The first time I was asked that question, I was probably 12 years old. I’d never been kissed (let alone anything else), was about 4’10, and weighed 100 pounds. The question had nothing to do with my behaviour, my health, or my physical appearance. It was asked simply because I like unusual food combinations.
I was asked again today, jokingly, by a stranger, for the same reasons. My lunch of a plate of kosher dills and fries was suspect, and the man who asked likely meant nothing by it. It’s one of those things, after all, that a lot of people joke about or make assumptions about without a second thought.
Last night, my partner joked that maybe the tests run on the ridiculous number of vials of blood taken this week would indicate a pregnancy. Knowing I would more than likely wake up with my period this morning, I could laugh with him this time, but memories of the terror that comes with the idea of me being pregnant were very close to the surface.
Then there was the time I had a condom failure the night before, and was sitting quietly in my office, debating whether to take Plan B. My co-worker threw me a pregnancy calculator wheel, joking, “Hey, maybe you can use this!” (I used to work in women’s reproductive health care policy. it’s not like she had a bunch of them for no reason.)
Yeah, the joke fell a little flat that time.
It falls flat a lot. When we choose to joke about something as personal as a woman’s fertility, we are insinuating ourselves into a part of her life where we are not likely welcome. We have no way of knowing her history with infertility, or whether she is actually pregnant right now, and not sure she wants to be (or KNOWS she doesn’t want to be, and is stuck waiting for her appointment to terminate). She could carry fat around her middle, and have been mistaken for pregnant repeatedly, having to respond, “Nope, just fat” to people for whom that information is none of their business.
It would never occur to most of us to ask casual acquaintances or even strangers when their last dental check-up was, if they’d had a recent prostate exam, or if they needed orthotics in their shoes. Why is it that our teeth, men’s butts and our feet warrant more privacy than the content (or lack thereof) of our uteri?
If there is a pregnancy and you have any right to that information, she will tell you. Otherwise? It might be wise to focus on accepting that some of us just like pickles.