Ticked off at replies to "Irrational pregnancy fears". March 30, 2007 11:00 PM   Subscribe

From Ask: Why are so many saying that she must not know the facts of life and is it just me who finds this to be pretty rude?
posted by anaelith to Etiquette/Policy at 11:00 PM (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

People aren't being the sweetest human beings about it, but they're right to suggest that it's a possibility. Remember, the asker is not the girl; it's her boyfriend. He should certainly consider the idea that she might not've been properly educated in the reproductive process, safe sex, etc.

Flag away.
posted by carsonb at 11:10 PM on March 30, 2007


anonymity can bring out the harsher side of answers, but if the situation is as reported there are a limited number of things that could be the problem, and, unfortunately pain ole stupidity could be one of them, along with anxiety, a cheating partner, birth control hormone imbalance...

take a deep breath, read a good book and don't take on other people's problems as your own to get worried/offended about especially when there is a perfectly legitimate reason why people may answer the way they do.
posted by edgeways at 11:22 PM on March 30, 2007


It's not so much that I'm taking on other people's problems. It's more that I went through a year or so where I'd worry about being pregnant once a month (period hormones, the only thing that saved me from going mad was that it only happened when I could also actually see the blood--the fact that I was a virgin at the time and had paid attention during sex ed did absolutely nothing for the panicky feelings). I never told anyone because I was afraid they wouldn't take me seriously....

Plus, he does say in the original post that he's already talked with her about the improbability of getting pregnant.
posted by anaelith at 11:42 PM on March 30, 2007


Pregnancy stuff is not a thing that men can understand, I think.

Like rape, as women live with it, men just can't possibly get it, however smart and kind and sympathetic they are -- just as women don't get Male Answer Syndrome, for example. Most of the guys in that thread were trying to help the OP make sense of it by giving him their take, I think -- well, Dude, WTF? was a common take.
posted by Methylviolet at 12:04 AM on March 31, 2007


Then again, maybe you're right. Some folks are just hostile and dumb. What are ya gonna do?

I know where you're coming from Anaelith, FWIW.
posted by Methylviolet at 12:22 AM on March 31, 2007


Yeah, I think we men don't really comprehend how deeply terrifying pregnancy possibly (some argue, probably) is for most women. One might wonder just how it is that women who've never been pregnant can have such deeply internalized fears about it that men cannot comprehend, but I suppose the answer to that is that men aren't made to imagine it most of their lives. I mean, if some people were mortal and some were immortal, we wouldn't expect the immortals to understand why the mortals fear death, even though none of them have actually died.

I strongly suspect that a lot of people might take offense at my idea of many women being terrified by pregnancy. That's partly our happy-shiny-people view of pregnancy, childbirth, and children. This factors into our cultural myth of the pregnant woman who must necessarily love her "baby" inside her (or of the child when it's born). But men who pay attention to what women say and write about pregnancy will often hear some women talking about the very Alien-like fear of something like a parasite growing within them, taking them over, controlling their lives, reducing them to subservience. I suspect that all women have this fear to some degree, even those who want children.

And so the right person, under the right conditions, may really freak out about the possibility of pregnancy to the point of acting irrationally. Frankly, I don't think this is as uncommon as some think and I probably should have posted to that thread and said so.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:35 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


The most recent comment is a doozy. A shitty little piece of armchair psychoanalysis designed, I guess, to make the asker feel bad. People really have fun with the anonymous questions.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:13 AM on March 31, 2007


And I find it strange that people are trying to normalize this woman's experience. I really think she could benefit from professional help. For me, the time limit for crippling anxiety that keeps me from interacting with the people I love is six weeks. After that, I talk to a therapist.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:16 AM on March 31, 2007


I'm sorry, I'm just going metafilter-comment crazy tonight because I have some work I should be doing. Please feel free to ignore me.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:16 AM on March 31, 2007


Why are so many saying that she must not know the facts of life

Because they're trying to be rational in an irrational situation.

and is it just me who finds this to be pretty rude?

Eh, it's the internet, don't let it get to ya.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 AM on March 31, 2007


I don't think Tuti and crew are going to help.
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 AM on March 31, 2007


Methylviolet, the asker doesn’t understand his girlfriend’s thinking. Your strategy of describing yourself as not crazy and then describing your irrational behaviour (that is, craziness, if the word has meaning) only served to confuse it further. While what you wrote would probably have been comforting for her, she’s not reading it—the guy wants solutions, and not providing a ghost of one in your comment doesn’t help that.

“Don’t date crazy people” is eternal good advice in Ask MetaFilter. This particular brand of crazy wears off, thankfully, but dealing with it is frustrating, depressing, and stressful. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, no more than I would the anxiety itself.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2007


Why are so many saying that she must not know the facts of life...

Because she might not.

Go read the Yahoo! Answers pregnancy section for a bit. "Can I get pregnant from..." is finished in all manner of crazy fashions.

And the stock answer is "anything that involves semen could be risky! There's always a chance!!"

I wouldn't have thunk it before hanging out in Y!A, but -- there're a lot of morons out there when it comes to reproduction.

I thought it sounded more like a recovering-Catholic sort of problem (but not enough to comment; there just isn't enough information -- what she's like outside of that problem, for example -- is she high-strung about everything?).

I'm not impressed with the comments, mostly from women, talking about 'most women' and 'all women' that're almost misogynist in the extent to which they figure neurotic and stupid behaviour should go uncriticized, because so many women are, apparently, naturally and normally neurotic and stupid.
posted by kmennie at 8:00 AM on March 31, 2007



“Don’t date crazy people”

I've said that a lot and it's a very general statement. It should be "Don't repeatedly date crazy people and don't date them for long"

Everyone should date a crazy person or two and should also be the crazy person at least once. You learn a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Methylviolet: Pregnancy stuff is not a thing that men can understand, I think. ... Like rape, as women live with it, men just can't possibly get it, however smart and kind and sympathetic they are

Grokking pregnancy and pregophobia might take a big cognitive leap for men, since it's absolutely outside even the remotest possibility of their personal experience... but come on now, women don't hold exclusive rights to being potential rape victims.
posted by CKmtl at 8:30 AM on March 31, 2007


Holy crap, kmennie, thanks for the tip. The second answer in this thread had me laughing, possibly inappropriately. Still, not sure what the poster meant by her cervix feeling, "low, hard and shut."
posted by piratebowling at 8:33 AM on March 31, 2007


Aidan: you don't understand my writing. Your strategy of trying to insult me personally might be comforting to you, but you're not the one we are trying to help in that thread. If you are not so crazy with the Methylviolet anxiety right now that you are immune to reason, maybe this will clarify things.

I, like many women, have been through this, and come out the other side. For me, it was situational, related to other things in my life -- it was not about sex, and it was not about my boyfriend. Many guys in the thread -- those who did not think there was something bad wrong with the girl -- thought that it had to be about their relationship. Well, not necessarily. A data point. Nor was she necessarily terminally sex-averse -- I wasn't, and am not now. Another data point.

I advised him to try to find out what is really bothering her, and just table the pregnancy chimera for now, and if that didn't work, to break up with her. That's the ghost of a solution, I'd say.

women don't hold exclusive rights to being potential rape victims.
Right, of course. What I said was rape, as women live with it, referring to the dailiness of rape-fear as a factor in women's lives. Men just don't live with that, except perhaps in prison. That's all I was saying.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:52 AM on March 31, 2007


... referring to the dailiness of rape-fear as a factor in women's lives.

Ah, okay. I'd thought you meant it as the emotional aftermath in the lives of women who've been raped.
posted by CKmtl at 11:32 AM on March 31, 2007


I too felt that the overall mood was stupid and rude. Apparently if you haven't had any sexual experience by 21 for various reasons, and you get very nervous after your first time, you're either insane, breakup-worthy, or cheating!

Well I'm glad I'm dating my boyfriend and not some of you people - except for the actual sex, I have been in that girl's position, and there are SO MANY factors to it that do not involve cheating or past trauma. I was starting to get very very annoyed at the answers and my heart went out to the poor girl.

Geez.
posted by divabat at 1:57 PM on March 31, 2007

Apparently if you haven't had any sexual experience by 21 for various reasons, and you get very nervous nervous to the point of irrationality, where that irrationality impinges most on the partner, and has no guarantee of being changeable by anyone else after your first time, you're either insane, breakup-worthy, or cheating!
Hope that’s clearer for you. But then I’m male, and you’re considering her position seriously; I’m one of them, I couldn’t possibly understand what you went through to the extent that I could have useful insight on it.

Men can’t understand women, and women always have trouble understanding men. That’s why every generation has had its inter-sexual ritual of slaughter, why almost no-one in human history has grown up with constant, loving contact with both parents. May they rest in peace, those billions dead because of men’s trouble understanding women and vice versa.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 3:06 PM on March 31, 2007


I don't know--I don't think women are the only ones who get pregnancy fears. If you want to find out exactly how terrified a young man can be of being an unplanned father, prank your boy and tell him you're pregnant when you're not. For the split-second before you throw in the "just kidding!", you will see the face of a man whose hopes and dreams and plans for the rest of his life have been crushed in an instant.
posted by schroedinger at 6:38 PM on March 31, 2007


she must not know the facts of life

I think that's a perfectly reasonable suggestion considering she:

a) hasn't had sex in 60+ days
b) has had at least one normal period since she last had sex
c) is genuinely afraid that she might be pregnant.

If she doesn't comprehend that mensturation == not pregnant this month, then she's unclear about at least one aspect of her own fertility.
posted by toxic at 7:31 PM on March 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


But toxic, what you don't understand about fertility is that women can bleed while pregnant. Lots of people are reciting your line, but if you knew more about fertility, you would realize that women can be pregnant but still appear to be menstruating. Yes, it's very unusual, but it's possible.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:50 PM on April 1, 2007


what you don't understand about fertility is that women can bleed while pregnant

Yes, but she has also had multiple negative pregnancy tests, and, from the sound of it, they weren't all taken in one big Stick Peeing Frenzy, but spaced out over some time. True, HPTs can show negatives during the luteal phase, before implantation; however, after two months abstinence, two normal periods, and testing every couple of weeks... there's clearly something else going on.

referring to the dailiness of rape-fear as a factor in women's lives
Can we amend that to "some women's lives"...? Maybe I'm lucky, maybe I'm oblivious, but really, that's a bit much.
posted by mimi at 5:42 AM on April 2, 2007


I'm a woman who among other things suggested some more sex ed as a possible part of the solution.

You can know the basic facts of life and not know exactly how birth control works, how it fails, etc. I went to NYU, where there was a lot of frank talk about sex and anatomy in all different types of classes. I definitely got the sense from the people who do spend a lot of time workshopping with women about these issues that you can get VERY far along in life without knowing some seemingly obvious things about your own body, let alone how it reacts to the things you might put in it (ha ha). If my sex ed had stopped with public school, I probably would know only the basic sperm/egg stuff, a laundry list of names of STDs (but not exactly what they are and which ones are curable), what a period is, and that hormonal birth control "tricks your body into thinking it's already pregnant," and that's it. I know one thing that was drilled into our heads was "you think you can't get pregnant like this, but you can! You think you can't get pregnant like that, but you can!" and then of course the many horror stories of girls not even knowing they were pregnant giving birth in the bathroom and blah blah blah...

Point being that suggesting that learning MORE might help alleviate some of her anxiety isn't necessarily the same thing as calling her a total ignoramus. That said, I'm sympathetic to the aversion to hearing men say "well obviously it must be this or that" when it comes to female reproductive issues. I've had a man tell me that if a woman doesn't have her period for two months, there is no other possible explanation but pregnancy. I don't know if there's a woman on earth who actually believes that, no matter how little sex ed she's had.
posted by lampoil at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2007


I'm a woman who suggested that she might be expressing anxiety about sex in general (and apparently, I was hostile and dumb about it). I also suggested that there are women who express anxiety about pregnancy when they, knowingly or not, actually have anxiety about having sex. I wasn't accusing the girlfriend of anything, merely saying that I believe this to be one possibility among many.

I, like many women, have been through this, and come out the other side. For me, it was based on anxiety about having sex at that time with my current partner. It was not situational, about other things in my life -- it was about sex and about my boyfriend, who behaved like a tool about it, leading me eventually to dump him. Many guys (and women) in the thread described accurately what happened in my relationship at that time, and I defended their point of view.

All I was saying in response to Methylviolet is that I am a woman who would happily sleep with a man who believes that women sometimes use fear of pregnancy to control men (assuming that I otherwise wanted to sleep with him) because I believe that women sometimes use fear of pregnancy to control men. I believe this because I have in the past used fear of pregnancy as an excuse not to sleep with a man I didn't really want to sleep with. I only sort of realized at the time that that's what I was doing. Another data point.
posted by decathecting at 3:37 PM on April 2, 2007


Mimi, I agree with you, and I agree that, given these circumstances, there's no chance she's pregnant. I just wanted to point out to toxic that it's not as simple as "mensturation == not pregnant this month."
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:40 PM on April 2, 2007


No, it's not purely that simple -- few things are. But it's pretty close...

"CONCLUSIONS: Early bleeding in clinical pregnancies is generally light, and not likely to be mistaken for LMP [Last Menstrual Period]. Thus, early bleeding is unlikely to contribute to errors in LMP-based gestational age." -- The Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction, Vol 18, No 9, pp1944 -1947.

Bleeding/Spotting during pregnancy, especially at the early stages -- sure. Mimicking a "normal" period (in color, duration, volume, cramping, and texture) twice, and on-schedule? Unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely (that word's been peer reviewed).

When combined with the unlikelihood of ovulation and subsequent conception while on combined/estradiol-based contraceptives, we're talking about a near impossibility.
posted by toxic at 5:30 AM on April 3, 2007


What nearly everyone seems to be missing here and in the original post is that you can toss all sorts of logic at an anxious person and they'll still be anxious anyway. Anxiety *is* irrational, that's just how it is. Just tossing facts and statistics at us does not help. There's always that 0.00000001% chance, that rare occurrence, that feeling of "what if I'm abnormal". ALWAYS.

What helps is understanding, patience, and kindness. Not judgment and impatience.

I've noticed that none of the answers were "ask the girl why she's so scared of being pregnant". Why are we all so free to judge and condemn her, without ever hearing *her* side of the story?
posted by divabat at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anxiety *is* irrational, that's just how it is.
No. Sometimes there are good reasons for it—I’m getting married tomorrow, I’m making a huge life commitment, am I sure about it?—and sometimes there aren’t. This episode as described files under the second heading.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 4:50 PM on April 3, 2007


Aidan Kehoe: I'm not talking about reasons for anxiety. I'm talking about anxiety itself. When you're in a state of anxiety, logic goes out of the window. Just ask anyone who's had to endure a panic attack and were convinced they will die even though their body's just fine.

Even so, do people need a REASON to be anxious? You can't control these things ALL the time. They just come by whenever they come by. Some people are able to deal with them, others don't.
posted by divabat at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2007


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