Recently, I remember my little cousin playing the game “pregnancy.” It was a new game she developed after she discovered she was going to have a baby sibling. At the time, my family thought it was incredibly cute as she mimicked her mother’s every move. She couldn’t contain her excitement for the new addition to her family. One summer evening, my family was cooking out when my little cousin asked me to play with her. A typical pregnancy game ensued (the game never resulted in birth – just a lot of house cleaning and storytelling). The game continued until she blind sighted me with this comment. “I can’t wait to have my own baby.” “And why’s that,” I said. “Because I’ll get to wrestle with boys and have my own baby” (maybe not verbatim but very close). I quickly ended the game and told my mother what just happened. Clearly, my aunt and uncle had not explained how exactly this whole pregnancy game works.
My parents never gave me the “talk.” They relied on our school system to provide that information. I had some form of sex education from fourth grade until tenth grade. But each year, as I remember, taught the same lesson. After the abstinence first lecture, I learned that men get women pregnant. Maybe it was due to my all male class (all six years) taught be a male teacher, but women were never given too much agency in the lesson. Why weren’t women allowed to get themselves pregnant? It is the same narrative that Lisa Jean Moore paints in her essay “My Sperm in Shining Armor.” Men are active agents while women are passive. Echoing the capitalist narrative she finds in a lot of children’s literature, my sex education classes taught that men are producers. Women’s bodies, on the other hand, are wasteful as their period is a monthly reminder of a failed conception. Usually, a science/health teacher taught these classes. Aren’t the sciences supposed to be objective? In creating a scientific discourse to describe pregnancy, misinformation and skewed narratives become “fact.” Not only does this affect the relationship people have with their sexual bodies, but also the relationship medical professionals have with their patients.
I’m not exactly sure how to go about changing the narrative of “how are babies made.” I still have no idea how I would explain this to my hypothetical child. It might be beneficial to change the language that is used when describing how a baby is “made.” I think that the term making reinforces the capitalistic mindset that is currently controlling the reproductive narrative. Instead, we should use the term “become.” How did I become? This could allow for a more diverse story line behind reproduction that focuses on the child itself rather than the process that “made” the child. In focusing on diversity, there is less of a chance of ostracizing children who are not born into a hetero-normative family as well as giving all parties involved agency.