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The bitter side of pregnancy


© Fotowerk –

The journey from pregnancy to motherhood is a transition I am certain I share with all women on road to motherhood, specifically first-time-mothers. However, what was shocking for me was that during this time, I became a target of the most anti-feminist and sexist comments that I had ever heard. With feminism and sexism so relative to cultures, I have documented a list of top five comments that I found most offensive.

Most offensive comment #1: “You are not the first woman bearing a child. This is what God made women for.”

While I am very much aware of this superpower that only women have, you should know I can always use my right to refuse using it. And please, God made women to bring balance into this world, to create partnership for men, to provide this world with emotional support and to complete the circle of love, which might or might not include having children.

So, neither am I a baby-making machine nor am I obliged to succumbing to such stupid notions. Guess what! I am having a baby six years into my marriage.

Most offensive comment #2: “It’s OK. You are pregnant and women tend to act less intelligent when pregnant.”

I got this comment quite often, especially if I made mistakes while shopping, responding to work emails and complained about not being able to concentrate on reading.

I wonder if I should have taken such comments positively or otherwise. If I could pursue reading for my PhD, writing frequently, managing a magazine launch as an editor, taking care of the house chores, the household budget and a rather pampered husband, imagine what I would have achieved during my non-pregnant days. I’d have probably invented something new!

Most offensive comment #3: “Your career is over.”

No it isn’t.

It’s sad how people “calculate” a woman’s potential so easily, assume that they are correct and give a verdict. I mean, I would never believe a fortune teller or anyone who would say something that would affect my optimism and career plans, especially if they claimed my pregnancy and childbirth as a reason for the so-called “failure. After all, a baby is a ray of hope and strength to do more in life and cannot be seen as a disability.

Every time I got this comment, I replied with just one sentence: “If late Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first and only woman prime minister could run the entire country while pregnant, I can definitely manage to continue a career and my research.”

I am sure you must have millions of examples from your country, too. So keep an answer ready.

Most offensive comment #4: “If you get prettier, you have a boy. Girls’ mamas get ugly.”

Yes, “ugly.” This is the word I heard so many women using.

I understand that women go through some physical changes during pregnancy. These include skin pigmentation and weight gain, but why in the world would someone use the word “ugly” for a woman undergoing such a beautiful transition. And what in the world does it have to do with having a boy or a girl?

I’ve loved a pregnant woman’s beautiful body long before I got pregnant. The sight of their bumps have always attracted me and I often went up to them to wish them good luck and tell them how strong and beautiful they looked. And mind you, I don’t have an ultrasound scanner in my eyes to see if they are carrying a boy or a girl.

I’ve had people coming up to me and wishing me and my husband good luck and appreciating us on “a job well done.” Those have been some of the happiest moments of my pregnancy.

Most offensive comment #5: “Why pink and red? Why blue and brown?”

It’s amazing how people try to guess the baby’s sex by the color of the clothes and accessories the parents buy.

Piece of advice: Stop pushing your brains so hard and ask me. I will tell you. After all, it’s not a war secret and you’ll find out anyway. Besides, I have never understood people’s fetish with color-gender correlation. Can I not buy a blue wrap for my daughter or a pink hoodie for my son?

I see it like this: Shopping for a baby with “gender colors” in mind is when a woman first triggers sexism in her hormones that is then transferred to the baby through her blood, not realizing that she only contributes to the ocean of male and female chauvinists.

As a responsible mother and a woman who comes from a culture where women are the most vulnerable, I don’t want my son to be part of any of these groups. I want to teach him that sensitivity for humanity, respect for women and tolerance for all religions and schools-of-thought are far more important than the useless self-created compulsion to win the gender war debate, and that being a human is more important than wasting time in proving one’s “masculinity” or “femininity.”

I want him to be just as “masculine” as his biological dynamics would make him as a result of a combination of the X and Y chromosomes and  “feminine” enough to be able to show his emotions, share his fears and acknowledge his weaknesses – a special trait an individual created as a combination of XX chromosomes is said to dominantly contain.

I want to make him grow into a respectful feminist male. End of discussion.

Author: Ayesha Hasan

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


13.10.2014 | 13:29