This essay will demonstrate how the pregnant body is both deeply personal whilst being subject to intense public scrutiny. The physical space that a pregnant body occupies in public, and the visibility of something that is deemed to be private, puts growing attention on the expectant mother. A sense of public responsibility for a future citizen (Luce, 1996) forces upon her unwanted opinions and expectations. For the purpose of this essay, the term ‘public’ is treated as interchangeable with the word ‘political’, because it is referring to the everyday politicisation of bodies that makes them public. (Jamie, 2020) For a more in-depth analysis, it will ignore the medicalisation of the pregnant body; the medical surveillance placed on women by midwives and other health professionals. Instead, it will focus on cultural scrutiny, in the form of prying relatives, acquaintances and strangers (Dwyer, 2006) feeling the right to place judgment on the pregnant woman. It will consider the patriarchal environment in which this right to ownership of the female body has been cultivated and worsened by the influence of the media. Drawing upon the routine sexualisation of women in the media, this essay will demonstrate the binary expectations of female sexuality. Within this narrow discourse, it will question the whereabouts of pregnant women. Why it is suddenly unacceptable and wrong for a pregnant body to be ‘sexy’, despite having been ‘sexed’ (Dwyer, 2006). How do pregnant women straddle this ‘Madonna-Whore Dichotomy’ and what implications does this have for the woman and her partner? It will also question this in the context of pornography. Lastly, there will be an examination of how some celebrities have shown both their maternal and sexual pregnant bodies, and in doing so have liberated themselves and other women from the binary categories that they could have fallen in to.
She lies compressed and naked in her hard casing. Through the blurred layer, her enemies stand taller. The distant buzz of voices leaves her chrysalis shaking.