My Beautiful Wickedness


A tiny quiet post (heretical position)
September 17, 2007, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know that it makes total sense to point out that childbirth is a risk. I know that it is good to root oneself in the physicality of birth and the beingness of pregnancy. I know the rhetorical strategy is a good club for people who really like to think about women in pain for some sick reasons of their own. It keeps the attention of the politician-closet-sadist.

But my birth experience really wasn’t like that. It didn’t really hurt too much — hell, gallbladder pain or kidney stones are a lot worse — and even though it was somewhat of a risk due to my age and other complicating factors, I didn’t feel particularly in danger.

Not everyone is me, of course. I had a good midwife and a strong, supportive present partner. We wanted to have a child and conceived easily and then we had the baby together one evening and the grandparents drove all night through the Perseid meteor shower wishing on every one and got to see our child as the sun was rising on a snowless December morning.

I chose to do this. I was good with my choice and never doubted that this was the right thing for us.

Not everyone is me, of course.

But don’t you think…since women who have given birth already know that it ain’t no big thing, or that it either is or isn’t a defining moment for them…and since women who haven’t given birth or maybe won’t ever give birth deserve every bit as much a right to privacy and bodily autonomy as we who have hosted a fetus…and that since the ways in which that applies ties us together with allies in the disability community, the queer community, and touch the heart of what we argue for when we argue for a radical embrace of human rights…

Don’t you think maybe that continuing to drum away on how hard it is to have teh babeez might not be the best road to go if the larger thing in play is a universal understanding of what right of bodily autonomy and civic inclusion all humans in the United States ought to be accorded? Sure, conservative anti-abortion people want to talk about killing babies 24/7 — they want to slut-shame and they want to play to the image of a dumpster full of discarded placentas and what-all. They like focusing on the punished and humiliated female body, bloodied or regretful. Sick stuff, really. Yet they are notoriously bad at the obligations of care, the duty to provide some basic stuff for living human beings from 9 minutes to 99 years old.

Don’t you think that maybe there’s a reason they want to yammer away about fetal tissue? Because we’re all expected to line up behind our “cause” and insist that our cause is more important and that everyone else’s cause can wait. So while we squabble about where we should be in the pecking order of need, they merely orchestrate the chaos.

What if the cause was creating the conditions whereby every human had access to the resources to realize his or her full potential? Or if the cause was insisting upon the inherent worth and dignity of every human life?

I think we’re all thinking too small. For whatever that’s worth.

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2 Comments so far
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🙂 Although we are on different plots on the ‘heretical position’ graph.

That was beautiful…and well thought of…

I think of my late cousin who was basically denied the right to have a child by the structiure of our present healthcare system…. and yes the issue of privacy and autonomy expands beyond to women who will not bear children…

Comment by imfunny2

Well, the “childbirth is dangerous and disgusting” theme has historically been a very powerful one within religions that stress separation of soul and body. Jerome, for instance, used it to pursuade women into a life of chastity, and to pursuade other male Christians leaders into accepting female monasticism as an acceptable spiritual choice. It was used throughout the middle ages and early modern period as one argument against allowing women to leave the cloister. The association of midwives and witches arises from the theme as well: women who go out of their way to involve themselves in other women’s ickiness are spiritually suspect, and at the same time any stillbirth, infant death, or maternal death can be blamed on them.

So I agree that it’s a powerful theme. I just think that the constellation of ideas tied into it aren’t what feminists generally want to drag along. OTOH, we could appropriate and subvert it.

Comment by nm




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