I’ve never really identified myself as a feminist.  Maybe that sounds crazy, but for me, the feminist movement has always seemed somewhat anti-woman.  Or at least anti-the-woman-I-am.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the hard work of so many who only wanted to be treated as fellow human beings as opposed to slaves or property of men.  But somewhere along the way, some women seem to have been left out in the cold.  At some point, having equal ground in the workplace and birth control became more important than other female rights, such as where and with whom to give birth.  I have to wonder, where are the feminists when it comes to birth?  Is birth not the ultimately feminine act we can do?  Are we so busy trying to get the same amount of money as men (which still hasn’t happened!) and working in a “man’s world” that we’ve forgotten our sacred feminine selves?  Why is there not an uprising of angry women fighting for the right to give birth the way they want, like there was for birth control and other reproductive rights?

Birth IS a feminist issue.  The control of how, when and where women give birth has been controlled by men for far too long.  When birth moved from home to the hospital, women lost almost all control.  Fast forward a hundred years and we still haven’t gotten it back.  We’re getting there, slowly, but imagine if all women recognized that this issue DOES affect them and started fighting back?  We have the ability to bring about change.  It’s not about whether you want to give birth at home or in the hospital, it’s about the right to make the decision for yourself.  Organizations like ACOG send out position statements that clearly read:  we respect you, so long as you choose our way, because we know what’s best.  In fact, up until very recently, ACOG’s official position on home birth was NO.  Why the change?  Women demanded it!  Older position papers (which are very difficult to find now that they have their new, “supportive” one) included such statements as: “Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby.”   If I were ACOG, I’d make sure to hide that one too.  It’s too late, though, to put the genie back in the bottle.  No matter what ACOG says, the majority of its’ members still feel this way. 

Physicians testify in government hearings that allowing midwives to attend women at home will lead to needless dead babies.  They bring horror stories of families who may or may not have given permission (violation of HIPAA anyone?) and leave out pertinent facts.  I have personally witnessed this more than once.  At a recent committee hearing I heard male physicians get up and speak “for the mothers and the babies”.  Not once did anyone ask what I, a mother pregnant with a baby, thought.  What I heard at this hearing was, “Women and families are too stupid to make an informed decision.  They are too easily duped by evil midwives who don’t know what they’re doing and they need us to protect them.”

So again I ask, where are the feminists?  Where are the throngs of women who want control over their bodies?  How long will we continue to lay down and spread ’em without question?  What will it take for women to take back this sacred event from the grips of greedy men?

When women stand up for their rights

And realize they will have to fight

When women stand up for their rights

We won’t just go away

Ballad of the Midwife ~ Herisen singing group