Column mithulogy: mamapapapenis

The first man to give birth to a child in Germany is suing for his right to be a father – and not have to be a mother.

Father? Hard to say Photo: dpa

When I’m not feeling well, and by that I mean really not-not well, like when I have a fever of 39 degrees or more, I want my mom. I want someone to hold me in their arms and tell me that everything will be okay and that I don’t have to worry.

A father could do that, of course, but in our family it was my mother. As it probably is in most families. It’s politically dumb, but when I have a fever, I have gender brause. Which is why I’m only too happy when my partner holds me and tells me, yes, I’m your mom. That also leads to no confusion, either during the flu or later.

The state is not so flexible about that. Mother is the one who gives birth to the child.

I am a mother of two children and only one of them was born and I am constantly informed (for example, at parent-teacher conferences or authorities): Then you are not the real mother. Yes I am, because I am not fictitious. At least not as fictitious as the evil stepmother from some fairy tale. Stepmothers are always evil, we know that. Language does something to how we perceive the world.

That’s why it’s a problem that in Germany (and not only here) men who bear children are still the mother of the child. Now one might object: That’s because it’s such a new thing, it takes everyone a while to get that into their heads. And it actually seems to be one of those concepts that is really hard to understand.

So, did you have an episiotomy?

So when I google "first pregnant man" or "first man to give birth" and the like (other search engines are also available), I get a whole range of names, even though the "Guinness Book of Records" has now settled on Thomas Beatie.

Every pregnancy of a man is again treated as a big surprise, as something quite unique, which will certainly never happen again and therefore does not need to be considered further. So it doesn’t need to be considered further from a legal point of view, while the articles deal with the biological details so gleefully, as if it was none of the public’s business. But when it comes to having children, we all become transgressive.

I can still remember when I had a baby, the first question was always inevitably, So, did you have an episiotomy? From complete strangers!

Children, of course, don’t fare any better. If they are born as a daughter or as a son, then they remain that de jure for their whole life, no matter what their real gender is in the meantime. It is to be hoped that the Federal Constitutional Court will be able to say daddy. Until then all very loud: DAMMSCHNITT!!!

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