I would argue that, no, it is not. While pregnancy is a defining moment in many womens’ lives, it should not be the only way to signify adulthood to others. But if you look at how society treats pregnancy (and even motherhood at times), you might think differently.
Last Tuesday, my daughter took an extra long nap. Instead of getting some work/dishes/etc. done I decided to rent a movie. It was called “Preggoland,” and it was a movie about a woman who fakes a pregnancy to fit in better with her friends who all had children and were pregnant. To convince myself that I was also being productive with the small amount of downtime I have, I folded a large pile of laundry as I watched.
While some of this movie is absurd, there are some societal truths hidden throughout. This movie was actually quite thought-provoking.
In the movie, Ruth’s so-called friends act like she’s not an adult until she has experienced a pregnancy and has a child. I have seen many married, child-free friends be treated in this condescending matter, and it’s not right. Granted, in this case, Ruth does not help her cause by being consistently hung-over and inappropriate, but the point is still well-made that she is not considered a full adult to her friends.
As the film progresses, her friends proceed to “break up” with her because she is in a different stage of her life. After a few misunderstandings, Ruth blurts out that she is actually pregnant. Once these magic words are spoken, she faces undeniable advantages, welcoming and loving treatment by a community of moms, gentle and kind words from strangers, and even advantages in the workplace.
This movie really leads the viewer to think about how pregnant women are treated differently in our society. As much as the media focuses on potential discrimination, the difficulty of carrying a baby bump, and the pain of giving birth—pregnant women are also heavily revered. With the invention of social media, pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, and birth announcements the business of sharing your baby-creating business is more serious business than ever before.
I wonder, do we extend this same fascination to all expectant parents (for example, fathers? What about expecting adoptive parents?), or is it simply the physical part of pregnancy that is so admired? Yes, I understand that dads and/or adoptive parents don’t need a special seat on the bus, but there is a societal obsession with physical pregnancy that goes much deeper. Just pick up any magazine at the grocery store. There will always be pregnancy speculation on the front page, and it is always what sells.
It is dangerous to think of pregnancy as a rite of passage. There are plenty of adults who will never experience pregnancy, but are amazing contributors to society. There are adoptive mothers who do not experience pregnancy, but are doing fabulous jobs of raising their children.
It’s time to take a closer look at how we treat women who are choosing to be child-free, adoptive mothers, and anyone else who does not experience a pregnancy. A pregnancy does not make someone an adult, and is therefore not a rite of passage.
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