The Duchess of Cambridge and the Language of a Royal Pregnancy

ElfityFeminism14 Comments

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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.)

William and Catherine leaving the hospital. Both are smiling, and Kate is carrying a bouquet of yellow flowers.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaving the hospital Thursday.

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.

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Elfity

Elfity, so named for her tendency to be a bit uppity and her elf-like appearance, is a graduate student and professional Scary Feminist of Rage. She has a propensity for social justice, cheese, and Doctor Who. Favorite activities include making strange noises, napping with puppies and/or kitties, and engaging in political and philosophical debates.
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ElfityThe Duchess of Cambridge and the Language of a Royal Pregnancy

14 Comments on “The Duchess of Cambridge and the Language of a Royal Pregnancy”

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  1. Profile photo of Alice Nevada
    Alice Nevada

    This article brought up so many feelings for me! I had a life threatening complication with my last pregnancy and so many people thought I was just being “whiny” because I “looked” okay and felt fine. I hope Catherine has the support she needs to shield herself from all the BS and publicity.

    But as for “the willpower to resist tackling anyone who reaches for her stomach unsolicited”, I would say – tackle away. If anyone intentionally touches a pregnant woman’s belly without permission automatically they give up the right not to be bitch-slapped.

    1. Profile photo of Sheena really wouldn't mind an early autumn
      Sheena really wouldn't mind an early autumn

      I’ve just now decided that if/when I become pregnant, I will respond to unsolicited stomach-touching with the same (or with a similar awkward reaction). Or a serious WTF face. Partly because my instinctive reaction would be a throat strike (hooray karate), and I’d like to avoid very violent actions.

    2. Profile photo of Elfity
      Elfity

      That’s really awful: I’m sorry you had to go through that. I really hate that people downplay what pregnant women go through.

      And honestly, I’d be happy if she tackled the shit out of someone, but she doesn’t need that media crap!

    1. Profile photo of Elfity
      Elfity

      I can’t stand this idea that pregnant women’s bodies are public property. The way we talk about this is so ridiculous.

  2. Profile photo of Juniper
    Juniper

    Really love this article. Thank you, Elfity. Have to say, this passage in particular is nothing short of amazing:

    “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.”

  3. Profile photo of [E] Sally J. Freedman
    [E] Sally J. Freedman

    I hear you on this one. A friend of mine had the same condition, and it is so hard to watch a friend go through it- I can’t imagine being in he public eye at the same time. Fingers crossed she’s able to get help for her symptoms. And that the royal family rallies around her and is fiercely protective.

    1. Profile photo of Elfity
      Elfity

      The Royal family really seems to be handling everything pretty well. I get the sense that they really seem to care for her, which is nice.

      I can’t imagine being ill and hormonal AND having to deal with a bunch of really horrible people.

  4. Profile photo of Dormouse
    Dormouse

    I had read that she had “acute morning sickness,” but I didn’t realize the scope of how bad it was. I figured it had to be pretty bad for her to be hospitalized though. I hadn’t read much about it, I was just happy to hear the news that they were expecting–as I would be about any other happily married couple. I honestly don’t understand why people say the cruel things that they do.

  5. Profile photo of freckle [M]
    freckle [M]

    I hope that Buckingham Palace will give out big fines left and right for every line the press they cross and use it to donate female targeted charities. It will help probably for about 3% but at least they’re witch hunting will pay off for somebody else but the “press”.

    1. Profile photo of QoB
      QoB

      Buckingham Palace can’t give out fines. But possibly with new UK press regulation in the pipeline after Leveson the press will err on the side of caution/decency.

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