by Raquel Rosario Sánchez
Tuesday, 27
July 2021
Behind the news
13:15

There’s no such thing as a pregnant man

The 'birthing community' is increasingly deluded about biology
by Raquel Rosario Sánchez
This is what pregnancy looks like (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

A “pregnant man” emoji is incoming. Designed by Emojipedia, it’s due to be released by the Unicode Consortium later this year. The final approval of all new emojis won’t take place until September, although the organisation says that draft lists of designs have been approved without modification.

Trans rights campaigners have long advocated for a depiction of gestating men and consider the release of the “pregnant man” emoji a recognition that transgender men and non-binary people can give birth — if they were born female. In their announcement, Emojipedia stated: “The above additions will mean that nearly all emojis can have a default gender neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant.”

Should anyone have a problem with this? Well, men cannot physically give birth. But then again, humans do not have literal dollar signs in their eyes, or zippers on their mouths, yet these emojis are in wide use. This is a legitimate argument — but it ignores the sinister undercurrent below the push to widen society’s understanding of pregnancy and childbirth by side-lining the material repercussions both have for women and girls, and the advocates campaigning for their rights.

Around the same time the “pregnant man” emoji was announced, the parallel plight of Milli Hill became widely known. Hill, a bestselling author and the founder of the Positive Birth Movement, was dropped by a charity after she challenged taboos around the idea of ‘pregnant men’.

Hill faced the wrath of the birthing community when she wrote on Instagram in November of last year: “I would challenge the term ‘birthing person’” and stated that the concept of “obstetric violence is violence against women”. The subsequent threats and abuse she received left her shaken. Speaking to UnHerd, Hill reflects:

“The pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding world is changing language across the board. Anyone who questions this is swiftly ejected from their professional body or attacked on social media. Many people working in maternity rights consider the push for inclusive language as a positive step and a way of being more accepting of people – which of course I support. But I don’t think they have thought through the implications of changing the definition of ‘woman’. They don’t necessarily realise that ‘being kind’ is going to have an impact on women’s hard-won rights.”
- Milli Hill

The context here is crucial. Worldwide, pregnancy and childbirth remain a life-or-death matter for a large number of women. The COVID pandemic has triggered an alarming increase of maternal deaths in some countries as many women and girls are kept away from hospitals. In May, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published guidelines suggesting doctors should encourage labour induction at 39 weeks for all pregnant women of colour in the UK, a proposal that has been branded as “discriminatory” by the Royal College of Midwives.

There are genuine concerns about the way parts of the medical establishment treat women — particularly pregnant women of colour. These questions, and the realities of childbirth, risk being obscured under the guise of “inclusivity” when experts who speak in favour of material reality become victims of abuse.

Identity politics has led to a lot of meaningless performative gestures at the expense of substantive support for improving childbirth care, at its worst presenting a veneer of modernity to the age-old habit of erasing female bodies. If only they could make an emoji to articulate that.

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago

Today I saw a FB post referencing two articles on Healthline, written on the same day.
”Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Men” and “Everything You Need to Know About HPV in Vulva Owners”.
Even considering the wacky times we live in, this is hardly believable so I checked it out…. The articles are there. Women are being rubbed out and it is a disgrace.

Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
11 months ago

NHS website – Health A-Z
Cervical Screening -” All women and people with a cervix aged 25-64 should be invited by letter…”
Prostate Problems – “The prostate is a small gland found only in men…”
Naughty phobic NHS!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  Neil Cheshire

There are so many accounts of things like this. This is why women are increasingly up in arms.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
11 months ago

The more women up in arms, the better. So long as it’s not hairy, muscly ones mebbe…

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
11 months ago

LOL did they misspell Volvo??

Angelique Todesco-Bond
Angelique Todesco-Bond
10 months ago
Reply to  rick stubbs

That has given me a proper fit of the unstoppable giggles.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago

Men enjoy no advantages worth appropriating, so almost no woman wants to be considered a man. So ‘man’ is an uncontroversial status to profess.
Being a woman is great, because they get to wear women’s clothes and use women’s toilets, communal changing rooms and prisons. So a number of men, reasonably, want to be considered women in order that they can do so too. This becomes controversial only if you start insisting that “women” means something specific that you can’t just opt into.
As the left always sides against the haves with the have-nots, and does not acknowledge the possibility of should-not-haves, its prejudices instruct it to side with those who want to be considered something they’re not against those who genuinely are that thing. As an actual pukka woman, you’re a “have” and you’re a thought criminal for suggesting that nobody else can have what you have too.
Therefore, you need to be more correctly redefined as a “vulva owner”. To quote Getting Straight (1970),

Woman? You’re not a woman! You’re just a guy with a hole in the middle!

Hope that clears things up a bit!

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
11 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

As the left always sides against the haves with the have-nots, and does not acknowledge the possibility of should-not-haves, its prejudices instruct it to side with those who want to be considered something they’re not, against those who genuinely are that thing.
Although I wouldn’t make the exhaustive claim against ‘the left’, I do offer kudos for giving me an interesting perspective involving haves, have-nots and should-not haves, and how they relate to ‘actual pukka’ women;

As an actual pukka woman, you’re a “have” and you’re a thought criminal for suggesting that nobody else can have what you have too.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
11 months ago

Yet another indication that many Western institutions are choosing to pursue frivolous political posturing in service to an infinitesimally small population in lieu of their essential mission. Obviously this is only one example but an especially delusional one. One need not wonder why public confidence is eroding.

Deborah B
Deborah B
11 months ago

Imagine the scene: A couple arrive at the ‘birthing unit’ ready to deliver their child into the world. The mid- non binary birth assistant asks which one is the person due to give birth (despite the obvious bump) and respectfully requests the one with the vulva to declare itself and fill out twelve pages of assessment forms that ask some very personal questions. Then they have to agree to counselling to ensure they subscribe to the correct attitudes towards birthing which, as everyone knows, is open to people of any self declared gender or not, as the case may be.
The couple fail the assessment and are sent home to reflect on their false assumptions. By which time the baby is born in the car park, delivered by the Just Eat man who happens to be passing. Sorry, my mistake, the Just Eat gender neutral delivery operative.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

I have occasionally wondered what obstetric staff would actually do if, in the circumstances you describe, the man stepped forward and with a straight face identified himself as the “birthing partner”.
They’d be faced with either medical negligence or a hate crime prosecution. I don’t see any other choices.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
11 months ago

I may be returning to Bristol University this Autumn. If this happens, I will be proud to stand with Raquel Rosario Sanchez.

D Ward
D Ward
11 months ago

“ There are genuine concerns about the way parts of the medical establishment treat women — particularly pregnant women of colour.”

Really? So tell. Don’t just lob it on as a comment and run away. Or we’ll suspect you are just saying it for effect.

Mohan Mudigonda
Mohan Mudigonda
11 months ago
Reply to  D Ward

Yep agreed- the author writes about an important topic but risks losing all credibility when making sweeping assertions such as this.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  D Ward

Yehudi Gordon, obstetric surgeon and author of Birth And Beyond, writes in that book that black women’s gestation period is around 2 weeks shorter than that of other women. That could be something to do with this.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  D Ward

Well, there is a link you could follow….

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

If you saw the Tucker Carlson thing in the Montana shop, Don Jr made a wonderful post

“”Is the loser who went out of his way to have someone video him harassing Tucker in public for some viral content the model for the new Pregnant Male Emoji? The likeness is uncanny!”

My feel is the main use of this pregnant man emoji will end up being used to lampoon someone, and so it will achieve exactly the opposite of what is intended. I think this one will end up increasing the ridiculousness of the cause significantly….

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

If you use the emoji in jest you will be hounded by social justice warriors.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I have at times used the pregnant woman emoji to refer to myself when I feel fat or have eaten too much. Now i can be more specific and the emoji less obscure. I commend it purely for that.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
11 months ago

It is indeed extraordinary that such an article needs to be written.

Deborah B
Deborah B
11 months ago

How long before a crazy scientist transplants a womb (already possible, I believe) and proves that a man can give birth … through his p***s. I’m sure many women would pay good money to see this happen. There could be a whole reality series based on it. And it will prove what everybody knows. Birth hurts like hell and men were not designed to give birth. I’m looking forward to it. Any volunteers?

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

My thoughts exactly. Would pay money to see that. However, If men had to go through female puberty, contraception, horrific and bloody gynae procedures and their after-effects – to eventually produce large babies – they would certainly ‘hand it back’. There’s a slogan there, I think.

Andrew Floyd
Andrew Floyd
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Given the choice I think I’d prefer to give birth through my a***h**e

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Floyd

Relatedly, I understand an increasing problem for women is to be pestered by men for a**l sex, because the internet. When there are how-to articles on this in the Daily Telegraph, you know it’s a problem.
I wonder why women don’t reciprocate by refusing to pay any attention to the bloke’s p***s and instead persistently try to fiddle annoyingly with his a***h**e. This would convey what they are having to put up with from these plebs in a way that would penetrate surely even the densest skull.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jon Redman
Deborah B
Deborah B
11 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Haha. I’m too old for this discussion but I am reminded of a widowed friend … discussing, in jest, the relevant pros and cons of various suitors. ‘What are you looking for in a possible boyfriend?’ I asked. She replied, ‘Land.’
Enough said.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
10 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Or a yacht?

Deborah B
Deborah B
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Floyd

I’m sure, with a few alterations to the tubing, this could be arranged. However, a word of caution here … We don’t want to give impressionable folk ideas. Some people struggle with the difference between a joke and a serious comment.

Ken Maclaren
Ken Maclaren
11 months ago

Well who’d have thought it.
There’s a New Zealand mother who tried to claim she was the country’s first man to give birth.
Apparently we now have to keep pointing out the obvious on these things.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
11 months ago

“I don’t think [many people working in maternity rights] have thought through the implications of changing the definition of ‘woman’. They don’t necessarily realise that ‘being kind’ is going to have an impact on women’s hard-won rights.”
Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the issue – seriously? How can anyone, not least people working in maternity rights (among whom I’d imagine a decent number of midwives would be represented) not realise that accepting a new definition of ‘woman’ in order to ‘be kind’ to those newly defined as women would have some knock-on effect on the station of those previously (and exclusively) defined as such? How could it not?