Life Empathy Belly
posted by July 12 at 10:27 AMon
Let’s go back to the middle of the 19th century. In 1853, Queen Victoria made history by using chloroform during the birth of her 7th baby. However, several church leaders of the time were not at all pleased with her experiment. They believed that a pregnancy must be experienced in the way that God intended it to be experienced: with lots of pain. To reduce labor pains was to challenge one of God’s curses on mankind. Queen Victoria rejected this position, and the remaining two babies of her marriage were delivered in a happy haze.
I bring this piece of history up because of Jen Graves’ current feature “Getting Patrick Pregnant.” As a work of writing it’s electric—no issues there. My only problem with the story is fundamentally this: Why on earth would a man want to have a baby?
As the churchmen of Queen Victoria’s time knew, pregnancy is not a pleasant experience. It hurts the body. This is the main reason why the men and women of our urban/scientific age desire a permanent split between pregnancy and the body. We want sex to make a clean break with reproduction. On one side, reproduction should be entirely a matter of test tubes, artificial fluids, and incubators; on the other, sex should be nothing but a matter of pleasure.
Ultimately pregnancy is something we must liberate women from, not only because it harms the body but also because it harms the mind with its bad form of power—a power that is limited to the body and rooted in pity. (A great example of this type of pity is the Empathy Belly.) To liberate women from pregnancy is to liberate them from its bad power.
If Patrick were to become pregnant, this bad power would certainly affect his mind. We would soon see him walking around the streets of Seattle with that irrational air of pride. A pride that always says to all one thing: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at my big and ready belly.”