Reply turned post, need to walk away style

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.


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18 responses to “Reply turned post, need to walk away style

  1. Oy, I recommend strongly against engaging with Feminist Breeder, who may well breed, but is no feminist in a way I can see. I’ve encountered her before at Womanist Musings and, I think, Alas, A Blog, and yah – thick as two short planks, and ready to go to the wall to defend her privilege. Blech.

    • MomTFH

      Oh, thanks for this. I was wondering if I was the only one who has this issue with her.

      Why the hell is she interested in MY passion? I wish I didn’t run into her in birth advocacy circles. *Grumble*

  2. I agree with your “strawman” observation. Even ignoring that I have to say after reading the reply I had to wonder what the deal is. At face value the things she talked about in her comment is worthy of advocacy…worthy of change…worthy of writing about. So I can’t help but wonder why she trolls around on the internet exercising what appears to be a personal vendetta of some sort. It seems to me that to do so is just a distraction and waste of time from far more important matters (privilege in birth and the glaring disparity in outcomes not just in the US, but around the world). Less notoriety and traffic I suppose?

  3. It’s just sad now. Like watching a dying prey animal struggling against its predator. She’s throwing out some of the wildest horseshit I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a LOT for Dr. Amy. I feel like I ought to stop clicking, but I can’t drag myself away. It’s like picking a scab that isn’t ready yet…it hurts really bad and you feel stupid for doing it, but you keep going.

    • MomTFH

      I haven’t gone back since my post. I need to disengage. I did what I was able to do.

      I am afraid to go click now. I don’t want to get back into it.

      • Don’t do it. There’s no fun discourse and troll-poking anymore. It’s just balls-to-the-wall Dr. Amy craziness, that you can’t even pick apart because it makes no sense. And I love picking stuff apart. :sigh:

        I’m going to follow your good example and forget about it. I had my fun, now it’s time to move on. Let’s both abstain from the crazy.

  4. emjaybee

    Tthanks for your response MomTFH, which is much better than the rant I typed but then deleted responding to La Tuteur.

    I guess it’s an indication that our little area of advocacy is growing enough to have camps, cliques, and fringe groups.

  5. MM

    (Imagine a real soothing, hypnotic voice)

    Walllllk ayyy—waaaayyyyy, waaaalllllk ayyy-wwway.

    Now if only I could wrap my brain around it, lol. Ok! I’m walking away!

  6. It is very easy to get sucked in. I wrote this to add some levity to the situation:

    Laugh or go crazy, that’s my motto!

  7. I regretted (and I was guilty of contributing to this) that the comments got sucked off the topic so quickly and into nitpicking with Amy about what should be “normal”, what are appropriate statistics to use to compare homebirth mortality rates, etc. etc. because the original post was so good and so thought-provoking. I want to get back to it, when I can justify spending the hours I need to type out all of my semi-formed thoughts on the topic!!

    • MomTFH

      Rebecca, that’s totally understandable. Hey, some of my comments were derails from the original thread. And yes, you did have a very good point about PHYSIOLOGICAL childbirth, which is one of the points I tried to make to Dr. Amy. Also, you were completely right about here misusing statistics.

      She just uses the multitude of comments to pick minor points, then argue the semantics of the minor points in a way that distracts from the major point. It is more Dr. Amy’s bickering that I have a problem with than the many intrepid commenters who argue with her.

  8. I just wish, just once, that she would try to find some common ground or just, you know, be nice. Rixa’s “someone is wrong on the internet” xkcd post was a reminder that it’s kind of pointless to hope for, but I think there could be productive discussions to be had. (Not that anything is ever solved on the internet!) I think you and Jill have distilled it down nicely to the major points of disagreement (is modern obstetrics, on the whole, reliably evidence-based or not?) but unfortunately is keeps getting turned into an argument about whether because someone on MDC carried to 45 weeks and had an IUFD, anyone who talks about physiologic birth is a nutcase who ignores dead babies. (Note I am making up that example, but something along those lines always seems to be the straw (wo)man in the room.)

  9. Pingback: A banner day « Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

  10. “Fuck you crazy person because you don’t agree with me and despite the fact that I’m hella crazy too, but won’t take meds because I’m too good for that, you know…. blah, blah, blah”

    Does that sound familiar to you? I thought so. If it doesn’t sound like yourself (which I’m sure it doesn’t), then who does it sound like? Bet that’s an easy one to figure out.

    You’re not the only one… and it’s not just either of us. See the link I provided.

    Not my blog linked and I’ve got nothing else to say.

  11. wait… the whole race thing.

    Do you know how many African-Americans (or minorities in general) live where the FB does? Not many. I grew up there… for 19 really long years, and it’s white as hell. I remember going to school from kindergarten on and there was maybe ONE OR TWO African-American children… and yes, I went to a PUBLIC SCHOOL from K-12.

    The place: Brookfield, Cook County, Illinois. Percentage of whites: 93.53%

    FB BlogHer profile (proof of residency):


    US CENSUS ONLINE: (shortened URL for specific page on above website about Brookfield, IL)

    Side note: my significant other thinks I grew up in Mayberry when I tell him how many minorities I went to school with or that lived around me when I was growing up on the North side of town. In another way, he’s also disturbed by these facts, and with good reason.

    Growing up, there was only ONE black family in my neighborhood and they only lasted a couple of years. Moreover, in a neighboring village, they STILL say on some of their property deeds that the specific piece of property at hand cannot be sold to Negroes… which, of course, is totally null and void these days, but yet it remains on these deeds.

  12. Pingback: Apology accepted…I guess? | Mom's Tinfoil Hat

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