Is touching a woman’s belly a warm expression of awe and wonder or is it just really bad manners or maybe even a violation? Apparently in Pennsylvania, touching a woman’s belly without her permission has been against the law all along. Recently, however, that law made national headlines and created a storm of debate when it was renewed in relation to a harassment case in Pittsburgh involving the touching of a pregnant woman’s belly.
We turned to our own Disney Dads bloggers to get a dad’s point of view on the subject. We wanted to know if they ever felt uncomfortable when someone touched their wives’ bellies. Do they feel it necessary to specifically mention contact with pregnant bellies in harassment laws? Or do they think putting something like this on the law books crosses the line into the absurd?
David Noel Edwards says this: “If you want to touch a woman’s belly, you should ask. And if you don’t have the wherewithal to ask, then a written law could save you considerable embarrassment. The only drawback to passing a law like this is the cost of enforcing it, along with the countless similar laws that will inevitably follow.”
Frank Matijevich thought such a law has definite merit. “I don’t think [the law] is excessive at all. I think that the law should hold true for anyone as it is an invasion of personal space. I can remember a handful of times [when someone touched my wife's belly] and it was very upsetting. Touching people who aren’t pregnant and you don’t know could be considered assault or harassment so how can anyone think that it is ok when a woman is pregnant? We also felt very strongly about people coming up and touching our babies. At random people would come up and want to touch their hands or faces and that is simply not okay.”
Craig Yoshihara errs on the side of common sense. Not every touch to a pregnant belly is invasive. “When Cassie was pregnant there seemed to be an overwhelming urge to touch her belly. But generally, people asked before doing it. Although I ‘get it,’ I also think it’s rude to touch someone’s belly without asking them. I mean, it’s not a common social gesture. It’s not like people rub bellies to say hello (although guys do belly bumps at sporting events). I wasn’t offended because none of them were guys and because it didn’t seem to offend Cassie.
“A law like this really isn’t necessary. We already have sexual harassment laws in place to take care of things like this if the belly rubbing gets uncomfortable – and harassment doesn’t have to be opposite genders. Generally, people adhere to social convention and ask for permission – which is the way it should be. I think we are an overly litigious society that needs to learn to communicate with one another instead of coming up with more laws for something that’s common sense.”
Matthew Barry says “My wife and I have had several encounters with pregnant-belly grabbers. Typically, it is a middle aged woman who follows her groping with some sort of superstitious announcement, like we’re ‘definitely having a boy’ or ‘that there’ll be six more weeks of winter.’
“As a former resident of Pennsylvania, I am proud to support any law that stops this kind of inappropriate nonsense. Although I’m fairly certain we already had a law on the books for this, called ‘assault’ I believe… a crime for which the phrase ‘lighten up’ was an inadequate defense.”
Says Lawrence Vaughan, “I had this horrifying boss 1982-1984. She was such a witch, I contemplated throwing a bucket of water on her and saying, “Gee, I thought you’d melt.” But then my fellow sufferers advised me against engendering charges and convictions for “assault and battery.” So the pregnant ladies who are touched against their will can just use the same old assault and battery charges; they need no new law.“
And leave it to Doug Liles to pack a punch:
“1. Pregnant women are beautiful – It is a natural impulse to want to connect with the personification of love and nurturing. Women have a unique power in this regard. Madonna and child should be admired from afar.
“2. Common decency – It seems that our world is depraved. The lack of respect for traditional social norms has simply evaporated. Can you leave women and children alone you hooligans?
“3. Mystery – It is a strange and wonderful mystery to look at one where there are two (or three or nine – in the case of the Octomom).
“4. I am He-Man: Don’t touch my wife or I will kill you. (That is what I am really thinking below my neocortex.)
“5. Do we need a law for everything? – Maybe the Victorians had it right on some topics. Do we need a modern Emily Post to help us return to the norms of etiquette that we can adhere to without the courts getting involved? By the way, I do believe that Disney-esque heroes should be able to give the villians a good smack once in a while with impunity, when rescuing a damsel in distress.”