Last week, (yet another) article came out detailing the case of a woman who is suing her doctor for pressuring her into a cesarean against her will. There is so much to deconstruct within the narrative of that story, but I want to focus on the commentary from the Obstetrician in the case. I have […]
We all know the onus isn’t on women to behave, act, or dress a certain way in order to not be raped. Yet, because the dominant culture has yet to fully insist that men be held accountable for their actions, many of us generally take certain precautions in an attempt to keep ourselves safer. Which led […]
This online chat was Part 2 of the ongoing conversation on Activism in the Birth Room between Aimee Brill of Doula Trainings International and me. (You can find Part 1 here.) In case you missed it, here is the recap:
We hear the stories frequently. The Midwife-Gone-Medical or the Doula-Acting-Renegade. They exist as platforms for the need for well-defined scopes of practice. But it’s not often we get to put a face or humanity behind the stories. They exist as pure propaganda, Allegorical creatures conjured for the greater good, our own stay-in-line benefit. The Person […]
The bloody scenes of women are always suspect. Our insides, the things our bodies expel – the mucous, the shedding, the clots and clumps of uterine lining and pre-formed babies. We must keep it neat. We must follow the rules. ………………………. “I can’t find you. For three days you’re consumed…. I don’t know where you […]
It’s no secret that no one really cares about women’s safety. Especially not when there’s a fetus at stake. One only needs to look at the current standards of care in birth to see how little we care about women’s health…
Being neck-deep in reproductive and birth justice work, I don’t often allow myself to venture outside of the feelings of rage that fuels the immediacy of the work at hand. If I tapped into sadness every time, I’d be crying all day every day. This film, though, gave me pause to sit in the deep and dark emotions that accompany this work – the emotions that women collectively experience when faced with the SO MANY obstacles that stand in our way of our autonomy and self-empowerment and joy and accomplishment. The self-talk of the women in the film, I think, really clenched this sadness. …How programmed women are to be blamed. How ingrained we are to ignore the systemic problems of the institution and instead cast it onto the women, themselves; onto ourselves….
The statistical disparity is telling. Birthing folks are not offered support for their choices. Forced cesareans are the extreme examples of the brutal birth culture of slapping women around until they mouse-up or shut up or say, “yes, sir.” But there are countless other ways birthing people endure harsh treatment, from forced vaginal exams to forced separation from their babies to everything in between. One woman’s gruesome, filmed, forced episiotomy from last year highlights this rampant culture of mental abuse and hospital-sanctioned rape. She’s having trouble finding a lawyer to take her case – even with the damning footage. Because the baby is okay. And apparently slicing a woman’s vagina twelve times like she’s a swath of fabric on the counter at JoAnn’s isn’t a mutilating enough injury. What does this say about the established value of women in the judicial system? Did we ever actually come off the shelf as baby-making containers?
Women have held their place as an inhuman conceptual idea – one that is clothed in the dirty rags of one’s imagination so as to maintain a believable discourse. Society, at large, feels the need to leave it that way because as soon as we begin to actually listen to women’s stories and experiences it becomes complicated. We can no longer maintain our pretend image of what kinds of women make certain choices. We have to begin to acknowledge that choices are personal, that women are best positioned to know what is best for themselves and their families, and that women, alone, should be held with the responsibility and right of making their own healthcare decisions.
In looking back, will we see a history that illuminates the boldness of folks with a uterus – one defined by insistent non-compromise? Or will our struggle be laced with concessions, excused by ourselves and society, named baby-steps and progress and forward thinking?