Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm not a Feminist, I'm a Humanist

I never took a "Women's Studies" course in university - actually the whole idea of there being a "Women's Studies" department somewhat baffled me at the time. It seemed to me to be a bit odd, that there would be a Women's Studies department but no Men's Studies department. Of course anybody actually enrolled in Women's Studies would say that a Men's Studies department would be completely unnecessary because all the rest of everything was done from a male dominated perspective.

I rarely gave a thought to the idea of feminism, beyond the idea that women were mentally on par with men and just as capable as human beings in terms of what they could do with their lives. In fact, it has only been recently that I've been labelled a feminist and that my feminist leanings had clouded my critical thinking abilities. This in reference to my stance on elective c-sections in the absence of a traditional medical indication for one. It seems that the area of birth is the last frontier of misogyny, and even more odd is that much of the criticism is levelled at women by other women.

Go to any media article on the topic of elective c-section and you will find a litany of misguided and abusive commentary with respect to the topic. The idea that somebody else should restrict how a woman does or does not approach a medical condition (birth) is still very alive and well in Canada today.

Is it not clear that when it comes to medical decisions with regard to a medical condition that the decision about how to treat or not treat that condition should rest with an informed patient and their medical caregiver? After all is it not that particular patient who must live with the consequences of their decisions? Is the patient not entitled to informed consent, and security of the person, and respectful care?

Never before in my life, have I thought so critically about something, as I have thought about birth. In part, because never before in my life have I had to defend an opinion as vigorously as I have had to defend my opinions on birth, and in defence of that position, I have had to do an extensive amount of research.

The only funny thing is, that my opinion on birth really boils down to a very simple idea, "That a patient and her medical caregiver have the right to decide on the best course of action for that individual patient with respect to that patients particular medical condition." As a result of this idea, it is clear that I would defend a woman's informed right to choose a natural birth as rigorously as a woman's informed right to choose a c-section. To me this really doesn't seem like such a contentious proposition, what is ridiculous is that it is a contentious proposition.

Further, such a position doesn't make me a feminist, it makes me a humanist.


  1. The comments *are* shocking, and it is high time that we try to change how the general public views elective c-sections.

    Have you checked out this site Mrs. W? Pauline Hull has been trying to make your very points for several years now, and is finally making headway. Her site was down for many months but is back up, and so if you are not already familiar with it, I would encourage you to have a look:

  2. I have - in fact I was in contact with Mrs.Hull before baby #1 was born - she has worked tirelessly on this issue for years now. Birth Trauma Canada has also been quite vocal on this issue.

    I do think that remaining silent on the issue perpetuates the status quo.

  3. Canada needs thought leaders on this issue, Canada needs to find its Mrs . Hull...else, my daughter will be in my same shoes decades from now,