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Animal by Sara Pascoe

Animal by Sara Pascoe

Author:Sara Pascoe [Sara Pascoe]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780571325238
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Published: 2016-11-15T05:00:00+00:00


Let’s forget the undone now. Instead we shall consider the terrifying business of babies that are actually born. The history of childbirth is a horror show. Our evolutionary combination of walking upright (producing slim hips) and massive brain development (necessitating huge heads) has made the natural process of birth dangerous, potentially fatal for the women undertaking it. Until very recently all women would have considered pregnancy and birth like a disease – something that you might not come back from. In developed countries maternity wards now have excellent facilities, antibiotics, anaesthesia and sterilisation that help make the process less deadly. But the majority of the world’s women do not have access to this kind of medical care and around 350,000 women die giving birth every year.

Someone needs to write a book on the topic of patriarchy and childbirth. For swathes of recorded history the delivery room was all women taking care of women. The word ‘gossip’ apparently originated from ‘God’s siblings’. These were close family friends (think godparents and godchildren) but over time the term became used for the women attending local births and helping out. It conjures such a great image of a room full of bossy ladies, nattering away and sharing local news while mopping brows and cutting cords. It seems male involvement was a relatively recent response to the number of deaths and infections caused by childbirth; male doctors began to mistrust inherited female wisdom and local midwives, and wanted to invent forceps and get involved That is my very biased and abridged view of the matter – but here are a couple of examples of men interfering that are … perturbing.

First meet Dr Marion Sims, don’t be fooled by his girly name, this man is a man. He lived in the US in the nineteenth century and was fascinated by the fistulas that some women are left with after giving birth. You don’t know what a fistula is? Well, let me tell you: the skin around a woman’s vagina can often rip while pushing her baby’s head out. In some cases the tearing is deeper and can create an opening between the vagina and the bladder or colon. This alone indicates how almost unfit for purpose evolution has left our bodies. If women were a product you would take them back to the shop.

CUSTOMER

Oh yes, excuse me, I bought this ‘woman’ for the purpose of making people, but whenever it makes one, it breaks.

SHOPKEEPER

Ah yes, it’s a very clever design. Despite great agonies and physical risks these ‘women’ are continuing to make people even though it rips and stretches them.

CUSTOMER

Can I have one that doesn’t break?

SHOPKEEPER

They have to break to make people—

CUSTOMER

Could the people be smaller?

SHOPKEEPER

With smaller brains this whole product line would’ve died out.

CUSTOMER

Wow! You mean the sacrifice ‘woman’ makes in childbirth has enabled the continuance of human life on the planet?

SHOPKEEPER

I surely do!



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