According to society, pregnancy is an important milestone a woman must experience. Women are expected to find a prince charming like the Disney princess films promised them. Finding their prince charming, getting pregnant, and making a family is the sole purpose taught to them by ideologies linked back to their ancestors.
When we think about the ’70s, many think about the Rock & Roll era. While great bands like KISS, Led Zeppelin, and other successful males were swimming in riches, women all across the US had to sacrifice their jobs to procreate.
Before the late ’70s, there were no laws in place protecting pregnant women in the workforce. Beyond pregnancy, women were constantly faced with prejudice in the workforce, especially if the workplace was predominantly filled with men.
In addition to not having a uniformed healthcare system, the US is one of 8 countries in the world that doesn’t provide maternity leave to employees.
Throughout a long history of female discrimination in the workplace, the biggest hardship women constantly faced was having to choose between their job or have a child.
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren became incredibly vocal when it comes to parenthood, in particular, motherhood and child-care. At the beginning of her political campaign, she shared a personal story of when she was a teacher in the ’70s.
Like most pregnant individuals in the ‘70’s, she struggled at her workplace during her pregnancy, leading to her dismissal the following school year. During this time, many pregnant schoolteachers were forced to unpaid maternity leave. The reasoning school districts gave was that it was dangerous for both the fetus/mother and that school child wouldn’t fully concentrate on their studies, as the teacher’s belly could be a distraction.
In addition to mandatory unpaid leaves, women found themselves uninsured and unable to claim disability due to pregnancy.
In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, making it illegal to discriminate/ fire an individual solely due to gestation. PDA became the start of a series of protections that came for families such as the 1984 Family Employment Security Act, 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act and the most recent, paid parental leave for federal employees.
In modern times, it’s a camaraderie to see pregnant women working throughout their full term. Though legally, pregnant women and their partners have federal protections, being a pregnant woman in American society is still a challenge. As technology has reshaped the way we function as a society, our image has become the most relevant it’s ever been.
As social media usage increases, societal standards are changing at an alarming rate; some for the best, some for the worst. Celebrities are practically the rulers of the social media world, making their appearance an icon for a gullible audience.
It isn’t rare to encounter a celebrity that is expecting a bundle of joy. What is rare is to see the aftermath of pregnancy, since most celebrities get surgeries after giving birth to preserve their bodies/ image. Essentially, this gives off the fake illusion of how one’s body should be after giving birth.
Social media influences always explain the beauty and ugly of pregnancy but after giving birth, they tend to have the same bodies as they did pre-pregnancy. In reality, many of the times, a woman’s body will never be the same it was pre-pregnancy.
Pregnancy brings many changes in a female’s life, especially their bodies. As the female body is preparing to bear a child: her body shape changes, her breast change for milk production and hormonal change is constantly happening, making her an emotional mess.
More and more, we are seeing women rights activist writing articles and posting imagery in the hope to normalize the idea of pregnancy and post-partum. Motherhood brings a whole wave of new experiences and challenges that are beyond the physical body. Commonly known as the “Baby Blues,” postpartum depression is more common than you think. Affect 1 in 8 women, it’s a topic that not until recently, was talked about.
Though we as an American society are constantly reshaping our ideologies and standards, women’s rights are still an issue we struggle with. Time and time again, women have come together to fight for their rights, in the hope of one day reaching equality.
Gao, George, and Gretchen Livingston. “Working While Pregnant Is Much More Common than It Used to Be.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 31 Mar. 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/31/working-while-pregnant-is-much-more-common-than-it-used-to-be/.
Alaimo, Opinion by Kara. “Elizabeth Warren's Pregnancy Story Is One Too Many Women Already Know.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Oct. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/09/opinions/elizabeth-warren-pregnancy-discrimination-womens-stories-alaimo/index.html.
Bulger, Adam. “The State of Paternity Leave in America.” Fatherly, 10 May 2019, https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/paternity-leave-laws-state-us/.
Carr, Opinion by Jane Greenway. “Your Pregnancy Discrimination Stories Prove There Are No Easy Answers.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Oct. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/19/opinions/elizabeth-warren-pregnancy-discrimination-reader-response-carr/index.html.
“Family and Medical Leave Act.” Family and Medical Leave Act - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/.
“Know Your Rights at Work: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).” AAUW, https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/pregnancy-discrimination-act/.
Linskey, Annie. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren Reiterates She Was Fired from a Teaching Job Because She Was Pregnant.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Oct. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sen-elizabeth-warren-reiterates-she-was-fired-from-a-teaching-job-because-she-was-pregnant/2019/10/08/dad7ff48-e9ee-11e9-9306-47cb0324fd44_story.html.
“The US and the High Cost of Child Care: 2018.” Child Care Aware of America, https://usa.childcareaware.org/advocacy-public-policy/resources/research/costofcare/.