Scary Movies and Scarier Things has been edited by Priyanshi Gathani.
Every 22-year-old girl who wants to ‘focus on her career’ lives in constant fear of becoming pregnant by mistake. It’s the stuff of nightmares. They’ve read everything about micro-tears, oil-based and water-based products, and how latex reacts with oil. Always so cautious, they know the benefits and demerits of various contraceptives, how much friction is too much friction and probably wash their hands five times during sex. They have charted out their period cycles including hormone trajectories and birth control pills intake with military accuracy and ensured that they get it on the exact same day every month. If you get your period a day late, it’s okay, let’s wait and see. Three days late, okay, make sure you have the gynaecologist’s number on speed dial. A week late, chances are you will already have the first symptoms of anxiety disorder. Working girls don’t have time for reproductive problems.
I recently saw a very scary movie where a girl gets pregnant after a one night stand. It takes you through her celebrating her promotion and having casual sex, and while becoming more successful, realising she’s pregnant. Then, this 20-something woman goes through the entire process of gestation and birth, all the hormonal changes, while trying to forge a romantic partnership with the weird guy she slept with for the sake of parenthood. After throwing up at her job, she tries hiding her pregnancy so as to not ‘blow her new position’. (Sorry, I’ve just given away most of the plot. But it was a rubbish movie if it’s any consolation, and the plot is obvious from the title). I know there’s sexism here and I see huge scope for feminism, but either way, it is really scary.
What I found quite unrealistic was that she only realises after eight weeks, when she gets urges to throw up. Any normal girl would have had a period by that time. And, if we miss it, we instantly notice and panic. So, chances are that you wouldn’t leave it that long. Either way, it’s very scary walking through the entirety of your nightmare in high definition with no ad breaks. (I’ve read somewhere that there might be a second part to this film – why??? Was the first not enough?)
However, as I let the movie go on (I don’t know why, but I did) I realised something extremely strange. It’s alright to have a baby, really. It’s not the end of your life. It might just be something that genuinely makes you happy, even if you are career focussed and ambitious. You don’t have to stop being all that to be okay with the prospect of having a child. Now, I am in no way saying that at 22, I think of myself as ‘having the prospect of a baby’ anytime within the next ten years, if ever. I still remain steadfastly loyal and fierce about my work. However, being downright paranoid about sex because it might give you a baby by mistake is a fear that many women constantly live in, and that might do more harm in crippling your mental peace, than good.
Again, I’m not saying that 20-year-olds should discard contraceptives and adopt the life of rabbits. But if you take necessary precautions and understand how contraceptives work, you won’t get pregnant unless you want to. Just because we are able to give birth, we tend to think we are at a constant risk of doing so. But, as a society that has poverty, corruption, terrorism and a still flourishing human trafficking racket, if our biggest fear is getting pregnant, then perhaps our priorities are wrong. So, as the movie continued, the protagonist found herself thrilled to be pregnant, fell in love with her partner, and gave birth to a little girl that she was happy and proud of. Her employers told her that her pregnancy was not a problem (although, again, for very weird unrealistic reasons), and she moved into her own house (okay, I’ve given away the entire plot now).
I know it is an unrealistic and oversimplified linear version of the story. But I was surprised to see that what I was sure was going to be an uncomfortable, too real, anxiety-inducing watch ended not with a heart attack but with a contented sigh. Now, that rarely happens and so, when my thinking is changed, maybe even temporarily, by not a good but a bad movie, then what do I do? I write an article about it—because what else is there.
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