Lynn Griesemer, author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love, has a website called unassistedhomebirth.com. On it, she makes the following commentary about feminism:
Unassisted Homebirth and Feminism
In my book, Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love, Chapter 16 is titled Childbirth: A Feminist Issue? I do not wish to reiterate the chapter, but only say that if women want to be truly liberated during their birth experience, they need to take charge of their births by deciding what they want and taking deliberate action toward their goal(s).
Feminism has focused on “reproductive rights” and career opportunities, but has largely ignored the important process of childbirth.
One of my future goals is to contact women’s studies programs at colleges and universities and encourage them to consider teaching a unit on empowered childbirth. Young women need to know that feminism should not be restricted to reproductive rights and equality in careers, but that it extends to every aspect of womanhood, especially childbirth, which is a defining moment / experience in many women’s lives.
Feminism does often neglect childbirth, sometimes even leaning more towards the woman’s obvious right to not even begin a family. Still, how can “feminists” have such blatant disregard for the power of or disrespect for the vagina? Childbirth is a battleground for the vagina (as are the politics around our births). Shouldn’t that be a central point or focus?
When feminism DOES address the act of childbirth, it tends to address a woman’s right to powerful narcotics in order to have a humane experience, neglecting that this is still completely dependent upon and stemming from handing our body over to the patriarchal system which is modern maternity care.
It completely neglects that for women to know their TRUE power, they could avoid that system altogether as well as avoid real pain, trauma, or injury (which comes standard with the current system of birth).
This type of feminism lets patriarchy in the back door. [All innuendo contrived from that is completely appropriate.] It does not protect the vagina nor recognize our power. I call this “white coat feminism”, because it’s the feminism that focuses on having the same professions and beliefs as men, wishing to be regarded as logical and [pseudo] scientific only, to the detriment of the actual true fullness of our capabilities. That we have differences in the sexes is cast off as mumbo jumbo, as if clearly the only thing different about us is penis/vagina. We have completely different biological abilities, functions, and motivations. The brain-body connection, hormones, intuition/instinct, or maternal traits are absent in these discussions. Just because we can do everything boys can do does not mean we have to be exactly like them. Why are we disabling ourselves? When you’re striving to be accepted like of the boys, don’t lose the very thing that makes you a woman. That’s not feminist, it’s misogynist! It’s self-hate and denial.
How feminist is it to remove the qualities which make us female? We’re not talking about removing negative stereotypes, we’re talking about stripping away all things that make us women, including the positives. How in the hell is that “feminist”? If you don’t celebrate women or even believe they have power, you don’t love women and you aren’t a feminist.
Putting on a pair of jeans and holding the same respected professions as men does not make one a feminist. Saying that the only way we can have a peaceful birth experience — the very natural function which defines our sex! — is if we give ourselves over to a system created and run by men so they may rescue us does not make one a feminist. What happened to women are strong, women are goddesses, women are powerful? Is that just something we believe when we want to throw a baseball, but doesn’t extend to the one thing we are biologically designed for to continue the species?
Feminism wouldn’t ignore the dark history of obstetrics and see it rooted in misogyny, continuing today.
Feminism wouldn’t ignore our special powers or keep us in the dark to them.
Feminism wasn’t the fight to be just like men. It was the fight to be women and all the glory that entails and be respected for it.
Feminism acknowledges something in the divine feminine or collective female consciousness, adores us all as symbols of creation, earth mother goddesses, formerly and temporarily oppressed sisters.
Feminism seeks to connect us to how beautiful being a woman is, and asks society to observe it as well.
Feminism wants you to have the choice in childbirth to have addictive narcotics shot into your spinal fluid or to have an amazing empowering natural experience where you can see firsthand how incredible you are (which keeps you and your baby healthy and strong). Both can be painless, but the latter can increase your spiritual and primal awareness of your true nature and potential, is a rite of passage, and an exit from the patriarchy. One of them just happens to be better for feminism because it lets a woman in on the secret that has been kept about her essence for so long.
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For Elizabeth’s book on unassisted birth, In Search of the Perfect Birth, click here.