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A male friend, married to a lovely women, comes up to me beaming and says, "We're pregnant!"

"Wow!" I reply, with inappropriate sarcasm. "When I was a young man, only women could get pregnant."

I've heard this phrase—"We're pregnant"—too much recently, but it's time to move beyond sarcasm. The intent is as understandable as the execution is absurd. It arises out of the noble desire of men (and future fathers) to participate fully in the childrearing. And I understand that for many men, it simply means, "My wife and I are expecting a baby."

But the first dictionary meaning of pregnant remains, "Carrying developing offspring within the body." Whenever a word is misused, it means the speaker is unaware of the word's meaning, or that the cultural meaning of a word is shifting, or that some ideology is demanding obeisance. Probably all three are in play, but it's the last reality that we should pay attention to. It is not an accident that this phrase, "We're pregnant," has arisen in a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women.

This phrase is most unfortunate after conception because it is an inadvertent co-opting of women by men—men using language to suggest that they share equally in the burdens and joys of pregnancy. Instead, pregnancy is one time women should flaunt their womanhood, and one time men should acknowledge the superiority of women. Men may be able to run the mile in less than four minutes and open stuck pickle jars with a twist of the wrist, but for all our physical prowess, we cannot carry new life within us and bring it into the world. To suggest that we do is a slap in the face of women.

It is also a slap in the face of our ...

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July 2007

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