|We hear much the same thing about childbirth, that women who object to having procedures done on them without their consent, who resent the lack of privacy and respect in a typical delivery room, are women who simply have "issues." Maybe they don't. Maybe they are the ones who are the most in touch with their own feelings, and refuse to repress them.
i fully agree with this statement.
you know, i have a hard time seeing this as a feminist issue - maybe because it shouldn't be an issue at all. i don't see why *anyone* - male or female; doctor or midwife; mother or sister, even - should be directing any birth except her own. hell, to be directing anyone else’s *life* but her own. pregnancy and birth are normal states within the adult female experience. they are part of life, not departures from it. sadly, these stages are not treated this way by the western medical model, which is where we have the problem. asking a health care provider to direct my health when i don’t have a specific job for them to do
is an essential expression of mistrust in my body, isn’t it? if i see my healthy state as abnormal and in need of management, some provider will surely take my money to do a job that doesn’t need doing.
whether i choose one gender of provider over another isn’t as important as how i see my role as consumer of health care services generally. if i suspect that my health needs attention beyond my capability to perform it for myself, it really is *my* job to do the legwork so that i can ask specifically for a service to be provided for me. when i don’t have a clear need, but insist on having services performed for me, i can hardly complain when i’m taken advantage of by men or by women. it’s equal opportunity in that regard.
personally, i see routine physical examinations as ridiculous, and routine prenatal care equally bizarre. what information can be had under a microscope that i can’t intuit by living with myself every day? just because i *can* be examined under a microscope doesn’t mean that i *should be* - i am not consciously constructing myself (or a baby) at the molecular level. knowing what i know at the conscious level must be enough to maintain health; without that basic trust in my own body, how would i even get out of bed in the morning? never mind grow a baby.
but women are clearly conditioned to accept prenatal care and strangers (male or female) molesting their bodies in a professional capacity as ‘normal’ and ‘health care’. similarly, we are conditioned to expect direction in birth as normal. it is not normal, none of it is, and i can prove it: imagine a healthy couple choosing to copulate in a doctor’s office or a hospital just in case something goes wrong
. you would ask yourself what kind of nuts these people were (i would), because it is not normal. imagine a gastroenterologist shoving a camera down your esophagus while you ate to examine your digestion habits. it could be done, sure, but wouldn’t it be unpleasant and unnecessary? would i expect accurate information about my body to be gleaned under these strange circumstances? information can be had, surely - but is it properly defined as ‘health care’? or is it clear by analogy that these are ‘unnecessarily and invasive interventions in a normal process’? how could you fail to suffer, say, indigestion? similarly, how could a healthy body birth normally while being handled and observed?
no one suggests that your digestive tract be examined - even the first time you use it - in case something goes wrong. no one condemned me as careless with my health for lacking a doctor’s care on the scene when i first used my body for vaginal intercourse - even though i’d never used it in such a way before. why should birth be different? assuming you are a healthy person who’s enjoyed an unremarkable pregnancy, why would you elect to have any attendant at your birth at all, male or female? i simply can not see a place for a manager. it’s laughable, even, except that we don’t laugh - we just expect it to be so. we shouldn’t. all through the process from conception to birth - there’s just no place for management.
no one is standing by when you conceive. no one manages all forty weeks of your life while you gestate your baby. similarly, no one should be on hand telling you how to birth one. it’s as simple as that.
i think that if i throw my (healthy) self into the hands of a doctor and ask them to tell me what to do with my body, i am right to expect that that person (indeed, that industry) is going to evolve as an authoritarian, telling me what to do and how to do it, and comparing me with others. we need to recognize how useless this is. we need to regain faith in ourselves. we need to see ourselves as our own OB/Gyn (or midwife) and the people we employ to help us as servants. what they do for us is up to us to request, not up to them to direct.