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Kate Middleton's Womb Shouldn't Be Up for Public Discussion

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KATE M
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While there are many scenes from Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette I would like to re-enact, never did I imagine ones I'd be encountering -- albeit thankfully from a distance -- were those postulating on Antoinette's womb, and what was going on inside it.

And yet, some 24 decades later, people are still making 'Guess What's Gestating' their favourite game when it comes to the Royal family.

Of course, it was inevitable. Wills 'n' Kate are our postercouple of patriotism, as shiny as Kate's hair (and Will's pate). I'm pleased they're having a baby, as I would be for any young couple in love. But I'm feeling distinctly queasy at the fact that a woman's body has become an object of public discussion for the next half year.

If it didn't feel so wrong, it would almost be right that Catherine's fertility would be the crowning lady news of 2012. This has been a year where I have seen the words "Get Your Hands Off My Womb" plastered onto a man's back as he performed a 'feminist burlesque', as well as on placards. The year when Northern Ireland saw their first abortion clinic open, as well as a woman dying as the Republic of Ireland's health service refused to terminate her pregnancy. A year when a woman's right to abortion has been at the centre of the US Presidential election, and where our own ministry of health, and minister for women, has wanted to reduce the time limit for terminating a pregnancy.

So it's a conflict I feel over the mass dissection over the Duchess of Cambridge, "Our Princess's", womb. For the last 12 months, talking about women's bodies has been a good thing. An exciting, and sometimes worrying, thing. But now that I'm looking into a future of novelty royal babygros, Middleton maternity wear and royal baby name generators, I want all the fertility talk to stop.

Fertility rights are hugely important. But what's happening in (nee) Middleton's middle shouldn't be up for public discussion. It's fantastic that another royal is on the way (who knows, I may yet see a Queen crowned in my lifetime!) but it would be even better if the press could stop the speculation on how it's gestating for the next half year.

Believe it or not, the Duchess Of Cambridge is more than just a pair of ovaries. And, as this poll shows, not many women would want to take her place as favourite British baby maker. I can see why: the Duchess has signed over her life to one at the heart of press speculation.

We rarely hear about Catherine's art history degree, or her job as a buyer for a high street chain (an enviable role in the industry), or what her thoughts are on current affairs. Like the majority of intelligent women in the public eye, we hear only about her never-ending collection of L.K Bennett shoes, her new fringe (now forever associated with the pregnancy announcement) or, depending on what you Google, her sunbathing habits.

Because this is what women in the public eye are reduced to. And now, Catherine's merely the sum of her biology, and after that, her mothering skills. Heaven forbid the column inches that will be racked up if she continues to wear her heels into full-term.

"It's her duty", many would argue. It's what she signed up to by marrying the heir to the throne. But isn't it time we re-evaluated such 'duty'? If the Duchess's duty is to be a role model in the public eye, and it's one I believe she carries out well, why are we insistent on framing her with such old-fashioned ideas?

Here's hoping the new royal is a happy, healthy child. But if it is a baby girl, I hope she is raised in a society which looks at her as more than just her sex. A little girl, and perhaps future Queen, recognised not for her shoes, or her dresses, but her achievements.

Aside from that, I don't want to hear anything about the Royal foetus until it comes into the world -- and I don't see why anybody else should either.

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