Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Power of a Word
Birth Rape is a term used by home-birth advocates to describe what they see as violations that occur when giving birth in a hospital setting. Some women do indeed experience traumatic births. There are doctors who seem cold and disconnected, episiotomies, and an audience.
According to advocate Amity Reed, it is something sinister. She describes hospital birth in the following way :
"Fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors ... these are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her."
Now I will agree that some instances of hospital birth, and birth in general can be traumatizing. Women are at their most vulnerable. Some of the experiences I've read about do indeed sound like an awful way for a child to enter the world. There are bad doctors, and in some instances women who do not seem to understand that the birth experience is not a painless, pretty thing. Childbirth can be a pretty awful way to spend a Sunday, but it isn't rape.
Rape is something entirely different. I know this because I've experienced it (And yes Whoopi, it was 'rape rape', actually more like 'rape rape rape rape'.) Rape is a weapon of war or power. It is a dehumanizing hate crime that often leaves its victims with permanent mental or physical injuries, forced pregnancies, diseases, and even death. If you ask any of the mothers in Congo or Bosnia whether there childbirths and involuntary violations were the same thing, every one of them would reply that it is not. While you may not consent to every specific procedure, you did volunteer to bring a child into the world. For the most part childbirth is an option while being attacked in the worst way by 4 miscreants who are trying to kill you is not.
The concept that a life-saving Caesarean Section is the same thing as the worst possible experience that can happen to a human being is insulting. Calling traumatic birth rape actually increases the amount of trauma that the person may feel. Difficult births do happen but casting them in the same light as a grotesque sexual violation turns a doctor into a potential rapist- a term that is undignified at the least and slanderous to be sure. The term Birth Rape is a deliberate attempt by natural-birth advocates to demonize physicians and cause fear in already scared women.
There are few things I've found more repugnant than the use of a metaphor such as rape to represent something that it is clearly not. This is an inappropriate insult to every human who has survived the real thing and unnecessarily cruel to women who choose to give birth in hospitals. This is an inaccurate representation used as a ploy by women's advocates who should know better.
We must get this repulsive term out of the mainstream.
Posted by Michel-Exildas Galipeau at 18:27