As I was looking for something meaningful to post on International Women’s Day (what a black hole that was!), I really wanted to ask myself some questions that would resonate with the people who like my Facebook page. What is it that makes being a woman hard? How can I find something to apply not only to birth, but also to the wider range of women who are interested in birth and babies and just reproductive justice in general? Then I found this quote to the left, from Ina May Gaskin, one of the most influential midwives of our time.
The way we are socialized influences everything, from how we choose to conceive, to how we give birth and raise our children (what kind of pressures exist that push us towards becoming mothers? Towards acting a certain way, sexually? And then, how do stereotypes work when we’re pregnant? What does society allow/disallow in terms of agency over our bodies in birth, postpartum?) Our children are immediately influenced by the way our pregnancies and births play out, and further down the line they’re influenced by how we see our own bodies. My mum’s diets and exercise fads were a pretty big fixture of my childhood. I know how common it is for others to remember their mothers negatively talking about their own bodies and saying things like “never get fat like me, sweetie”. Pretty easy to see how most of us develop into women who are constantly putting ourselves down.
Many machines of society have a lot to gain from our insecurities. Of course, the fears that are so well ingrained in us about our bodies and birth have been a long time in the making. The beauty industry makes a lot of money by ensuring that we belief we need make-up to be attractive and accepted. The fashion industry profits from the insecurities that come from not fitting into sizes they deem reasonable. In the USA, even hospitals stand to profit from the doubts women have about their bodies’ inabilities to give birth. How backwards is that? The very institutions people depend on to heal them are making money from practices and beliefs that aren’t based in evidence and that ignore the physiology of the body.
It only seems appropriate to close this blog post with another quote from Ina May. We have work to do to gain equitable status for all in our society. I encourage you to take a moment to think about your part in actively securing equity for all. It starts at the beginning of each person’s life and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Let’s change the world together!