The experience I had birthing my oldest child was very empowering, and it made me into a birth junkie. Women need to be empowered. I felt like a superhero and I wanted all of my soon-to-be-mom friends to feel the same. Some of them did, and some less so.
Once I became a birth junkie, I could not get enough birth stories. I read them wherever I could find them. Natural birth stories were my favorites, but I read anything I could get onto my screen. I discovered that there is a massive problem with women being disrespected while they birth their babies. Ignored, marginalized, disrespected, threatened and even raped. What. The. Hell. We’re into the 21st century. Rape is a crime. Birth rape is a thing. Not only is it a thing, but an extremely prevalent thing. And it’s protected. How is it possible that our culture understands that no means no, unless a woman is trying to push a bowling ball through her pelvis? A few months ago, a friend of mine screamed for the medical personnel to take their hands off of her while she birthed her baby and she was ignored. She was assaulted and because the people involved were wearing scrubs, very few people take her story seriously.
I started reading My OB Said What. Not only are women treated badly in childbirth, but it’s common enough to be seen as routine. A lot of women will tell you that “that’s just what birth is like.” No, no it’s not. And it shouldn’t be. They want validation that everyone experiences trauma during the births of children and that all women are treated badly in the labor room. They don’t want to know that what they endured was probably unnecessary trauma and they were likely abused. Sometimes emergencies arise in childbirth, but never is it acceptable for a laboring mom to walk away from her baby’s birth with PTSD. But it happens all the time and our culture condones it.
Our culture condones abusing women when they are in the most vulnerable position they will ever be in. Childbirth is the last place where women are told to lie back and take whatever comes to them. Women are routinely punished during the birth of their children for having sex, for getting pregnant and they are treated as though they deserve whatever they have coming to them. The menu often includes getting bullied, harassed, digitally raped, given medication without consent and getting cut without consent. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough to be noteworthy. The medical patriarchy is shocking and horrifying.
I was raised that women and men were equal in the eyes of the God and under the law. I owe second wave and first wave feminists for that. After all of that, before my son was born, I asked if feminism was still necessary. I can see that it is.
Women deserve not to be undermined. They deserve to choose where and with whom they birth their babies. They deserve to be treated with respect and compassion while they are laboring, whether they want a natural birth, a medicated one or a cesarean section. No one needs to bully a laboring mom if an emergency arises. You can deal effectively and efficiently with an emergency while treating the mother with compassion. There is no excuse for anything less than that.
I am a feminist because women should not be robbed of confidence in their bodies or in their abilities as mothers. We have come far in achieving respect and autonomy for women, but we still have far to go.