A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy

A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy

A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy

A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy

Synopsis

In the 21st century, pregnancy is more than a biological event-it's a cultural phenomenon. A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy addresses how media influence and changes in society have exposed and commoditized pregnancy like never before, while technology has enabled us to share, record, and preserve all aspects of the pregnancy experience.

Each chapter of the book focuses on an aspect of the pregnancy experience, including efforts to peer in and bond with the fetus, the various ways of obtaining advice, the evolving role of expectant fathers, how pregnancy is depicted and treated in popular culture, and branding and marketing to pregnant couples. Interviews with those marketing products and services to pregnant women reveal how pregnancy is now "big business," while real-life stories from pregnant women and images from television and film serve to illustrate our culture's fascination with pregnancy.

Excerpt

At a cocktail party one night, a friend of ours opened his wallet and showed us a picture of his young daughter. My husband responded in kind by pulling out a photo of our son. This seemingly normal exchange was made odd by the fact that our son was not born yet; I was only six months pregnant. A number of feelings struck me simultaneously. First, I was happy that my husband was so excited and proud about his child-to-be that he wanted to share his experience. I was also grateful that he had a way of becoming involved, other than constantly going to the store to satisfy my varying cravings or listening to me complain about my symptoms. However, I was also a little troubled by what I felt was a small but definite invasion of my privacy. After all, here were my “insides” being displayed to someone else. And to be quite honest, it was the first time during my pregnancy when someone was paying attention to the baby without paying attention to me. I had lost a little bit of control.

Soon after, I began noticing different ways in which pregnancy has become exposed. One need not be pregnant to vicariously experience pregnancy. On the beach, women walk with their pregnant bellies uncovered by bathing suits. When women do cover their bellies, they often use tight clothing that accentuates their growing middle or cute T-shirts with printed phrases that call attention to their baby inside. Far from hiding their bellies, pregnant women now compete in a beauty contest dedicated to them—the winner receives the title of “Missed Period.” A modeling agency in Manhattan represents only pregnant women. Sri Lankan rap star M.I.A., nine months pregnant, begins having contractions while performing at the Grammys and no one, herself included, misses a beat. On the cover of popular magazines, celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes, and reality television stars such as “Snooki” (from Jersey Shore) and Kim Zolciak (The Real . . .

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