Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 09:18:51 -0400


Subject: Re: barefoot and pregnant

Rick Blom said:

."I suspect...that it originated in the South.[2]

Pregnant is happy and busy, barefoot is being unable

to run away.[4]

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

socioeconomic class.

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

to correction.

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.

Rick Blom


Bel Air, Maryland