Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sarky Book Review

More a sort of book-mocking.

One of the many informational books I've been hoarding in case of pregnancy is Your Pregnancy Week by Week. The cool part of this book is that it has a sketch for each week to show how the baby is developing, and how big it is, and so forth. I do like it for that reason.

However, in overall tone it is extremely condescending, to which I'll return in a moment. It' s also a bit scary, as each week's chapter contains a list of every possible thing that could go wrong with your pregnancy. It's also a bit impractical in odd ways (do you really want to find out only near the end of the first trimester that electric blankets might mutate your baby [especially if used in the first trimester]?)

But back to that condescending thing. It's to the point where it's kind of funny. "Make sure you eat healthy foods!" "You might be able to get a 'picture' of your baby, called a sonogram..." "Wash your hands frequently throughout the day!" "Don't use recreational drugs!" Well, duh.

It treats mothers-to-be as though we are all careening stupidly on the knife edge of disaster but for this kindly intervention that is for your own good.

"You can't just eat anything you want." Puh-lease. You just try and stop me, Mr. Paper Doctor. I can and I shall eat anything I want--which is probably not that terrible to begin with, anyway. And I resent your patriarchal assumption that only you stand nobly between me and the monstrous results of my out-of-control wishes!

There's a particular phenomenon (that I have discussed in my Psych of Women classes) in which society tends to infantilize pregnant women, as though we aren't carrying infants, but becoming infants. (Despite the fact that pregnancy has been shown to actually increase IQ by a couple points. --Yes, ha ha, I'm still waiting.) This book definitely expresses that societal attitude.

However, the effect is not restricted to the mums-to-be. In the authors' view, dads are apparently not only equally as stupid as mums, but are uncaring clods as well. There are one or two little paragraph-length text boxes in each chapter ("Dad Tip!") since clearly men can't be expected to read an entire book (because you're illiterate, on top of all that?)

Dad tip: "Give your partner a lot of hugs." "Bring home flowers..." "Clean or vacuum the house without being asked." "...Change the litter box..." (This tip is in week 8, so the pregnant partner has already been handling dangerous cat feces for two months and it likely killed the baby, you illiterate uncaring clod.) "Remember to call her if you go out of town." "Pregnancy is a miracle despite headaches, morning sickness, and changing waistline." (Despite changing waistline?!)

We started making up our own helpful tips for Dad in the same vein: "Try not to make fun of your partner for being fat, as often as you usually do." "Wait until she's done throwing up in the morning to tell her to make your breakfast." "Don't get drunk at home so much--go out to the pub." "Try not to be a complete ass, at least not all the time."

Another humorous thing about the book is that each week it compares the baby's size to a food item: "Your baby is about the size of a pinto bean," "...a green olive," "...a peach," "...a lime." Which is a little disturbing. I'm not growing it to harvest and eat!

Of course we had to start making up our own comparisons. "Your baby is about the size of a 1-pound box of expensive chocolates with gold wrapping." "Your baby is about the size of a succulent filet mignon, served medium-rare with sauteed mushrooms and onions."

So all in all, an entertaining read, especially if one is a smartass.

No comments: