I read this brilliant, thought provoking piece from Kate and Alison at The Motherload, reflecting on the fact that today marks 100 years since women were allowed to vote. (I actually didn’t know that it was women over 30 and men over the age of 21 at the time… I don’t even know where to start on that).
I’ve always had a vague awareness of this issue because MARY POPPINS. I mean, who amongst us did not sing along with no clue what they were saying? The words were as meaningless as
And yeah, I had to look that up.
Even as an older child I remember being perplexed as to why women would have been willing to endure such suffering for the right to vote.
But I get it now, of course. I am a proud feminist. And do you know how I educated myself- intellectually and emotionally? Birth. When you get yourself involved in the complex, nuanced world of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, you see the subtly ingrained oppression that women continue to endure.
The overt stuff- the labelling, the limiting, the coercion, the ‘you’re not allowed’, the ‘don’t you want to do what’s best for your baby’ rhetoric, the misinformation or best guesses presented as facts.
And the under the radar stuff that undermines us- the lack of kindness in maternity care (latest results showing 1 in 4 women felt they’d not been treated kindly at this extremely vulnerable time), the lack of continuity of care even though it’s shown to improve outcomes, the expectations of, and lack of support for new mothers.
You see the residual ‘good girl’ syndrome, emerging from even the strongest, most confident women sometimes, as the lifelong conditioning kicks in. That birth will happen to them, that the ought to be ready to leave their dignity at the door, that they ought to accept and and all ‘assistance’ gladly and gratefully because they would be foolish to imagine they might know better, or rude to ask for another care provider.
I believe that pregnancy, birth and early motherhood ought to be the moments of our greatest respect for ourselves- a unique period where we CREATE NEW LIFE, and step into a power that is new to us, and yet somehow familiar. We are innately resilient and resourceful, we are utterly capable in ways we would struggle to comprehend before this transformation.
I invite you to REFUSE to hand away your power in the way the world demands you do.
We owe our political liberty, our voices, the freedom to shape the world we raise our children in to the Suffragettes who endured violence and torture to secure the lot.
How could we best honour them? By continuing the movement towards equality, by saying LOUD AND CLEAR, ‘we see this, and we do not accept this’. We do not accept it for ourselves, and we certainly do not accept it for our children.
Our daughters’s daughters will adore us when they can look forward to giving birth in a way that is appropriate for them as individuals, fully educated, equipped and supported. In a way that reflects the sheer magnitude of their creation. No more, the meek and mild subservient we.
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