Although I a lot of Slate's writers are more miss than hit, I always liked Jessica Grose. She does a fantastic job of summing up an issue and giving an original but unique point of view.
Her latest DoubleX post could pass for a college freshman rhetoric assignment: write a persuasive argument that's the polar opposite of what you really believe. Today, Grose argues that baby showers should be for women only, and her beginning points are weak.
In my experience, baby showers aren't about the gifts or about telling women that the baby is only their business. The baby shower is a space for women to get real talk from their moms, and from their mom's friends, about having a kid.
Baby showers are a place for women to get the "real talk" on pregnancy and other vital information? If only there were resources out there that provided such information! Can we also please stop the Sex & The City stereotype of a bunch of women coming together and talking about penises, bodily functions, fluids, excretions, etc.? Yes some of us do that in trusted groups, but not at the expense of the other person who is directly involved in this process.
Of course many women may have serious, intimate questions they may want to ask other women. That's fine, and there are plenty of other avenues, including female relatives, to use. But in Grose's world, you might as well tape a tampon on the entrance to a baby shower and post a pink, glittery sign that says NO BOYS ALLOWED. Grow up.
There will be labor stories and jokes about breast pumps and advice about lactation consultants. When men are present at the shower, there is none of this talk, to the detriment of the mom-to-be.
Men are already at a disadvantage when it comes to directly experiencing pregnancy — hence the desire for co-ed showers. But assuming men can't handle the nitty gritty of what's a natural process? That's insulting. Pregnancy and childbirth aren't gross or shameful. A man who is expecting a child should take an interest in his partner's body beyond sex! Quelling this talk because the menfolk are around means that women get to decide for the entire male gender what is and isn't best for men. Where have I seen this behavior before?
The rest of the article is good. Grose cites the need for better maternity and paternity leave policies. She also makes an excellent argument against the couples who like to say "We're pregnant," so she scored back some points with me.
But overall, if she really believes men should be banned from all baby showers (and I doubt she does based on her previous articles), Grose's argument relies on outdated stereotypes and "icky" pregnancy advice for men.
If she was a college freshman who had to compose a contrarian argument, I'd give her a C+ for today's effort.