Birth Depictions In The Media - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I started this discussion over in Media, but I seem to be attracting those who want to debate that that books and media are fictional and therefore it doesn't matter how birth is depicted.

So, let me start over, here:

What Movies/TV/Books depict birth and pregnancy in ways that you find wrongheaded or irritating?

My example was started in my blog entry about this topic (see signature line for link) and I was ramped up about Star Wars III and Discovery's Birth Day and TLC's A Baby Story.

You guys are my peeps! What do you think? I want to see how your average Ucer or UC supporter would answer this question.
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#2 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 01:02 PM
 
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I think the question is: What Movies/TV/Books DON'T depict birth and pregnancy in ways that you find wrongheaded or irritating?

I rarely see a birth in the media that sends a positive message or reinforces the belief that birth is safe. These days I'm not throwing as many mental bricks at the TV as I used to, but that's primarily due to the fact that I usually change the channel before my blood pressure starts to rise! I do believe that's going to change, however.
Laura
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#3 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 02:14 PM
 
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I'm not a UC'er, but I found the birth of Luke and Leia in Star Wars III absolutely infuriating. I had been really focused on the topic when I saw the movie (my due date was July 14th, and I was pushing for a VBA2C), and I just wanted to scream. The whole thing was just so ridiculous.

I haven't been watching tv or going to movies much for a long time, so I haven't seen any other media-portrayed births in years. But, if Revenge of the Sith is any example, I'm not missing much!

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#4 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by laurashanley
I do believe that's going to change, however.
Laura
Laura,

I wonder how you see that changing? I see attitudes changing on a grass roots level but I imagine it would be some time until this changes trickle down to media depictions. Maybe you know of something in the works? Or maybe you are just feeling optimistic knowing how obstetrics is currently failing that the media will catch on?

Mar
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#5 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here's an excerpt from my blog entry about this (to save me writting it all out here again):
Quote:
Whenever I get wondering why Americans have developed such powerless and atrophied views about natural childbirth, I have only to look around me at the myriad media depictions of birth, and I see women being taught that birth is hopelessly painful and pointless.

Here's some examples:

Star Wars III:

Padme is certain that the birth would be fine but Anakin has "dreams" that she will die in childbirth. His fear actually propels his entire plot arc of falling to the dark side of the force in order to protect her from death in childbirth.

This is actually confusing to me. If their culture is soo freakin' advanced that they can make robot limbs and the like, wouldn't this fantasy also include bypassing danger from childbirth? I think the whole "medical science and knowledge will save the world" futuristic mythology is complete and utter crap anyway, but if you are going to postulate such bullshit, be consistent already George Lucas!

So, skipping forward, after Anakin goes postal and tries to choke Padme to death and she has now apparently lost all her gumption (former leader of an entire planet felled by one bad boyfriend...whatever!) and will to live, she is finally giving birth. It is not clear what the mechanics of said birth are, but it is unsurprisingly aseptic and involves a robot doing the delivery.

A Robot.

With a scoopy scoop hand.

Let me just say, this is totally dumb. Scoopy hands do not make robots good baby catchers. No woman in her right mind is gonna be like: "My new OB is so great! He has a scoopy hand which makes it so much easier scoop out my womb, like a quart of ice cream!" I think a robot OB delivery guy would be twice as likely to get kicked across the room unless they are heavily sedating laboring women in Lucas's scoopy OB world.

And either Padme is heavily sedated or she is just the worst mother on the planet because they specifically state that "nothing is wrong with her" but she has "lost her will to live" even as she pants and pitifully names her children: "Luke. Sigh." And then "Leia. Ssssiiigh." I mean, COME ON! Didn't we spend the last three entire episodes having Padme's kick ass determination shoved down our throat and then she takes one look at her children, names them Luke and Leia (in a world of Anakins and Padmes) after her favorite soap opera characters, and then drifts off to her death because she has no will to live? That's it???? Really?

Okay, so that birth scene disturbed me on several levels. But I am really really tired of the futuristic, science will save us all (with scoopy-handed robots) crappola! Unless you have no will to live. They can't save you from being a twit apparently.
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#6 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 05:36 PM
 
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I'm not a UCer either, but I'm a proponent of natural childbirth. So I watch a lot of those L&D shows on cable. It's like driving by a car wreck...I just have to look. Plus, I'm always pleasantly surprised when they feature a natural birth, in water, at home, or whatever. It's really so heartwarming.

The image that riles me the most is in the intro to Maternity Ward. They show the newborn being carried across the room, and you can see the IFM wire sticking out of its poor little head. It gives me the creeps in the worst way. I know that there may be cases where that kind of monitoring is necessary, but it's just hard to see it portrayed as the standard mode of doing things.
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#7 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 05:37 PM
 
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oh man!!!! This has been a topic near and dear to my heart for years, WAAAAY before I was a radical mama--- haha and was just a typical (?) first time pregnant OB-goer looking for some nice books, you know those little Pregnancy and your Baby, etc.........and I hated all of them. I hated the doctor worship, I hated the terminology, the imagery of the baby being "trapped" and/or needing to be "rescued/removed" from the mother, "Delivered", etc etc etc I HATED WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOURE EXPECTING, it was 80% about defects and dangers, the rest was some yucky "diet" and extraordinarily stupid and fake questions from pretend moms. they gloss over breastfeeding like it is a cute option........

Now, as a soon to be 4 time mama, having had a hospital vaginal birth, a C-section, and a homebirth VBAC, planning our UC.........I can barely look at thge TITLES of the shows on discovery health, the learning channel, etc......because I KNOW how messed up they are, but I get so upset for all the women (men, girls, boys.......) who watch this, and the message that birth is very very unpredictable, very very dangerous, very very tricky, and above all, a situation of dire potentials..........I just get SO angry. I cannot believe the shows I have seen, where women "didnt make it" to the hospital, the baby is born at home, mom and baby are fine, and then the paramedics "FINALLY" arrive and "THANKFULLY" they are whisked off to the hospital! Why are they going to the hospital? They had a homebirth!

the terminology used by the sinister voice-over man is astonishing, too, "The mother had to hold on until they got to the hospital or else", "Life or death", "remarkably they both survived the ordeal"...........etc etc etc

There is another show, called Maternity Ward, and the picture they show to advertise it is a woman's eye with a TEAR rolling down --- SO SAD and wierd! The name of it is not "High risk maternity ward" but every darn episode is some tragic woman all strapped down to every intervention known to man, FLAT on her back, I can barely breathe looking at her and feeling for her like some beached turtle who cant see or breathe, and they always end up doing a section or forceps after screaming push push push

I absolutely hate them all.

And the theres Baby Story which will randomly have a really low key homebirth on it but they are sort of rare, so I cant bother following it anymore.

Every once in a while People magazine will have some cover about "She didnt make it!!!" which is about women who birthed out of hospital by accident, and I just see this in line at the grocery store and I always think who cares/good for her.the story will inevitably be filled with how lucky they are to be alive, or what a hero DH or someone was for "Cutting the cord"-- and that aNOTHER thing!!!!! the shows about "emergency birth" are OBSESSED with the umbilical cord! It always is like the second the baby is out, what will they cut the cord with? Thankfully someone cut the cord! Luckily they had a knife! etc etc etc............would you want to be sitting in some wierd car in the snowstorm with your placenta still inside of you and your cord dangling out???? EWWW WIERD LEAVE THE MAMAS AND BABIES ALONE!!!!


Ahh. Well, alot of what i have written probably jumps all over the place, my 31 weeks preg brain is really shaky lately but I appreciate this topic and look forward to way better examples from the righteously pissed off mamas like me.

p.s. does my extended family count as "media"? :LOL they are soooooooooo negative and filled with the fear/luck/doctors-rule stuff it makes me sick.
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#8 of 21 Old 08-19-2005, 11:28 PM
 
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I totally agree that birth is skewed in most entertainment programs.

But, Star Wars is near and dear to me.

The whole story of dying in child birth was a self-fufilling prophecy, Skywalker saw her dying in child birth, which was fortelling the future... a future that nobody had anticipated where Padme would die from a broken heart. He couldn't tell what it was that caused her death, (him) he had only known that she was going to die.... which in turn drove him mad in order to save her life, thus coming full, fatal circle.

It's supposed to be sad.
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#9 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 12:23 AM
 
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Oh, what was that book I just read. Um... oh, dang it. I can't remember the title. Dang. Anyway, it's about three generations of women living together, mother, grandmother, and daughter, told from all their perspectives. The teenager gives birth and it's of course a hospital birth with episiotomy. I was so disappointed that it was just painted as normal in the book. Blah.

Another disappointing birth was Scully in the X-Files. I just remember thinking, geez, she's not even in the hospital, and she still thinks she has to be on her back.
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#10 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 06:40 AM
 
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Quote:
I think the question is: What Movies/TV/Books DON'T depict birth and pregnancy in ways that you find wrongheaded or irritating?
Quite true. I grew up reading historical romances, and of course every time there was an impending childbirth there, you knew something was going to go wrong and it would take some odd act of heroism for the woman to survive, because of course the doctor never got there in time.

I don't expect birth to be presented any other way though. Quite frankly, there is zero dramatic tension inherent in a birth that goes normally (though of course every birth you're at is quite dramatic!), so you're not going to see it. It has less to do with attitudes towards birth--at least, in works of fiction--than attitudes towards plot. Some books are quite obviously written with a set quota of emergencies/problems/plot twists planned in advance, and since things sometimes do go wrong during birth, they're a handy dramatic device.

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#11 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 10:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
Another disappointing birth was Scully in the X-Files. I just remember thinking, geez, she's not even in the hospital, and she still thinks she has to be on her back.
Well, she is a medical doctor.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#12 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 10:43 AM
 
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I agree about Star Wars...

I remember seeing a Christmas story one year on television with the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger and Joseph standing over Mother Mary, who was passed out cold and laying on the ground in the barn/cave/shelter.

Unbelieveable. HOw did the human race get this far if the mothers nearly die with the birth of each and every child?

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#13 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 12:18 PM
 
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I can't think of anything that poses a positive experience with birth. Not off hand yet...accept for a few weeks ago- Dora the Explorer's mom had a twin homebirth on Saturday morning cartoons.
I wrote to Nick JR and thanked them for doing that.
You really couldn't tell, unless you understood how her mom was recovering and the lead up to seeing the babies. Pretty cool.
Its sad that the masses can only consume certain things-hospital managed births, bloody dipictions of war in the news coverage, teenage flashers, gorry scientific investigative dramas, adultering spouses and the like.
But a normal natural birth...a bit over the top. No one could stomach it! :LOL


Okay.....I have to say this- the first known unassisted childbirth that had been documented throughout history, occurred and continues to be depicted in many movies (but not truly discussed)....











The birth of Christ. No ob or midwife that I know of

Go Mary!

Mama to 5 babies. UCer, too!
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#14 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 01:19 PM
 
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I love Star Wars. Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie but, I think I was the only one in the theater who was laughing during that birth scene. I'm sure people thought I was nuts for laughing while she was dying but the whole thing was so ludicrous(sp?).

First the OB droid says shes dying so we have to operate to save the babies. So, I'm thinking C/S right. NOPE. I wonder why they used the word "operate".

They've got her flat on her back with some sort of tunnel hooked up over her crotch. It kind of looked like that background in the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where he's playing Leopold the conducter at the opera and the singer is singing "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro"

She's got no visible tubes, IV's etc, hooked up to her, so I'm wondering how they got her to go into labor. Maybe this universe has "better" ways of forcing women to go into labor.

The droid encourages her to push and does some funny alien "lamaze" noises. That got a big laugh out of me.

She doesn't appear to be pushing. I'm sure we all know that pushing is hard work. She just kind of lays there and gets a little perspiration on her brow.

I didn't notice the droid had scoop hands. Maybe it cut her open and scooped the babies out.

Where did she hide those babies? Those babies were supposed to be premies? They must have weighed 15lbs a piece. I know that you can't use a real premie on screen for obvious reasons, but you'd think with all their effort to make CGI Yoda lifelike they could make a premie look like a premie.

ITA with the PP's. They set her up in the previous episodes to be this strong, independent woman and now she has no will to live? What about her babies? Couldn't she have stayed alive for them? She dies because her whiney, abusive, murderous husband turns to the dark side? It made me very skeptical.

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#15 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 04:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belle
Maybe this universe has "better" ways of forcing women to go into labor.
As always, new and improved!

Quote:
Those babies were supposed to be premies?
The special effects department could have produced preemies...I know that I saw a recent movie about the Dionne quintuplets and they were preemies, and looked like it...the special effects department had a hand in this...

The Star Wars scene sounds like a little cost cutting, although I do not know what it would cost to put robot preemies in the scene versus the cost to put live babies in the scene with all of the child labor laws.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#16 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 04:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belle
They set her up in the previous episodes to be this strong, independent woman and now she has no will to live?.
All strong powerful women need to be put in their place.

Childbirth, the one most feminine and most powerful activity that nature has endowed women with, is the surest way to kill them...

Bruno Bettleheim noticed in his work with disturbed children that little boys would take fashion dolls and rip, cut, or chew the breasts and inners out of the dolls because they wanted to be sure the female doll could not have children.

Bettleheim stopped short of called this a "womb envy", but he was struck at the violence of these disturbed little boys in pursuing this activity.

I think alot of surgeons have a slight case of this and have bankrolled it.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#17 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 04:54 PM
 
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I'd love to comment more on what everyone has been saying but I'm off to Durango to take my "baby" to college! I'm both and

Someone asked about why I think things are going to change in the media. It's basically just a feeling I have. I believe little by little humanity is waking up to the truth about birth.
Laura
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#18 of 21 Old 08-20-2005, 04:57 PM
 
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Congratulations!

Knowing that you had this baby at home, let me say well begun is half done!

Enjoy your nachis.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#19 of 21 Old 08-21-2005, 01:09 AM
 
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I totally had the same frustration with Star Wars III. It started even before the birth though. As soon as Padme got pregnant, she was no longer protrayed as a strong senator, but as a love-sick, pining on the balcony, helpless woman. It seems to be a reflection of our culture. Women can be strong and independent, but that all changes when they marry and have children. What a bunch of hooey!
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#20 of 21 Old 08-21-2005, 04:03 AM
 
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Mama to 4 said everything that's on my mind, and then some! We've recently had some news coverage in Australia about a woman who "delivered her own baby" (Big puke) She "had" to have a c-sec so she told the surgeons she wanted to lift the baby out of her own belly. So there she is, all gloved up, lifting up her own baby after they slice her open. And why did she "have" to have that surgery??? She had one last time! On how many levels is that story wrong wrong wrong?! And another pukeworthy story last night about a mama alone at home whose baby popped out naturally. Nothing but "how lucky nothing went wrong!" type attitudes. It makes me sick to the back teeth.
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#21 of 21 Old 08-21-2005, 05:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl
I don't expect birth to be presented any other way though. Quite frankly, there is zero dramatic tension inherent in a birth that goes normally (though of course every birth you're at is quite dramatic!), so you're not going to see it. It has less to do with attitudes towards birth--at least, in works of fiction--than attitudes towards plot. Some books are quite obviously written with a set quota of emergencies/problems/plot twists planned in advance, and since things sometimes do go wrong during birth, they're a handy dramatic device.
I agree that they're a handy dramatic device, and provide an opportunity for a plot twist (eg. mom dies, baby dies, baby is twins, etc.). But, I don't agree that there's zero dramatic tension inherent in the birth. Since things do go wrong, and everybody knows that the possibility exists, I think births can provide dramatic tension in a story without anything going wrong. Even the classic "mom gives birth in a taxi" kind of story can be tense and dramatic without the "it's a miracle nobody died" subtext.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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