Get Men Pregnant
Bridget Kendall: A reminder that you’re listening to the Forum from the BBC World Service. And now it’s time for our sixty second pitch to improve the world. It’s delivered this week by Kenyan activist Ory Orkolloh. You’ve got just one minute to win
over me, Bridget Kendall, and my other two guests, American novelist Audrey Niffinegger and Australian military historian Patrick Porter and of course you the BBC World Service audience. And so, Ory, take a deep breath. Your minute starts now. (Timer begins ticking.)
Ory Orkolloh: My sixty second pitch to change the world is men would have the ability to get pregnant for at least two to three years. I think this idea would be revolutionary not only because it would result in men having more empathy for the challenges that pregnant women face, but more importantly I think we would see a dramatic improvement in all kinds of areas, for instance, contraception. Forget about having to take a pill every month, I’m sure there would be like a once a year pill or something
dramatic like that. Umm, you know, for maternity leave, there’d be no more debate
about whether it should be extended or not. Your birthing room would be more like a spa than anything else. I think they’d revolutionize how your maternity wards are in
hospitals. The risk of dying as a child bearer, all sorts of things I think would change. I’d like it to be temporary, because I do find the ability for women (timer rings) to give life is very empowering. I’m a mother of two and I enjoy the process of being pregnant
and having children. But I think for some of the challenges we still face, it would change dramatically if men had the ability to get pregnant.
Bridget Kendall: Well thank you, Ory Orkolloh. There are big grins in the studio here. You say your idea would be revolutionary. I think it would be extraordinary, if it were able to happen! It’s a practical idea to share the burden of producing and caring for children. But it’s also about changing attitudes. Do you need to give birth to do that?
Ory Orkolloh: I think so. I mean, ya know, there are many men who are very
supportive and empathetic, but I still think it’s one of those things. Even as a woman who has never had a child before, until you actually go through the process to understand, ya know, the impact that it has on your body, the responsibility that you have even just to stay healthy when you’re pregnant. And if you’re trying just not to get pregnant, you know, how damn hard it still is to find sort of easy and affordable ways for contraception. So…
Bridget Kendall: So, make contraception a universal problem and it’ll get solved much quicker.
Ory Orkolloh: Absolutely.
Bridget Kendall: Let’s try this out on Patrick Porter. As you’re the only male around
The Forum table this week, (laughter) what do you think about having the chance to share in the experience of giving birth?
Patrick Porter: Well, I think it’s like a lot of things; I think it’s one of those rights I’d
like to have, but not exercise. (laughter) There’s an interesting point there about – it’s
not just about pregnancy and, ya know, equality, it’s also about a critique of the world as
it is - that things will only be solved if men are involved. I think a difficulty of that, one difficulty of that, possibly some people would say is that is bound to the issue of class. What if only rich men cared about rich men’s problems and poor men cared about poor men’s problems? Maybe it’s a step on the road, but I, umm, I wonder how it would work
out in practice.
Bridget Kendall: Alright, Audrey, let’s try this on you. What do you think?
Audrey Niffinegger: Well, one of the things I was wondering about was why you said “for two or three years.” Does that mean for two or three years of the history of the
world that men could get pregnant and then never again? Or every man, during his own lifetime, has two or three year window? Which would give new meaning to the idea of the biological clock. (laughter) Umm, but yeah, I’m imagining particular men that I
know being pregnant and just sitting here laughing my head off. Umm, yeah, I just don’t actually think too many men would actually exercise it, they’d just wait for the women to
come back and get around to it.
Bridget Kendall: You know, one final thought I had, Ory, is that it’s quite a tall order medically, of course, to think of giving men the equipment, the womb and so forth to get pregnant. What about a more modest research project? To find a way to enable them to lactate, so they could breast feed? I’m taking the idea from a feminist science fiction novel by Marge Piercy called Women on the Edge of Time, where she comes up with this
idea. What do you think, Ory?
Ory Orkolloh: Let me tell you, all babies would be on formula. (laughter)
Bridget Kendall: “All babies would be on formula.” Okay, well, thank you, Ory. It would be interesting to hear what you, the listener, would think of this. (Wraps up program.)
Homework Questions – Get Men Pregnant
1) What does Ory Orkolloh want to achieve in the world with her idea of getting men pregnant?
2) If Ory Orkolloh plan came true, would it create an improvement in the world? Why or why not?
3) When it comes to things like maternity leave, good prenatal care and the care of children; can the problems be solved without men’s involvement? Why or why not?
4) Do you agree with Patrick Porter that it’s really more about class inequality than gender inequality? Why or why not?
5) Pregnancy and pregnancy prevention is usual considered a bigger worry for females. In the United States during recent decades very strict laws have been passed forcing men to pay money for the care of the children they father, but do not live with. Do you agree with this approach? Would it work in China?
6) If men were the only ones able to get pregnant for a period of two or three years, would there be any children born in the world at that time?
7) Ory Orkolloh thinks that women’s ability to give life is very empowering. Does that
ring true for you?
8) Ory Orkolloh, a Kenyan, mentioned the affordability of contraception. In poor nations, this lack of affordability makes it very hard for people to control the size of their families. Can you think of a solution to this situation?
9) If husbands and wives had to do each others jobs for one year, in what way would their thinking about each other change after that year?
10) In the West, fathers are usually in the hospital room next to their wives or girlfriends while they are giving birth. This had only become common practice in the last forty years. Is there a cultural reason why this wouldn’t work in China or do you think it will become common here too?
11) What phrases or expressions were difficult to understand in the transcripts of the podcast?