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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pregnant Bodies in Away We Go

Today I finally went to see Away We Go. It was a great movie, both funny and touching, and not that predictable. Watch the trailer if you've missed out so far:

The movie is the story of Burt and Verona, who are 33 and about to have a baby. They go on a trip trying to find a "home" near friends or family. They go from Phoenix to Madison to Montreal to Miami, meeting up with hilarious characters along the way. Every place they see as some where they could live but then realize that the people they are visiting are just as messed up as they are.

One of the things that really struck me about the movie was the commentary (I believe it was purposeful) on pregnant women's bodies as public property. There were of course all of the people who felt that they had the right to touch Verona's stomach. And then there was the mother who pointed at Verona and asked her child: "what's that?" The child's response: "a baby!" (Not a woman, not a pregnant woman, just a baby as if her sole purpose in life was the serve as an incubator for this one child.) And the airline workers who stood around debating how far along Verona was. Verona was only six months, but the airline workers thought she was lying and was actually 8 months which means she wouldn't be able to fly. And it was completely appropriate to stand around discussing not only the woman's body, but her size and weight. Plus, the topic of parenting is always open for discussion with no real consideration of how the parents want to raise their children.

For pregnant women (I am NOT speaking from experience here), the world has open access to your body. Women's bodies and personal space are completely eradicated when there is a baby growing in there. In society, the baby/fetus is more important than the woman.

And then there was the hilarious charicature of a feminist women's studies professor played by Maggie Gylenhaal. While I a normally completely opposed to stereotypes of feminists portrayed in movies, this was different. Maggie Gylenhaal played a women's studies professor at U of Wisconsin Madison who breastfed her 3 year old (I'm estimating on the age), used a family bed shared with her husband/partner and their children, and did not believe in strollers ("why would you push your child away from you?"). She was the earth mother type of feminist.

Even though it was kind of a stereotype of a feminist, the way that it was handled was hilarious. Ending with Burt putting her 3-year-old in a stroller and running him around the house.

This movie was the perfect combination of humor, story line, with a smidge of social commentary about pregnancy (at least to me and I really hope that it was purposeful) and finding home in what is meaningful for you. It even kept me occupied enough to forget that I was hungry! If you haven't seen this movie already, I recommend that you see it if it is still playing near you or go out and rent it as soon as it is released on dvd!


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