As someone who identifies as a man, I cannot say that I have given birth in the biological sense. As the father of three, I can say that I have been called alongside the person who physically gave birth to our children, and that we intentionally and with forethought made having and raising children a partnership. Stark example: just because I was not able to nurse the baby did not mean that I got to sleep through the night! Changing diapers, tending a crying baby, holding, touching, caring for, walking with, feeding, bathing (the complete list would be too long) is not “women’s work.” It is human work.
Why am I going down this lane? The word “generosity” evolved out of original words in Latin that have to do with giving birth, having power to effect and bring forth life, and to safeguard the continuity of life. This group of words referred to the act of giving birth, the power and ability to give birth, the quality of the life created by families, and even the word that came to mean, in Latin, son-in-law as the one necessary for one’s daughter to engage in life-creating and life giving–in other words, say what you want about your in-laws, but they make it possible for our families to continue!
Pulling back from the Latin lesson, it just all leaves me pondering how we might see generosity, all acts of generosity, as belonging to each of us, as the power to bring forth life in ourselves and with others. Our acts of generosity, whether they are gifts of time, of skills, of muscle power, of attention, of creativity, and yes, even that thing that generosity is often reduced to–money: all of these acts can be life giving, life creating, life sustaining, life ennobling. They are not acts that belong to any particular gender or socio-economic group. Acts of generosity are human acts that bestow life.