Say AnythingEssays, Social Justice — By Lucinda Sutton on May 7, 2012 at 4:40 am
Every woman who has experienced pregnancy knows that the condition automatically makes her an inadvertent public figure, allowing anyone to say anything to or about her at any time. Here are some real life comments made to pregnant women I have known (including myself):
-Wow, you are really 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. (whatever that means)
-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 preventable 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 do people make such wildly inappropriate comments, but they also 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 your husband finally going to get a vasectomy?
It’s quite ridiculous, really, and frustrating. Some of this might be 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 here? Shouldn’t we actually be more sensitive and caring of women’s feelings at this time? My sense of justice bristles to see the vulnerable of the world steamrolled by sweeping generalizations and carelessness.
Politics is like pregnancy.
There is something about politics as a whole which causes atrocious behavior in people who are the most reasonable, polite, and intelligent in every other area. Sadly, social networking provides the most volatile setting for our vitriol. Nearly everyone with whom I have a very close relationship has made the “mistake” of posting a political statement or opinion as a status on Facebook and been subsequently ripped to shreds in reply for it. I’m not referring to reasoned or even heated disagreements; I mean hateful, pointed character assassinations – things no one would be caught speaking aloud to another in public.
Why in politics are we allowed to eviscerate those who disagree, or who merely don’t conform? Political opinions reflect personal issues and there is a deep vulnerability to holding and expressing them. Freedom of speech – the most overused and misappropriated excuse for poor Internet behavior – is a great gift in our country, but we are learning that just because we can do a thing, it doesn’t always follow that we should. If the Bible is right that reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18), then speech is like bearing arms: There is a time and a place for asserting our rights, and a time to shelve them. Much discernment and maturity are needed.
It’s a major election year, so we are not likely to see these qualities modeled in our prospective leaders, particularly with regard to this year’s hot issues of health care and the economy. I understand why people feel strongly about these things, and I invite intelligent conversation and lively debate about them. I would love for friends – no matter how obscure or distant – to engage me in actual personal conversation about their beliefs and the stories which shaped them. When we are through, we can pat each other on the back, shake hands, and part ways with our dignity still intact.
Otherwise, I politely decline to hear any assessment of my value as a person and/or member of society based on my viewpoint – or my Facebook status, for heaven’s sake. You might as well tell me how big I’m getting.