say anything

Any woman who has ever been pregnant knows that the mere act of conception somehow puts a stamp on her forehead – with or without her permission! – allowing absolutely anyone to say absolutely anything about her at absolutely anytime. Here are some real life comments made to pregnant women I know:

-Wow, you are huge!
-Are you sure you aren’t having twins?
-I have the perfect diet for you, after you get that kid out of your way.
-You look like you have a palsy.
-Are you allowed to (eat/drink/do/watch/whatever) that?
-Don’t you know what causes that by now? (as though she had contracted a venereal disease)
-You’re a lot bigger with this one than you were with the last, aren’t you? Or did you just start out bigger this time?

You can sense the theme, I think. Not only can people make any comments they want, but they can ask probing questions into the deepest and most personal areas of her life. Are you going to breastfeed? Are you going to keep working? Does this change how you feel about abortion? When do you think you’ll start having sex again? Is [insert husband’s name here] finally going to get a vasectomy?

It’s quite ridiculous, really, and frustrating. I mean, SOME of this is remotely acceptable coming from a close family member, but from a co-worker? a vague acquaintance at church? the nice old lady at the grocery store who had twelve of her own? What is it that makes people lose all sense of decorum or boundaries simply because there is a fetus present? Shouldn’t we actually be MORE sensitive and caring of women’s feelings at this time? It angers me to see the vulnerable steamrolled, and to see people make sweeping generalizations about another like that.

Politics is like pregnancy.

Take the hot button issues today: the health care “status” and the President’s speech to students. I understand that people feel strongly about these and I understand why. I would like to partake in intelligent conversation about either of them. I would love for friends – no matter how obscure or distant – to engage me in actual personal conversation about their beliefs and their stories which shaped them.

However, something about politics as a whole causes atrocious behavior in people who are the most reasonable, polite, and intelligent in every other arena, and on Facebook is no exception. Facebook is where I come to connect, process, and relax. When I get there, I do not seek to argue, to be harrangued, or to be coerced or judged. No one does, to my knowledge. When did it become acceptable to tell me that my status indicates whether I truly care about people (oh, the irony!)? Why in politics are we allowed to make character assassinations against those who disagree, or who merely don’t conform? Are we really so weak as that?

Political opinions reflect personal issues and there is a deep vulnerability to holding and expressing them. I want to hear what yours are, and even more so, why you have them. (Thanks esp. to my friend Brian M., whose use of Facebook to express views without judgment or implication against others is refreshing and truly educational. Also to my aunt, the most politically informed and opinionated person I know, who has never looked at me sideways when I somehow managed to disagree with her anyway.)

Otherwise, I politely decline to hear your assessment of my value as a person and a member of society based on mine. You might as well tell me how big I’m getting.

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