Nostalgie de la Butch
Elsewhere (173)

Zoe Just Knows

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams confidently declares,   

Miscarriage culture is, from a feminist perspective, an amplification of the shame involved in being female in the first place.

Setting aside the notion of there being an entire miscarriage culture, I don’t follow Zoe’s leap to “shame in being female” as the obvious emotion of the moment. Grief, yes, dashed hopes, yes, anxiety about future pregnancies, quite possibly. A reluctance to share private pain publicly with friends, relatives and workmates - and thereby reliving it - yes, that too. And of course there’s the profound awfulness of being congratulated on imminent parenthood by someone no longer in the loop, and their subsequent mortification as they’re brought up to speed. But shame in being female? Does that even make the list of nightmares? Are we living in the sixteenth century, in the court of Henry VIII?

Of the two miscarriages I’ve known about, neither involved, to my eye, any attempt to shame the bereaved would-be parents. Very much the opposite. Such that the avalanche of sympathy could itself be hard to bear. And both instances highlighted practical explanations for why pregnancies are often private matters for the first few months – a custom Zoe dismisses as “a cult of silence,” one that “clings on to an infantile squeamishness around the particulars of reproduction.” It is, I’d imagine, quite stressful to repeatedly explain this most intimate loss to friends and relatives who are expecting good news – and also explaining it to any existing small children, whose little brother or sister will not be arriving as promised.  

But in Zoe’s mind, enlightened as it is by feminism, these things are merely “an amplification of the shame involved in being female,” an “enraging thing,” one that’s “kept alive by everyone who goes anywhere near a pregnancy.”