Many view pregnant women as special people who require special attention and who are always in need of assistance. It is common for people to give way for pregnant women to pass, help carry their groceries to the car and other helpful gestures. However, this also depends on age. In some cultures, young unmarried expectant ladies might be treated with contempt and avoided by some. According to Crawford, the reaction to pregnancy can be viwed in terms of benevolent and hostile sexism (Crawford, 2001, P. 277). The woman can either be pampered and be treated as special in the case of benevolent sexism, or, the woman can be discriminated against, like when making job applications.
These reactions might contribute greatly to a woman’s emotonal responses to pregnancy. The benevolent sexists might make a pregnant woman feel overwhelmed with the new status due to the expectations ‘placed’ on her. This special treatment might make the whole journey of childbirth seem bigger and more important, putting the woman at a loss and making her feel incapable of fullfilling this ‘huge’ responsibility. The hostile sexists might make women feel fulnerable due to their condition. The woman might fear attempting things that would expose her to such an embarrassment. Crawford states that these two reactions sustain social inequality and exposes the women to ‘an extra dose of sexuality’ since their condition is evident (P. 277).
The media representation of motherhood has been that of the able woman who can handle her pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing with ease, respect and a certain decorum that almost every other society expects of the pregnant woman. Crawford explains that the media representation of a mother as a superwoman, subtle in her ways, and with no sexual expression is false (p. 275). She further states that the Madona image of a mother who is successful in everyhting and balances career with being a wife and a mother; is not practical and put a lot of pressure on women.
When a woman is expectant, at some point they have to take time of work to have the baby and nurse. This affects her career as she has a lot of catching up to do once she resumes. Some women also choose to quit work and become stay-at-home mothers. Crawford explains that the impact on career is dependent on the mother’s social class. Middle class women mostly quit their jobs and rare their children while the low class women are forced to get jobs to be able to provide for their families (p. 278).
Crawford, M. 2011. Transformations: Women, Gender, and Psychology. MCGraw Hill.