It’s nothing new. People get all handsy with baby bumps. I’m 9 months pregnant and sometimes think there must be an invitation on my body that reads, “Come one! Come all! Touch my belly!” It’s a common and even expected part of pregnancy. I do realize my generation removed the privacy issue of pregnancy when women began posing for public photos of previously very private baby bumps, but the conversation surrounding belly rubbing has now changed due to a Pennsylvania woman who recently got so offended she called the cops after a neighbor got too touchy feely. No new law was enacted, but a renewed warning was issued and as part of the state’s harassment law, you can be issued a ticket and fined if you rub the wrong preggo woman’s bump.
I’ve been getting patted and caressed since I hit six months pregnant. It hasn’t bothered me a single time when a woman has done this. It’s actually a sweet gesture and I appreciate the excitement others have for this baby. In fact, most women ask before feeling the belly and it never feels inappropriate; however, the same cannot be said for my encounters with men (acquaintances not strangers). One man not only put both hands on my belly, he stood with his face uncomfortably close to mine. I stepped away and changed the course of the conversation. Last week, another man put his hands on me from behind in a sort of intimate embrace. I turned, removed his hands and laughed it off. The final straw was a man who approached and tickled my belly. Tickled! I tried to find the humor in it as I finally recounted some of this to my husband who was not amused but horrified and wanted to kick somebody’s a**! LOL. I assured him I’m a big girl and can handle myself.
There is a difference between a gentle pat or rub and a full on grope or fondle. We should all know when touching is invasive and non-consensual yet why are some people clueless? Perhaps it’s a desire to be a part of the miracle that is new life. Perhaps it falls under the title of “blessing this little one” reminiscent of the “laying on of hands” as a blessing in the Christian faith. I choose to think it may be one of these two motives. But, I have to say, in this world we live in: even if you are family, it’s probably best to ask permission before you touch.
What do you think? Are pregnant women fair game? Or do you think it’s an issue that can warrant a dramatic response such as pressing charges like the PA woman did?