feminism is a dirty word


in america women are not taking to the streets to change birth.i have seen midwives fighting for licensure and organizing online petitions and rallies, but the truth is the majority of american women choose to birth in a hospital, with an in-network surgeon and pay a small, out-of-pocket deductible to their in-network provider(s).  and yet most days on twitter i see stories of women who are “forced onto their backs, and told to shut up. they are forcefully penetrated, strapped down, medicated, and sliced open as they lie defenseless and vulnerable” (inquisitor.com). those are some powerful words. forcefully penetrated? birth rape? ptsd from birth? and the self-proclaimed “feminist un-midwife” @gayedemanuele  would have you believe “our liberation is bound in one another’s. there is a war on women’s bodies. we are not incubators. stand united.” in a twitter conversation prompted by the above quote from marsden wagner she said to me “what are you afraid of? why is feminism a dirty word for you? who made it that way? your oppression, patriarchy?”  you can read her article “why is birth a feminist issue” here.   so, who made feminism a dirty word for me? you did, gaye. you and other women like you who easily group abortion rights and childbirth rights together in a neat little bundle. feminism took us into the hospital. remember? feminism also brought us hormonal birth control and the long laundry list of side effects . we did this to ourselves, to our bodies. let us take responsibility for our choices, those of our mothers and grandmothers, rather than blame our “patriarchy”. can we stop bitching long enough about our birth stories and “oppression” to see those who are truly oppressed? to help those who are truly in chains?

women in america can decide where and with whom they will give birth. sometimes insurance will cover their choices, other times they will have to pay the full amount out of pocket. women can interview midwives, doctors, surgeons, doulas, photographers- they can have all the testing or none of the testing, 3-d ultrasound, 4-d ultrasound, pregnancy massage….they can even buy a doppler to listen to fetal heart tones at home. american women have unfettered access to information and statistics via the internet, libraries, doctors offices, netflix and youtube. if a woman chooses to hire a surgeon to help her with her pregnancy and labor it is not for lack of choices. if you choose to hire a surgeon you choose to hire a “physician who possess special knowledge, skills and professional capability in the medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and associated disorders…”  why then would you be surprised when your surgeon wants to induce you and medically manage your labor? when they don’t view birth as safe and normal, but as a medical event? you are, after all, in a hospital.that is, after all, how they are trained. why would we spend so much time and effort trying to change the medical model to suit us? can we stop big pharma? i don’t think so. ladies! you cannot have it both ways. if you choose to birth in the hospital, you are choosing everything that comes with it. we are free to choose a better option.  it may not be easy to find a homebirth midwife in a state that does not license midwives, but it’s not impossible. broke, homeless? pregnancy medicaid will help you and your baby. single and pregnant? no problem. walk into any church in america and someone will take you under their wing.  women! take responsibility for yourselves! do your research. oppressed?  no.    uninformed?  maybe.    entitled?  definitely. i realize there’s poor and then there’s POOR, so i’m including this link “explaining white privilege to a broke white person”

now let’s put things into perspective- one of these things is not like the others:

america- women should not be forced to have surgery during childbirth.

china women should not be forced to have an abortion because they are pregnant with their unapproved second child.

africa- women/young girls should not be forced into marriage before 18.

india women should not be forced into prostitution to make money to feed their families.

africa (specifically kenya)– young girls should not be forced into having an abortion after becoming pregnant while prostituting themselves in order to make money to feed their families.

africa & middle east- young girls should not be forced to have a clitoridectomy, excision, or infibulation or any other type of female gential mutilation.

please please don’t get me wrong here. i sit across from women who tell harrowing tales of their births. of being lied to and manipulated and insulted and physically and mentally wounded. they long for healing and for a better birth this time. they are choosing a route that may be illegal and may bring scrutiny from social services if they transport and yet they believe there is a better way to bring your baby into the world and so they choose this way. they choose this and all the ramifications and consequences. not because they are oppressed, not because they live under a patriarchal system and not for feminism. they choose this because it is a choice! because there is freedom in finding and making that choice and taking responsibility for yourself. this is an excerpt from a blogger i follow who sums it up nicely in her post “we didn’t have our home birth for the ambiance” :

I gave birth at home because I object to my life and experiences being dictated by insurance companies and lawyers. Lawsuits have corralled the mainstream into a neat little pattern of procedures. To avoid being sued, doctors have to “do everything” to prevent medical disasters, which means they have to look for the most minute “problem”– oftentimes normal variances for mother or child under the stress of labor– and act immediately, which means intervention and often Cesarean section. They also have timelines to adhere to, and arbitrary guidelines to follow– many of which are set by the former groups.

I gave birth at home because I was prepared to claim responsibility for my birth. Putting birth in the hands of a doctor, or rather, the system, allows many parents to feel they already did the best for their child, whatever the outcome. My husband and I gave this deep consideration.

when you live in a country as freedom loving as ours you can’t help but long for more. more of everything. and better. better than before. let us very carefully keep ourselves in check with this dangerous behavior. it’s easy to make an idol of anything in our lives. to focus every thought, every action, every everything on one thing. i’ve done it, you’ve done it. this does not serve us.it does not serve others.  it destroys us. we are not here to have the perfect birth experience. if we get that, hallelujah! we are here to:

“go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. then instruct them in the practice of all i have commanded you. i’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”(matthew 28)

yes, birth is important and for many many women, myself included, it is an empowering and change-motivating event in their lives. let’s use that change for good, recognizing how blessed we are, and spend less time and effort fighting the “system” and more time and effort blessing others who are truly oppressed.

have you been on a missions trip? would you like to serve others in underdeveloped countries? have you read Radical by David Platt?




2 thoughts on “feminism is a dirty word

  1. You bring up some big issues here, and you make some very interesting points.
    Our perceived lack of choice is tied up in issues of expense and of social expectation. We have a culturally perpetuated fear of birth. We fear the sometimes magnified and distorted dangers of birth, so we give birth where we are told we and our babies are safest– in the hospitals. Then we are told in the hospital that we or our baby are in danger, and we lose “control” of our birth experience. Then we talk about the danger we were in and praise God that we were in the hospital where we could be saved– OR loathe the doctors for taking over in the way they are now trained– for better or worse– to do. You will see this theme in comments on my post– people who were saved by being in the hospital. You will also note that these commenters condemn me for endangering my baby by choosing something different. I did not have the support of the fearful, or (initially) my insurance company when I gave birth at home. Incidentally, I did have the support of my doctor.
    I do think that we need more licensed, well trained midwives, more education about birthing options, and above all more support of women’s individual choices, which as you’ve pointed out, do exist. In spite of the implied chains on childbirth in the U.S., we DO have a choice. We just have to be prepared to make the choice, unfortunately, in the face of opposition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really appreciate your comment especially after reading more about you. The problem for some is that they choose a midwife while still in a hospital practice mentality and to a degree they expect the same kind of relationship whereby they are told exactly what to do each step of the way rather than discussing options and deciding for themselves. And to some extent some midwives will function in this role. This is dangerous, in my opinion. There is lots of unbiased informed consent to be given.
      Your post about why you chose a homebirth, especially the part about taking responsibility, is spot on. And the honesty about your postpartum period flies in the face of the “mysticism” of being at home! As with everything we need to inform ourselves, make a decision and take responsibility for whatever the outcome. Thanks for your comment.


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