Where are the Pregnant Women?

Via Blag Hag at the new Freethought Blogs, I became aware today of GeekGirlCon to be held this weekend in Seattle.  Aside from the instant association with the YouTube video “Geek and Gamer Girls” (my wife is a gamer and I swear she played it several times a week this spring), I had a rather embarrassing reaction to the logo:

Notice the girl on the right, in blue?  My first thought was “Cool, a Trekkie.”  But second thought was, “Why is she pregnant?”  I then realized that she is actually cocking her hip.

Then I *headesk*ed.

Why should it matter whether or not she is pregnant?  After all, there’s roughly 100 million women of child-bearing age in the US, and roughly 5 million children born every year.  So figure that at any given time 2-4% of that population is visibly pregnant.  Yet we very rarely see women depicted as pregnant, except in a setting where pregnancy pushes a message (such as “this vehicle is family friendly”).  But more than that, my initial reaction betrayed a hidden prejudice.  I included a “Why” in the question, which indicates that I not only was surprised, I was questioning the decision to include that depiction.

Now, some of that simply comes about due to the image that many people have of geek girls, that they are less likely to become pregnant in the first place.  Some of that image is probably justified (geek girls generally are in economic classes that have better access to family planning and have better sex education), but some of it is a negative stereotype.  But my focus is on the rest of my previously hidden prejudice.  American culture is remarkably prudish, and sex is one of our great taboos.  Pregnancy within a family setting is acceptable, but when removed from that setting, it becomes uncomfortable. because we can’t tell whether it resulted from forbidden sex.

On the other hand, while having children is something many women wish to do (so long as it is at the time of their choosing), not all women have that desire.  Also, pregnancy has historically been used to restrict women’s rights and access to power.  So we should be cautious about striking the right balance.

We all have hidden prejudices.  We become better as individuals and a society when we recognize their existence and act to eliminate them.  Thank you, Jen, for helping me root this one out.

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