When a very pregnant and very naked Demi Moore posed for the cover of Vanity Fair back in 1991, she probably had no idea how popular a trend she was starting. The cover, shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, was met with a fair amount of controversy. Critics insisted the photo was indecent, obscene, even vulgar. Fortunately, that level of playground name-calling hasnt stopped others from following suit.
Since Moores iconic cover, a slew of celebrities have signed up to do nude shoots while pregnant. Model Cindy Crawford did so for W just a few years later in 1999, Britney Spears for Harpers Bazaar back in 2006, Claudia Schiffer for German Vogue in 2010, Nia Long for Ebony in 2011 and Jessica Simpson for Elle in 2012.
But in addition to getting a bunch of celebrities to strip down and make some magazines a lot of money, the act has sparked a frenzy within a very specific and relatively unknown group of admirers. Theyre members of the Maiesiophilia community, and they find pregnancy nothing short of erotic.
In his book “Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices,” Dr. Anil Aggrawal defines Maiesiophilia as gaining sexual arousal from pregnant women and/or female childbirth. Though many agree that this definition can be expanded to include those who find the acts impregnation and lactation arousing as well.
A simple Google search on the subject can bring you to a number of resources for those in the community. In a chat room dedicated to Maiesiophilia, or pregnancy fetish, one member writes: “God I want nothing more than to find someone like me that would let me hold them down and fill them with my seed….being there with her for every single minute of the pregnancy, as her belly slowly swells, hanging low in her pelvis to have the chance to have her deliver our baby into my waiting hands, moaning and writhing in pain as the heads slowly crowns…..This fetish is almost unsatisfiable.”
If these individuals seem unique to you, it might be wise to think again. There are a number of chat rooms, forums and social media sites (NSFW) dedicated to pregnancy fetishism. One Tumblr user explains, Its a turn on to have my husband provide for me and demand I keep his seed inside of me. Its sexy when he controls when I will produce a baby. While we make love he tells Ive been making more money at work and now Im getting you pregnant.
It is a little unusual. But would it be a stretch to term pregnancy fetishism immoral? One case in particular forced the public to really think about that question.
Back in 2002, Nikki Devi, an aspiring porn star from New Zealand teamed up with Steve Crow, Porn King and owner of the hardcore porn company, Vixen Direct. The plan was for Nikki, who was pregnant at the time, to have sex with two male co-stars. They also wanted to include footage from Nikkis real-life birth in the film, titled “Ripe.”
Crow argued that the move was about freedom of expression, but the New Zealand courts were not impressed. The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services wanted to separate the mother and child, should the film be completed. However, the countrys laws made it hard to conclude whether the act of giving birth in a pornographic film was, in fact, a form of child abuse.
Child Youth and Family chief social worker, Shannon Pakura, insisted that, The baby faces the prospect, locally at least, of growing up being known as the porn baby.
Though in the end, the film was made (Crow was prohibited from using any public hospital facility in New Zealand to film the birth), it didnt serve as the niche hit that Crow was perhaps hoping for. His company, Vixen Direct, has since gone out of business.
Nikkis story serves as a good example of the gray area that exists between sexuality and pregnancy. Some would insist the two belong in different spheres completely. But is it fair to deny pregnancy of a sexual identity of its own? There are, after all, many mothers who would disagree with doing so.
Debra Pascali-Bonaros documentary Orgasmic Birth seeks to out the best kept secret of childbirth. Pascali-Bonaro asserts that some women actually experience orgasm as the baby exists the birth canal.
Christiane Northrup, an OB-GYN and author of Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom, explains, When the babys coming down the birth canal, remember, its going through the exact same positions as something going in, the penis going into the vagina, to cause an orgasm. And labor itself is associated with a huge hormonal change in the body, way more prolactin, way more oxytocin, way more beta-endorphins these are the molecules of ecstasy.
For the lucky few who do experience orgasm during childbirth, it serves as an exciting escape from the medicalization of childbirth. For others, the sexualization of pregnancy remains a problematic, and perverse trend. But we dont get to dictate the sexual fantasies of those around us. So maybe it would be appropriate to insert an old cheesy line here. Whatever floats your boat right? That just might be the best we can come up when it comes to addressing those who find pregnancy nothing short of sexy.
Carrie Weisman is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.