One of my favourite blogs is spEak You’re bRanes, “dedicated to the dribble-spattered lunacy of BBC ‘Have Your Say’ discussions”. It’s splenetic, merciless and very, very funny in its dissections of the bigoted, ill-considered and illiterate bilge that gets posted under the guise of “discussion” on the BBC news website. To be fair, the Beeb has to take some responsibility for the low quality of debate, posting topics that attract copper-bottomed loonies like bees to honey… but I digress.
The site recently targeted this goldmine of imbecility: “Should pregnant women be given designated parlking spaces?”. And I was prepared to join in the pointing and laughing. But then I found myself… well, not exactly agreeing with the idiots, but certainly in the awkward situation of thinking “You’re clearly coming about it the wrong way, but you’ve accidentally stumbled on an interesting point” in relation to one post. The proposal under discussion – since rejected – was that heavily-pregnant women should be given the same parking rights as the disabled. That seems fair enough to me; perhaps not a huge legislative priority, but something small that could easily make the lives of a significant number of people just a little bit easier, and therefore something to be applauded.
But one contributor had offered this:
Another great idea of Britains namby pamby outlook on life.Pregnency is a wonderful thing in life,not a illness,people used to say only in America,thats changed to only in the U K,pathetic.
(The interesting grammar is in the original.) The response on SYB was this:
Wonderful’s right! It’s that beautiful kind of “pregnant glow” they get about them, isn’t it? I know it’s only sweat, but there’s still something magical there. So it stands to reason that they’ll only get more lovely the further you make them haul the shopping.
Now, while I agree that the phrasing of the original comment was perhaps a bit unfortunate, and the “namby pamby” comment is a bit strange, there’s something right about it. I’m thrilled that I’m never going to have to be pregnant – it looks to be waaaaay too much like hard work – but, still, pregnancy is not a disability, and there is something perhaps a bit odd about treating it as such. Pregnancy is not a problem to be solved; it’s just something that happens to almost half of the population, and could happen to a little over half of the population, in the course of their utterly normal lives. It’s no big deal. And so, while efforts to make the lives of the pregnant are utterly praiseworthy, there is a part of me that thinks that giving pregnancy a status even approaching that of a disability is not quite right, either. A condition doesn’t have to be a disability to merit a helping hand.