Lifting The Veil

Aleah: So Feminist it’s Misogynist

October 23, 2012
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This was first published by ISOTPB.

QUESTION:  Is natural childbirth

sexist? Is medical childbirth sexist?

It depends. Before labeling, you really have to be fair and consider the source.

Michel Odent has been called or implied sexist by a certain infamous Dr. and anti-NCBers for providing info to empower women through realizing how to give birth naturally and the beauty of it.

The logic seems to be that he’s old, he’s a man, and anyone who would deny women of pain relief (medication) in childbirth is a sexist who believes women should suffer in childbirth. They also take issue that these philosophies “remove choices”, but I argue that a) so do anti NCBers, in trying to more strictly regulate birth options, and b) we are for INFORMED choices, but we disagree that all women’s choices are actually well-informed.

That’s not what natural birth is about, though. It’s not about being cruel and making women suffer. It’s not about removing WELL-informed choices. It’s about providing right info, and putting power that is life-altering back into the hands of women. If women knew just how powerful they were, this would actually be a threat to the patriarchy… !

So, no, I promise you, none of us thinks women should be in pain and suffering for their birth. In fact, I’ll be the first one to tell you to be kind to yourself. If the pain is unbearable to you, take the meds. And don’t be hard on yourself for making that choice. I don’t want to see women suffer, and I doubt that’s Odent’s intention, either.

So what IS this Odent physiology stuff about? It’s about the fact that women don’t automatically suffer just because the paternal obstetric model doesn’t relieve the poor, weak woman with pain meds. That’s right… not every woman is some poor, suffering child whose pain can only be relieved by some white (-coated) knight, who mercifully swoops in to bestow his paternal hit of drugs.

I have done it both ways (drugged and not). I have received pain meds and been ever so grateful. I have also wished I would lose consciousness and had an excruciating “natural” birth. And, I have been liberated from the cycle by owning my birth and surrendering to it– naturally and physiologically. Guess which birth was best?

I’m going to show you some things and then I want you to decide what is truly sexist: Giving power and information TO, or degrading and expecting less FROM?  These are merely examples of the rhetoric, and the personalities behind the rhetoric. Some opinions and values are shared by their friends, and some are not.

This is a point about what IS sexism and what IS real feminism; when people cry “sexist”, we need to consider the source.

[Gone: pic of her and baby, she points to baby, baby has shirt declaring mom’s hotness.]
[Values include: being a MILF (and making sure everyone knows you are)…]

Take away: Even Dr. Amy puts the smack down on rampant sexism coming from Aleah and friends.

These are just some examples of the differences between “sexism” in natural childbirth and sexism in anti-NCB. I know that some believers in natural birth happen to be sexist or perhaps even come from a women-as-subservient place, but you are certainly not finding any of that with me or Odent. We are champions of women, and it’s wrong to falsely paint these principles of biology as misogynist. I am a progressive, believe in freedom and equality, and have been called a feminist since I was a child– and I am proud of that. I believe women are amazing goddesses and deserve the utmost respect. I believe in a return to our innate maternal wisdom.

Okay, so Odent is a sexist for playing into woman’s birth goddess “fantasies” and putting women on a pedestal to encourage them to take back birth from the medical model, but people like those shown above are not sexist? Odent may have a penis, that is true. A man can be a feminist just as sure as a woman can be a chauvinist, however.

I’m not trying to be mean, honest. I’m just trying to say that…

It’s hard for me to really take seriously the opinions of people crying “misogynist” who think the standard of beauty is being a dyed blonde, breast job having, diamond wearing MILF nurse; who think “pushing a baby out your vag” is no big deal and even something to ridicule, and constantly calls people in a condescending tone “honey”, “love”, “sweetie”– when she isn’t busy using her favorite insult, “twat“. You dig what I’m saying?

Why should anyone take seriously opinions on Dr. Odent coming from these folks? All things considered, if these are your attitudes in life, your idea of what is “misogynist” falls a little flat with me. These to me are not true feminists and not actual advocates for women. These are the biggest misogynists of all. I certainly won’t listen to what SHE thinks WOMEN aren’t capable of. I wouldn’t even trust the limitations she puts on herself.

It’s worth noting that these are the same people who call my friend an “attention whore” for talking about her rape to explain her birth views, and bring it up as another source of ridicule.

These aren’t healthy, credible sources. Before you call misogyny, you must consider the source.

Okay, so, what is really sexist? The natural childbirth advocate who tells women how they can have the best birth for their self and their child without trauma? Or the anti-NCBer who tells women that they aren’t special and should shut up?

You decide. Who’s the sexist and who’s the feminist?

Are you for women, or are you against them? Do you believe in them, or do you think they are ridiculous?

You have to love yourself before you can love someone else. It seems we have an epidemic in our culture… a serious lack of understanding of our true worth.

If we’re going to give birth back to women, we need to start patching that up. You are not a pair of tits and a hair color. One day you’ll be old, or fat, or ugly. For now you are a youthful woman, perhaps fertile, certainly glorious and beautiful no matter who convinced you that you’re not. Your real power and beauty is something ageless and within. What’s it going to take to undo all this damage and convince our insecure women of this? Can it be undone?

Sorry, I wanted to keep this short, but I couldn’t leave you without ending it on this note.


Marlo: Amy Puppet Against Science

October 23, 2012
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This post was previously published by ISOTPB.

My previous post drew controversy that I would dare contradict Dr. Amy in insisting that Dr. Odent was right about birth physiology, namely that mammalian birth involved the BONDING hormone Oxytocin, which is in fact different from the synthetic variety, best known as Pitocin.  The issue was basically that Odent was supposedly an out-of-touch misogynist for tricking women into believing they were birthing goddesses when they really aren’t, guilting women into undergoing the pain of childbirth. And oh, btw, Oxytocin doesn’t actually bond people and Pitocin does exactly the same things for the body. Right.

Enter “troll” (not my label) Marlo. She is vocal in the anti-NCB community and feels that pain-free childbirth is a lie, Michel Odent is an unapologetic sexist and not a man of science nor a respected doctor. We did a back and forth in comments in my previous post, and she had this to say:

“Find me some women OBGYNs who are down with it & have them guest post.”

Ask and ye shall receive… I may not have a guest post from Dr. Buckley (yet?!), but I do have her response to the topic, as it is easily available. Enjoy!

Sarah J Buckley is a trained GP/family physician with qualifications in GP-obstetrics and family planning. Dr Buckley has presented at numerous conferences in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, lecturing to midwives, nurses, physicians, obstetricians, doulas, and childbirth educators…

And of course, our man Odent has a fabulous endorsement of the respected Doctor:

“Sarah Buckley is precious, because she is bilingual. She can speak the language of a mother who gave birth to her four children at home. She can also speak like a medical doctor. By intermingling the language of the heart and the scientific language she is driving the history of childbirth towards a radical and inspiring new direction.”

Michel Odent MD, author and natural birth pioneer

Already we have TWO respected doctors who believe natural birth, oxytocin, and mammalian physiology are not just myths. Odent was discredited for his age, for his beliefs, and even for having a penis (“men will never understand“, Marlo holds). He was accused of being a general surgeon, and not an OB, even though Odent did his initial training in general surgery and was in charge of the surgical unit and the maternity unit at the Pithiviers state hospital (1962–1985).

Now, Dr. Buckley is a woman, has had home births, and is qualified in the field of obstetrics. Let’s hear more of what Dr. Buckley has to say:

Perhaps the best-known birth hormone is oxytocin, the hormone of love, which is secreted during sexual activity, male and female orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin engenders feelings of love and altruism; as Michel Odent says, “Whatever the facet of Love we consider, oxytocin is involved.”(1)For the baby also, birth is an exciting and stressful event, reflected in high CA levels (27). These assist the baby during birth by protecting against the effects of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and subsequent acidosis.

Undisturbed birth is exceedingly rare in our culture, even in birth centers and home births.

Two factors that disturb birth in all mammals are firstly being in an unfamiliar place and secondly the presence of an observer. Feelings of safety and privacy thus seem to be fundamental. Yet the entire system of Western obstetrics is devoted to observing pregnant and birthing women, by both people and machines, and when birth isn’t going smoothly, obstetricians respond with yet more intense observation. It is indeed amazing that any woman can give birth under such conditions.

Synthetic oxytocin [AKA PITOCIN] administered in labor does not act like the body’s own oxytocin. First, syntocinon-induced contractions are different from natural contractions, and these differences can cause a reduced blood flow to the baby. For example, waves can occur almost on top of each other when too high a dose of synthetic oxytocin is given, and it also causes the resting tone of the uterus to increase (33).

Second, oxytocin, synthetic or not, cannot cross from the body to the brain through the blood-brain barrier. This means that syntocinon, introduced into the body by injection or drip, does not act as the hormone of love. However, it does provide the hormonal system with negative feedback—that is, oxytocin receptors in the laboring woman’s body detect high levels of oxytocin and signal the brain to reduce production. We know that women with syntocinon infusions are at higher risk of bleeding after the birth, because their own oxytocin production has been shut down. But we do not know the psychological effects of giving birth without the peak levels of oxytocin that nature prescribes for all mammalian species.

For more from the very esteemed Dr. Buckley, read her article on Ecstatic Birth. Or is she just a misogynist idiot, too?


Be True to Yourself– no matter fucking what.

October 23, 2012
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This post was originally published by ISOTPB.

Trolls People have tried to warn me about my strong personality somehow getting in the way of my goals as an author. Like, what, I’m supposed to deliver some watered down version of myself because I’m trying to be “marketable”? Think again. No, that’s just what they’d like because it would make their jobs of trolling easier if they can stifle any of the strong voices.  Sure I want to sell books, but I’m still in favor of being upfront about who the fuck I am. I’m not hiding behind personas like WeepyDog/MJones25/RedShoes/dadawalk/teenage cancer patient/”Lauren”/”Elizabeth Ann”. [names edited to protect the guilty.]

They call it being “professional”.

Ron Burgundy: Big deal. I am very professional.

I’ve had jobs before that required me to be as such, and I have also had to represent myself in such a manner out in the real world. I’m told I’m pretty good at it. In person, I’ve been called regal or even snobby. I have an air I guess of being or feeling somehow above things, is how I take it. Sometimes it’s advantageous (“professional”), sometimes not (“personable”). There is a time and a place for being professional, and it doesn’t necessarily mean not ever standing up against attacks, falsehoods, or criticisms. I guess I have a certain amount of casual professionalism on Facebook. I want our fan page for the book to be comfortable and welcoming for people genuinely interested in the topics discussed in the book.

But, there is a place for total honesty, where I don’t have to hold my tongue quite as much– this blog. I’m not made of stone, and I’m not a robot. This is MY space.

Being yourself and saying what you have to say, and doing what you have to do, is what brought me here in the first place– to authorship, to natural childbirth advocacy, to unassisted childbirth. While I want my message to be accessible,  I am not in the business of making friends. The truth is often alienating! I’ve never been even close to a good salesperson. It feels too dirty. I don’t like the idea of “selling myself”. I don’t do what I’m told, and I don’t smile on command. I’ve tried in the past but I’m just not extroverted enough to swing it. I’m better at just being me. That’s all I have to offer, and that’s all that I can do, and I’m sure that will be good enough for and championed by the people who need me most in the world. It is them who I hope to serve.

I am in the business of telling you what I see with my own eyes. I see a lot of people regurgitating nonsense and re-feeding it to one another (ew), and I am not interested in joining a club or a clique where I am expected to roll with a pack mentality. Either you like me or you don’t. If you don’t like me, I think you’re probably a prejudiced asshole. To truly know me IS to love me, unless you’re against all that is holy and good.

But in seriousness, UC is a controversial subject. I expect to offend people, especially people who go around looking to be offended, of which there are plenty. Likewise there are also people who are looking to offend, although I am not trying to offend anyone intentionally.

Now you’d be right in saying that some of THE largest UC proponents are religious and that perhaps I am alienating my religious base whenever I say anything freethinking, liberal, or anti-religious. Well, I can’t really help that. The close-minded ones can move right along, and the open-minded ones can either take from me just the birthing aspects of our dialogue to get something out of our time together, OR they may even open their minds to hear my thoughts and learn something new or find a common ground with me.

This post seems a little defensive, maybe. Maybe it seems a little mad. Good. It’s a reflection of how I feel. It’s how I respond to a sometimes hostile environment. Other people are so busy trying to be “professional”. Trying to be “civil”. They ignore antagonism. I only will up to a certain point. I’m willing to get down. I can easily hold a grudge, I’ll ask you “what did you say?”, and I am not one to just “let go” or “turn the other cheek” over anything heated or confrontational.  No, I’m down! You want to get down? UC needs an angry voice. I’m willing to fight dirty if it means natural childbirth has a strong impassioned angry motherfucker at bat. Yeah, I’ll be that guy. Bring it. God knows the other side has plenty of angry and nasty bitches fighting on their own behalf. They’re counting on us to be meek, silent, professional.

So yeah, readers… It won’t be the first time or the last time you see me pissed off. Peace is at the core of most of our principles and beliefs as UCers, regardless of faith. Peace is our friend. It centers us. But you know what? This is me, this is who I am. And now you know that I’m a real person.

No matter what, by being true to yourself, you ultimately win. And since I’m not a total pragmatist, here’s your magical thinking for the day– good always conquers evil. And yes, it is accompanied by plenty of rainbows and dolphins and sunshine, if you have to fucking know.


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