disgusting.

by Liz on 11.14

Yet again, I hear that men find women disgusting during/after pregnancy.

It’s my own fault, I’ll be honest. We usually try to shut off the TV unless we’re watching something. The glowing screen and background noise are unnecessary and distracting, otherwise. Yet, somehow, the TV was left on and the couple from The King of Queens was bumbling and nagging across the screen. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. So let’s just accept it and move on.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this idea. Have you heard of this? There’s this notion that once a woman’s body is used to carry a child, it can no longer be seen as attractive. Not in the usual sense- the “holy crap, when did you get so FLABBY and SAGGY” sense because, well, even THAT I can try to understand. (and I’m doing my lunges and crunches with Jillian Michaels everyday, thankyouverymuch)

But, no. This is different- the idea that suddenly a man is forced into facing that your body is a biological organism with purposes other than satisfying him sexually. Your body does other things- like creating and sustaining life, for starters. This is unacceptable. Disgusting, even.

I feel like this idea perhaps connects to a subliminal cultural message- a message that women are objects intended solely for sex. If you’re not a sexual object, you can never be sexual. You’re one or the other. You’re Marilyn or you’re Jackie O. One can’t be both sexual AND a good woman, wife, friend, mother. So obviously, if this is the choice we’re given, and you’re in the process of carrying, birthing, feeding, or nurturing a baby (all but the “making” part, you’ll notice) you must be the latter.

The scary part about this subliminal message is that women also enforce it in their own terrible way. I remember reading one of those not-worth-the-paper-it’s-printed-on magazines- was it Cosmo? Glamour? Whatever. A very long article detailed how harmful it is for a relationship if the woman ever uses the bathroom in front of her man. Harmful. Because he then will be forced to reckon with the fact that that is used for other things. (Those magazines are a girl-on-girl crime.) The way to keep your man interested (because that’s what we must do, ladies! we must pry his little face around to focus on us! we must entertain and enchant him as he has no control of his attention span or fidelity!) is to keep your ladyparts a sacred and mysterious place.

If knowing you use the bathroom ruins your marriage, just IMAGINE what birthing a little squirmy goo-covered being would do.

But I’m just thinking aloud. Perhaps that’s not the root of this at all. Maybe good men do face some sort of struggle with recognizing all intents and purposes of female anatomy, in the way that I refuse to acknowledge that those fluffy squawking birds at Linvilla Orchards are the same mixed into my Caesar salad.

Have you heard of this idea before? What’s your take on it?

 

 

 

*Josh vows that he doesn’t feel this way. I DO know that he didn’t find me AS pretty when I was pregnant- not in a negative, ugly way. In an honest, “your body looks different than I’m used to” way that I can understand and I think we should acknowledge, instead of pretending. I don’t think this is nearly the same as the above.

**I asked Josh not to watch the business end while I gave birth. I didn’t want to see it. He didn’t want to see it. I don’t think this is the same as the above, either.

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Your Comments | Add a Comment

Rachelle says:
Nov 14, 2011 11:56 am

We poop and fart in Casa Rawlings. Because shockingly we are human beings with biological processes that need to happen. Stephen won’t be watching the “business end” of the birth, but I won’t either so that seems totally fair. You’re right to be pissed off. We need more women to be pissed off about this and other things.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:17 pm

I made a point of farting first so that he would feel comfortable doing the same. We had a dorky, joking moment of “awww, we just farted in front of each other… we’re so on a new level!”

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Erin says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:05 pm

I agree with the first part of your rage, but I think there’s something to the last part, the “Maybe good men do face some sort of struggle with recognizing all intents and purposes of female anatomy…” part. Because when I think about it too much, even I get a little wigged out over the fact that “there will be a person in me. and it will be coming out of me.” I’m not a man, but I can imagine not being able to fully wrap my mind around the whole thing, that girls have parts that do strange and wondrous things, and boys have parts that… go up (because sometimes I don’t really get that bit either). Perhaps I’ll understand better when I have kidlets of my own.

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Erin says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:12 pm

Although to clarify, I don’t think that any of those sympathies I may extend to my husband over his own feelings should be fodder for articles that make women feel crummy and helpless over their own biology. What’s next — a Cosmo How-To on 15 Ways to Suppress Your Gas: Don’t Ruin Your Chance to Land a Man…?

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:19 pm

I’m sure there’s some toxin you can inject into your butt monthly to eliminate the “problem” of gas. The way we’ve gotten rid of wrinkles and sweat.

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valery says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:19 pm

I hadn’t really thought/heard(?) of that idea – that pregnancy can spoil the body as a sexual object; I had only been aware of the physical-appearance-flabbiness aspect. Every time I see that idea somewhere that we’re not supposed to go to the bathroom if our partner is around, I laugh and wonder at the logistics of it. How do those relationships last? How do you do your business around his schedule? Do you have to find ways to get him out of the house? It seems like so much work!

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Kristin says:
Nov 14, 2011 2:30 pm

I had a friend who, even after she moved in with her partner, would wake up 15 minutes before him and rush into the bathroom to put on make up, since he had never seen her without it. It lasted for about a month before he noticed what she was doing and asked her to stop because it reminded him of the Stepford Wives. I have no idea how long it would have gone on for if it didn’t creep him out, but I think it shows how deep these magazine-crazies can get into someone. She’s brilliant, athletic, and tons of fun to be around, and she still felt like she had to be wearing eyeshadow to please the man who wanted to live with her.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:18 pm

That’s hilarious.

Before I started dating Josh, he came to visit, and I was in sweats and no make-up. I figured this would be the PERFECT TEST for figuring out if he REALLY was interested.

He swears to this day he didn’t notice the lack of makeup, but my butt looked great in those sweats.

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Sarah says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:22 pm

We have to find the source of this idea. I don’t think any man on earth WANTS to stop seeing his wife as a sexual being after childbirth. I don’t think they ever want to stop seeing us as sexual beings. But they are constantly attacked by advertising and media that tries to dictate how women are perceived. And they offer up two ways to be a woman: an asexual and wholesome mother and wife, or a sexually aggressive and promiscuous play thing.* There is no middle ground, no combination of the two, no biological element, no taking the time to ignore the stereotypes and look at who each woman is individually.

And not to get all Whitney Houston about it, but they need to see and understand that we are every woman. We can be today things that we weren’t yesterday; we can grow and evolve.

And having a new perception of your wife after childbirth can be a good thing, as long as it’s a broader perspective, not a narrower, completely different one. The ability to give life is a beautiful and precious miracle. And for something you’ve always seen as purely sexual to suddenly produce the most innocent and amazing thing in your life has to affect your perception.

I understand the rage, and I’m with you. But I think we’re gonna have to be proactive on this one and show them the alternatives they’ve never been given or taken the time to see.

*The third option is the cold, heartless, bitch who exists in the corporate world, not in the home. And that’s a whole nother discussion.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:20 pm

It’s gotta be both, right? A societal thing, but also maybe a personal choice to ignore the cold hard facts. I’m sure no man WANTS to see his wife as asexual, but perhaps, as a man, you choose to set up a “certain kind of woman” as sexy. That, to me, would cause a problem.

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Alyssa says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:26 pm

GOD, I just read something the other day from a woman who said her husband couldn’t find her attractive after she had given birth and it makes me SO angry. But it’s an anger I can’t blame on society (for once!) but the individual men. (Or women, as I’m sure this might have happened to lesbians too…)
This isn’t like a situation where something is hidden knowledge and then the reality slaps the partner in the face. While I’m sure some issues can be due to psychological issues that are beyond the individuals control, there also comes a point when the person needs to be a grown-ass man and get over it.

As the book taught us, everybody poops, everybody pees and every woman is generally capable of pushing a human out of their vagina. How privy you are to the actual act is a matter of preference, but if the fact that the act happens (or happened) squicks you out to the point that it ruins your relationship, then get some damn help. (Jethro rips some farts that could clear a coliseum and while I may not be able to look at him sexually at the moment in time, it doesn’t mean that I’m not giving him the eye later on. )

Maybe I’m being insensitive, but I think it’s horsesh*t. Sometimes I wonder if people that have that issue had others that weren’t visible before and this is an excuse. “I can’t see you as a sexual object anymore. THAT’S why I’ve been cheating. No, seriously, that’s the ONLY reason….”

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:51 pm

It definitely feels like a selective-memory kind of thing to me, too. Like the boys who insist that girls never poop. On some level, you’re making the choice to be ignorant to reality, right?

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Sophia says:
Nov 14, 2011 1:07 pm

I feel the same way. I saw a special on TV years ago that talked about how some men get PTSD from watching their wives give birth and I got so ENRAGED that I had to change the channel after a few minutes. If you’re a man (or woman) old enough to get married to a woman and get her pregnant you should be old enough to deal with any shock/disgust that comes from watching childbirth which we all know can be messy. If anything, my husband thinks I’m more attractive than ever now that I’m 6 months pregnant. My attraction to my husband is complicated and multifaceted and I like to think that it will survive natural changes over time. I’m confident that his attraction to me will too.

That said, I poop and pee alone and so does my husband. Like Liz, I want him to stand at my shoulder during childbirth. I don’t think either of these are incompatible with my first paragraph.

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Erin says:
Nov 14, 2011 1:15 pm

Ditto on the post-coliseum-clearing interval. I’d kind’ve like to see something in Men’s Health about this phenomenon, wouldn’t you? “How to Get Her to Come Back — Into the Room.”

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Ceej says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:34 pm

I don’t read magazines or watch TV, really, so I’ve never come across this. I’ve actually mostly heard that men find women MORE sexy during/after childbirth. At least self-assured men. Seeing the powerhouse that is his partner. Since I’ve never been pregnant around The Foliage, I can’t be sure of how he’ll react. But if it’s anything other than extreme enthusiasm, I will be SHOCKED. So. Maybe setting myself up for disappointment there. Oh well. I’ll chance it.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 12:49 pm

Cara at Peonies and Polaroids said her husband acts like she’s a superhero now. (which she kind of is. TWO babies? come on.) Similarly, Josh had the awe/reverence thing going on for my pregnant belly and still talks about the whole thing like I’m some supernatural baby birthing goddess.

Which, you know. I dig.

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Lauren says:
Nov 14, 2011 1:02 pm

um no. good men are in touch with, and accept reality. and still want to diddle you anyway. promise.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:21 pm

Teehee. Diddle.

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Shannon says:
Nov 14, 2011 2:01 pm

That kind of objectifying of women piss me off. My husband and I are still very much attracted to each other and he even saw all the business of our daughter being born. Hell, my OB even gave him the tour of my placenta. (Strange, right?) But we are still very much attracted to each other. Attraction should go beyond physicality too. I’m glad you very much agree.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:23 pm

Haha- tour of your placenta?!

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Morgan says:
Nov 14, 2011 2:50 pm

I think my husband might, in fact, find me sexier all 5 months pregnant and round. I’m enjoying it, at any rate…

I don’t see how people who live together can “keep the mystery alive”, nor understand why they’d want to. I mean, everyone poops, and so what? If you can’t crack the occasional fart joke, where’s the fun? And if you can’t fart in front of your husband, odds are really good you’re in a for a really uncomfortable pregnancy. (That can’t just be me, right?)

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Ohh, the pregnant farting.

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Rachel says:
Nov 14, 2011 4:47 pm

All I can think of is this one time, when I was roughly 7 months pregnant with my 2nd baby, watching tv and crying over feeling ‘uglier’ than the girls on tv. My husband reached over to give me a big hug- and squeezed the worlds loudest fart out of me. I wept while he laughed. He said I’ve never been cuter to him. If you can’t be real like that in the deepest relationship of your life, I think you’ll be missing out. Do I want him to walk into the bathroom after my post-burrito business? Hell no. But will he be able to do that without losing his attraction to me? Yes. And thats pretty awesome.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:26 pm

This is my favorite story. Josh and I just “awwed” together.

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Julia says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:21 pm

I read in a pregnancy book once, to be aware that breastfeeding might make him uncomfortable because your breasts are normally his playthings. I was all, SRSLY!? If he has a problem with it, he can just grow up. Biologically speaking that’s what they are for, feeding babies. (Not that you *have* to use them, but the idea that your partner would probably be repulsed…sigh)

Would you rather feed your baby milk from your own breast or from a cow’s udders? Maybe they are both sort of gross (or not) if you think about it? I guess it’s sort of like the chicken thing for some people. You can disassociate the end product if it comes in a carton from the store.

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liz says:
Nov 14, 2011 5:25 pm

I heard that, too, Julia!! It’s weird to me, because breasts are feeding tools FIRST and playthings SECOND.

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Julia says:
Nov 15, 2011 11:24 am

Exactly! It’s like saying you shouldn’t sit on your butt because it’s cute. It’s a butt!

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nikki says:
Nov 15, 2011 1:58 pm

hahahaha oh my god Julia you just made me laugh out loud

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Rob S. Parham says:
Nov 15, 2011 1:49 pm

Honestly, I’m in mild shock. Where do you find these guys that are so completely unaware of biological processes? I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.

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Rachel says:
Nov 15, 2011 2:57 pm

I wasn’t aware that some men had this attitude.

I’m 4 months pregnant and I asked my husband last night whether he found me less attractive now I’m pregnant. He seemed surprised but said no, that he perhaps even found me more attractive because of the amazing thing we were doing together.

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Giovanna says:
Nov 17, 2011 11:59 pm

I think it’s a societal thing, but it’s really an antiquated way of thinking. A lot of western men, especially those less progressive, are indoctrinated from an early age into thinking they can only be sexually attracted to a certain type of female body. When said body changes and a basketball forms in a woman’s previously flat(ish) stomach area, it might be natural for some men to see their partners differently. Luckily, I think a lot of others can see past that and actually be turned on by how amazing it all is. I can’t even imagine my husband being less attracted to me after seeing me give birth to a child we created together. I can’t believe that way of thinking and that typical male dolt stereotype is still being spread on TV. Ugh, King of Queens is so lame!

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