Mary Lou Singleton- Extended Interview

26 12 2016

Radical feminist motherhood was the topic of the last edition I worked on during my time with WLRN (Women’s Liberation Radio News), which I left after finishing this edition. Mary Lou Singleton is a friend and radical feminist, a midwife, a real activist who has been very involved in the fight for women’s reproductive and bodily rights spanning decades. I interviewed her and we discussed a variety of health topics revolving around how women attempt to take care of our bodies in a culture that devalues us as women and as mothers at an institutional and systemic level, which typically goes unquestioned, even amongst serious radical activists.

mary-louMary Lou is a member who has been on the board of directors for WoLF (Women’s Liberation Front) which is suing the US government over Title IX changes removing sex-based protections to include ambiguously, “gender identity”. She is also known for being one of the co-authors to the Open Letter to MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) regarding their woman-erasing language. She is also one of the contributors to the new book, Female Erasure.

Since WLRN is not hosting the Extended Interview, I felt it needed a home. And, since I run this radical birth (and feminism) blog, I felt that this home could be here, and in honor of Mary Lou’s birthday today. She is a lovely human being and someone worth listening to. I find her to be brilliant in a way that is incomparable in today’s culture of line-toeing and newspeak, where even those who rebel against corrupt systems unwittingly play into them.

She will challenge your thoughts and provoke you to critically analyze your preconceived notions– even if you are already a radical. She talks about cognitive dissonance in liberation movements, how Planned Parenthood is actually a patriarchal organization, abortion access, “doula, inc.”, the significance of undisturbed unassisted birth, hormonal birth control and ejaculatory sex, vaccines and the medical industrial complex that extends into gender and childbirth and every facet of a woman’s existence– designed to separate women from their own fierceness. And, so much more.

For more from Mary Lou Singleton, check out the following links.

Are We Women or Are We Incubators?Feminist Current
On Sacred Biology (with Michelle Peixinho Smith) – Deep Green Resistance repost from Transition Radio
How the Gender Identity Movement is Hijacking the Fight for Reproductive SovereigntyThinking Differently, feminist conference, London 2016
I Was Warned About ‘Stop Patriarchy’On The Issues





Birth Photography: The Elephant in the Room

5 09 2016

elephantI’m about to liken birth photography to pornography.

Now if you haven’t already accepted certain basic principles of birth physiology, you’re probably not going to appreciate this post. More details on what those are can be found here, and here.

If you’re still with me, you may be one of those who this is best geared for:  a very specific kind of freebirther, the fringe of the fringe, the most primitive. Hello sister.

I know it seems like I’m once again here to rain on your parades, but as we acknowledge that birth is part of the sexual continuum, and that birth has been hijacked by people who pretend to be helpers who don’t belong there and endanger us, it would behoove us to acknowledge that we are not fully unindoctrinated while we are still allowing outsiders into that sacred, private space out of a fear that we would miss out on something desirable as influenced by current social norms. What we end up really missing out on is a whole lot more.

After all, many people still birth in hospitals partly out of a fear of missing out on some things, certain things they have come to expect. Certain indignations normalized.

A small example:  I remember one of the things I believed I would “miss” was feeling like I was on vacation. Staying in a bed in a room, having food brought to me, being expected to rest, taking a break from the normal routines… That gets easier to break up with when you face that this kind of “vacation” is really a recovery from trauma the likes of which you won’t experience if you stay home and do it yourself. Most of us don’t chop off our arms to get a vacation, either. Well, not if we’re healthy of mind, anyway. Not to mention the fact that you can rest and be waited on at home, too; even though it doesn’t feel like “going away”, your baby belongs at home and your nest is the most appropriate place to nestle.

We’re so used to expecting certain things and having certain norms that we hesitate to part with them or we want to incorporate them into experience, like a tradition. But how many traditions are actually fads? This era holds that birth pictures and video are not to be missed out on, like wedding video and pictures. Only the photographer usually doesn’t stay to capture the wedding night, which birth is honestly much more like. And that’s the (big) difference.

When I say birth is part of the sexual continuum, I’m pointing out something that most natural birthers already acknowledge. That is that the life cycle starts with sex, ideally preceded by two people with excellent chemistry falling in love and having lots of trust (maximum oxytocin overload, pleasurable life, healthy setup for the future). And that is an act that is carried on by two people and two people only. For the act of creation and furthering of the species, this example takes a man and a woman. For them to feel fully secure and give in to the moment and all the beautiful chemical reactions awaiting them, they need to feel privacy.

(Voyeurism is not a part of this chain; it is a socially developed kink. I’m trying to get back to our roots, not away from.)

The people– but I’m going to focus specifically on the woman– need to feel that their guard can be completely let down in order to fully give in to feeling the way they are feeling with each other. That is the only way they can really be free. Part of this primal act being so guarded could be partly due to our instinct to be aware of predators. We would be especially vulnerable to an outside attack in these sensitive moments. It also may have to do with bonding, as anything that would interfere with or leech off of man-to-woman bonding in intercourse threatens the future of the family. The oxytocin in that moment is the seed, spark, foundation of deep trust and sense of love, that promises a strong attachment and furthers the survival and protection of any offspring yet to come. The more solidified and respected that bond, the higher the chances of success for our species on the whole.

(On a spiritual and romantic level, I also feel the privacy is extremely validated, but I will return to focus on the physical to be basic, fundamental, and not digress. I don’t have time to explain my philosophy to you right now, nor do I think everyone might care.)

What naturally follows, if impregnated, is birth. The emergence of the new life from the same portal through which the possibility of life had to enter. And the state of mind of the woman laboring or birthing is similar in that the thinking mind is shut off, giving way to the primitive mind and instinct and body taking over, and that any outsiders to this event are viewed as intruders– which will either hinder her response, endanger it/her, or temporarily stop the process altogether. Birth involves an altered state of consciousness, when allowed to proceed naturally. Birth is perhaps the most vulnerable naturally occurring moment to a human life and we are wired to be aware of the presence of those who do not belong in order to protect ourselves and our young. The same people at the sexual union are the people who are good candidates to be present at the birth. No more, and maybe less. To violate that puts the woman in fight-or-flight mode. There are plenty of references in literature to just how this is harmful to labor and you can read more about it and the Fear Tension Pain Cycle in books like Childbirth Without Fear, and Unassisted Childbirth.

As an aside, Michel Odent has given some great notes on how a man should behave *if* he is invited into the birth space, even if a woman trusts and loves him. Read any of his works and especially Birth and Breastfeeding for more information.

When the primitive, physiological self is allowed to take over for the thinking mind, without fear, in the absence of any intrusion, in sex and in childbirth, the result is ease, satisfaction, proper release of oxytocin for bonding and love and pleasure with whomever the deserving and receiving partner or life mate is, if around. This works for woman to man in intercourse, and man and woman and baby in childbirth, as the culmination of their act of love and the solidifying of the family unit. This was nature’s plan for human longevity, and it’s the brilliance of its design. It is built into us. A strong unit is formed, and strong tribes may form.

A woman needs to be able to tap into that deep place within herself that without societally-based fears and expectations, the likes of which are imposed on all of us regarding birth from a very young age. And she can’t do that as long as you are selling her products. She can’t do that when you’re telling her there is still something modern she will need, something extra and more than what she is that she should want, something she will regret not adding in because other mothers have it and it’s so important, and keep her further and further away from her original design and function. You’re keeping her from her purest and truest self and essence, and if you succeed, she will never know it in this life. Her body is an astounding work of creation, moreso than any camera ever could be. And we hinder that. Because we are delighted by the modern marvel more than the organic miracle. We keep reaching for shiny distractions and no longer respect when it is time to put those away.

In some parallel universe somewhere, there is orgasm/conception photography, for the same reasons as we do birth photographs now.

I look at birth video and photography much in the same way I would look at the concept of artistic orgasm photography. I appreciate the interest in capturing a moment. I appreciate the reverence for the look on the woman’s face, the awe in her rawness. And if I were watching someone have actual sex on video, even if “tastefully done”, I would have to admit it is really pushing it in terms of being a form of pornography.

Because… I’m not supposed to be there. This is private. I may be interested, I may be intrigued, but this is not for me to watch. Those are not my moments, those are not my chemicals. I’m an intruder, and this belongs to someone else. This is sacred.

And you can photograph sex and birth all you like, but you will never truly capture the reality of what the moment would look like if you were not there at all.

Imagine if the things people say about birth photography were said about intercourse photography?

“They’re a real pro, you won’t even know they’re there.”

“They silently stay out of the way and blend in with the background.”

“We have a mutual acquaintance that can really vouch for them, so I trust them.”

“The photographer is my sister.”

“You will be so lost in the moment, you will have no awareness that they’re even in the room. And you’ll be so ‘busy’ you won’t even care at that point.”

What about this is not creepy?

I know birth and sex are not perfectly synonymous, but that’s not the point. The point is that the woman is tapped into the same states of being with her body producing some of the same hormones, functions and effects, having the same physiological needs to make the effort a success. You can spoil one just as easily as you can spoil the other, with these wrong attitudes towards the acts.

And if you honestly believe when looking at any birth photos or vids (or ones of sex….) that what you are viewing would be exactly the same without the extra people and the cameras, you’re lying to yourself. Men who watch porn also think they are watching reality. Granted, pornography is often consciously a performance, while being taped in birth becomes more of subconsciously performing. You are not seeing an unhindered woman. The camera will always add the element of observation or performance, however subtle or inconspicuous it seems to the observer/observed. You are not getting the fullest, unbridled, wild, natural person who is free from being studied, judged, or captured. (Even just think about the language… she is “captured” on film. She is subdued, watched, controlled.) The woman will always be aware somewhere in her consciousness of your presence, because her primitive mind is keen and sharp to detect this as a rule, as a defense mechanism innate to her, and it *will* have an impact on her. And that impact is restraint and tension.

Here is the part where someone chimes in, “You don’t know me. Not all women are the same. Everyone has different needs.” Wrong. All women *are* the same. Let’s look at the hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

I imagine the resulting photograph keepsakes contribute to the tier entitled “Esteem”.



First we acknowledge that birth is a physiological, physical event. You don’t birth with your personality or your brain, you birth with your body. You are an animal. Then let’s address that the primal body is the one tasked with giving birth as it does instinctively, when not held back or restrained. Then let’s observe that stimulation of the thinking mind, or neocortex, keeps one from dropping deep into primal brain activity, and that the neocortex is stimulated by having company. In this we must admit that the presence of others serves functionally to restrain the primal woman, keeping her in the worst state of consciousness for an easy birth.

Now tell me you deny this and that you’re built differently from other women.

“But humans are social animals! I am a very social person!”

Your baby whom you are giving birth to is a person. This is an interaction between you and they. And sometimes, your partner, if invited to the birth space. These are all people.

What more in the way of social do you require?

You may be a social butterfly, but please note this is a psychological trait and not a primal one. Your primal self is the one giving birth, the one you need to honor, the one for whom all obstacles must get out of the way. If you glance again at the hierarchy of needs, you will note that physiology and safety are first, they are the foundation, and they are of utmost importance. Love and belonging to which I’ll assume the psychological wish to be surrounded by people owes itself, is secondary to those things. (Ironically, if you honor the physiological foundation first, you will find a deepening and intensifying of love due to all the oxytocin shared in earnest between you.)

Our physiology as women is the same. Our needs for safety as laboring mammals are the same: quiet, darkness, solitude, warmth. You can’t claim a psychological preference supersedes these. It is akin to saying, “But I really like the water!” to explain that you can be submerged and don’t need to breathe. You are not superhuman, your body is not made differently. We have basic needs. We need to breathe, we need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to not be obstructed or injured. Once those basic needs are covered, then we are able to move up to other less pressing wants, frequently formed by the thinking mind and not the primal one, such as being social.

If a woman’s psychological urges are so strong that she must obey those first, due to trauma, conditioning, or lack of awareness of the severity of these issues on our bodies, she will choose to be surrounded at birth. This is why I advise anyone trying to freebirth to conquer your psychological issues before birth, and ideally, before pregnancy.

I excuse these the same way I excuse elective Cesareans. Our trauma and where we are at in dealing with it will determine which choices we feel ready to make. For that I have sympathy, but with strong preference to trying to get women helped before their inclinations lead to more physical harm. In short, we all work with what we’ve got.

Your rational mind wants to be in control and will always find a way, always find fear and excuses. You cannot bargain with instinct, though. Instinct will be there whether you like it or not and you will not be able to rationalize with it. I recommend getting out of its way.

And not denying it.

To me birth vids and photography are like the big, voyeuristic, creepy, pervy, obstructing, restraining, intrusive elephant in the room. And elephants are apparently midwives, so that’s fitting.

When most natural birthers are looking at birth photos and vids and picking on things like,

“Oh, that baby is wearing a hat! Poor thing!”

“Look, they cut the cord right away.”

“OMG, how many hands are on that mama? And take off those gloves!”

Or even positive things like,

“Oh look, daddy caught!”

“What a fierce, strong mama in that birth pool.”

“I love your faces! You did it!”

“This is what birth is supposed to look like.”

No it’s not. You weren’t supposed to be there. You are getting a happy, joyous, or victorious fragment of her at best. You are viewing a fraction of her depth and what she would normally be capable of. And yes, even that fraction is beautiful to us, but our pleasure through her is ill-gained and of no importance. What she really deserved matters more. So I wince, like some of you wince and feel triggered when you see unnecessary Cesarean photos.

What repeats in my mind while even agreeing with their comments is, “have you noticed yet there was a camera/photographer there?” How much better might it have been for the mother and her baby if they weren’t some kind of show on display for us? As nice as it may be to have keepsake photos your baby’s delivery, might you be cheating yourselves when it comes to feeling something much more pure and unfiltered? Something potentially pain-free, non-injurious, untraumatized, and even ecstatic? Do you want to be one of those women who says immediately after, “I want to do it again”?

Another way birth is like sex.

The continuum of life, of sex, wants us to be rewarded. Our brains are supposed to feel good about these activities because this supports continuation of the species. Birth, like sex, is not “supposed” to be painful and we should stop promoting that it inherently is. Our pain is frequently connected to fear and control. We and our process and how we perceive it has been controlled and ideas fed to us and we are ruled and overcome by fear. I can only assume that, removing all this, our births would be mostly pleasurable. We will never know because even modern empowered women do not live in a vacuum. All of us are overcoming hostile influences. I want us to keep breaking away from these conventions so that one day our daughters might know this answer.

“And what about you, Elizabeth? Are you so perfect? You didn’t want photos and videos of your births?”

No, I fucked up, too. That’s why I’m here. My whole story is one of fucking it up, then getting it right, and then getting it a little bit more right, some more. If I can keep you from doing what I did and having to learn the hard way, that’s my dream.

My first birth in the hospital I videotaped and there were pictures. All kinds of people were in the room, strange men saw my ass, I vomited on people and cried. Bright lights and hooked up to machines, opiates and vaginal trauma… and I’m sure the recordings were negligible in influence after all that. But I’ve got it on record.

Birth 2 was too traumatic to have any recording devices out. I spent part of it in an ambulance, hoping to lose consciousness. Strange men saw my ass again.

My third birth when I was way more awakened, I went solo. I attempted to record video because I didn’t yet know any better, and the device failed to record, but it still acted as an “observing eye”. I was photographed in early labor which I suppose isn’t that bad while contractions are light. (In the sex analogy, this might be being photographed in a kiss.) I wanted to be alone through most of labor and only allowed pictures after the baby emerged in the pool. (Yes, I do think after-birth pictures in limitation are okay, and in the sex analogy, may be akin to an after-orgasm photo. Risque, a peek into something private, but still discrete. The body has done the hardest work after the moment of birth but you still want to be mindful not to disturb the mother in the third stage because she is still affected by needless interference and chatter.) This was an amazing birth and I do not doubt it could have been even more amazing without mechanical watching eyes. But the picture of me lifting my son out of the water of the birth pool and having achieved this triumph myself is one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen and may be my favorite picture of all time. You can see it on the back of my book, In Search of the Perfect Birth.

Birth 4 I knew better and we attempted no recording device and saved pictures for after baby was born. I cherish these because for the first time ever, the reveal of the sex was a complete shock and surprise (literally the opposite of what I thought I knew), and this moment and reaction was caught in a photo. Up until the pushing, this was also my absolute easiest and most manageable birth yet. Dark, solitude, warmth, relative quiet… it was downright blissful during most of it.

I wish you all the same successes and even beyond. We’re all waking up from the trappings of this machine.





No, Attachment Parenting Isn’t Some Evil Plot

7 04 2016

I saw this reddit-based propaganda piece written by a man (Jesse Singal) on the wicked, wicked ploy of evil people to guilt mothers into using attachment parenting methods in order to keep them locked away in their woman dungeons for all eternity. It is entitled “Is Attachment Parenting a Plot to Force Women Back Into the Home?”– lol. And who would know better than this man, and the infamous Dr. Amy?– otherwise known as “she who shall not be named” in internet mothering communities– because holy shit, if you say her name three times, like Beetlejuice (or Bloody Mary), she appears, along with her flying monkeys of Oz (her devotees), so badly so that modding internet mothering communities is a troll-infested nightmare. Not to digress too far, but let’s face it– Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and childbirth/motherhood has no shortage of women who are suffering (whether they know it or not) from PTSD and understandable accompanying rage which could be directed any which way by heady narcissists of the internet age. So, I started to respond to the piece and found my words quite lengthy, not at all appropriate for a tweet or even a series of tweets. Which brings us to this post.

(For those who don’t know, “attachment parenting” is just a fancy new way of labeling natural and instinctive mothering and parenting techniques, usually with the gentlest methods. It means picking up a baby when it cries, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, natural birthing, etc. There is nothing truly new or invented about it. And no two mothers do it exactly alike or even necessarily adhere to all of the components. Mothers often stay at home to fill this role. And make no mistake, language matters; naming these methods using only new buzzwords like “attachment parenting”  without further understanding is a clever psychological reversal that disguises the fact that woman is being separated from that which would have come naturally, to be replaced with reliance on “expert advice” to the contrary, stemming ultimately from patriarchal institutions. Creating doubt in a woman’s self and instincts is often packaged and sold to us as “equality”, and any feminist can attest to.)

Before I get into that, I just want to say that this is going to be just another case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for women. No matter what women choose, it will be vilified, in case any of you needed reminding. Nothing is woman enough or feminist enough, unless it comes from a man or his institution, of course (and then it’s job well done). And so, pitting woman against woman is a divide and conquer strategy from those who want women to forget how amazing and strong and worthy they are of love and also basic human rights, and who truly do have ultimate mothering and parenting authority in the natural world. It’s a way of keeping us perpetually down. Now on with my response.

Dr. T is a horrible person who rallies angry, traumatized women together to attack and troll women who do things differently and those who have lost children. There have been numerous private groups of hers and her followers, some of which you were actually forced to show your ID in order to be accepted (I am not joking), so the worst of the worst is not visible to the general public. The scathing violent tendencies, the plotting to destroy lives, etc. However, what IS published is typically bad enough. (Yes It Is Your Fault That Your Baby Died At Your Homebirth. — and she has the nerve to pontificate on “social control of a woman”?) And I know about these deeds because I was one of the tormented (my crime: planning an unassisted birth and talking about the subject of freebirth publicly with other women). My friends were other targets of hers (some of these include mothers of stillborn children. I can think of at least 4 of these women off the top of my head– I know them in part because our shared antagonism by this woman brought us together over the years). She also believes single mothers, lesbians, and mothers who leave an abusive spouse are selfish.

amy

 

Will the Real Dr. Amy Please Stand Up?

And attachment parenting is just parenting. It’s just natural, instinctive parenting. There is no plot. It’s just what happens when mothers prioritize mothering over other forms of modern existence, as much as is in their comfort level. Many are religious and traditional but many are feminist and radical.

If Dr. T is so keen on staying in the work force, why did she spend all that effort to go to medical school and barely practice herself as a doctor only to become a stay at home mom to her own children? Then she took up internet doctoring and was charging people for answers, and is now writing books demonizing women who choose natural mothering choices, despite the fact that she did barely practice and is out of practice in her profession by at least two decades?

How feminist is Dr. Tuteur?
She is using a lot of feminist-seeming arguments about women in the work force and the societal guilting of women in motherhood, but she laughs at phrases like ‘birth rape’, insists all Cesareans are good if not all completely necessary, and flat out denies the abuses women endure under current obstetric rule in childbirth today. In her views of modern medicine and specifically obstetrics, patriarchy is suspiciously absent. That women seemed traumatized by their hospital births seems to be something Amy is really confused about the existence of, having no comprehension of the connection between serious bodily injury, detachment from baby and hormonal flow, and psychological harm to the mother or child. Her two-dimensional understanding of childbirth sounds very masculine: ‘you got a healthy baby, and that’s all that matters, so what are you whining about, selfish women?’ In her book, Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting, one of her many stabs at midwives indicates that they are “merely replacing the patriarchy with the matriarchy”, outing herself as not actually very feminist, at all.

She also doesn’t believe in intuition or any concept of “women’s wisdom”, and thinks those are essentially myths. To my mind, this is woman-hating. In her world, the only true thing is listening to your doctor. And you’re only smart and worthy of being left alone if you do exactly what he or she says. Amy doesn’t see her own hypocrisy and instead decides it’s the open breastfeeders (for example) who sing the virtue of the practice who are doing the bad deeds, because these actions somehow shame other mothers who don’t breastfeed and this makes them feel bad. For all the bashing of the romanticization of primitive/natural living/parenting, her allegiance seems to be to technology as this infallible lifesaving thing, despite the fact that it frequently stands in direct opposition to the natural world and is in fact responsible for numerous atrocities, and void of the recognition that the rape of the natural world and of women and mothers is more aggressive and harmful than *women who make other women feelz bad by doing*. Most radical feminist will understand me when I say that “biophobia” is deeply patriarchal.

I’ve been dealing with her for years after being targeted, and from knowing her story and watching her strategize, I am aware that she projects her bitterness and regrets onto others to make a name for herself and feel better about her own choices, both professionally and personally, as a former doctor and as a mother. She is relentless and vicious. She has Google alerts plus voluntary scouts seeking out baby loss stories and she goes at mothers immediately fresh in grief with her minions, armchair diagnosing whether or not they “killed” their babies when tragedy strikes. She’s like Westboro Baptist for natural parenting, birth, and baby loss. ( <— this mother is a radical feminist btw. Imagine losing a baby and having some internet psycho “doctor” sic her hundreds or thousands of rabid fans after you to harass you and potentially dox or harm you and your family? All because she disagreed with how you gave birth, how you parent, and because she crowned herself the long distance expert in your child’s cause of death?) She and others have believed women like me shouldn’t be published, don’t have a right to voice our opinions or stories… I think we’ve all seen how no-platforming affects our freedoms as women. And when they can’t get women like me censored, they come en masse to try to hurt us in the reviews.

If I try to separate myself from what I know are her motives and try to focus just on the argument, I could see how aspects of attachment parenting CAN be used as a method of guilting women into staying at home.

That said, these parenting methods are not a fad, they are (many of them) primal and predate our modern conventions and senses of what now constitutes “normal”.

I’m tired of her representing Dick-Read as a eugenicist, too. I’ve READ Childbirth Without Fear, has she? I doubt dickreadJesse Singal has read it either while he allows her to defame the author, not that Singal cares or has any reason to care, has any close personal connection to its contents or why it matters. It’s a great book and has helped generations of women have painless natural childbirth, liberating them from sadistic medical cycles that were stopping women from even wanting children (like after I had my 2nd born). Grantly Dick-Read’s critique is on civilization. White “civilized” women have been convinced they are not animals, which is a lie which has caused them undue torment in childbirth. Other “less civilized” women were having more ease. The man toured the globe. He was a doctor who reported what he witnessed. If anything, it is more damning of racism and classism and Western civilization. But Amy will twist that to whatever suits her warped agenda.

Grantly Dick-Read admired women and spoke highly of them and wanted to see them freed from pain. His reverence was so poetic it brought tears to my eyes on repeated occasions. Amy speaks ill of women constantly and seems to find glee is personally causing them pain. Their contributions to the world in terms of pain and suffering and disdain versus liberation and honoring is starkly felt. Hearing their words is the difference between love and hate.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
I hesitate to embrace the message of Singal’s piece. Because even without the people Amy is trying to shit talk (which is like, 90% of her notoriety– gaining fame by attempting to defame others including some blatant lying on her part), these methods of parenting are instinctive and time honored. If modern women choose otherwise, fine. But Amy cares nothing for you, what she does is preys upon women’s feelings of pain, “mommy wars”, having felt guilted, inadequacy, the sense of being pit against each other unjustly, and uses it to her own personal advantage. She’s a really disturbed individual with more issues than Time, so taking anything she says seriously is a folly you choose at your own risk, and it’s anything but woman-loving. She doesn’t have scruples, she has personally invested grudges to legitimize the back story of her life to herself, the likes of which in its fullness may be a nut we never truly crack.

If only men and those who cater to male rule would stop interfering and let women do their work, in peace.





Intactivism Needs Feminism to Survive.

4 01 2016
Intactivist.jpg

Yelling at women precedes all of these and hasn’t stopped one of them. Blaming women has preceded all of these and hasn’t ended one of them.

 

I once had a nasty run-in with Men’s Rights Activists in the intactivist movement. On this one conversation I was alarmed to hear that the men present believed in “female privilege”, because baby girls’ genitals allegedly are left entirely unmolested from life’s onset. Based on the history of circumcision I mentioned circ was patriarchal and women, mothers who defy the system, would be the reason intact boys become the norm.

One man absolutely lost his shit and blubbered misogynist insults at me until he blocked me out of rage. Another brought me to tears by saying something that happened to *me*, to my body, never did happen and that I was lying (it was extremely personal to say and nothing I had ever told another living soul besides my husband, so the level of violation was deeply felt– I obviously should never have trusted that kind of personal experience to anyone like this person but I was trying to correct their assumptions about female experience and privilege), after he spent some time condescending to me and my friends (who, up until that time, thought we were a vital part of intactivism– our boys are whole). <— That man now has a major role of power within Brother K’s Bloodstained Men movement– a movement I previously thought deserved my respect.

Now notice I didn’t say ending routine infant circumcision was a cause I left behind…! (And, neither have the feminists who’ve been speaking out against this behavior. We all still believe in stopping RIC.)

He then deleted all his nasty comments, kept mine which were full of justified anger and now out of context (looks crazy, hysterical, of course), and messaged me to *privately* apologize and told me that he’s actually a really *nice guy*. No, he’s not a publicly make it right kind of guy, he’s a scream at you for effect and then hide the evidence kind of guy.

You know, a coward.  A blowhard. A bully.

These men I referenced from that convo are all childless, by the way. But they had fun telling *me* about birth because “their girlfriend did it natural in the hospital”. (Mansplaining galore…)

This was the turning point for which several of my natural parenting friends and I realized that the intactivist community didn’t value us. We didn’t belong. Even though we were the mothers, because we were females and we had disagreed with the sexist attitudes we suddenly encountered, they may as well have hung a “no girls allowed” sign– what could *we* possibly know? We were just mothers who’d saved our sons and the sons of friends through information, support, and love.

Now this was a shock to me because my observations of Brother K and his movement up to that point were positive. He seemed like a cool hippie dude. What were all these awful woman-haters doing in this group? Had I missed it and they’d been there all along?

Why I Am No Longer An Intactivist – Whole Woman

We are the ones having the gentlest births, the gentlest parenting, the most mother-led-instinct in the home, and yet you would alienate us? We are the reason it is working. We are your truest hope, beyond all other tactics you’ve tried. We are the most educated and passionate, well-rounded on all these societal interlocking topics, and we are on the front lines. We are the feminist natural mothers.

Since then, the rise to power of that one abusive and self-pitying rageaholic has been noticed. We left groups and put certain people on block but still, these things came up. Avoidance of this brand of male aggression was futile.

I’ve seen more and more anti-woman, anti-feminist dealings, more talk about female privilege from the boys club and their handmaidens, and the new frontier– confronting birth and pro-woman pages, of all places, to ask their stance on circumcision. And not just as their own post, or as a message, but as a derailment of the original post on other important topics. I’ve seen this in at least two places on Facebook that I can recall– on The Girl God and Birth Anarchy. The first responded graciously as is her gentle nature. (Because, you know, it’s really important when discussing that all our gods were men and that girls matter too, that we check to see if we’re properly caring for male genitals.) The latter did not. And I was pleased with both responses; no one owes the sexists in intactivist circles anything. The intactivist questions were a tangent out of place both times. It was awkward and disrespectful to observe. It was like being accosted by religious fundamentalists as you were minding your own business.

Screenshot 2016-01-04 at 5.17.08 PM.png

This tactic is cowardly– for two reasons. One, they are hitting up sites that are very much anti-circumcision in the first place. You’re preaching to the converted. Two, they are hitting people when they are down. This was clear on the Birth Anarchy page, in which the post they attempted to make about themselves was about a woman seeking justice after a forced episiotomy.

Birth Anarchy: The Sexist Shit Show of Intactivism

Only cowards make an enemy out of a gentler friend and don’t target the real enemy. Because it’s strong. It’s daunting. You would rather this mission never be accomplished and the movement eat itself than to tackle the real enemies. It’s then about getting out your own power and feeling like you can dominate someone. It’s easier to follow the disgusting pig narrative that we have “pussy privilege” — a true embittered cry of the resentful MRAs — than to band together with like minded souls for the common good. That makes you an enemy to intactivism.

Because your intactivism only works if you act like the ultimate victim. That means you have to first tear women down.

I watched an intactivist woman tell me women “allowed” circumcision to happen. Allowed! We didn’t invent it, we didn’t enforce it, it wasn’t our idea, our husbands still hold more control and power than us in society and in our homes,  and it certainly doesn’t benefit us sexually or otherwise– but yet, through all this, the onus was on us… we had allowed it. These are the women in the intactivist movement and why they get along so well with the MRA type men.

Make no mistake, I’m not asking you to be nice, intactivists. Just not to be pigs and assholes to innocent women. I’m not asking you to not be pissed about circumcision. Get mad! It’s terrible. I’m telling you how ineffective it is to shit on women who are recovering from traumas and act like that is justice. I’m warning you that you are barking up the wrong trees and it looks impotent-bully as fuck. Laying the blame at mothers’ feet and targeting 18 year old new parents right after delivery is hardly taking on the big dogs. It’s just cowardly aggression, like a Rottweiler going after a chihuahua. Sure, it’s easy to go after smaller, weaker targets.

I want to say I still love what you do but you are alienating THE most important people for the progression and longevity of your movement. They are the lifeblood. Your short-sightedness and blatant disregard for the strong women of what would be this movement is lacking in both compassion and smarts.

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More mentions of mothers than daddies, and doctors. Doctors do the cutting, doctors invented it, doctors profit off it. Daddies insist it be done for bullshit macho male reasons and beat their wives into submission. But okay, moms, this one’s on you.

And for all their bodily integrity nonsense, and not trusting doctors, and supporting the natural flow of goodness and letting nature be and do it’s job, I’ve watched them have no problem with women in their movement getting cut up in Cesarean sections with the same familiar retort: “I’ve done my research”.  Oh, intactivists, where have we all heard that before!?

This is not best for babies, though. And it is not best for women. It’s meant for emergencies and that’s for good cause. But cheer that on all you like if you don’t mind being hypocrites. Or maybe it’s only baby boys who are sacred, and fuck what happens to their mothers? However, mothers who’ve been traumatized by birth are far more likely to submit to cutting their sons out of defeat or depression, or sometimes lack of consciousness. Mothers disrupted from their natural oxytocin are more likely to feel a disconnect from their child, have a harder time bonding, PTSD, PPD, difficulty breastfeeding… and I know some MRAs think that is good for boys ultimately. I do not. They think it will teach boys not to love women too much, which attachment to a doting mother would inspire. Yes, an injured woman will continue the MRA cycle of violence well.

Now, it would be brave if you were going to places you suspected were pro circumcision. It would be brave if you were going after the people who were doing the cutting, and the people who unapologetically profited from this system. Those things would be confronting the problem. I have to wonder what limp-dicked mission you hope to accomplish by badgering vulnerable women who already very likely agree with you. Attacking gentle and wounded women is the easy way out. It’s for people who are deeply insecure about their dicks, which MRAs are.

One of MRAs pet causes is routine infant male circumcision, which is quite unfortunately and unconnectedly a shared cause of modern gentle parents, especially feminists who believe in mothering on instinct and leaving warlike male domination behaviors in the past. Circumcision is indeed a relic of male aggression in a thriving patriarchy, even though MRAs try very hard to continue blaming women for this. But I’m not here to convince you of that history, just to make you aware of the infiltration of one of the only true things a men’s rights activist has to bitch about (circumcision), and how this cause will continue to remain limp in their hands. Again, many of these men are childless.

And why does that matter? The future is with mothers and their children. It is the in tune Earth Mothers who are procreating, procreating a LOT, and doing it with ultimate gentleness and love. Whole mothers make whole babies. Keep babies whole and women have a better chance of staying whole and then they in turn keep their babies whole… etc. The future does not lie with angry men shouting into the wind about their dicks. The future is not with the street signs, blood theatrics, and the streetside hostility. You will reach people and get attention and change some minds, but no, the primary change does not occur there for the future generations. I’ll tell you exactly where the change is happening. It is on the front lines. It’s with the mothers who instinctively know they want to keep their sons safe, and believe in it. They are trying. I was anti-circumcision instinctively before I heard any of the statistics. I would have been anti-circ with or without these guys. And I was lucky that I had the personal empowerment such that I would have fought any male partner who tried to contest me. Not all women have these things. Beating them up will not gain them these things. Beating them up even when they are being good will not gain anything.

The MRAs have large amounts of single men, deadbeat fathers, involuntary celibates, and many of them will never be fathers. Those who are, are very controlling in the household. I actually know one who insisted his wife circumcise their son(s). Male control is obviously a dead end street. Male control is the reason for circ in the first place.

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Ha, not a chance! ^

Women, softness and compassion of an Earth Mother, are the future. Feminists are the future. Your movement will never survive without feminism. Without feminism, decisions and power will always revert back to warlike males (see: Heather Hironimus) having turf wars and dick waving contests. Your movement is only succeeding because young mothers talk amongst themselves in private groups and share knowledge and stories and support. You said you don’t need us but it is we who do not need you. If you think this is war, and a war against the women mentioned in this post, know that all you do is perpetuate male violence.

Rape of all types is a manmade invention.
Sexual rape, birth rape, and surgical rape.
Control and aggression aimed at women and children destroys the world.

The world will be saved by a Western woman. -The Dalai Lama, 2009

Restoring peace means restoring power to women. 

Men,

You invented war. You can either keep waging wars or you can listen to women. 

Respecting life starts at the source– the womb, and the Earth. Without this, you are emptiness.

Male violence is the worst problem in the world. Name the problem.





When You Don’t Want to be Pregnant Anymore…

19 02 2015

Psychologically, I think if we say things to ourselves like, “I’m 43 weeks pregnant today,” there is often an element of “enough already” to that expression. If you factor in a sense of dread (or god forbid, fear) towards the labor itself, you’ve got yourself a recipe for psyching yourself out. It’s a self-sabotage in the making.

I remember about a year ago today I was wondering just how “overdue” my baby would be. “He” had already surprised me in being 5 days past my already late estimate (and would later surprise me by being a “she”). I’m usually right, so why was my calculation off? I waited an additional two weeks past when I thought the baby would arrive before she actually came… which she chose spontaneously, of course. It was possibly my longest pregnancy, depending on what method you use to measure it. Even though I had always guessed better than the medical professionals regarding my body (and certainly had this time… they would have felt I was at least a full 20 days past my due date at the time of birth), I was at peace with being wrong. I got off facebook and the internet, and I waited. I waited with the wisdom that the magic of nature summoning me into that birth space at its own right time was not something I wanted to miss. I had experienced it before and knew I would not go back to artificial ways again.

For mothers finding themselves in this familiar spot, I advise nesting according to instinct, retreat, and meditation. Trusting in your body’s and baby’s wisdom can seem counter to everything popular culture has instilled in us all. It can take some work to resist that. You may feel simply tired.

So what I’m saying is, maybe don’t care too hard how far along you are (it is an arbitrary number, after all), and try not to mentally grade what you feel is bound to happen to you when labor does finally occur, because if you don’t give yourself a chance to be wrong in the most beautiful way, it’s a missed experience/opportunity and an action possibly taken out of impatience and fear. Give yourself a chance! We are supposed to encourage and inspire one another, so hopefully we can create more hype around that natural beauty than hype around faulty preconceptions that dominate our birthing culture.

As someone who people listen to on the topic of birth, looking for knowledge and inspiration, I would be remiss to not say these things to you. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that any choice is equal to any other choice just to make you feel better. You are a warrior woman and you are an earth mother, a goddess. You are powerful and you can do this. You know what is best for your body and baby and sometimes you just need encouragement to see it through in a world that wants to divert you to a lesser path, so I want to be that voice for you in case you are hearing it nowhere else:  You deserve to have a pregnancy and childbirth at peace with the natural order, and without fear.

For more about the way the baby leads the way in choosing its own birth date:

Length of human pregnancies vary by as much as five weeks
Fetal lung protein release triggers labor to begin

 





Freebirthing Mother Has Children Taken– You Can Help!

26 11 2014

You have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but think of what it is going to be like for this family. Imagine having 3 breastfed, happy, healthy babies snatched from you right before Thanksgiving and the eldest’s first birthday. Not because abuse is happening, but because your choices differ a little from the mainstream.

I’m gonna give you the quick bullet points so you can act now, but you can read more about it here.
Medical Kidnap

  • Erica & Cleave Rengo of Bellingham, Washington have 3 healthy, happy babies under 1 who were being breastfed, removed from their home.
  • The only thing they are “guilty” of is having a completely lawful homebirth and not using steroids to treat their baby’s eczema (who was being treated successfully by gentler herbal remedies).
  • Nothing else was “wrong” in the home.
  • No crime has been committed by the parents.
  • One of the newborn twins developed pneumonia after being taken earlier this month; his older brother has screaming episodes since being taken.
  • This is the first Thanksgiving for all of the children and Levi is about to miss his 1st birthday.
  • The parents have no custody or visitation until next month.

Here’s what you can do.

-Let Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State know this is unacceptable and inexcusable and you expect those children to be returned now before the situation grows exponentially worse with each missed precious day and special occasion. Tell him our children do NOT belong to the state and our people are FREE.

You can contact him here: His Facebook page. Leave a post on his Wall demanding immediate justice to correct the embarrassment of his state. The number to his office is: 360-902-4111. You can e-mail him here.

-File a complaint against CPS here: Complaint Start Page
According to the training manual below, mandated reporters should contact Constituent Relations at 360-902-8060 if they disagree with CPS’ decisions. I urge anyone who disagrees with CPS’ decision to take away Erica May Rengo’s children call this number until we have a resolution.” (quoting Jamie Ellsworth)

-Contact News Sources in the media to draw more attention and heat to influence expedited action. Consider local news sources within Washington State and Bellingham specifically, but also large national media outlets.

-Spread the word through social media, the internet, etc. Share this post or any of the other links you see here to get word out. Let people feel the outrage with you and take action along with you. Start a ripple effect that makes us heard.

Do any of these. Do all of these. They’re not going to ignore us while a family is suffering for no reason. We won’t let them.

If you could do just one good deed this Thanksgiving, what would it be? I feel incredibly moved to try to do my part to reunite a family that should never have been split up in the first place, and even that would be only one righteous step towards a just direction. What has done cannot be undone but it can get a LOT worse. Let’s jump in and help before this family’s hell is increased.

Let’s send a clear signal to our officials and politicians– you’re not going to kidnap MY children! Go help the children who are actually being abused and leave our healthy families alone!

Enjoy your holidays.





How Much Say Should the Government Have In Your Birth Choices?

3 11 2014

It’s really hard because the system SHOULD be in place to protect us and to know better than the laypeople, to be the authority in terms of wisdom for our health. They pose as this, but they are not. Common sense is gone, and the average person may often know more about their own health than the doctor they visit. It’s about profit$$$. It’s even about misogyny or patriarchy when it comes to maternity care, although few see it that way.

If I walk into a hospital and demand heart surgery even if I don’t need it, should it be granted because a) I’m the consumer and b) we’re afraid I’ll go do my own back alley heart surgery to myself? If a woman walks into a hospital and demands a C-section at 28 weeks, what of that? I know that’s far fetched, but my point is that we obviously intend to draw the line somewhere. This time, in Oregon, that line is generous at 39 weeks. Big whoop.

You can’t allow potentially off-balance medical consumer$ to order any drug or procedure off the menu like it’s Burger King,

Birth King-- have it your way.

Birth King– have it your way.

and at the same time, our docs and midwives shouldn’t treat us like idiots and force us into procedures or prescriptions that are actually violating and damaging.

Education, education, education. For both doctors and consumers. We need to radically overhaul the whole system, but the system is built on medical arrogance as it is. I won’t hold my breath, and in the meantime we should stop forcing mothers to do things that don’t sit well with them. We are maiming our society.

As for me, I know better, and so I birth outside the corrupted system. Myself and my babies will not be hurt by the essentially crazy practices now standard to “normal” maternity care. And yes, Florida sucks for this topic. But so does the US and lots of places. I wish women knew just how deceived they were and just how actually simple birth was. We would heal the planet and have a million times more peace. We are terrorizing women and babies with false fear, sadistic authority, and brutal practice.

Re: childbirth in its minimal, natural state, free of coercion or assistance, it reminds me of this paraphrased Buddhist quote:

“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back at the sky and laugh.”

I need to see more women laughing.