For my Book Review I chose to read the Week 5 Book “Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag”. It is a Graphic Novel, written by A.K. Summers, published by Soft Skull Press in 2014. It has a total of 333 pages, but only 275 of them are actual text, the last 58 are citations. It retails for $17.95.
In the beginning of the novel, our author, Teek reminisces on her fashion choices to accommodate her growing belly, including oversized ballooning pants & suspenders. Teek first sought doctor’s advise on her and her partner’s routes to parent hood, they had to choose between “artificial insemination” or adoption. Through AI, Teek became pregnant. Everyone found out about her pregnancy. Her oregnancy effected her in more ways that she expectd, no X-rays, morning sickness, no caffeine, and explaining that she was the pregnant one, not her femme girlfriend Vee. Her pregnancy frustrated her; people always told her “isn’t it amazing what your body can do”, people wouldn’t allowing her to use their bathroom because she was a liability, Vee’s split attention between her Orals and Teek & the baby, birthing classes, and her inability to do anything helpful because of her pregnancy, and ill fitting shoes. Eight days after her due date, Teek gave birth.
The “Pregnant Butch: Nine Long months Spent in Drag”, written by A.K. Summers, is a Graphic Novel depicting the authors experience as a butch pregnant woman and all her struggles and thoughts through her nine months of pregnancy. The author demonstrates the her difficulties with confronting her image of butch womanhood(109), difficulties that same sex couples have with biological parental rights and adoption (119) generic experience of conception (134 – 144), and the gender binary experience of birthing classes (205).
In her graphic nove, A.K. Summers addressed her own issues with being butch. In our society we think of a woman and think “feminine”. So even as a young girl, before becoming butch, Teek knew one woman who was butch and thought of her as ugly, which was hard for Teek to overcome; “the memory of coach Liddell raised more disturbing deep seated notions about the relationship of butch to ugly”(109). At some point in Teek’s maturation she made the realization that her coach “wasn’t ugly because she was butch”. Her best moment of clarity was when she realized that he coach was an “individual who was both butch, a style of appearance that many find pleasing on a man but unsettling on a woman, and dog-butt ugly”. This moment for Teek was great because she realized that it was society that said that butch was ok for men not women, it wasn’t a rule of life that was ingrained in the stars; and that her coach was just ugly.
A.K. Summers also addressed the difficulties that same sex couples have with biological parental rights and adoption. When she went to the doctor to ask about becoming pregnant he told her that his “recommendation would be to harvest eggs from Vee and fertilize them with an anonymous doner and to implant them in herself, this would eliminate any legal challenge to either of them for parental rights”(119). For any straight couple there wouldn’t be an issue of parental rights, each of them would have equal rights, the child is equally theirs even if they don’t deserve it. But for same sex couples, one parent isn’t related to the child and poses the risk of losing custody because of it. Is that fair? No, the same sex parent may have been a more worthy parent than the straight one but just because of biology the same sex parent would lose custody before a straight parent would. In this scene, Teek also admits that she was adopted and she “wants a biological connection to her child…”(119).
Lastly A.K. Summers addresses her discomfort with the gender binary experience that is birthing classes. Teek blatantly stated that she “wishes that she’d been in a birth education class filled with queers. she’s like to hear how others carved out their roles and the “birth givers” and “birth partners” without the obfuscations of” her teachers (207). In her “dream class there’d be at leas one other pregnant butch, some femme-on-femme, butch-on-butch, a hit single, a bearded lady, some highly idiosyncratic classifications, and atlas one threesome”(207). Why weren’t there more LGBTQ+ parents in her birthing class? Were there just fewer soon to be parents in the LGBTQ+ community, or were they just not coming to classes because their family dynamic wasn’t a part of the “mommy daddy” binary that birthing classes are geared towards? In this scene of the novel the author gets at a very important part of the LGBTQ+ experience of creating a family, there is no class that caters towards them, should there be, or should everyone just treat them the same as everyone else and leave behind the idea that “mommy and daddy” is the only way to have a baby?
I really enjoyed the book. The fact that this book is a graphic novel rather than a regular written novel really changed and enhanced the experience for me. The illustrations were amusing, funny at times, realistic, literal and figurative, relatable and familiar because they were modeled after the TinTin comics. The title of the book while intriguing, is in my opinion misleading, when the title says “nine months spent in drag” my first thought was there there would be more time spent discussing the fact that there is no market for maternity wear of any style other than feminine. But the story is about so much more that that, it covers every struggle that pregnant individuals face, with the added difficulty of being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The story ties in to this chapter’s theme through the ideas of gender roles, donors, and the traditional family. When people think of family many think, mom dad and kid(s), maybe a pet. But that model of a family is exclusive of a huge portion of the population; single parents, gay and lesbian couples, couples with one trans parents … etc. This book features a lesbian couple and their ventures in creating a family. This novel addressed the issue of gender roles in many ways, one specific way is when Teek talks about the birth ing classes, called “Mommy and Daddy” classes, she enjoyed the informational aspect of the classes but wishes that there had been more of a gender queer aspect of it. In this Novel Teek and Vee use a sperm donor to be able to have a child, that means that the child is only biologically related to one of the women in their relationship, this can unfortunately create some difficulties.
The author’s goal when writing this graphic novel was to bring attention to the struggle that she endured as a butch lesbian woman, with doctors, society, family, her partner, and herself, while trying to become pregnant, actually becoming pregnant, and giving birth. The book was understandable at some parts, but not at others. Personally I had a hard time with the fact that this was a graphic novel. I enjoyed it but because of the irregular text it mad it hard to follow the flow of the authors story and plot.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, is in a relationship with someone who is pregnant or related to anyone who is pregnant. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, anyone related to, in a relationship with, or related to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, or anyone who wants to study or better understand the people of the LGBTQ+ community. This book highlights many of the things that the members of the LGBTQ+ community can feel or struggle with and it brings them to light for the reader who may not have any experience with them.