Let me say it bluntly:
Pregnancy is barbaric. I do not believe, as many women are now saying, that the reason the pregnancy is viewed as not beautiful is strictly due to cultural perversion… Pregnancy is the temporary deformity of the body of the individual for the sake of the species.
Moreover, childbirth hurts. And it isn’t good for you. Three thousands years ago, women giving birth ‘naturally’ had no need to pretend that pregnancy was a real trip, some mystical orgasm (that far-away look). The Bible said it: pain and travail. The glamour was unnecessary: women had no choice. They didn’t dare squack. But at least they could scream as loudly as they wanted during their labour pains. And after it was over, even during it, they were admired in a limited way for their bravery; their valour was measured by how many children (sons) they could endure bringing into the world.
Today all this has been confused. The cult of natural childbirth itself tells us how far we’ve come from true oneness with nature. Natural chilbirth is only one more part of the reactionary hippie-Rousseauean Return-to-Nature, and just as self-conscious. Perhaps a mystification of childbirth, true faith, makes it easier for the woman involved. Pseudo-yoga excercises, twenty pregnant women breathing deeply on the floor to the conductor’s baton, may even help some women develop ‘proper’ attitudes (as in ‘I didn’t scream once’). The squirming husband at the bedside, like the empathy pains of certain tribesmen (‘Just look what I go through with you, dear’), may make women feel less alone during her ordeal. But the fact remains: childbirth is at best necessary and tolerable. It is not fun.
(Like shitting a pumpkin, a friend of mine told me when I inquired about the Great-Experience-You’re-Missing. What’s-wrong-with-shitting-shitting-can-be-fun says the School of the Great Experience. It hurts, she says. What’s-wrong-with-a-little-pain-as-long-as-it-doesn’t-kill-you? answers the school. It is boring, she says. Pain-can-be-interesting-as-an-experience says the school. Isn’t that a rather high price to pay for interesting experience? she says. But-look-you-get-a-reward, says the school: a-baby-all-your-own-to-fuck-up-as-you-please. Well, that’s something, she says. But how do I know it will be a male like you?)
Shulamith Firestone, The Dialect of Sex (1970)
comments from Seebster:
My friends, now of baby-having age, are ALL about this natural childbirth stuff. One dear friend, while she didn’t make that mystical orgasm claim, was saying how the movements of giving birth are reminiscent of having sex. Another friend required major surgery sometime in her second trimester I think due to the fetus literally deforming her insides (due to a previously unknown anomalous digestive tract that would have given her no trouble had she not been pregnant) and experienced excruciating pain throughout her pregnancy with minimal medication - but for some reason plans to do it all again. Her twin sister had to watch all that terror…and yet is now pregnant herself and wants to do all the natural stuff, too.
I cannot relate to this level of masochism. I guess it’s good that there are plenty of women who seem to genuinely want this ordeal, since Firestone’s alternative (artificial wombs instead of women carrying and delivering) is an unappealing vision of the future. (I’m thinking: Borg babies.) All I know is that if I were to find myself impregnated for any reason, I would do anything to get it out of me. It does NOT sound “natural” to me, it does NOT sound mystical-orgasmic to me, it does NOT sound glamorous or a fulfillment of some feminine maternal destiny to me.
The truth is, maternal mortality is a real thing, and dying in childbirth is every bit as natural as a healthy delivery. Even in the United States. Even in cases where it should be preventable in this day and age, women die. (see http://www.arhp.org/publications-and-resources/contraception-journal/march-2011) The truth is, pregnant bodies are particularly vulnerable to state coersion. (see http://jhppl.dukejournals.org/content/early/2013/01/15/03616878-1966324.full.pdf+html) The truth is, women are still struggling to define our bodies as just that: our bodies, our being, our physical manifestation in this world - and being an incubator just doesn’t make sense to me as part of that struggle.
It’s almost as though we need to set aside a portion of the population that’s just for this unpleasant deforming processes, convince them that they want this horrible travesty that may potentially be a self-sacrificing death, convince them that it’s in their nature to want it, tell them it’s glamorous or valorous or orgasmic….
Remember that historic weekend in July 2012 when 65 multi-generational women stoked the flaring embers of the North American radical feminist movement in Portland, Oregon? http://smashesthep.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/radfem-reboot-day-one-rebooting-radical-feminism/ Well that was such oodles o…
Please support the radfem conference!
The term ‘gender’ itself is problematic. It was first used in a sense that was not simply about grammar, by sexologists, the scientists of sex, such as John Money, in the 1950s and 60s, who were involved in normalising intersex infants. They used the term to mean the behavioural characteristics they considered most appropriate for persons of one or other biological sex. They applied the concept of gender when deciding upon the sex category into which those infants who did not have clear physical indications of one biological sex or another, should be placed. Their purpose was not progressive. These were conservative men who believed that there should be clear differences between the sexes and sought to create distinct sex categories through their projects of social engineering. Unfortunately, the term was adopted by some feminist theorists in the 1970s, and by the late 1970s was commonly used in academic feminism to indicate the difference between biological sex and those characteristics that derived from politics and not biology, which they called ‘gender’.
Before the term ‘gender’ was adopted, the term more usually used to describe these socially constructed characteristics was ‘sex roles’. The word ‘role’ connotes a social construction and was not susceptible to the degeneration that has afflicted the term ‘gender’ and enabled it to be wielded so effectively by transgender activists. As the term ‘gender’ was adopted more extensively by feminists, its meaning was transformed to mean not just the socially constructed behaviour associated with biological sex, but the system of male power and women’s subordination itself, which became known as the ‘gender hierarchy’ or ‘gender order’. Gradually, older terms to describe this system, such as male domination, sex class and sex caste went out of fashion, with the effect that direct identification of the agents responsible for the subordination of women, men, could no longer be named. Gender, as a euphemism, disappeared men as agents in male violence against women, which is now commonly referred to as ‘gender violence’. Increasingly, the term ‘gender’ is used, in official forms and legislation, for instance, to stand in for the term ‘sex’ as if ‘gender’ itself is biological, and this usage has overwhelmed the feminist understanding of gender.
i became a radical feminist because it has a logical explanation of what gender is/why it exists beyond faith based identity politics
I have ZERO interest in adapting to the white/Western-supremacist Capitalistic Heteropatriarchy, and deluding myself into thinking that it was an “empowerful choice”. My only interest is abolishing it. (via the-uncensored-she)
Central to pro-sex thought is the idea that there is a plethora of
sexual preferences and practices which profoundly violate societal restrictions.
Among these restricted sexual activities—which are seen as
wildly divergent—are cross-generational sex (to use their euphemism for child sexual abuse), fetishism, sadomasochism, and the making and use of pornography. Such deviant sexualities, so the theory goes, are at the bottom of a hierarchy of sexual privilege, which has heterosexuality, marriage, and procreation at its pinnacle, and “vanilla” homosexuality somewhere in the middle.
"Those engaging in these privileged acts," Carol Vance writes in her introduction to Pleasure and Danger, "enjoy good name and good fortune."
All of this sounds logical and persuasive until you move beyond
society’s pieties and look at what it actually practices. Then it becomes clear that, instead of being forbidden or persecuted, these frowned upon sexual activities are, in the case of men, promoted, encouraged, and rewarded, and, in the case of women, imposed and enforced.
Moreover, instead of being incredibly different from one another, they all have a common denominator: a power relationship that replicates in miniature the power relations of society.
How deviant is cross-generational sex, for example, when, laws
against child sexual abuse notwithstanding, the activity is so popular that more than a quarter of all females are sexually abused as children?
How nonconformist is fetishism when “regular guys” proudly identify themselves as “tit men” or “ass men,” and the best-selling men’s entertainment magazines devote whole glossy pages to just our genitals, just our breasts?
How taboo is sadomasochism when Penthouse boosts sales by displaying Asian women tied up like slabs of meat and strung
up from trees and trendy sportswear manufacturers successfully promote their products by showing battered-looking models in torn clothing?
How forbidden is pornography when, aided by anti-obscenity laws, the industry rakes in more than the film and record industries combined?
As for the hierarchy of sexual privilege, it too sounds convincing,
until you examine the position of women in this hierarchy: Heterosexuality, procreation, and marriage may mean privilege for men, but they mean something very different for the married woman. Her “good fortune” is a 1 out of 3 chance of being a battered wife, a 1 out of 7 chance of being raped by her own husband, and a statistically undetermined probability that she will be her husband’s domestic servant and that her identity will be subsumed in his.
The so-called good fortune of lesbian feminists is either public denigration or invisibility and often loss of jobs and family.
It’s not that “cross-generational sex,” fetishism, sadomasochism, and trafficking in or using pornography are never punished.
Sometimes they are, but never enough to dampen their popularity. Just enough to make them seem forbidden and keep them exciting.
It’s not that there are no sexual choices that truly violate society’s rules. What I am suggesting is that the “deviant” sexual practices defended and promoted by the pro-sex people aren’t really proscribed by society; they’re prescribed.
They’re not really deviant at all. They’re good soldier conformity.
- When Women Defend Pornography, Dorchen Leidholdt
Debunking the Myth of “Vanilla Privilege”: That ‘deviant sexuality’ is in actuality, mainstream in a porn & rape culture.