I still have a busted finger, even though it is feeling a lot better. I am also swamped with various things going on in different aspects of my life right now. So, I am going to throw up some links for your reading pleasure.
Jennifer Block of Pushed Birth, one of my favorite writers, has written about two of the stories I wanted to write about, so I can just link to her. She covered Dr. Christine Northrup’s wonderful article about reclaiming our birth right. I have been a fan of Dr. Northrup since before I had kids or was interested in medical school, and as a mother and future ob/gyn, I adore her even more.
The other story is about a woman being forced to travel 300 miles to get her VBAC attempt. An attempt at a trial of labor should be offered to every good candidate for a vaginal birth after cesarean. This recommendation is found in the same ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) Practice Bulletin (#54, to be exact) that hospitals, insurance companies physicians point to when they deny women the attempt. Nice selective application of the care standards. In fact, the recommendation to offer the option to most women is a Level A recommendation (based on good scientific evidence) while the recommendation to have physicians immediately available for emergency surgery is a Level C recommendation not based on evidence, but just ACOG expert consensus.
Hmm, I seem to be typing a lot anyway.
OK, keep that story in mind, because it has intersectionality with another issue I want to talk about.
But first, don’t forget to check out the SEIU site story about the woman who was told to be sterilized by her insurance company because of a prior cesarean!
OK, now to the intersectionality issue. The story at the SEIU site and the second link at Pushed Birth have something in common – people attempting to force women to do things with their reproductive organs against their will. If you followed the link about the woman who has to drive for her VBAC attempt, the pregnant protagonist has “Enter your body without my permission? Sounds like rape to me” on her car, and Jennifer Block chose that as her post title. There are good posts on the subject of using the term “birth rape”. Some people have a problem with that term, thinking it is somehow unjustified for the victims to appropriate the term rape.
I also was involved with a discussion on female genital mutilation (FGM) on a website recently, and many commenters criticized people who drew parallels to routine male circumcision. Like I do in this post. They think this somehow diminishes FGM.
On that same site, someone was complaining recently about a friend whose wife has a disassociative disorder (I swear I am going somewhere with this), and was accusing many other people of trying to claim they also have a similar mental disorder when he didn’t deem them properly diagnosable. Someone else on the board tried to compare that to the “understandable” anger of mothers of autistic children who get angry at people who are “socially adjusted” and still claim to be in the autistic spectrum.
OK, my point. (Ow, my pointer finger. Must go back to hunting and pecking with my other fingers).
My point is that there is definitely room for nuance when someone is discussing the particular hardships of one’s own or a loved one’s particular issue, whether it be sexual assault or autism or FGM or whatever. People should get individualized attention. Hijacking is not always appropriate. For example, when I was involved on the post about FGM, I honored the original post, and at the end of my comment, I linked out to my post about the intersectionality with all genital cutting, and didn’t try to hijack the conversation to be about routine newborn circumcision in the developed world when the original post was about repairs of FGM preformed in developing countries. The post I linked to (linked above) is ALSO about FGM in developing countries, and then goes into the ethical and practical problems of condemning only one type of genital cutting (although FGM is easily arguably worse in many ways) when almost all of the arguments against it apply to all genital cutting, including that of intersexed or ambiguously sexed children, and are hard to convincingly apply to just one type of genital cutting.
Anyway, my point is (sore), finally, that it is not necessary to diminish other victims’ experiences or identification with a form of oppression or disease or disorder or diagnosis in order to support people who have a different, more accepted or more typical association with that disorder, issue, disease, diagnosis, etc. I don’t think my dad, who was in a wheelchair for 12 years, benefited at all if I railed against people with silent appearing disabilities who parked with Handicapped parking passes. I don’t think non verbal or other more “typical” autistic presenting individuals benefit if we diminish autistic identifying (and/or diagnosed) individuals who more easily pass as neurotypical. I don’t think victims of sexual assault benefit when we say victims of “gray rape” or “date rape” or “birth rape” can’t say they felt assaulted and sexually violated and raped.
I was “gray raped”, and I still don’t feel like I can say I was really raped or even sexually assaulted in that instance, because I don’t want people to tell me to get over myself, I don’t deserve to be in such a serious category. This is not the same thing as criticizing people for saying they were “raped” by paying money to the IRS or at the gas station. That is diminishing rape. But am I? Some people say yes. Some people say I am diminishing rape by NOT loudly identifying my acquaintance lack-of-consent sex as rape. It’s hard enough for me to talk about.
And I don’t think I’m wringing my hands and saying “Oh, but what about the menz?” when I point out it’s awfully hard to successfully tell cultures in other countries to stop cutting the girls’ genitalia but please continue cutting the boys.
Can we talk about the ways our problems intersect without diminishing each other?