Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stop calling her ‘Pregnant Kate’

Ever since Kate Middleton and Prince William got married in 2011, there has been incessant talk of the royal heir and rabid speculation about when they’d start a family. And now that she’s officially announced her pregnancy, the media feeding frenzy has gone into full effect.

But what’s absolutely driving me nuts is the insistence on calling her “Pregnant Kate.”

People Magazine:
Pregnant Kate Leaves Hospital

CBS News:
Pregnant Kate out of hospital after treatment for acute morning sickness

ABC News:
Pregnant Kate Middleton’s Hospital Falls for Prank Call From Australian Radio Station
Pregnant Kate Discharged from London Hospital
Pregnant Kate Middleton Feeling Better After Second Day

USA Today:
Pregnant Kate discharged from London Hospital

Pregnant Kate leaves hospital

Chicago Tribune:
Pregnant Kate Middleton leaves hospital after morning sickness

There’s even a website:

As if now that she’s pregnant, she has ceased to be anything more than the contents of her uterus. She is no longer Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge; she’s the royal broodmare. She’s not Kate Middleton, an autonomous person who also happens to be pregnant – she’s the pregnant royal baby-carrier.

Why does this matter? Why does it upset me? Because it’s emblematic of how our culture treats women and understands pregnancy. A man who gets a job is not called “Working Tom,” because he is not defined solely by that one characteristic of his life, so why should a woman who gets pregnant be referred to as "Pregnant Woman"? If you can ask "are men doing this?" and the answer is No, there's probably something sexist about the situation. 

The act of conception does not make the cell cluster in a woman’s body equal in all respects to the woman carrying it. Regardless of when you believe “life” begins, if you remove that cell cluster from her uterus, Jesus will not come down from the clouds and magic it into a tax-paying, bible-thumping, Republican-voting person. That fetus exists and can grow and develop BECAUSE of the woman, not in spite of her.

And the woman’s part in the process cannot be ignored.

Women are not meek and silent baby-ovens, and pregnancy does not define who a person is. It may change who she becomes as a result of the pregnancy, but it does not change her inherent worth as a person. Her humanity is not suddenly secondary to that of the fetus developing inside her.

We have to stop treating women as if their only value to society is to spawn new little humans. Not every woman can or will have children, and that’s okay. Her worth should not be defined by whether or not she has or plans to reproduce. Defining someone by one function of their body ignores or trivializes every other aspect of who they are. Especially in the case of a public figure like Kate Middleton, who has done tons of charitable work since marrying into the royal family - she is and deserves to be more than just her pregnancy.

Yes, biologically, creating the next generation is something we CAN do, but it’s not the ONLY thing we can do. And we deserve to be respected and recognized as PEOPLE at all times, regardless of whether we’re in the process of creating new life or not.

So please, for the sake of my humanity and yours, stop calling her “Pregnant Kate.”

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