When I was pregnant, I felt uncomfortable when people would stare at my belly and I really hated it when people (strangers and those I knew) would reach over and sort of grab or claw at me, in an effort to connect with the hidden baby. Think about how you would feel (talking to everyone reading this who is not currently preggers) if someone just lunged towards you and started rubbing your stomach. Yeah, it sucks just as much when there is a baby inside – more, actually, because I felt so protective of that new & fragile being hiding inside.
Many Israeli friends of mine believe that a mere look at a pregnant belly can endanger the health and wellbeing of the child within – and while I don’t buy that, I can attest to the fact that I do feel a heightened sense of paranoia about getting stared at when I am pregnant.
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND…
What is wrong with me?
Because when I’m NOT pregnant, and a pregnant person passes me by…
All I want to do is STARE.
It got me thinking…
My friend Hugo Schwyzer wrote a blog the other day about the interracial nature of his various intimate relationships over the years, and how people in black neighborhoods stare at him when he walks with his (part-Nigerian) wife. It prompted me to think about my own family (including my sister who is white and Jewish and married to a very dark skinned black Cuban man, and their kids), and my own history of interracial dating (aside from a couple hookups in college my first adult/serious boyfriend was black).
I also used to hate when people stared at me and Milli Vanilli back in the day when we were dating. It would bug me to no end that people I didn’t know would gawk at us as we walked by holding hands. (I’m not excusing the fact that I dated Rob Pilatus’ doppelganger. Wait a minute… is THAT why they were staring? Hmmmm…)
And yet… despite my loathing starring in the ‘interracial spotlight’…
When I see an interracial couple, especially between black and white or black and Asian – I don’t know why – but all I want to do is STARE! Same goes for a black child with white parents, and – as I found on a plane trip recently – same goes for a white child with black grandparents. I just wanted to look at them. I even wanted to ask the family how did it wind up happening, that this black couple had a white grandchild?
The conversational equivalent of someone lunging at a pregnant belly, wouldn’t you say?
I’m about as PC as you can get while still being able to hold conversations and have friends who hail ‘from the other side of the isle’. I don’t believe in making anyone feel out of place, marginalized, or ‘bad’ – and therefore even if I wanted to look at a couple of different colored people, or to touch a belly, I do my best to restrict these impulses.
Still… I’m asking myself, why do I want to look so badly at interracial couples and pregnant bellies in the first place – 2 scenarios that I personally know are not ‘proper’?
I think maybe it is because both contain an out-of-the ordinary visual treat – one hides a new life, a new soul, and the miracle of creation, and the other displays a union of two different cultures – the miracle of love and humanity as it exists in all of us, beneath the external differences.
Or am I just a nosey Posey?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)