“The Spurs emasculated the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night,
further trashing LeBron James’s coming-out party.”—The New York Times
Emasculated? Emasculated? Holy shit, thought I, I’d better go read this story! Did the Spurs really cut off the Cavaliers’ dicks? Did they pull a Biblical trick like Jacob’s sons, attacking while the Cavs were weak post-circumcision? Oh. No, it was nothing like that. They just played fiercely and won the game.
With language like this used to describe a sports victory, it’s no wonder that LeBron James, the Cavaliers’ top player and the new Michael Jordan, told his partner, who’s scheduled to give birth some time during the NBA Finals, that he might not be available for the delivery. Actually, I don’t blame the guy, especially since this is such a crucial moment in his career. What I do fault him for is the way he chose to tell her, to wit: I told her I’m not going to miss any games. She knows how much I love my teammates.
Believe it or not, James isn’t a bad guy—he was there for his first kid’s entry into the world, and from what I’ve seen—admittedly not that much—he’s a kind of gentle giant. But breathes there a woman who, upon hearing what he said, didn’t ask, as a women’s magazine column of the 1950s used to, “Can this marriage be saved?”
But wait…the plot thickens. The Mikes Greenberg and Golic of Mike and Mike in the Morning had a lively discussion about the above in which they agreed that James is in dire need of communication lessons. With James being referred to as “King James,” they dubbed his female partner “the Queen.” Laughing and fooling around, they were nothing if not politically correct, pro-woman and pro-family…until Greenberg, a sweet, gentle, SNAG*, blew it. I have two words for them, he advised. Voluntary induction. Strutting his medical smarts he recommended a dose of pitocin, the drug used to induce labor.
I had induced labor with my second child. During my pregnancy we had moved almost two hours away from the hospital, and since my first child’s labor took a mere three hours, I was terrified of not making it on time. The induction I demanded of my doctor was given on my due date, and the procedure was without incident. However, when the pitocin spurred the first labor pains, I suddenly had the overwhelming sense that I was pushing my child out of the womb before she was ready to enter the world. I felt absolutely awful.
Considering my later crimes as a mother, and the fact that nothing terrible resulted from inducing labor, my regret now seems, even to me, fairly trivial. Still, where does Mike Greenberg, a sports show host, come off dispensing medical advice? Maybe the mother-to-be wants a “natural” childbirth. Maybe she has risk factors that preclude induced labor. Besides, every medical intervention carries risks; the risks of induced labor may be negligible, but they aren’t non-existent. Even if none of this were true, Greenberg is advocating that a woman induce labor, and a child be shoved into the world early, in order to accommodate a basketball game.
This kind of attitude confirms my suspicion that too much is made these days of the father’s inclusion in the process of maternity. Men even walk around saying, “We’re pregnant.” What you mean we, mister? When your belly balloons to four times its normal size and your swollen breasts hurt from the slightest touch, then you can talk about being pregnant.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind a return to the good old days when the delivery room was strictly females only, where supportive and knowledgeable women nursed the mama through labor. There’s way too much pressure these days to make pregnancy and childbirth a Meaningful Experience for couples. Men can bond with their babies just as easily once they’re safely out of the womb. They don’t have to be perfect labor coaches in order to fulfill their fatherly responsibilities. I’ll bet a lot of women would be relieved to get their men out of the delivery room, and a lot of men would gladly skip the Blessed Event in all its painful and gory bloodiness-which is why I find it perfectly acceptable for James to go ahead and play his game while his baby makes its way into the world. Besides, a game normally takes a lot less time than labor, so chances are he won’t escape the entire kit and caboodle. What I do not find acceptable are prevailing male attitudes towards women, labor and childbirth evidenced by James’s I love my teammates or Greenberg’s nonchalance towards medical intervention in childbirth.
But then, what can we expect in a world where losing a game of basketball is seen as emasculation?
*Sensitive New Age Guy