Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 09:18:51 -0400
From: Rick Blom rblom[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]BLAZIE.COM
Subject: Re: barefoot and pregnant
Rick Blom said:
."I suspect...that it originated in the South.
Pregnant is happy and busy, barefoot is being unable
to run away.
Kat Rosae ressponded to these points:
2. My father's family came from the Pennsylvania hill country,
somewhere in the Oil City area; they were of a lower
4. Those I heard use the phrase couldn't have cared less about any
woman's happiness. Pregnant was also under control and unable
to run away. It also served as a sign of ownership, a marking
of territory. Conversations that included "barefoot and pregnant"
also often included the expressions "knock her up" and "knock her
upside the head," both used with gestures and tone of voice that
Saying I thought it originated in the South was too generic. I had
in mind, but did not say, that I thought it was southern Appalachain in
origin. It certainly is associated with lower socioeconomic classes. I
assumed it migrated into the Upper Midwest and Northeast during the
movements associated with World War 11, which brought a lot of "Southern"
culture north. These opinions are based on a superficial knowledge and open
I was far too glib in saying that "preganant is happy". It was an
unfortunate shorthand for a far more complicated social reality, and I used
it, in part, because I am a little uncertain of my footing here. I have
heard the expression used by men who thought that women who were pregnant
were less likely to challenge, demand, or leave. For those men, submission,
tolerance, or acceptance is equivalent to happiness. Their assumptions are
based on reality: a woman who is pregnant or who has small childrem has
fewer options and is therefore constrained to accept things which she might
resist in other circumstances. Shorthand can be quicksand, and I stepped
right in it this time.
rblom[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]blazie.com
Bel Air, Maryland