the infrastructure created before you were born that enabled your rise to affluence. And then paying taxes can be seen as a duty and privilege rather than as liability. At least that's what patriots might think.

Anyway, so if we acknowledge unequal burdens (like difficult pregnancies), we can enable our taxes to compensate women with temporary benefits like "paid leave" from the government rather than a corporation, and benefits can equal how much we value motherhood, rather than how much a woman's corporate value happens to be.

And perhaps we can also stop becoming an international embarrassment in our pregnancy related deaths at the same time? Maybe its finally time to consider "Universal Health Care"?
The lack of health insurance—Texas has the largest number of uninsured people in the country and has rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act—could be contributing to maternal deaths and near-deaths, task force members said. "If a person had been in regular care, maybe those cardiovascular [problems] would have been identified" before the mother died, said June Hanke, a strategic analyst and planner at the Harris Health system in Houston who advocated for the creation of the task force and is now a member. Without insurance, "if you need medication, can you really afford it? Do you even know your blood pressure is high?"

Mental health issues were another overlooked yet critical factor in maternal deaths and severe morbidity, including drug-related fatalities, the task force said.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

sestamibi @August 24, 2016 at 8:38 AM: