A year ago, I could have read a variety of opinions on pregnancy and dismissed them as a) just jerks or b) valid, if somewhat stupid. But it took reading a variety of comments on a maternity leave blog post to make me realize that some people really do believe that pregnant women are lazy liars who lie and act like special snowflakes.
The world definitely feels divided into two camps: those who worship pregnancy and act like it's the be-all-end-all of a woman's life; and those who think that pregnancy is the least important thing the world and that pregnant women are just lazy, excuse-makers.
News flash: neither one of these opinions are very good.
I read a lot of articles about women in business. Like, a lot. Last week, I read an interview with a woman (who'd been the CEO of a major company) who admitted to believing women who were pregnant or mothers were lazier than other employees.
No dancing around it--that's what she believed. She routinely scheduled last minute meetings at 4:30pm and wondered why female employees with children always said they couldn't make them (were they lazy? Definitely, she believed). She hated that they left at 5pm on the dot. She hated that they didn't go to after work drinks or make the attempt to socialize. She resented them. In an interview once, she didn't stand up for a female interviewee as her male coworker berated the interviewee for having children. She turned down a collaboration with Time magazine because her contact with them had "too many photos" of her kids in her cubicle so she assumed the contact at Time would be flaky. Yeah, she assumed a high-powered exec at Time freaking magazine would be flaky because she had too many pictures of her kids. We won't even get into how she treated pregnant employees: while it is illegal to fire pregnant women, she made it clear she wished she could have.
This all changed when, surprise, she herself had a child later in life. She realized that mothers couldn't make 4:30pm meetings because they had to pick up their kids from daycare; she realized that was the same reason they were "lazy" and never stayed past 5pm or met up with coworkers for drinkers. She also realized that while they left at 5pm on the dot, they also showed up at 7:30 or 8:00 (about two or three hours before she showed up for the day) and had been working consistently while she enjoyed a workout and coffee. She realized she'd held a lot of really stupid opinions about women and mothers.
This isn't a topic I really thought about before I got pregnant. I genuinely didn't pay attention to what happened to women with children. I casually avoided those articles about "leaning in" and "having it all." It just wasn't an interest of mine.
But in the last month, I've found myself thinking more and more about it. I can't brush off negative opinions about pregnant women or mothers anymore because I realize more and more this is how people may begin to see me.
While reading another article on maternity leave, there were comments that talked about how some people find pregnancy "creepy" or "gross" (ok, fair enough, it's kind of weird). There were also comments that talked about the selfishness and laziness of pregnant women. While I hoped these comments would be singular, I was surprised to see tons of people replying in agreement: that, yes, pregnant women and mothers are obviously lazy and think they are special.
I always wonder if people like that are projecting. Are they themselves bad at their jobs? Do they wish they could be lazy? Do they want to be the center of attention? Who knows. All I know is: they got on the internet and decided to say pregnant women are lazy and tons of people agreed.
This made me ask: do people totally think I'm being lazy?
There seems to be the common thought that women who are pregnant (or mothers) just need to "buck up and get to work" and not complain. The fact is, that probably won't be able to happen. Every pregnancy is different, but depending on the individual they might not be physically able to "buck u[ and get to work." If someone is throwing up until 11am everyday, they won't be able to go to work until then. If someone is so tired they fall asleep at 6pm everyday, they probably aren't going to be able to work past 4 or 5pm. Despite what many people think, growing a human being is pretty tiring.
That doesn't mean pregnant women should get whatever they want. That certainly isn't the case. I still drag myself to work--even when I feel pukey or tired or whatever--and try my hardest to get my work done. However, there are days when I say screw it and take a few hours break or work from home or whatever. That's just the way it is. C'est la vie. Does that make me lazy? Maybe. Could I totally work through it? Probably. But would I be miserable? Yeah.
Maybe that all makes me lazy--and maybe people will judge me for it--but at the end of the day, I think we can all agree: anyone who judges women on their pregnancy or their position as a mother is probably a huge jerk.