Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the birth of a feminist

it bares repeating several times that mothers can be feminists.

reproductive choice doesnt end in birth control and abortion.

judgement of women's bodies isn't ok because you think breastfeeding is icky.

all too many times pregnancy, birth and mothering issues are simply practices in rhetoric on internet feminists communities or devolve into some pissing contest between childfree and childed posters.

as miriam pérez has written, there is a disconnect between pro-choice activists and birth activists even though the two are closer than one would think. actually, i personally dont think it's that much of a stretch, but some feminists need to unlearn thoughts about pregnancy and birth. mothering isnt rhetoric, it's my life. it's women's lives. birth is a feminist issue.

the same society that says women arent smart enough to determine whether to give birth is the same society that says women arent smart enough to determine when, where, with whom and how to give birth. the same society that preys on women's fears of not being pretty, skinny, etc. enough, is the same society that preys on womens insecurities about their ability to birth and feed their babies. it's not feminist to say "i dont want to be/am not a mother, so mothering isn't a feminist issue." that blatant dismissal would not fly if it were exchanged with race or gender identity, body type. this is not to say women of colour or trans-women have not just as equally and oftenly - dont think thats a word - felt the sting of closemindedness and safespace violation. but just as we learned the first day in feminism 101 - all this shit is interrelated. i hate having to reiterate this in my feminist communities. i hate having to align with people who want to destroy a woman's right to choose whether to give birth because i support a woman's right to give birth the way she wants.

as such, if feminists are going to demand less stereotypes of women, less degrading, more diverse images in media, accurate and empowering images of birth and breastfeeding are also necessary. its about creating a woman-positive culture via that culture's images. and just for shits and giggles, can a woman get an abortion on tv with being a victim of murder or the episode turning into some "the more you know" hallmark after school special?

there is a saying in natural birth/women centred birth circles that "We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong." birth has the potential to be a very empowering event in women's lives. seeing nothing but medicalised images of birth are just as damaging to women's self-confidence as seeing only white women or skinny women plastered everywhere.

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