Question of the Day: No. 522

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Hello everyone! Today I have a question for the ladies. Although I realise it could be turned on its head and directed at the boys. A kind of penis envy for my womb envy type thing. 

Anyway, I was curious if you had ever considered the possibility that men are envious of women’s ability to give life? And how miraculous that is?

I remember feeling envious of my wife when she was pregnant. I thought it was incredible. Part of me felt sad I’d never be able to experience that. But then I watched her endure 3 days of labour and thought, “I’ll stick with my penis thanks.”

Jokes aside, here’s my more serious question: Would you give up your ability to give life for a level playing field in the workplace? If so, why? If not, why not? 

Of course we can argue that you shouldn’t have to, but the hard reality is womenkind will always be at a disadvantage in the workplace so long as this biological difference exists. And I ask this question because technology might change that, where we use artificial wombs to gestate babies instead. (Something known as Ectogenesis.)

This should be a good thing used to help premature babies survive, and it could well prove to be a great equaliser in the workplace, however, if men in power decide that women can’t be trusted to gestate their own children… the thought sends shivers down my spine. It’s also worth noting that for women in some of the most misogynistic societies, it is their very ability to harbour life that offers them protection.

At any rate, I sincerely believe we all need to think hard about the implications and implementations of such technologies in the future. Of course they’re coming whether we want them to or not, which is why I thought it might be a conversation worth having.  

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

PS: Happy Mother’s Day for this Sunday! All mums are heroines in my eyes. 🙏


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50 thoughts on “Question of the Day: No. 522

  1. I dont know. Somedays I would give anything to be a man. Others, I’m way too proud of being a woman. I feel the woman pride more and more too. Giving birth is extremely powerful and theres nothing else quite like it.

    1. It’s a tough question for sure. Maybe an impossible one. Would I give up being a man to experience giving life? I don’t know if I can honestly say yes but I’m extremely curious. My wife rates pregnancy as one of the most magical times in her life. Then again I felt the same way. I certainly don’t have any wish to experience labour though! Thank you for lending your thoughts. 🙏

  2. I had a man tell me once that he envied women because they experience motherhood, which he sees as very emotionally fulfilling to the mother. I tried to comfort him by telling him fatherhood is just as important, but he still felt this way.

    1. I believe fatherhood is very emotionally fulfilling. There’s an element of feeling like the baby only wants mummy initially, but I already feel like I have a very close bond with my 4 month old. My eldest was no different. I think the hard part from a father’s perspective (in many cases) is that they have to rush back to work so soon. That they don’t have the opportunity to bond as much. That’s one downside for men regarding the expectation they should be the breadwinner. This pandemic has been a blessing for me in that regard. I’ve had so much time with my children while they are so young. Thank you for leaving a comment Ang 🙏

      1. I believe his mentality had a touch of sexism because he was saying that for a woman, having a baby was “fulfilling our life’s purpose.” He said having a baby all we had to do to be happy. Where as for men, he thought being happy was much more complicated. I fully disagreed, but let him have his opinion.

      2. Yes I fully disagree with that too. Women are twice as likely to develop depression. The whole process of child-bearing is extremely demanding on the body. Being happy is complicated for all people. I suspect his very belief here is what was preventing him from being so. Thanks Ang 🙏

  3. Hi there. I would choose the ability to give life over workforce equality if I had to make the choice. Just as a comment, the real issue with equality in the workplace is not the nine months that you are carrying, it is the joint sharing of labor after the birthing process starts that includes both parents. I would argue that parenting can include either sex and the decisions in each household for child care may be based on who is better served to provide childcare – Mom or Dad? Or even a childcare service? This decision might be based on whose salary is more expendable if that is what is needed. This doesn’t automatically fall to the Mom. Though in many cases in reality things do fall to the Mom. Just saying the care of the child over time is the real question in terms of gender equality not necessarily the 9 months of carrying the child – in my humble opinion.

    1. I completely agree that parenting can/ should include both sexes. No argument here. We need to empower men at home as much as we need to empower women in the workplace. I tend to think childcare should fall to both the father and the mother. Not one or the other. Of course someone has to bring home the bacon and that will be a decision for each couple to make depending on their unique circumstances. Still I believe that pregnancy is a major factor. It puts women at a significant physical disadvantage. As a pilot if you’re pregnant you’re not allowed to fly. I’m sure many other labour intensive jobs are the same. And of course if you believe in having your baby exclusively breast fed then mother’s remain more constrained. Of course women can pump etc. But having done this at home, having bottle fed to help my wife out with her work, this wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. It still takes a lot of effort and time to pump. Historically I believe all of the above have led to divisions of labour that over time led to the institutionalised gender inequality we see today. Of course, it’s complicated. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

  4. From a childless female perspective, giving birth has never been a priority… for various reasons that would require an entire article. However, workforce parity wasn’t really an issue by the time I was 30. Now that I’m old enough that it’s likely just an academic consideration anyway, it’s interesting to be able to experience first-hand how much is hormonally-driven.

    That’s not to say that everyone has the same experience, only that it’s not a universal priority for all women to exchange various aspects of lifestyle for what’s required of child-bearing… which is far more than simply giving birth. My personal feeling is also that what creates a “human being” is not merely some fluke of genetics, but what we choose to instill in our offspring… whether or not they share our genetic material. That’s the nature of “family”.

    As for the penis envy… not a chance. Looks like another evolutionary disaster to me. I’m perfectly fine with my husband having to deal with managing the boy parts.

    1. I appreciate its not a priority/desire for all women to have children and certainly in the more equitable parts of the world the question of workplace inequality is less of a concern. I guess the question was aimed more at mothers/would be mothers.

      I think your point about child-bearing being much more than giving birth is spot on. I agree. The family values we instil in our children are so important.

      Thank v! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts. 🙏

  5. Probably yes. I at one point considered myself childless not by choice. Then I realized that the main reason I wanted to have children someday, had more to do with societal pressures than anything else. Now I’m happily childfree and would never want to be pregnant. That being said, I won’t likely ever experience workplace inequality, simply because I’m unemployable due to being multiply-disabled and will likely remain unemployable for the rest of my life.

    1. Hi Astrid. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad to hear you figured out what it is you want regarding children. I think many people fall victim to going through the motions without stopping to ask themselves if this is what they really want. A very very important question when it comes to having children. Wishing you well 🙏

  6. If I could carry a pregnancy further than a month I’d probably be able to weigh in to the argument better. All I can say is I’ve never realized that guys might be jealous of women getting to experience motherhood.

    1. Sorry to hear about your difficulties with pregnancy Malia. Yes I believe some guys may feel a little bit of jealousy. I think, if they’re brave enough to admit it. Not for labour perhaps but the early bonding phase with an infant. Also I think many men feel inadequate when it comes to children. Perhaps a product of societal expectations. “The man shouldn’t be at home looking after the kids, etc.” It works in reverse. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  7. If I had the ability to give life I would absolutely not give that up for equality in the workplace. For the simple reason that if hell came to Highwater I could always work for myself. If workplaces do not want to treat me equally then I have other options. But giving life seems irreplaceable.

    1. I think this is a great answer/attitude to have. I believe that women gain more than they lose by bearing children, including the right to choose whether to be a parent at all. Thank you for lending your thoughts 🙏

  8. Hello hello, such an interesting question this one! No, I would not give up my ability to get equality in exchange because in this scenario woman is giving up something to get something and that is not equality. Not when men make no sacrifice to get something.

    1. Well put – although I would say the technology SHOULD give women the choice. They could still have a baby conventionally or they could choose, if they want, to use ectogenesis – and stay at work. It’s interesting that it’s predominately men working on this technology though. Whatever happens I believe women need to be heavily involved in the laws surrounding the implementation of such technology going forward. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

  9. I cant have kids. I always kind of resented people with kids at work because they were allowed flex time or work from home. I didnt find that fair. I was also the one who had to always stay late if anything needed to be done too.

    1. I understand your feelings. Having kids is choice for those who can of course. But having had children myself I can tell you that maternity/paternity “leave” is not leave. It’s hard work. I often laugh and say I go back to work for a break. Also, I would say it’s the companies/laws that dictate paternity/maternity leave not the individuals themselves. Here in Hong Kong I got 5 days as a man which was woefully inadequate but those are the laws/the company I signed up with. The problem with such a law is that it tells women they should be at home while men should be at work. It’s archaic. Ultimately we need a next generation and someone has to raise them. If companies don’t allow for that people will stop having children because it’s simply impossible to juggle a full time career at the same time. This is already happening in many societies because of modern demands. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Wendy 🙏

      1. I never said it wasn’t hard work. I knew my comment was a mistake as soon as I typed it.

      2. Hi Wendy. Allow me to apologise. I never meant to imply that’s what you said. I understand you didn’t. I was merely trying to explain it from my side. I was also trying to say I understand your sentiments which are more than legitimate. The last thing I want is for you to feel you can’t/shouldn’t voice your thoughts/feelings. I wish you well 🙏

  10. Great pic! I have the utmost respect for women enduring the physical ordeal of childbirth. The worst pain I’ve ever had was kidney stones, and was told by a woman who also had them that childbirth was more excruciating. I suspect if men were capable of giving birth ZPG would rapidly become a reality 😊. Sure thankful I have male plumbing.

    1. After watching my wife go through 3 days of labour I learnt then and there who the stronger sex really is! I’m with you. Thanks Fred D. Wishing you well 🙏

  11. What a neat question. But ultimately, regardless of whether or not women CHOOSE to procreate, they are still treated as though the potential is there and discrimination continues. So the choice question really isn’t a choice.

    And, I would postulate that ALL men have womb envy, which is the precise reason they must fight wars, rape and pillage, yadda yadda. It’s the way of humanity.

    Some comedian once said if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. I believe it.

    1. The question is hypothetical of course. My thoughts are that yes discrimination will continue long after such technologies arrive. It’s also possible that such technology makes things worse for women not better. I’m not sure about the link between men having womb envy being the precise reason for fighting wars. I think that’s a stretch too far. Interesting idea though. The human ego and the denial of death is my simplified theory regarding wars and wanton destruction. As for rape, I couldn’t tell you why except that some men harbour a deep hatred of women. I suspect for many rapist it’s a product of how they were raised – being rejected by their mother/parents – but I really don’t know. That’s more of a guess. I suspect rejection has a big part to play though. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

  12. Although giving birth is not one of my priorities, I’d never give up that ability.

    First of all, just the idea of giving up something to have another is utterly mortifying. Besides it would feel like when they say that a woman is unable to do as good as a man, they were actually right. That would hurt my pride, really…

    Secondly, I think fatherhood is as important and men should have the time to spend with their children, take care of them and so on. Maybe they don’t need 9 months of pregnancy but they do need to have them back somehow. If a baby is born, hopefully both parents wanted them, so I cannot accept that one of them have to give up their career: try to split the time as well!

    As marriage is a compromise, having a baby is part of that compromise. Both parties must fulfil their obligations. Both must be parents. Both may sacrifice something. Both may get something. Both! If not I may as well rise my children by my self…

    When it comes to work, I think that if you collaborate with your partner, and pretend only what is it right to be pretended from their part, things would work out. Either way, chiefs and employers are human’s as well.

    1. I sincerely hope such technologies aren’t used for the wrong reasons – to deny women the right to do what they want with their bodies. It’s possible this technology could make things more equal in the work place because it removes the need to carry and then birth a child. Although someone will still have to feed and carry the infant from birth. It might become a choice for women, where they get to choose ectogenesis or conventional pregnancy. Or it could end up being an “only for the rich situation” where it serves to deepen divides between class and/or race. It’s hard to say exactly how it will pan out. I agree that fathers are just as important. They should, in my eyes, have equal opportunity to spend as much time with their children after birth as the mother. It should be an option where the couple can decided who uses how much paternity/maternity leave depending on their unique career situations. A marriage is most definitely a compromise. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Mara. Wishing you well 🙏

      1. I’m really fond of technology. But as with everything else, there can be good and bad aspects. It depends on how it is perceived…
        Thanks to you for this beautiful exchange of ideas.
        Warm wishes! 💞

  13. As a transgender woman, I know plenty of other trans women who consider bearing a child as the ultimate feminine experience. Even though I don’t share totally in thinking that, I still have the deep feelings Motherhood would give me if possible. So yes, I would welcome the experience of giving life.

    1. Hi Cyrsti. I suspect it would be an extraordinary experience as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts once again 🙏

  14. Would you give up your ability to give life for a level playing field in the workplace? YES! Motherhood fulfills many parts of my life, and work is not forever. Eventually, you will have to stop working anyway, so, I choose the more lasting thing.

    1. Well said. If I had to choose I think I would take motherhood as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙏

  15. I believe the status quo proves there is envy. Just consider how many women face violence against men compared to the opposite, how many women “disappear”. Did you know one million women “disappear” or are burnt/murdered annually in India alone?

    1. That’s very sad. I didn’t know that statistic although I’m aware the situation for women in India is particularly dire. While misogyny exists for many reasons, I’ve no doubt that envy has much to do about it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Wishing you well 🙏

  16. Personally, as a woman without Children (and with very few thoughts of ever having children), I’d definitely consider giving up the ability to give birth to have the same opportunities to better myself/be taken seriously etc as a woman. 100%.

    Very interesting topic and peoples views are equally as interesting!

    1. I don’t envy labour so much as the experience of harbouring life. To me that’s always looked like something special. But is labour worth the cost? After what I saw my wife go through I don’t think so. Still she was keen to have a second so what do I know? Thanks for adding your thoughts 🙏

      1. Yeah well, I don’t know the feeling either, cause I don’t have children but it sure is a big gift so that’s why women are ready to experience pregnancy and labour again! My mother also always said it’s worth it even she didn’t ever plan to make children. My father wanted children and so she made two and she have said to me the pregnancy time have been the happiest time for her. She always sais how happy she is she made two children. It is certainly nice to follow the development of children and reconnect yourself to the fun world of children. I will never get to experience this.

  17. I used to wish i was a boy because growing up, my brothers had more freedom than me and my sisters. But i feel like being a man is as hard as being a woman, but in different ways. Like men have to act tough all the time and are taught to swallow their emotions. There is more competition among men than there is among women. I’m not a competitive person and I’m very shy. I also have social anxiety. So being who I am as a person. If I were a man, I’d probably end up being bullied.

  18. Such an interesting question to consider!! For much of my adult life, I thought I didn’t want to give birth EVER because it sounds so terrifying… But now I look forward to the day I get to experience pregnancy; and I guess I’ll have to give birth, too, but 9 months of joy vs. a few hours (or days) of discomfort seem like the good outweighs the bad.

    Now that I am at this point in my life, I would NEVER consider giving up my ability to have a baby in exchange for a level playing field in the workplace. It’s true that men and women are biologically, chemically, hormonally different, for better or for worse (in the workplace and in every aspect of our lives) — but I think that being able to carry a child is such a gift.

    As for the possibility of a future where women no longer have to bear children because a machine can grow a baby, this idea makes me a little sad and here’s why: recently, my cousin and his wife had a baby. Both of the parents are musicians/music teachers/big time-music LOVERS. While my cousin-in-law was pregnant, both parents connected with the child and played music for him, whether live or recorded… The baby is currently only 7 months old, but he LOVES music! When my cousin plays guitar for his son, and stops — the baby cries! I love that!

    Whether it’s music or any other form of interest the parents have, they start to share it with the baby even as early as when the baby is forming in the womb, and giving THAT up is a whole other subject we could talk about for days!

    1. I’ve wondered about that as well. With both my children I also sang/talked to them while my wife was pregnant. They both responded to my voice before and right after they were born.

      The good side of that technology is that it should save many premature babies who would otherwise die. I can see both pros and cons.

      As for carrying/giving birth, I believe it is both a burden and a gift. I can see/understand both sides of the argument. Its interesting to read the responses. Seems fairly split. Very much a matter of preference regarding whether one actually wants to have children or not.

      Regardless I think we need to be careful with the implementation of this technology. When we try to play God things tend to backfire. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏

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