Introduction: Avoiding the Blogaround

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Posted by Emjaybee

Hello! I was flabbergasted and honored to be asked to contribute to Unnecesarean.  When Jill asked me to come up with some posts, I wailed, “But I already borrow all my favorite links from you!” How was I supposed to dig up exciting birth-related stories when Jill and her sources had already gotten to so much of the good stuff?

And then I started wondering if there wasn’t something I could say about that very dilemma, and tell you something about myself in the bargain.

It’s easy, once you’ve found a set of favorite birth-related bloggers, Twitter-ers, Facebookers, and what have you, to just run down your list or RSS feed every day, hang out on their comment threads, and talk about nothing but birth. I’ve done my share of it; at one point I think I followed 8 midwives, 2 or 3 doulas, was on 4 or 5 birth/parenting bulletin boards, and had a list of birth-issues bloggers I would visit obsessively every day, muttering grumpily to myself when they hadn’t posted anything new.

Birth intersects with so many facets of a woman’s life, and is treated so trivially in the outside world, that it makes many women hungry for knowledge and support. And when you find that online, it’s addictive, in a really good way.

But it’s also a little claustrophobic, after a while. It can start to feel like a constant blogaround, where A posts a link, B comments, C comments on the comment, and A posts back to C. And A, B, and C all agree on childbirth, cloth diapers, attachment parenting, unschooling, and the awesomeness of Amy’s Organic Mac n’ Cheese mix.

So, sometimes, it’s good to step outside and try to connect what you’ve absorbed in the birthosphere with the rest of life.

My own non-birth-specific internet communities skew to the geeky: politics geekery, language geekery, cartooning geekery, feminism, religion, and culture in general. And being in those communities helps me make connections between the passion I feel about birth and the passion I feel about, say, social justice or women’s rights in the larger sense.

The things we talk about here aren’t confined to the section of our lives when we are bearing and raising children. The right to control what is done to your body, what medical care you are given, is a right all humans deserve, and that feminists continue to demand.  The power imbalance between women and their doctors has roots in much larger struggles, in sexism, racism, and classism going back centuries. Religious communities like the Amish played a pivotal role in keeping midwifery and birth outside of the hospital going long enough for Ina May Gaskin and her peers to rediscover it in the 60s and 70s. And why does our society treat having and raising children as a trivial enterprise and not the world-shaping task it is?  And what about our odd cultural baggage, the way TV shows treat birth as torture and idolize doctors, how does that affect what we expect and how we behave?

There’s a lot to explore, and a lot of great discussions to be had, when we talk about birth, and I’m really pleased to have the chance to start some of those discussions. So thanks, Jill, and thanks, Unnecesarean community, for that chance.