Well, if anyone is up to following the drama, plus some new drama, please head on to the next thread on The Unnecesarean: Stuff White People Like: Talking About Birth.
If you want to take a controversial topic like birth advocacy and throw in something MORE to argue about, talk about privilege in birth. I love Jill’s original post, and I totally agree that we, as women of privilege, whether it is neurotypical privilege, cis privilege, able bodied privilege, heterosexual privilege, married privilege, socioeconomic privilege (the only one many people are able to acknowledge, if any), attractive non overweight body privilege, dominant culture and language privilege, another privilege I am too privileged to know I have or simple race privilege, have a responsibility to examine that privilege and try to see how it intersects with topics about which we are passionate.
Well, if you want some good, on topic discussion, read Jill’s post, my comment, and a few of ther subsequent comments. Then, in walks Dr. Amy with what seems like a much more reasonable tone, but if you read between the non-ranty lines, she is still painting evidence based non interventionist birth advocates as a convenient straw woman, (B3 on Mommy Wars Bingo), and then tears it down as only a reasonable woman could by saying “Why can’t we get along and non-judgmentally respect these choices?”, as if that is how she has ever approached this topic. If you need to refresh your memory about her typical approach to this discussion, just go back one thread or try the google with her name and the term “home birth”.
And then, Feminist Breeder, a commenter I have had issues with regarding race on my own blog to the point I had to ask her to stop posting on the subject (here, here, and here) showed up, and engaged in privilege denialism. Strong black women in her community have more control and faith in their bodies, and reject those unnecessary interventions that white women don’t have the sass to refuse. And the rich white women drive to a poor neighborhood to use their awesome midwifery clinic! We are so totes post racial, birth wise, folks!
So, I replied. I was SO relieved not to see a flame war on there…yet. I would love to have some women of color (or other nonprivileged points of view, for that matter) come and represent their own perspective, but I know that the amount of anger and annoyance I feel at the same tired arguments about privilege are probably multiplied exponentially when they read them, and it is not their job to educate the ignorant and argumentative.
Anyway, here was my reply:
Dr. Amy, I appreciate the nicer tone you are taking on this thread as opposed to the thread you have ditched like a rat leaving a sinking ship.
However, I have thought and said almost all of the things you have written about how all mothers are worthy. And, I am sure I am not the only one.
You are still creating a straw man, or woman, for that matter. I am not, Jill is not, and many birth advocates are not people who think women who choose less interventions are somehow more noble or better mothers. That is a simplistic, shallow, ridiculous point of view, and I don’t have it, and it is not the point of view of the birth advocacy movement.
Sure, you can find examples of such caricatures of holier-than-thou crunchy moms if you look hard enough on certain message boards, but it is just as easy to find moms on much more conventional mommy message boards mocking anyone who doesn’t opt for an epidural. In a country where 85% + of women who deliver vaginally have an epidural, and less than 1% have a home birth, I have a really hard time when people cast the women who get epidurals as the underdogs and women who fight to refuse one as the oppressors.
You may have chosen one quote of Kukla’s that seems to support that view. (By the way, way to embrace an opinion piece in a peer reviewed journal right after you criticize me for doing so). I prefer this work of hers, “Finding Autonomy In Childbirth.
Here is a quote:
“For all women, however, finding autonomy in birth requires access to safe modes of delivery that are appropriate to their personal and social circumstances and their values and sense of integrity and dignity, and circumstances that enable them to experience themselves as the primary (albeit relationally embedded) agents of their own birthing process.”
I think it’s fairly obvious by this quote, the article and her other works, like Mass Hysteria, she does not throw the baby out with the bathwater, to make a bad and somewhat inappropriate analogy. Just because some person with a natural mom goodness ruler may cast judgment in some circles (and I argue that is NOT the most prevalent attitude, regardless of the hand wringing about it by Kukla and many others), that does not mean the evidence based natural birth advocacy movement is somehow flawed.
Also, Feminist Breeder, I have seen the exact opposite of what you describe, and although I am not in Chicago, I find it unlikely that women of color have more birth advocacy there than white women, or feel like they have more control over their bodies than white women. And women of color are not exercising their increased advocacy thinking that “no one is going to tell them they can’t do something.” I’m sorry, that is a caricature of the sassy angry black woman, and it is just not the reality of most women of color. You and I have clashed on this issue before, and that’s all I am going to say.
In both of these arguments, you can see one of my pet peeves is seeing the underdog cast as the privileged. Women who breastfeed are not oppressing women who don’t or can’t by breastfeeding, and breastfeeding advocacy is not tainted by a mom who has been anecdotally judged for that. Women who advocate for less non-evidence based unnecessary medical interventions in the birth process are not telling mothers who chose an epidural she has failed as a mother, or that her child is going to be different as a teenager. And women of color are not enjoying their increased autonomy over their bodies.