Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in an internetless hole, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, (formerly known as Kate Middleton) is pregnant. First of all, congratulations to the Duchess and her family. She looks happy, and even if she wasn’t, we’d never really know. While I’m happy for her, I am pissed at the Internet. Shocker, right? (Note: I read somewhere that The Duchess has expressed a desire to be referred to as Catherine rather than Kate, so that’s what I’ll be calling her here.)
Catherine was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London earlier this week suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe condition that causes extreme nausea and vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarium, by the way, is not just regular morning sickness. It’s not even really bad morning sickness. It is intense, debilitating nausea and vomiting. It is dehydration, malnutrition, drastic weight loss, and secondary mental wellness issues related to vomiting constantly. In short, it’s a nightmare. But according to Internet commenters the world over, Her Royal Highness is just “whining” about “a bad case of morning sickness.” You know those royals, always having to outdo us commoners and make a big deal out of everything. Yeah, I’m sure the woman whose would-have-been mother-in-law was effectively murdered by paparazzi is just playing it up for attention, as if simply announcing a pregnancy wouldn’t have gotten her enough of that.
This is the just the most recent (and most public) example of belittling pregnancy and its related conditions. As pregnancy is a thing restricted to ladies or others with functional female reproductive organs, it’s pretty much a given that our patriarchal society is going to belittle the hell out of it as much as possible. Isn’t it interesting how they put motherhood on a pedestal while simultaneously devaluing it? And because it’s finals week and I don’t have the time for it, I’m not even going to touch on the reproductive rights issues. That hyperemesis stuff? It’s just a little nausea. Horrible back pain from carting around 20 lbs. of assorted babyness for several months? Women are such complainers! Anxiety about pushing out a 9 lb. human from an opening the size of a kiwi? Grow a spine. Birth rape? No such thing! Almost seems like they’re a little jealous, doesn’t it? Apparently the ability to create people makes us weak and dumb AND gives us The Most Important Job in the World.
Everyone (or at least everyone who is a terrible human being) has been acting like The Duchess’s body is public property. She’s not a woman, a human being to them. She’s a vessel or worse, used to talk about “breeders” and called the scum of the earth for marrying into royalty. I understand that many people are vehemently opposed to the monarchy for a multitude of reasons, and that’s just fine. But let’s not use that as an excuse to hurl misogynistic, vulgar language at women, okay? Criticize the monarchy all you want, but don’t reduce a human being with thoughts and feelings like anyone else to an “incubation device for monarchist filth.” Yes, I saw that comment, though I thankfully forget where. The Internet has dark places, y’all. It appears that the objectifying language normally used to talk about women amplifies a billion when the woman is pregnant, and even more if she happens to be royalty or someone similarly famous. Honestly, I’ve heard enough about breeders and clown-car vaginas to last me a lifetime. And even the more respectful dialogue keeps talking about “producing an heir” and “giving William children.” You know, like you put a coin in the slot and out pops the third in line to the throne. It’s assembly line reproduction! So let’s get one thing straight here: Catherine is a human woman, with human thoughts and feelings and actions. She is having a baby to raise and enjoy and nurture with the help of her husband and family. She’s not producing or incubating or spawning. Spread the word, everyone, because apparently some people aren’t understanding that.
The good news here is that the Duchess is reportedly doing better. She has since been released from the hospital and will reportedly be resting at Kensington Palace. I wish her a happy, healthy pregnancy and the willpower to resist tackling anyone who reaches for her stomach unsolicited.