Beyonce and Pressures of Fertility

11 Oct

Beyonce announced her pregnancy just a month or two ago, and there was just a flutter of excitement for the first big-time Hip-Hop baby. And, then, yesterday, Beyonce’s prosthetic baby bump collapsed on HD TV and everyone is questioning her, and her fertility. People are making allegations that she is faking her pregnancy, that she is having a surrogate mother carry a child that she will then “pretend” to be hers. Most of all people are calling for an explanation and “proof” that she is pregnant: one celebrity columnist said, “She better pull a Demi or Britney and show off her bump on a magazine cover!”

First, NO. Beyonce does not have to prove anything about her sexuality, her fertility, or her reproductive choices to absolutely anyone. She can represent and do whatever she wants with her body, which includes her uterus and her baby bump. Second, this shouty response to Beyonce having a prosthetic baby bump illustrates the extreme pressure valuing fertility puts on us. We often talk about the social pressures and stigma of not carrying a pregnancy to term here, and this instance illustrates another example of one of the reason why that stigma exists: America is fertility obsessed, and we have high standards for what ‘good’ fertility looks like.

Pregnancy can be vomitey, swollen, uncomfortable and hard. Birth is bloody, smelly and awesome in all of its meanings. But connecting uncomfortable, bloody imagery with highly valued soft little babies and their beautiful Mamas horrifies people; so, we demand that pregnant women (especially ones in the spot light) clean up, and be perfect. Most likely Beyonce’s bump is smaller or of a different shape or position than the image society has of a perfectly protruding oval, and the bump is there because she feels like she has to be perfectly pregnant. If that is not reason, I can assure you that, beyond being none of our business, whatever the reason is for her prosthetic baby bump (miscarriage, surrogacy, infertility etc.) it is high social pressures on fertility that is causing her to wear it.

I am choosing to BELIEVE HER that she is pregnant because I TRUST WOMEN, but I also check myself because I know I project my own values of pregnancy-image and fertility onto her. Do you want to be a true Beyonce fan too? Yes? Then:

  • Do not judge her for what is happening–respect her and her reproductive and parenting choices.
  • Repeat: I will love her equally with or without children
  • Repeat: I will love her and her adopted, surrogate, invitro child the same amount that I would love her and her child that is a product of a “naturally” fertilized and implanted egg.
  • Repeat: I will love her if she has a miscarage or an abortion.
  • Repeat: I will love her and her if her baby is in anyway malformed.

Check yourself when you are disappointed that she is not being your ideal super-star, super-feminist, super-mom–she’s human.

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