Saturday, October 5, 2013
Think twice… it’s not alright*
There was a lovely segment on The Colbert Report recently, where Stephen demonstrated his helpful new acronym for gentlemen considering saying something sexually suggestive to a female colleague.
The acronym was D.O.N.T.
“The D,” he explained, “stands for Don’t. And... actually, don’t worry about what the rest of the letters stand for. Just DON’T.”
And this, my friends, is what I would like you to recall next time you consider starting a conversation with someone you suspect to be pregnant.
Now, I’m going to assume you’re coming from a good place. Like, maybe the person in question is a friend, relative, colleague or acquaintance of yours and generally someone you think well of (and vice versa). So, you have some kind of relationship and you care to some degree about this person’s wellbeing. And maybe all you want to do is congratulate this person and share how happy you are for them.
There’s really nothing wrong with that.
maybe the person isn’t pregnant at all.
maybe the person has a “bit of a tummy” and is actually a bit self-conscious about it (or not self-conscious at all but gets really annoyed when other people make a deal out of it).
maybe the person has been trying to get pregnant for a long time and it isn’t working. And the presence of something that looks like a pregnant tummy is purely coincidental. And the mention of pregnancy makes them feel really sad.
maybe the person actually is pregnant but in the first trimester and not wanting to share the news until they’ve had their twelve week scan and can make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy, based on the likelihood of birth defects.
maybe the person is pregnant and likes you very much but wants to tell other people before they tell you.
maybe the person is pregnant but wants to be the one to tell her own story, rather than have you beat her to the punch.
I know, because I am those persons.
And having [nice, well-meaning] people say things to me like “Are you pregnant yet?” or “OH! It looks like something very exciting is going on down there!” or “So when are you due?” or look suggestively at my tummy has made me feel a combination of sad and ashamed and indignant. And, sometimes, made me behave in ways that I don’t feel proud of, like telling outright lies to someone’s face or making them feel rotten for asking or practically biting their head off.
[And don't get me started on comments and helpful suggestions to the effect of "Wow, you're massive already!" and "You're going to struggle over the Summer!" and "I think maybe you've been eating too much?".]
So, anyway, next time you’re thinking of saying something to that person – and I’m assuming that you’re an intelligent and sensitive human being who has the capacity to think before you speak – just DON’T.
Trust me. Don't.
Let her speak first.
* With apologies to Bob Dylan for the title.
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