WRONG! The answer is never.

[Trigger warning for mention of: rape, abortion, miscarriage, cancer, body image]

It’s unbelievable that I even have to tackle this topic but a surprisingly non-zero number of friends have told me they’ve had strangers come up to them and say things like “Oh, are you pregnant?!” or “When are you due?!” which I think I can safely extrapolate to the rest of American society. I have therefore compiled a list of things you should maybe think about before being this person:

-Oh look at the time, I really must be leaving…

Reasons not to ask a stranger (or acquaintance) if they are pregnant:

  • Is the person a stranger? MIND YOUR OWN GODDAMN BUSINESS!
  • Maybe they have struggled with anxiety, depression, cultural shame, or all of the above about their body shape or weight and don’t need one more asshole judging them. An alternate interpretation of this question is: “Are you pregnant or just FAT?”
  • She may indeed be pregnant but incredibly self-conscious[1] about the extra weight she has potentially gained as a result.
  • Maybe she has or has had a type of cancer or other illness or surgery that has made her unable to conceive or carry a child and she may or may not have really serious feels about that.
  • She may have been raped and mention of her sexuality or reproductive health has seriously triggering effects.
  • She may indeed be pregnant but the conception was a result of rape. Some studies state that rape results in an estimated 32,000 pregnancies in adult women each year.
  • Do you know definitively that she has been female sexed from birth? (Answer: Probably not if they are a stranger.) One very significant societal argument against trans* recognition is the fact that trans women are unable to naturally conceive or carry a child in-utero[2]. This can be very triggering indeed.
  • Do you even know definitively that the person is female sexed or female identified? (Answer: Again, probably not if they are a stranger.)
  • Perhaps she has had one or several miscarriages and the idea of pregnancy and the potential consequences, both physical and emotional, are seriously painful. It’s possible that some 31% of pregnancies result in spontaneous abortion after implantation in the uterus.
  • Perhaps she is pregnant but it is unplanned and/or unwanted and she is contemplating abortion. That is her right and she doesn’t need your social commentary on her body invading what could be a very easy or incredibly difficult decision for her.
  • There are also certain illnesses and metabolic conditions aside from childhood malnutrition (aka Kwashiorkor) that can give people swollen or distended abdomens. (Here, I Wikipedia’d it for you)
  • Maybe she is perfectly capable of conception but doesn’t ever want children and definitely doesn’t want you projecting a societal expectation of femininity onto her!

A planned or unplanned pregnancy can be both an exciting and terrifying prospect. Rest assured that if a friend of yours gets pregnant and WANTS you or other people to know about it they will ANNOUNCE THE FUCK OUT OF THAT SHIT. If some stranger at the mall is at a booth or is wearing a shirt saying “Ask me about my pregnancy!” feel free to go nuts! Otherwise keep your comments to yourself and respect other people’s right to a little bit of privacy in their lives.

PS: For the love of god, why are people not obtaining enthusiastic consent before touching or rubbing pregnant strangers? Or any pregnant woman for that matter? WHY DO I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THIS?!

[1] Linked to illustrate that some eating disorders during pregnancy are a result of societal pressure/media influence. The idea of a number being associated with “normal weight gain during pregnancy” (or anything for that matter) should not be taken as scientific truth.

[2] It is important to note that incredible scientific progress is being made in the techniques required to successfully transplant a viable womb capable of carrying a child to term! (apologies for the Comic Sans…) See also: First mother-daughter womb transplants performed in Sweden and Turkish woman pregnant after uterus transplant.

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