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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Empathy Belly

posted by on July 12 at 10:27 AM

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.”

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Honestly Charles, where do you get your pot?

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 10:31 AM

it harms the what? in most cases it's a personal decision to have a baby and often times brings a new joy and experience to the people having the child.

why arent we liberating people from other things chaz?

also chaz, how high are you to want a brave new world type of reproductive experience?! having a baby that gestates inside you has the benefit of bringing the mother and child closer together.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 10:50 AM

while there is no denying the sweetness of a little baby, pregnancy is, at its root, the oldest form of slavery and oppression.

it will always be the great divide between the sexes.

Posted by kerri harrop | July 12, 2007 10:56 AM

Loved the post, though I doubt women will be willing to surrender the "bad power" till they get equal access to whatever it is you might consider non-bad-power.

Posted by dirge | July 12, 2007 10:58 AM

kerri, are you putting forward the idea that women don't have a choice to be pregnant in this day and age?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 11:01 AM

Pregnancy is slavery? Wow. I had no idea.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 11:05 AM

The pain of pregnancy is nothing compared to the pain of Charles' posts.

Posted by crazycatguy | July 12, 2007 11:09 AM

If it weren't for the ability to reproduce, women would no longer be on this planet.

Posted by Think about it. BCE. | July 12, 2007 11:18 AM

where will the baby come out?

Posted by maxsolomon | July 12, 2007 11:22 AM

I'm becoming more and more convinced that our boy Chuckie here is the guy behind the Weekly's Uptight Seattlite (which might explain their prank yesterday.)

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 12, 2007 11:23 AM

Charles' posts often remind me of usenet trolls trying to start flamewars....

Posted by Wurm | July 12, 2007 11:25 AM

While pregancy can have its downsides, swelling, discomfort, outright pain, I have never considered it to be slavery or anything to be liberated from. In fact, I have done it 5 times now and while I have made my complaints, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Women's bodies were made to reproduce and it is an amazing experience to start out with a few cells and grow an entire human being from your own. It is in fact liberating and empowering to know that you can create a baby down to the eyelashes, fingernails and hair. Don't judge it until you have tried it!

Posted by senseandsensibility | July 12, 2007 11:26 AM

I'm with #8. Dad (and his dad) always used to say, a woman's place is barefoot and in the kitchen. Men have already figured out how to cook and give better blowjobs than women.

Chicks best be learnin some new skills.

Posted by monkey | July 12, 2007 11:28 AM

Charles, your gender politics are so off. This is only of note because you are too versed in theory for any of this nonsense to be forgivable. A supposidly serious discussion about power with a casual "...something we must liberate women from" thrown in is awfully bizarre.

Posted by Craig Brownson | July 12, 2007 11:34 AM

monkey, it's women that need men less and less, not vice versa. and men are guided by sex drive, yet aren't all gay, or willing to be gay for the oral sex.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 11:37 AM

I remember your posting once about how you're not that into TnA, but you love women's bellies, and benefit greatly from the style of exposed midriffs.

"Look at my big and ready belly."

I bet that was exciting to write, wasn't it?

Posted by jackie treehorn | July 12, 2007 11:43 AM

Women are dumb.

Posted by Ann Coulter | July 12, 2007 11:45 AM

Ignoring Charles' post, Jen's piece was absolutely amazing. Very well done.

Literary journalism is beautiful when done right. This was.

Posted by Sam | July 12, 2007 11:51 AM

@18: Word to your mother -- whatever gender your mother may be.

Posted by ljg | July 12, 2007 11:58 AM

Maybe some want sex and reproduction to be disconnected, but, if many of us are honest with ourselves, that is frequently (or occasionally) not true. Not always, but sometimes.

Jen's piece was cool. And Charles had an interesting, if bizarre, take on it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 12:02 PM

If Chuck had a baby, he would look like one of those starving ethiopian people. That look would be: HILARIOUS!!!

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 12:14 PM

thats funny how?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 12:21 PM

Because starving people are FUNNY!!! Didn't you get the message from the editor in cheif? Plus, I am sure that Chuck speaks a little ethiopian. That would be freaking GREAT!!! Wandering around with a big ass belly, flies swarming around his face (because of the smell of Enumclaw horse pucky) and speaking with all those clicks and whistles! A recipie for a feature in the print Stranger don't you know.

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 12:35 PM

Chaz is west african though.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 12:39 PM

So clicks and whistles with a little french accent.


Then perhaps he can paint sarcosies on his faces...

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 12:46 PM

"Bad power?" That's ridiculous.

Producing a child is the single most miraculous act the human body can accomplish.

And Kerri, slavery is introduced against the will of its victims. No woman in America can be made to have a baby against her will.

Resenting biology will get us nowhere soon, people.

Posted by Tony | July 12, 2007 1:02 PM

Childbirth is no more miraculous than taking a shit.

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 12, 2007 1:15 PM

Is it a hatecrime if you punch a racist homo in the face?
I can't believe ecce homo gets away with the crap he says without anyone out there tearing him a new one.
Again, dude where's your supply of hatin' coming from? I'm sure you've had your fair share of being prejudiced against, perhaps you can understand the irrationality of your own racism.

Posted by eh? | July 12, 2007 1:21 PM

I feel compelled to point out that women can already reproduce without men; they can only produce female young, but parthogenesis works just fine in other mammals, so there is no reason to think it would not work in primates.

It's the menfolk best be learnin' some new skillz.

Posted by Geni | July 12, 2007 1:27 PM

Dammit. Parthenogenesis. I hate not being able to edit.

Posted by Geni | July 12, 2007 1:28 PM


Wow. You are so fucking hilarious, particularly when you assume that Ethiopians and West Africans speak Khoisan.

Mudede doesn't look even remotely Ethiopian.


He's from Zimbabwe which is in Southern/Central Africa.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 12, 2007 1:30 PM


Click here.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 1:35 PM

@28. Dude's a sheet of grey crepe paper with some random crayon marks on it. Big deal.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | July 12, 2007 1:37 PM


I don't hate women, but I feel compelled to point out that men have pretty much invented almost everything. So...yeah. We have skillz.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 1:37 PM


How charming.

I'm sick of the American baby fetish. Both conservatives and liberals fall prey to it. Conservatives love teh babies because they want white women to breed more and because they want women back in the kitchen. Liberals also try to make childbirth and parenthood out to be some sort of amazing accomplishment in and of itself -- primarily due to their advocacy for family policies and, to a lesser extent, for governmental programs that pay poor women to have/raise children.

The thing about giving birth is that any woman can do it which might as well make it worthless.

But even I wouldn't compare it to taking a shit.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 12, 2007 1:37 PM

I stand corrected.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 1:42 PM

But taking a massive shit can sometimes be an accomplishment. It can even hurt just as much as giving birth, depending on what foreign objects you shoved up there the other night that you forgot about. I'd say it's a fair statement. Word.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 1:42 PM

its not an amazing accomplishment, but it is amazing it's worked out well for this long.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 1:49 PM

The other day, I busted the porcelain when I dumped my ass. It was a giant ACME anvil. That isn't an accomplishment?

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 1:54 PM

That is an accomplishment in another way. That youre here to tell the tale.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 2:13 PM

Well Mr Poe, you wouldn't have that problem if you weren't walking around with that nerf football butt plug up your poop chute all day long.

A nice comparison dirt bag, having children is akin to taking a big crap. Definately the sentiment of the anti-human crowd that the Stranger seems to attract.

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 2:20 PM

Oh, Mr. Poe, you are, as ever, the height of wit. You "dumped [your] ass" -- why, how droll!

Perhaps you might prefer spending time with your peers at than attempting to engage in serious discussion here?

Posted by Mr. Wilde | July 12, 2007 2:30 PM

And here you are, Ecce.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 2:30 PM

what kind of homo refers to anus as a poop chute?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 12, 2007 2:31 PM

I'm attempting to engage in serious discussion? Whoa! For shame!

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 2:32 PM

@45 - I would never accuse you of engaging in serious conversation, just as I would never accuse you of not being a virgin.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 12, 2007 2:42 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 2:48 PM

The thing about giving birth is that any woman can do it which might as well make it worthless.

But even I wouldn't compare it to taking a shit.

And I wouldn't call childbirth a miracle. There's science involved. Sperm meets egg, baby comes out. Of course, if you eat eggs, shit comes out.

Posted by Jason Josephes | July 12, 2007 3:54 PM


I wouldn't call it a miracle either. The "miracle" nonsense typically comes from the fundamentalist nutcase crowd who, as we all know, refuse to acknowledge the science involved.

However, if it's taking you nine months to gestate a bowel movement and if it hurts like fucking hell as it takes several hours or days to come out, then you probably should seek the advice of a doctor.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 12, 2007 4:38 PM

Why do people feel the need to take jerky comments so seriously? It not only kills the entire mood, it makes you ecce homo. And that's saying something that isn't good. Like, at all.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 4:56 PM

Ah the anti-human gen x'ers and y'ers with an unatural devotion to their dogs stand up against reproduction.

At least someone is doing there job to perpetuate the human race. You know the human race dont you? Its the race that YOU belong too. Or have you been brainwashed to actually think that children are a bad thing?

Good God, SLOG is turning into a real cesspool of people with depression, bi-polar, and satanists with borderline personalities. You best just stick with your dogs, fools, because actually having children would prove to be too much of a challenge to your limited ability to make meaningful commitments.

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 4:59 PM

There's something seriously wrong here when I find myself agreeing with ecce homo.

Posted by Kimberly | July 12, 2007 6:17 PM

Yes. It means you're growing up. Into a retard.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 12, 2007 6:44 PM

Mr. Poes terrible Christmas quandry starts as thus:

Poe: Who's my daddy?

Poe's Mom: Whose your daddy? I dunno, it was a drunken barn dance. Now come on over here and give mama a special massage.

Now you may understand why he hates: Children, parents, heteros, and generally decent hardworking people. It confuses him to see people not acting like basket cases.

Posted by ecce homo | July 12, 2007 7:37 PM

What all of this presupposes is that humanity should continue to reproduce. I personally don't care if it does. There's an interesting-sounding book called Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence by a South African philosopher that deals with this very issue (appropriately termed "anti-natalism.")

Anyhow, it's worth considering.

Posted by David E. | July 12, 2007 8:27 PM

It suddenly doesn't take Columbo to solve this creepy, sad, desperate mystery, does it?

Posted by Shosha........naaaat! | July 12, 2007 9:27 PM

chaz's article that is less interesting and thought-provoking than this comment thread. mere fodder for your cannons. and if childbearing is slavery, then i must be into hardcore bdsm...gee, i never had myself figured for one of those.

Posted by ellarosa | July 13, 2007 2:53 AM


You're so terrible at humor. If you're not trying to be funny, that's even worse. But I've had enough of your terrible rhetoric and nonsensical rebuttals.

If I ever meet you, I swear to God [sic] I will punch you in the face.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 13, 2007 11:35 AM

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