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feminist views of TTC?

(34 Posts)
RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Mon 27-Jun-16 22:30:53

Do you think there's a feminist issue around the way we talk about it? I was thinking about all the language (baby dust, babydancing and so on).

I'm noticing it because at the moment DP and I are TTC with donor sperm, and we go to a clinic where, obviously, a lot of the couples are straight couples who're having difficulties. The nurses refer to us (and presumably all the women) as 'girls', and although I would imagine they see a fair number of lesbian couples (and single women), all their paperwork is presuming you're a male/female couple, so it got me thinking about how men are expected to feel/think. It does feel as if there's an odd mixture of euphemisms that talk down to women.

ladyballs Mon 27-Jun-16 22:34:11

Absolutely. I don't have time to post properly right now but I went through fertility investigations and it was very gendered. There's a lot of gendered language too.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Mon 27-Jun-16 22:36:37

I'd be really interested to hear more when you've a minute, then! I wrote a crap OP because I have thoughts but not much coherence, so thank you for replying!

DetestableHerytike Mon 27-Jun-16 22:47:01

Mmm, "girls" and TTC would make me a bit shivery. Though get it's meant to be friendly.

DetestableHerytike Mon 27-Jun-16 22:48:36

And I also can't read "baby dancing" without humming "I don't dancing" by the Scissor Sisters in my head.

And now you can't either <helpful face>

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Mon 27-Jun-16 22:54:37

grin Thank you for that, detestable.

I get that it's meant to be friendly, too. But odd.

DetestableHerytike Mon 27-Jun-16 23:04:25

Yes, it's odd. But I suppose the alternative is ladies as women is often taken as rude...

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Mon 27-Jun-16 23:13:25

Well, they could use our names TBH! Or just not use anything - you rarely need to, actually.

I don't mind it much, but it makes me wonder whether other women generally like being 'girls' in this context. I mean, a lot of women who are worrying about it, clearly are wondering if their age is against them, and I would feel as if 'girl' reminded me I definitely wasn't one.

But I do also slightly wonder if some of the language is about making men feel terribly important and women feel slightly less so? A friend pointed out a lot of people (not at clinics!) start talking about sex in a really lads-banter kind of way.

I can see men must feel a bit strange, in that you have such a tiny role in the physical side of pregnancy, but there seems to be almost an anxiety about that.

DetestableHerytike Mon 27-Jun-16 23:27:52

Thrown into a situation with a bunch of other British people where the one thing you know about each other is that something in "that department" isn't straightforward.

A recipe for awkwardness all round.

Men's role tends to be more clear cut, I guess. Off to the room with the porn and a cup. Fewer internals, injections, scans etc, in the majority of cases.

DetestableHerytike Mon 27-Jun-16 23:29:05

Good point about the age thing; for many couples, it will have been a while of trying before reaching that point.

JessieMcJessie Mon 27-Jun-16 23:31:59

Baby dust and baby dancing are horrifically twee and not popular on the MN conception chat boards.

We had several rounds of IVF and not once did anyone at the clinic refer to me or address me as a girl. Perhaps you need to change clinics. Guy's in London were good.

Postchildrenpregranny Mon 27-Jun-16 23:35:07

What are 'baby dust'and 'baby dancing'?.Or should I just guess ?
I think I'd have been nonplussed if anyone used those terms to me

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 28-Jun-16 00:11:37

jessie - we could change, I suppose, but this place gets good results. I'd rather somewhere that will get us knocked up asap, rather anything else!

I was more just wondering how other people think about it all in terms of feminism.

Kerberos Tue 28-Jun-16 00:15:25

was it MN that renamed Baby Dancing to Shagging with Intent?

erinaceus Tue 28-Jun-16 03:18:56

You might be interested in Karen Throsby's work on feminism and infertility.

Karen is Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and tweets @thelongswim.

ChocChocPorridge Tue 28-Jun-16 06:17:57

Absolutely. I don't have time to post properly right now but I went through fertility investigations and it was very gendered. There's a lot of gendered language too.

But it has to be sexed doesn't it? There's no point investigating a male for pregnancy issues or a woman for sperm ones - why on earth obscure that.

On the other hand, the assumption that the partner is the opposite sex could easily be changed. Yes, it matters if you're male or female, but it doesn't matter if the non-pregnant-to-be partner is male or female apart from which services to offer.

meditrina Tue 28-Jun-16 07:17:42

MN doesn't seem to go I for the really bizarre terminology that surrounds TTC on other boards. I wonder if people self-select which websites they use?

Most of the time, other than formal speech, when "ladies and gentlemen" is traditional used as introductory/attention-getting phrase, there is simply no need to address people by sex.

If you need to specify men, which might happen around procedures where there are biological difference, it 's better to just call them "men" not "boys" or "gentlemen". That's unexceptional, isn't it? Ditto for women.

WellErrr Tue 28-Jun-16 07:29:51

I don't see the feminist issue here. Not saying there isn't one - I just don't see it.

I think something such as fertility should be gendered. The ever increasing notion that we can't call a woman a woman and a man a man etc is worrying.

Also baby dancing and baby dust are just awful and twee and not AT ALL used on mumsnet wink

HapShawl Tue 28-Jun-16 07:35:01

"Gendered" in this context may not be referring to male/female/trans but to stereotypes. Hopefully the PP will be able to elaborate when she has time

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 28-Jun-16 09:11:32

Thanks erin, that looks interesting.

choc - yes, terminology has to be sexed, but that's not to say it has to be gendered. You need to be able to refer to wombs and sperm and so on. You don't need to be calling women 'ladies' or 'girls'. There's no strong reason why language used largely by women is quite twee (and I have seen the twee language on MN, though I agree there's less of it here than other sites), whereas men seem to get the 'you must be shagging like rabbits, ho ho' kind of dialogue.

People talk a lot about how coy terminology for biological processes/body parts is not good for young children, but I think there's something a little odd in adult women referring to their 'auntie flo'. It's as if we're distancing ourselves from our bodies a little. I don't know if that's embarrassment, or part of a wider tendency in society to be patronising to women in the context of motherhood.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 28-Jun-16 09:12:12

Oh, sorry, reading back I probably should have addressed that to well.

WellErrr Tue 28-Jun-16 09:24:55

I think there's something a little odd in adult women referring to their 'auntie flo'. It's as if we're distancing ourselves from our bodies a little. I don't know if that's embarrassment, or part of a wider tendency in society to be patronising to women in the context of motherhood.

I just don't agree smile

We give many things in life nicknames. Sometimes it's just a friendly way to talk about stuff. I say 'willy' rather than 'penis' - I'm not being patronising to men, it's just colloquial speech.

I think the trend you are speaking of in a fertility setting is similar. It's an attempt at friendly colloquialism, which for many people will make the process seem less medicalised and scientific. I don't have a problem with being referred to as a girl - if I go out with my girlfriends I say I'm out with the girls. It's friendly.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 28-Jun-16 09:31:56

No reason you have to agree! smile

Not putting a gun to your head here.

I agree with you that it's intended to be friendly. But don't you think it's interesting that the men don't seem to be 'lads' or 'guys'. They are referred to either by name, or as 'sir'.

People seem to behave differently, too - if the waiting room is full of women, there are friendly smiles and a bit of chat, or women look worried if someone comes in looking sad. The men seem much more ill at ease. So you could be right they are suffering from being treated more formally and with less warmth, but I wonder if it's also related to the fact that infertility for men seems to come with a different stigma.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Tue 28-Jun-16 09:32:45

I do also find it striking that 'medicalised and scientific' is presented as a bad thing - given your average toothpaste advert is chock full of scientific witter, you'd think some people would be attracted to that.

WellErrr Tue 28-Jun-16 09:51:49

I think medicalised and scientific in a fertility setting CAN be very upsetting for some people.
People tend to take fertility for granted when they're young - it's just a natural thing you 'should' be able to do, and when things don't work out an overly medicalised setting can just reinforce people's feelings of 'failure.' This has been the feeling of friends I've known undergoing treatment.

I think there is more stigma attached to make infertility, but I also think that women are far more used to a) invasive medical procedures, and b) talking to other women about their health and bodies.

I don't think the clinic staff are doing anything wrong in trying to make the experience more personable and informal.

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