The Female Need For Male Approval- And Why We Need To GET OVER IT

Found HERE
I believe that part of our continued obsession with obstetrics and the men who practice it has a much deeper root.  It is more than the smear campaign that was launched against midwives.  It is more than fear of birth and the pain that sometimes accompanies it.  It is deeper than insurance and what it covers and the convenience of the nearest hospital. 

No, I believe that it is much deeper than that, more unpleasant, and I think that we as women are scared to death to admit it.  WE- women, though strong, though wage-earners, though equal under the law, still desire deeply the approval of men for our actions. 

Enter the male physician or obstetrician (Yes I realize that many are female.  Stay with me, don't get distracted by that.)  He is by design paternal.  In fact, he is deeply ingrained in the most respected and feared fraternity that I can think of.  He seems to hold the powers of life and death in his tidy, gloved hand.  He is knowledgeable beyond comprehension in the workings of our mysterious and dark inner parts.  He knows what can go wrong, what can go right, how it works, how to fix it and what to call things. 

He can be quiet and aloof or friendly and conversational.  He is almost always busy, in demand, and expert. 

And we need him.  We want his approval, his expertise and his knowledge. 

If he says, "Take off your pants," we do it.  In fact, we don't even question it.  If he says, "You are gaining too much weight," we look shamefacedly down at our round and curving parts.  Our cheeks turn red with shame.  We have failed.  If he tells us we are incapable of this act of womanhood, birth, we believe him.  We defend his proclamations and his word as long as we can.  In fact those who question the expertise of this knowledgeable man are hated.  How DARE they?  My doctor told me I couldn't, and so I CAN'T!

Oh, but we in the natural birth community are not immune to this male hero worship, are we?  Most certainly not.  Look at the love we throw at a doctor like Michael Odent.  He HAS done great things for women.  He DOES believe we can birth.  He IS a great spokesman for us.  We SHOULD respect him and I am grateful beyond belief that there are experts out there with whom I can agree. 

Or look at Dr Bradley, the author of "Husband Coached Childbirth".  Nice farm boy who watched animals give birth and believed that human women could do the same.  He knew we could birth powerfully, naturally, and without assistance.  I am so glad he was a voice of reason during a time of obstetric darkness.  I am so glad that he changed the face of American obstetrics, even the way hospitals respected birth. 

But I am downright sickened that we needed a man to tell us that we were capable of giving birth.  I am disappointed that we need an MD to give us permission to get off our backs.  I am disgusted that we seek for male or expert approval to do things that are inherently FEMALE.  And I am saddened that we didn't just know this already.  I can't believe we ever let this happen. 

Women are stronger than this.  We are better than this and we are capable of knowing the power of our own bodies without a man giving us permission, approval, or proof that it is possible.  This is not their power to give us.  This is not their knowledge to hand out and this is not their bodies we are talking about. 

These bodies are OURS.  They are female.  They may not fight in many wars or win battles or triumph in barroom brawls.  But they are strong and they are capable of what they were designed to do. 

We can choose our birth.  We open our eyes to our ability and we need NEVER rely on the approval or knowledge of a man to tell us what we are capable of or how we can birth.  For goodness sake, we should already KNOW THIS.  

If I want a good surgeon, I will hire an OB.  That is what they are meant for. 

If I need to know what my body can do, I need look no further than my mirror, my heart, my body and my mind.  I do not need a man to tell me what or how I can/should birth.  I know that very well all by myself. 

Thanks, but no thanks. 


momto5 said…
SPEAK IT SISTER! yes yes yes!!! i have secretly thought this myself. because you are right, if you say it out loud people get pissed off. we don't like to admit that we have given up our power. we defend to the death that we needed them, they knew better then us and we don't know our bodies. we keep ourselves ignorant of our sexuality. we are powerful! thank you for saying it!
Brittany said…
What were you going to say about some obstetricians being female? I was waiting for you to come back to it, but then I didn't see it. Statistics indicate that about 2/3 of new doctors entering obstetrics are female now, so they are becoming the majority. I have some thoughts about how female OBs fit in to the idea of male approval, but I want to hear what you think.
Mama Birth said…
I just didn't want people to get distracted by that. Even if there are more women enter obstetrics (I personally don't know the numbers) I still think it is a paternalistic, male dominated profession and will be even if it does become more "female". The nature of the beast is not feminine. Does that make any sense?
And so many women tell me that their female OB was worse/rougher/ruder than the men- I wonder if they have to act even tougher to be accepted?
Obviously this isn't always the case. But I do think it is pretty lame that women can say over and over "My labor stopped when they told me to get on my back, and it hurt more too." but nobody cares. Then, Michael Odent talks about a woman's needs in labor- quiet, privacy, feminine companionship, and suddenly it is gospel truth. AND- we keep quoting him as a natural birth community. Why aren't our own voices and experience of value? Yes a doctor will know more about pathology- that is a given- BUT I know more about MY needs in labor than anybody else.
Christine said…
I am disgusted that we think we need a doctor of any kind to tell us about any part of our body and that we cannot trust ourselves enough to DEMAND respect from all of our doctors as well as DEMAND respect from ourselves for our own bodies.
Brittany said…
I understand what you meant now. I mostly agree with you. The doctor-patient relationship puts the patient in a subservient position that probably could be called paternalistic even if it was a female doctor treating a male patient. There are good OBs out there, and I think it's really important to be nice to them, because we do need their voices, their collaboration, and their skills as back-up.
Brittany said…
Oh and I'm not really a fan if Michel Odent. He thinks fathers shouldnt be at births and some of his ideas about unmedicated birth being essential for bonding are too extreme for me. Human mothers are not animals--believe it or not, I love my epidural baby, my natural hospital birth baby, and my homebirth baby all equally. :)
momto5 said…
ok i have to say that humans ARE animals.
and no one says you can't equally love all of your children no matter how they came into the world. that is just a wee bit weird to even say. of course you love your children.
Brittany said…
I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to start a fight. I was trying to support what Mama Birth was saying by pointing out some things Dr. Odent has said that I don't agree with and think are a little weird, and although I think he has said some good things, I don't think we should take everything he says to be gospel just because he is a physician and pro-natural birth. Whether humans are animals is a matter of opinion, and what I really meant was that humans have higher reasoning and emotional functioning than the animals who will desert their young if they don't get the right hormones at the moment of birth. I was trying to be funny with the comment about loving my children, but humor sometimes doesn't come across in writing. The way Dr. Odent talks about the importance of the birth experience for bonding can be taken to imply that mothers will not love their children or it will be more difficult for them to love them if they don't have a natural, undisturbed birth, which is what *I* think is the weird thing to say.