In case you thought I was exaggerating NCB self-righteousness

I’ve written a series of posts over the past several weeks that point out what is wrong with the factual and philosophical claims of the “natural” childbirth movement. Several commenters have suggested that I have exaggerated the dogmatism and self-righteousness of NCB activists.

Fortunately, the Unnecessarean has reprinted a post from NCB activist Rachel that helpfully demonstrates the ignorance, self-righteousness and pathetic immaturity of NCB activists. Just consider the following quotes.

There’s a disturbing trend in feminist discourse that goes something like this:

… * the advocacy groups go a bit too far in their encouragement of the better/healthier practices and women begin to feel that their choices are now being curtailed in the opposite direction
* a backlash ensues in which we seem to feel that we have to deny the often well-documented and undeniable benefits of this thing the advocacy groups are fighting for.

Hence you see feminists denying that breastmilk is nutritionally better than formula, or that births with fewer medical interventions are, generally speaking, safer for mothers and babies. And this puts us in a really strange and irrational position, because we’re having to deny facts that are well-established through mountains of research.

No, Rachel, you seem to have missed the key point. There are NOT mountains of research that prove NCB claims. There is some research that is equivocal and contradicted by lots of other research. Indeed, what feminists are pointing out is that the very claim that breastfeeding and NCB are superior is NOT supported by the scientific evidence. Rather, those unsupported claims are being used to force women into a specific philosophic vision of motherhood.

I’ve been told that by merely noting that natural childbirth was an empowering experience for me I’m oppressing women for whom natural childbirth was not an option. And I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit, and that silences me and delegitimizes my experience.

No, Rachel, it’s not bullshit. The rest of us call it “being polite.” Your claim makes about as much sense (and reflects the same level of immaturity) as whining that people shouldn’t feel bad when you repeatedly announce that your children are the smartest and the best. The rest of us don’t need to know that you think your children are better than ours, no matter how fervently you believe it. Similarly, the rest of us don’t need to know that you think your birth experience was better than ours. To paraphrase the immortal words of Mad Magazine: “If we wanted your unsolicited opinion, we’d ask for it.”

“While I was pregnant I did a ton of research …”

No, you didn’t Rachel. You read tons of propaganda and because you can’t tell the difference between propaganda and research, you pretend that it is research. Did you read Williams Obstetrics? Did you read the top 100 or so scientific papers in obstetrics? If not, you haven’t done research. Reading Henci Goer on childbirth is like reading Eric Carle on very hungry caterpillars. It’s pleasant; it’s fun; but it’s not research.

My decision was based on the fact that, all other things being equal, natural childbirth is healthier for the mother and the baby than any of the other options. This is a non-normative, purely descriptive, well-documented fact.

Wrong again, Rachel. Why? Because “all other things” are not equal. Because emergencies in childbirth are common, not rare. Because childbirth is, in every time, place and culture a leading cause of death of young women and the leading cause of death of children.

And for me, personally, taking the natural route was also a defiant act of standing up to the bullying and the smirking and the micromanaging and the distrust of women’s bodies that’s so prevalent in the medical industry. It was me saying “Fuck you and your patriarchal fucking attitude toward my body and my mental toughness and my instinctive knowledge of how to birth my own fucking baby.”

See, that’s the immaturity I have been talking about. You think that risking your baby’s life is an act of defiance. It’s difficult to imagine anything more selfish, self-serving and childish than putting your baby’s life on the line to make a point.

And I took on natural childbirth, which was tough and painful and stressful and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I fucking kicked its ass, and it was an incredibly empowering experience.

Well, then you’ve got to get out more, Rachel, and rack up some actual achievements. You’re proud of yourself because you did what any woman in the world could do if she felt like it? Are you proud of yourself because you did what your dog could do? Did you consider it an achievement for your dog when she gave birth without intervention? If it’s not an achievement for your dog, why on earth is it an achievement for you?

You “kicked its ass.” I’ve got news for you Rachel. Labor is not a person; it is a bodily function that happens without your control. Do you routinely kick digestion’s ass, too? How about urination? Are you proud of yourself when those things happen without intervention?

But my point is that silencing people when they talk about the flaws of our overly-medicalized, patriarchal approach to childbirth or about their personal experience of natural childbirth is not the answer.

Sorry, Rachel, but you cannot justify your desire to proclaim your superiority as striking a blow against the patriarchy. If the patriarchy is paying attention, it is laughing at your ignorance and immaturity. You are not promoting the cause of feminism. Indeed by insisting that there is one “right” way to be a mother and a woman, you are actively working against feminism, which exists to provide women opportunities to go far beyond any single view of motherhood or womanhood.

Rachel, you’re just another insecure NCB activist, with limited education, and limited professional success. You’re trying to feel better about yourself by pretending that reading propaganda is “research”, performing bodily functions is an “achievement”, and ignoring medical advice is “defiance.” And you’re being obnoxious in the process.

addendum: Apparently it isn’t enough for Jill at the Unnecessarean to remove comments that she doesn’t like. In a sign that she’s really afraid, she’s now trying to block my access to the website (which, of course, is easy to get around). The claims that she and her guests make are obviously so indefensible, even to Jill, that she wants to keep me from reading them and exposing them for the falsehoods that they are.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Scott Schulte - August 5, 2021

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More on that Topic: skepticalob.com/2010/05/in-case-you-thought-i-was-exaggerating.html […]

  2. 히든슬롯 - July 19, 2021

    … [Trackback]

    […] Find More Info here on that Topic: skepticalob.com/2010/05/in-case-you-thought-i-was-exaggerating.html […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.