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CNN discovers pregnancy fetishism, America says “ew”

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You'd think being super pregnant would be the one time in a woman's young life when she wouldn't have to deal with cat calls. Not so much.

When my friend was very pregnant last year, I remember her telling me she'd never been hit on more in her life. At first, I didn't believe it. But then noticed another weird phenomenon: I never got hit on more than when I was pushing around a baby carriage while working as a nanny. Both of my friend and I got a variation of the same line: "Is that my baby, baby? Can it be?"

At the time, I chalked it up to the fact that my friend and I were usually walking around the classy Oakland 'hood known as Ghost Town. But a recent article by CNN's Shanon Cook reveals creepy come-ons know no class boundaries. Cook recalls the first time she was hit on while pregnant. 

"I was in a grocery store checking out avocados when a man approached. He was probably in his early 40s, clean-shaven, dressed in a sharp gray suit.

"Congratulations!" he said, beaming. "How far along are you?"

"Oh, I'm due in three weeks," I replied…Ordinarily an exchange like this would wrap up at that point, especially since I'd found the perfect avocado and was ready to continue shopping. However, my curious new friend refused to budge…

My instincts told me there was more to it and when pregnant, your instincts are pretty darn noisy. There was something behind his charming smile, his lingering and the urgent look in his eyes.This dude thought I was hot."

We've all heard of the pregnant glow. Part of what the "glow" might be referring to is the heightened levels of estrogen in a pregnant woman. It's what makes her boobs bigger, among other things. It makes sense that more estrogen might attract attention.

But the general scientific consensus is that most attraction to women is actually based on her waist to hip ratio, which signals potential fertility. You know, for your potential baby. So evolutionarily, why would it make sense to be attracted to a woman whose womb is already occupied? Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine gives her highly scientific opinion to CNN's Cook. "When you're very pregnant there is this undeniable evidence you have had sex with a man," Brizendine says. "And that can be titillating. It's like wearing a billboard sign on your body: 'I! Had! Sex!'"

Of course, everything isn't about potential fertility. A friend of mine, who's a lesbian, admits she was attracted to a pregnant woman once. And it kind of freaked her out.

"I wouldn't call it a fetish," my friend says. "It's just that I'd have a crush on her anyway, and the pregnancy didn't get in the way of that. And all I could think was 'I'm either being creepy or progressive or both.'"

If you remain unconvinced by an abundance of anecdotal evidence, you can always turn to the great corroborator of weird fetishes: porn.

Cook goes on:

"An abundance of pregnancy porn online proves there's a contingent of the population with a desire for pregnant women that goes beyond mere curiosity. (We should remind ourselves that fetishes exist for all kinds of things — feet, ponytails, penguins; you name it). Brizendine says some of her patients do express an erotic interest in very pregnant females."

Of course, there's also the Oedipal angle. Being attracted to pregnant women is just one more way to be hot for mommy.

"A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2011 suggests there's a link between sexual attraction to pregnancy and exposure to pregnancy and lactation in early childhood. The study found that a preference for pregnant or breastfeeding women was more common in individuals who had younger siblings; exposure to a pregnant mother between 18 months and 5 years might leave an imprint that manifests in adulthood."

While I'm all for celebrating how beautiful and sexy pregnant women can be, I have to say my knee-jerk reaction here is to feel a little grossed out. It's not the fetish itself — watch whatever porn floats your boat. What bothers me is the idea that there's literally no time in your life when you're not susceptible to being creepily hit on.