Is This One Example When Mansplaining to a Pregnant Woman Is OK?

Sabrina Rojas Weiss
·4 mins read

Though mansplaining doesn’t rank as the absolute worst thing that men do to women, in the grand scheme of misogyny, we have to say that mansplaining to pregnant women is a scourge of our modern existence. Then again, a man on Reddit just presented us with a scenario in which many wonder if every once in a while, it’s actually OK for a man to give a woman unsolicited information about her pregnancy.

“I’m a male midwife, and I have also contributed to research in women’s health and when I was a nurse I contributed to breast cancer research,” Suspicious-Ladder-76 wrote in the AITA subreddit. “I was eating with friends, and one of my friend’s friend is pregnant. And she was talking about how she didn’t want to have sex with her husband because she didn’t want to hurt the baby, which seemed convenient because she was also drinking alcohol.”

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Suspicious Ladder decided to set the woman straight about the fact that sex is fine when pregnant, while drinking alcohol is not.

“[S]he got angry at me and said that men don’t know anything about pregnancy and said she’s sick of know-it-all men who know nothing about women’s bodies,” he wrote, and she remained angry and left after he told her about his credentials.

We should point out here that there are some situations in which sex might harm the fetus, such as if the pregnant person has an incompetent cervix. There are also some medical experts who believe that drinking a small amount of alcohol occasionally is OK during pregnancy. Our midwife friend has failed to give us info on how much she was drinking or whether he ascertained more details about her actual health status.

“My friend said I didn’t need to shame her like that, but I doubled down and said maybe she should listen to people who know more about this subject than her,” Suspicious Ladder said, adding that he too left after that.

The post prompted a lengthy conversation about whether this is really a case of “mansplaining” — a word the midwife used himself but not necessarily a label the pregnant woman gave him.

“Mansplaining is when a man condescendingly explains something in an oversimplified way to a woman who knows the particular subject matter better than the man does,” PistolPetunia wrote. “OP is a midwife and therefore was not mansplaining. Now, if the pregnant woman was an OBGYN and he, as a midwife, had that same discussion with her, THAT would be mansplaining.”

Some readers wondered how much of the conversation went exactly as Suspicious Ladder described.

“[Original poster] came across as very condescending,” Puzzleheaded-Hurry26 wrote. “And she did not talk about her drinking habits, so the way OP kind of threw that in made it sound like, ‘I know more than you, and I’m going to prove it.’ If OP was really concerned about her drinking, he could have taken her aside privately. Instead he publicly shamed her to prove how smart he was. Lots of countries are more lenient than the US on guidelines for drinking during pregnancy, and OP may be a medical provider but he is not HER medical provider. He has no idea what she’s discussed with her doctor, how much she’s drinking, etc. I, too, would definitely be concerned if I saw a pregnant woman drinking. But the way he brought it up seemed designed to humiliate. It’s no wonder she got defensive.”

“Doubling down and making someone upset just because you have CrEdEnTiAls is rude and asshole behaviour,” MargeSimpson0518 said. “Yes, drinking while pregnant isn’t great. She knows that, but it’s her fucking life and her child she’ll be raising.”

One reader offered some helpful advice for the next time Suspicious Ladder decided to dole out helpful advice.

“In that spirit, some unsolicited advice from me to you is next time say, ‘I’m a midwife, if you want to hear some advice about that,'” SailorSpoon11 wrote. “That way she knows you’re not just some dude who read a Wikipedia article about pregnancy and watched Knocked Up. And she can say ‘no thank you’ if she doesn’t want to hear it.”

This is some wisdom every single one of us needs to take in, so thank you, SailorSpoon!

If you’re pregnant and actually looking for advice on shoes to wear, here are our picks for comfy sandals and shoes.

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