The blatant misogyny of “too posh to push”

Sad and stressed pregnant woman

Oxford University Hospitals, in violation of UK medical guidelines and a recent British legal case, has banned maternal request C-sections.

A major hospital trust has banned women from having caesareans unless there is a medical reason.

Oxford University Hospitals will not offer them to those who are frightened or have had previous traumatic births…

The trust’s policy breaches guidelines from health watchdog Nice, which say women should be allowed a caesarean without a medical reason once the risks and benefits have been explained.

Why? Is it to lower costs? Is it to meet C-section targets?

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It’s about punishing women for having sex.[/pullquote]

Oxford University Hospitals said its decision was ‘not related to targets but to good practice and reducing harm to women’.

The trust’s Dr Veronica Miller said: ‘A caesarean section which is not clinically indicated may have serious consequences for a woman and her baby.’

Caesareans take longer to recover from than natural births. The wound may cause severe pain and some women need to be in hospital for three or four days.

Oh, it’s paternalism! The administrators are substituting their judgment for women’s needs and desires since they “know better.”

But, but, but safety. Are they banning homebirths for those who don’t meet safety guidelines. No, they’re not. Any woman can still have a homebirth regardless of the risk, so clearly this is not about safety.

But, but, but the incision may cause severe pain. So women ought to be protected from the pain of C-section by being forced to endure hours of agony in labor?

A C-section may have serious consequences for mother and baby? No more and no less than vaginal birth. C-sections are definitely safer for babies, protecting them from birth injuries and potential oxygen deprivation, and they can be safer for mothers, protecting them from debilitating lifelong consequences like incontinence and painful sex.

So if Oxford University Hospitals’ decision is not about safety and not about protecting mothers and babies, what is it about?

The vitriolic comments to the article and on a Facebook post discussing the decision make it quite clear: it’s about punishing women for having sex.


Too posh to push!!

Another comment in case that one was too subtle:

If you don’t want a baby as nature intended, don’t get pregnant. Life isn’t about everything your own way. For gods sake you’ve had the sweet, now time for the sour.
Women of today,you want all your own way.

Nature wants women to suffer:

I think some people are missing the point on here…women have been given birth naturally for years and years and they all knew what pain was in front of them and considered it a small price to pay for the little bundle at the end…


If someone chooses to have a caesarean then they should pay for it. All none medical surgery should have to be paid for.

In other words, you chose to have sex, you must take the punishment. “You’ve had the sweet, now time for the sour.”

The idea of labor pain as punishment for women who have sex is as old as the Bible. The pain of labor was so impressive to our Bronze Age forebears that the only explanation they could think of was that it was a punishment for sex meted out to Eve and all her descendants. The idea of labor pain as punishment was so powerful that it was harnessed by the founder of natural childbirth, Grantly Dick-Read, for his own ends; according to him pain was the punishment for “over-civilized” white women who strayed from the home to pursue political and economic rights.

The ugly misogyny of insisting that women must suffer the excruciating pain of labor and expose herself to the risk of life long incontinence and sexual dysfunction is captured by the phrase “too posh to push.”

Are men who take pain medication for broken bones “too posh” to endure the pain? It would be heartless to claim that.

Are men who choose less invasive treatments for prostate cancer “too posh” to deal with the lifelong incontinence and sexual dysfunction that may result from more aggressive treatment? That would be a cruel to conclusion to draw.

Aren’t people who suffer the agonizing pain of advanced lung cancer avoiding the natural result of smoking? Shouldn’t they be forced to endure the pain or pay out of pocket for pain relief? Only a vicious person would be believe that.

The phrase “too posh to push” is equally heartless, cruel and vicious. But there is such a deeply embedded cultural prejudice that women deserved to be punished for having sex that even the Oxford University Hospitals see no reason to respect a woman’s wish to avoid the agony of childbirth and the resulting lifelong injuries.

That’s not good healthcare; that’s blatant misogyny.