Why Does This Beyonce Quote Rub Me the Wrong Way?*
I was reading the People magazine feed and clicked on a story about Beyonce. As always, I openly admit that I read People magazine like the Bible. How else am I supposed to keep my stranglehold on the zeitgeist?
Of course, I like a Beyonce song as much as the next girl, but the headline stated “Beyoncé Discusses Miscarriage & Slams Surrogacy Rumors” so my interest was doubly piqued.
What I thought the title meant was that a tabloid had started a rumour that she was once again expecting a child but this time it was via a surrogate. I didn’t know if she would say that the rumours weren’t true because she wasn’t ready yet to try again because Blue Ivy is only one (isn’t she one?) and they want more time alone with her. Or maybe they’re not ready to talk about their surrogacy journey but reporters are pushing her private life into the spotlight before she’s ready.
But that’s not what it was:
After going public with her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards, she soon faces rumors that she had used a gestational surrogate.
“A stupid rumor, the most ridiculous rumor I’ve ever had about me,” she says. “To think that I would be that vain …”
She continues, saying that giving birth is “the most powerful thing you can ever do in your life.”
Am I thrown off by the word “vain?” I don’t normally equate gestational surrogacy with vanity.
Is it because she has such a narrow view of family building? It’s only giving birth that makes a person powerful? Birth is such a finite event. Does it really determine a person’s worth? I would argue that parenting the child for 18 years regardless of how that child came into your life trumps a single day of squeezing out another human being (and I think that even if I’m generous and throw in the whole nine months too).
And then, beyond that, there are 3000 non-child-related ways to change the world. Isn’t changing a community, changing a town, changing the world just as much if not more powerful than gestating a baby? If parenting alone were enough, we would never strive to involve ourselves in activities outside the hearth and home. But we do. We get involved in our communities and schools and religious organizations. And sometimes we even take it wide scale.
And all of that does not demean the work of parenting if you happen to be parenting, but it explains why we’re never satisfied to simply do this one task and feel as if it’s enough, as if it the most powerful thing and all else pales before it. For what it’s worth, I think all of it — the paid work and the unpaid work that we do — enhances parenting. It’s the salt of parenting, what brings out the flavour.
I’m not trying to be down on Beyonce. She is certainly not the first person to speak about pregnancy and child birth in this way, and she certainly won’t be the last. But they weren’t what I expected to read when I clicked on the title.
* and why does “rub me the wrong way” make it sound as if she’s pushing up against me on a crowded Metro train to cop a feel?