July 2016 issue editor's letter

Israeli model Bar Refaeli stars on the cover of ELLE Malaysia's July 2016 issue

By Kate Guest | Published: 27 Jun 2016

July 2016 issue
Photo: ELLE Malaysia

Sometimes I like to think about how different the world would be if it were men who gave birth instead of women. Try it. As a thought experiment it has the power to make you both hysterical and furious.

You can start with menstruation. Would there be a tax on pads and tampons if it were men who menstruated? If men were the ones responsible for growing a foetus from nothing into a small human being, would giving birth be safer? Would the medical industry take mothers more or less seriously if they were male? If it were men who had to push a bowling ball-sized body out of their own – and do it 'naturally' or deal with the guilt – feed it on demand, get little to no sleep throughout, and never complain about it, would we erect statues in their honour or ask them how they plan to get back to their 'pre-baby body'? (Because even if there isn't a tabloid magazine anxiously waiting to discuss your figure, I can guarantee there are people in your life who are.) Would they be able to feed that child without having to put a blanket over its head or find a questionably clean toilet?

If it were up to men to handle the vast majority of childcare, would we let them have more than two months at home with their babies? Would we make it easier for them to return to work, if and when they chose, by letting them work flexible hours, or remotely? Would we introduce office crèches? Would we expect female partners to do more around the house, and not call it 'helping' but rather 'pulling your weight'? Would men face the same barrage of parenting advice from fathers, uncles, taxi drivers and even women (women!), some of which is well-meaning, but some of which is just thoughtless interfering? Would fathers' groups be places of complete and unquestioning support instead of support with a side of judgment? Would pregnant men working in entertainment, such as on television or as emcees, not be dropped from jobs just because they're pregnant? Would it be such a big deal to show a pregnant body on a magazine cover? Are you laughing yet?

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