Mansplaining is a tale as old as time, but Shay Mitchell, who is expecting her first child, is leading the resistance.
There’s few things that can fast-track a woman to peak rage quite like mansplaining. Because when it comes to sharing unsolicited opinions, interruptions or unasked-for explanations, no woman wants to be on the receiving end of a patronising dialogue from a man about something that she already knows - especially a uniquely female experience.
Prepare to get mad, then, because actress Shay Mitchell, who is pregnant with her first child, found herself in a frustrating debate when her boyfriend Matte Babel lectured her on the right way to do childbirth.
In case you’re thinking: doesn’t Shay Mitchell’s boyfriend have a right to be involved in a conversation about the arrival of their first baby? The answer, is yes, absolutely. All partners have a right to make their voices heard when making a birth plan. The key, as you might have guessed, is to do so in a respectful, considered, empathetic way, that shows you actually care about the person who’s giving birth.
If you’ve been keeping up with Mitchell’s YouTube pregnancy series, Almost Ready, then you’ll know that the actress has been remarkably open in documenting her pregnancy updates, not least her recent conversation about miscarriage, and her journey to processing her past pregnancy loss.
In the latest instalment of the series, ’A Pregnant Man?’, the Pretty Little Liars actress, who is expecting her first child in the next eight weeks, discusses her plans to use an epidural during labour.
At this point, it should be made clear that an epidural, which is an injection administered by an anaesthetist in the back, is a common and completely normal method of pain relief during childbirth and surgery. When used in childbirth, they can give a woman a more comfortable labour, and allow her to be present in the delivery of her baby. According to the the American Pregnancy Association, in fact, more than 50% of women opt for the procedure.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about this birth plan and I feel like we need to be more on the same page with this,” Mitchell says. “You say no epidural, I say epidural.”
Mitchell’s boyfriend, Matte Babel, then reveals he has a different perspective on the whole matter, which is surprising given that he’s male and not expecting a baby. That insight being: no drugs.
“Am I partial to no epidural? Yes,” he commented. “Why? Because I’m a hypochondriac. I’m afraid of drugs. My mom didn’t use an epidural. I meet women all the time who didn’t choose to use an epidural.”
Cue eye roll of the century. There’s so much to unpack here: the demonisation of routine pain medication, drawing comparisons between his girlfriend and other women, and above all, point blank disagreeing with his girlfriend’s wishes even though she’s the one who’s going to have to deliver an actual human being from her body.
Mitchell stood her ground though, and defended her decision to opt for an epidural by asking her boyfriend to reflect on how he’d feel if he was going through an agonising bodily trauma.
“Would you get a root canal without any drugs?” she fired back. “You’re in excruciating pain and I’m holding the medicine like this and I’m like, ‘You can have it and it wouldn’t do any harm, but you don’t want it. Do you want to be a fighter? Fight through it.’”
Great comeback, you’re thinking. Mitchell 1, Babel 0. But you probably hadn’t counted on him persisting with lecturing his girlfriend, as he then shut down Mitchell with a comment that seems to have been specifically dreamed up to drive a woman to insanity.
“A root canal is not comparable because you’re not born to go through a root canal,” Babel mansplains. “As a woman, your body is genetically engineered to give birth.”
As Mitchell captioned her YouTube episode: WHAT?!
“Men will never know what child birth feels like so pretty please don’t tell your girl/wife what she’s “engineered” to do. That is 100% her choice because she is the only one in that bed being ripped apart,” wrote one follower on Mitchell’s Instagram.
“Girl it’s your body your choice. You’re the one having the baby and lil man has gotta support that,” added another.
Regardless of Babel’s truly painful mansplaining, you’ll be pleased to know Mitchell isn’t yielding to her boyfriend’s pressure, and in a *praise hands* clapback, let him know that she wasn’t going to be changing her mind about it any time soon: “Well listen, next time you can do this.”