[Note: This is the ninth chapter of my 2017 book, Cybertraps for Expecting Moms & Dads. It is available to paid subscribers of The Cybertraps Newsletter. The Introduction and Chapter One are available to all readers.]
In many ways, bearing a child is one of the least private things a woman can do. A point arrives in virtually every pregnancy when it is obvious to everyone who sees you, either in person or online, that you are expecting a child. Unfortunately, far too many people are unwilling to leave it at mere observation, as one first-time mother complained on the subreddit BabyBumps:
Never has my uterus or any part of the content of my pants been such a topic of general interest. I now realized I haven’t appreciated the lack of intrusive questions about things that are normally considered too much info. Maybe I love secrecy, but I have my personal reasons that I really do not wish to explain to every person that wants to invade my privacy. Maybe my sensitivity to these questions is too strong, but let’s try to turn this around: does anybody, ever, ask a man about the content of his pants, how his balls are doing, or ask when he will release something out of his genitals? No. Lucky bastards! I would like my uterus or the contents thereof to be a topic not open for discussion unless I open it. I don’t want people to feel entitled to touch my stomach like it’s content is public property. I almost I feel like I don’t own my body anymore, it is now also my family’s, SO family’s plus the entitled nosy people of society who are too many for this to just be random unexplainable impoliteness. [9.1]
Her post sparked a lively discussion, with dozens of other women chiming in about the types of invasive comments and unwanted touching they endured during the course of their pregnancy. One particularly poignant post underscored the difficulty of an early unplanned pregnancy:
As to the privacy thing… I can relate. Not as much NOW, but I got pregnant when I was still in high school. Talk about having your privacy invaded. Not only was everyone surely discussing me when I wasn’t around, but yeah I was being constantly touched and asked a bazillion questions. Ugh. [9.2]
The physical and verbal invasions of privacy that pregnant women experience are merely the tip of a vast data collection iceberg. As annoying as belly rubs and baby gender questions undoubtedly are (and I can only imagine how distasteful the unwelcome invasions of personal space must be), in reality they pale in comparison to the ongoing and deeply invasive corporate data collection and analysis that accompanies virtually every pregnancy.