Last week I blogged about childbirth and motherhood, and what changes it might make for a woman. This week, I’m gnawing the same bone, but from a different angle.
Disclaimer first. I don’t for a second pretend I have a clue what giving birth would feel like. I’ve been at the coal face, and I am utterly in awe of both the physical and emotional power of women when it comes to the act of reproduction.
All right...bugbear time. A woman at work recently left to have her first baby. Before she took her leave, she laid this hoary old chestnut on us:
“Yeah, well, men wouldn’t be able to give birth. Their bodies couldn’t stand the pain.”
As is so often the case, this was delivered with the same airy tone of voice that gets used with statements like “I just wish I wasn’t SO beautiful...”
Now let me firstly say that I agree. Men would not be able to stand the pain. Not because of the amount of it, but because of the nature of it. Men also perform woefully when it comes to filling out a brassiere. And do you know how painful it is for us to insert a tampon in our genitalia?
As if I’m not already being male enough, let me continue with this: it all gets down to infrastructure and planning. When the city council plans out a new housing estate, do they say “well, we need a place to run all these cars...how about those flat black strips with all the lines and traffic lights?” Of course not. The roads didn’t exist UNTIL the cars needed somewhere to drive.
Similarly, women can stand the pain of childbirth because their bodies evolved to do so. I don’t just mean the obvious, such as actually having a womb. I mean the musculature which surrounds that womb. The pelvis which can accommodate a baby’s head. And on and on...
Really though, the direction I’m going hinges around one word in the first paragraph. First. As in ‘her FIRST baby’. See the thing is, that saying about men and pain, I’ve only ever heard it being trotted out by girls and women who have not yet given birth. Kind of like when we boys are teenaged virgins, and we’re bragging about how fantastic we’re gonna be the first time we ‘do it’. Book-learnin’ versus experience.
Oh, who am I kidding? When it boils down to it, I’m male, and I’m precious about that fact. The average male has strengths and weaknesses, and we can do certain things better than the average female. On the whole, though, there’s basically nothing that a man can do that no woman on Earth can do. As far as I can tell, you girls will always have childbirth.
(And let me say, you’re welcome to it! Oweeee!)