Celebrities Have the Right to Remain Silent About Their Pregnancies

What Women Really Think
Feb. 18 2014 10:39 AM

Celebrities Have the Right to Remain Silent About Their Pregnancies

Melissa Harris-Perry bravely talked about her surrogate pregnancy, but that doesn't mean every celebrity mom should have to.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for GLAAD

Let’s applaud Melissa Harris-Perry. The host of her eponymous MSNBC show just had a baby girl, and in a blog post Tuesday, she was totally transparent about her struggles with fibroids, secondary infertility, and use of a surrogate. “It took two families, three states, four doctors, and five attorneys to get this little girl here,” Harris-Perry writes. “And while our gestational carrier has no genetic tie to our little one, she is now our family.”

While it’s great that Harris-Perry wanted to go public about her experience of “raising a tween and a tot” at 40, as well as her experience of using a surrogate, the key here is that it was her choice to speak out. I’ve been somewhat appalled of late at commentators who say celebrities older than 35 must talk about their struggles to get pregnant, as if they owe it to us.


This has come up in particular in the publicity surrounding The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Tanya Selvaratnam. In an interview with CNN, Selvarantam said, "We see celebrities having kids seemingly without any problems, and we have no idea what they went through. We see the end result, but not the struggle."

Maybe that’s because their struggles are none of our business, unless they choose to make it our business, as Harris-Perry bravely did. In an age when 49-year-old Laura Linney’s pregnancy and subsequent birth is described as a “secret” just because she didn’t start a blog about it on People’s celebrity baby website, we’ve come too far in expecting famous women to expose their private lives to us.

CNN’s Wendy Sachs describes celebrities such as Halle Berry and Uma Thurman seemingly having babies easily after 35 as a “tragic disservice to women” who might think that they, too, can get pregnant without assistance into their 40s. No. Berry is not your biology teacher. There is no shortage of media telling women about how their eggs are shriveling up and dying. It’s a tragic disservice to assume that women can’t learn that there’s a relationship between age and fertility without someone famous telling them so.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loath NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 17 2014 4:08 PM How Teflon Is Vladimir Putin's Popularity?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 4:07 PM Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Genius of Jenson’s Roman
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?