Homebirth Dads In Drag Calendar Is Supposed To Be Funny, But Is Instead Insulting


The 2014 Homebirth Dads Calendar is out and, well, it’s a little bit weird. Put together by Inner Birth Midwifery of Racine, Wisc., the calendar features men dressed as women who are having home births. Here’s some more details from Lulu.com, where you can buy the calendar for $29.99:

This 2014 Home Birth Dads Calendar is a must have! As a tribute to their wives/partners, these dads all graciously volunteered to take part in a photo project that recreated some of the experiences of their parters most memorable pregnancy and birth moments…We hope you enjoy this warm and comical calendar as much as we enjoyed creating it!

And here’s some of the photos that are featured in the calendar:

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I am of two minds about this. On one hand, I think it’s great that these guys want to honor the experiences of their wives and/or partners and are willing to have their own photographic images used to support home birth. These men are obviously participating in the calendar out of a sense of respect, awe and empathy, which I totally understand and appreciate. I also love it when men are vocal in support of home birth (or anything to do with birth, really), which is often ghettoized as a “women’s health” issue. And, ten percent of the proceeds from the calendar are going to support the Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes, a collaborative dedicated to helping Racine, WI lower its infant mortality rate, so that’s also terrific.

But, something about men dressing in drag as a way to emulate women’s biological experience of pregnancy and childbirth really really rubs me the wrong way. From the Dutch talk show hosts who simulated labor earlier this year to Benjamin Percy and his ridiculous “pregnancy suit,” I just don’t find this kind of thing at all funny, clever, or creative. Seeing a man wear a fake pregnant belly and grimace in pretend pain doesn’t make me laugh. It makes me mad. No matter how pure and honorable the intentions, I feel like there’s a subtle mockery being made of real women’s real, lived experiences, a jokey undercurrent that somehow strips away at the physical, mental and emotional rawness of giving birth.

Let’s not forget that these men don’t actually have to deal with any of the actual physical things that come along with being pregnant or giving birth. Even if they were the most supportive partner in the world while their wife gave birth at home, that doesn’t lessen the fact that that not one of them experienced morning sickness, enlarged breasts, the constant urge to urinate, contractions, vaginal tearing, lochia, or any of the other not-so-pleasant things that come along with bringing a human into the world. I am all for empathy, but these guys have the luxury of taking the costume off and sending the photographer home—something you can’t do if you’re an actual pregnant person.

If my husband or boyfriend ever tried to dress up as me in order to recreate what I looked like or what I was doing when I was giving birth, I would be so mad I would spit tacks. Granted, that’s only me, but I imagine there are quite a few other women who would find it offensive rather than hilarious or complimentary.

In reality, there’s no way for biological cismales to ever experience what it’s like to carry a baby or give birth. That doesn’t mean they can’t support, empathize and be involved in whatever way makes sense for them and their family. But I balk at this costume-y, gimmick-y way of showing support. While I would totally love to see a calendar full of homebirth dads who are looking lovingly at newborn babies, doing the double hip squeeze on a laboring mom, or helping to fill a birth tub, I’ll pass on the calendar that features fake baby bumps.

Photos: Katie Hall Photography via Lulu.com

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  • G.E. Phillips

    I get maybe taking the pictures, because it’s kind of funny for like a minute. But for 12 whole wall calendar months? No.

  • Kay_Sue

    The calendar is a bit of a stretch. When I went to my first birthing class, they did the whole “Dads wear the pregnant belly” thing, and that was cool. It was weird to see how many of the guys (I did not have a partner at the time, so my mom who was my birthing support was exempt–she had done it three times herself! ;)) never considered the actual physical implications of carrying that much weight. Not having a baby or anything, just the actual “average weight gain” itself. Things like that, maybe helpful?

    A calendar meant to be funny though…that kind of rubs me wrong too. Having a baby can have its funny moments–my husband and I actually did share some laughs in the delivery room with our second–but it can also be traumatic, painful, somber, serious.

    I guess the only solution is if you feel like us, don’t buy it. If you don’t mind it and think of it as no big deal, it could be a great way to support a good cause.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      my fella has a big beer belly and we’re always joking around, rubbing it and asking when he’s due.
      He’s evil, if I’m snuggled up to him, he’ll bump his stomach up, rolling me off and look real innocent and say- “It wasn’t me, it was the twins”

      I’m gonna get so much revenge when we’re preggers. *evil laugh*

    • Kay_Sue

      My hubs put on some weight after he left the Army…since our youngest son was a “reunion baby” (my partner returned from two years in Germany and nine months in Afghanistan that January, he was born in October, everyone loves to do the math), a lot of it coincided with my pregnancy weight gain. We like to joke that he wasn’t getting a beer belly, it was all sympathy weight. ;)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      I love this!!!
      I remember my fella had a vomiting bug and got queasy at the smell of sausages.
      I used to joke he was pregnant until I started throwing up bigtime every morning with him.
      It was so bad that I was literally throwing up over his head in the loo lol.
      He looked at me oh-so-sweetly and said- At least we KNOW I’M not pregnant.

      Panic city. =P

  • JussyLee

    Idk. It’s hardly difficult for my fluffy hubby to emulate how I feel now at 8 months pregnant…… goo goo g’joob!

    • Kay_Sue

      I know that feeling. And to hell with all the folks that are probably saying, “Oh just enjoy it while you can!”

      There is no enjoying pregnancy at 8 months, in my opinion.

    • keelhaulrose

      When I dated to tell my aunt I disliked being eight months pregnant she did the patronizing sigh and said “in two months you’ll be missing the sleep and freedom you had while pregnant”.
      I’m still waiting to miss waking up thirty times a night to pee/try to turn over with all the speed and grace of an overturned turtle.

    • Alexandra

      HAHA every time I turn over I pull the same damned muscle on my right side, it’s truly ridiculous, but I did it like 2 months ago and it’s just never healed!
      (I should mention I’m am at 5 months but having twins so am large).

    • JussyLee

      Congrats on your twins!

    • iamtheshoshie

      I’m at 8 months now. My husband and I have both started laughing at my “turtling.” If you don’t laugh, it’s just sad. But enjoy it? Not so much.

      I also woke up this morning at 7:15 to vomit/pee myself from retching so hard, so there is also that. Oh, pregnancy. You suck so much.

    • Alexandra

      oh god i’m at 5 months and you just scared the sh*t out of me!!! LOL

    • Kay_Sue

      Don’t let it scare you. You’ll do fine and in the end, it’ll all be over.

      That sounded way more reassuring in my head.

    • JussyLee

      Aaaw, it isn’t so bad. Look at that walrus! It’s a WALL-RUSSS, but it’s a happy walrus. And that’s how I feel……when I’m lying down…. ;)

    • JussyLee

      I’ve mostly just get gooey comments like “Oh, you are getting SO CLOSE to meeting your bundle of joy! Isn’t this time just sooo SPECIAL!?!?!” Ugh! I can’t muster sentimentality now. Just laugh and commiserate with me in my miserable blimp-yness, ok people?

    • Kay_Sue

      You must complain less than me. I can be whiny. ;)

    • JussyLee

      Oh, I’m whiny too. I’m really good at being whiny in an endearing way. Works like a charm on my husband. I haven’t had to bend over to put my own shoes on in a month.

    • iamtheshoshie

      Oh man, I have so much love for my slip on pregnancy shoes. They are so comfortable and warm.

    • JussyLee

      I’m jealous! I have one pair of ballet flats and they match just one of my maternity outfits. If my husband doesn’t happen to be around to put my regular laced shoes on for me, I know what I’m wearing for the day.

    • iamtheshoshie

      I have these shoes: http://www.amazon.com/Merrell-Womens-Jungle-Slip-On-Midnight/dp/B0007SZ550

      They’re not pretty or stylish, but they are safe for my work (I’m a chemist), have good traction, and I can slip them on. And they’re amazingly comfortable.

    • Nikki

      I’ll laugh and commiserate with you (albeit virtually), even though I’m not pregnant and don’t plan to be in the near future.

  • Suburban Mommy

    Yeah, no thanks. I have no desire to stare at some dude with a fake pregnant belly in the squatting birth position for a whole month.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Ugh. I know a few men who have been pregnant and given birth (trans guys). It’s not weird or funny…it’s just as valid as any other pregnancy. This just looks looks like a mockery of pregnancy for all genders.

    • iamtheshoshie

      This was my first thought too.

    • Tea

      Seconding this thought.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      what idiots downvoted this???

    • Whatwhatque

      I think you do have to take a moment and realize that most people do not know any trans people, let alone trans men who’ve given birth. And of course, it’s just as valid but it is still amusing to people to see a cis male who usually presents very masculine in a traditionally feminine way such as childbirth. I can’t help but get a giggle out of the tatted up guy in the sparkly gauzy sarong approaching the birthing pool because it is not what you expect. Eventually gender won’t be such a binary and gender roles and expectations won’t be so ingrained but obviously we aren’t there yet. I don’t think it’s mocking pregnancy so much as the very easy laugh of “haha that guy is dressed like a girl!”

    • sasareta

      Those trans “men” are biologically women, so of course they’ve given birth.

    • Lauren

      Yes their biological sex is female, but their gender identity (how they feel on the inside and how they portray themselves to others) means they are men. Sex and gender are two separate things. Most of the time they match, but sometimes they don’t. Transgender people don’t need to have surgery to change their sex (which is a very expensive and painful process) in order to live as their preferred gender. What about intersex people? Did you know there are some women out there who were born with a vagina, grew breasts and look feminine, but when they never got their period they learned they were actually biologically male with XY chromosomes, no uterus, and testicles where their ovaries should be. Would you consider those people men even though they’ve lived their whole lives as a woman, and you wouldn’t know any different by looking at them? Our identity as a man or a woman is more than just a sum of body parts.

    • sasareta

      They haven’t become men until they’ve had the SEX change (transexual). Transgender doesn’t particularly make you a certain gender.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I am sooooo not arguing trans politics with someone who thinks they’re the gender police. You are wrong, you sound ignorant and rude, and I’m done. Educate yourself. The end.

  • Lee

    I expect they will sell exactly 12 copies. One to the wife of each man featured.

  • Mystik Spiral

    Eh, I think it’s kind of funny. I wouldn’t buy a calendar, especially for $30, but it seems obvious that the mens’ partners were OK with this, so what’s the harm? If you don’t like it, don’t buy it & don’t look at it. It’s not offensive to anyone who’s old enough to get over being offended by such a petty thing.

    You may now downvote away. :)

  • brebay

    Who exactly is the intended audience for this? I can’t imagine it appealing to men or women.

  • Rachel Sea

    “This is what you looked like,” is basically never flattering.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    I personally think it’s funny lol, for me anyway, I make weird faces at the best of times anyway and my fella regularly takes the piss out of me for the faces I pull (usually while eating a really good meal or if I hurt myself. I’ve been told I resemble Shrek on a bad day)
    So for him to jest and lighten the mood a bit would totally cheer me up.
    But that’s just us, we always tease and slag each other every day, we’re one of those couples who freak everyone out by calling each other names. For us, it’s a sign of affection.

    It can weird people out when I jump on him and he says “Get off me ya galumpin four eyed yoke!”
    To which I respond “Bite me ya hairy b*****ks”

    We love each other very much. =)

  • sasareta

    I don’t like this calendar because I feel that it emasculates men.

  • Anna

    There is a calendar for everything. Some I would never dream of using. To each their own. $30 is a bit but it’s likely because its a fundraiser….

  • Mr. December’s Wife

    My husband is Mr. December. We had a great and emotional time at the shoot. He recreated the position I birthed our son in (minus birth pool) and was holding him with a look of any new dad upon seeing their baby for the first time. He didn’t feel emasculated. I did not feel slighted because he pretended to do something he could never do and I did, for us, 4 times over. I can understand your viewpoint, but I’m pretty sure none of these men actually believe they were feeling what it’s like to be pregnant or have a baby.