Benefit Ohio Families for Safe Birth, The Yoni Show

The Yoni ShowSomehow WordPress swallowed this post. Last week the Ohio Families for Safe Birth (see www.safebirthohio.org) held a performance benefit at Aquarius Star books and Cafe. The event was organized by Lauren Wales, and was called “The Yoni Show.”

I attended it with a friend because I support the basic cause passionately.

I fully support mothers’ and families’ legal right to choose natural safe home births. In fact, I have extreme difficulty imagining how any intelligent person wouldn’t support this, unless they just happened not to think the matter through, or were simply not exposed to reliable information on the advantages of natural midwife assisted births.

It should be an available choice for those mothers who want to experience this. Many mothers who have experienced natural home births have nothing but praises for it.

I attended the benefit show with a friend, who herself had a legal home birth in Canada, assisted by an experienced midwife and doula, an experience so positive that she would never trade for anything. It included a range of performances from local dancers, poets, spoken word artists, one scruffy shaman, musicians including one quite good Desi Tabla player, and the overarching theme of it all was the sacredness of birth and motherhood as a foundational aspect of life, and a woman’s absolute right to be able to choose how she wants to birth her baby.

I support this 100%. In the state of Ohio, and increasingly through much of the country, home birth is being outlawed and licensed midwifery is being legally done away with. Birthing, already largely institutionalized, is being restricted to a narrow set of not only expensive, but also violently invasive options that often alienates women from the natural experience of childbirth.

I support the cause the event represented. As to the event itself, it was very sincerely performed in earnest.

While it honestly wasn’t my speed, being somewhat a bit new agey and goddessy, I was able to appreciate some things about it. The MC, who also had one incredible dance piece, was exquisitely and radiantly beautiful. Her dancing had an incredible grace to it. The tabla player, Alok Narayana, was very proficient.

The part I appreciated the most was Lauren Wales’s spoken word piece. My understanding is that in the past she’s had some experience in midwifery, and spoke powerfully from a place colored by the birthing experiences she’d witnessed. It was the only piece that actually moved me.

Being a pedant, I noticed an event announcement mentioned “yoni being the Sanskrit term for vagina“.

Strictly speaking that’s not fully accurate, though the yarn certainly makes its way around neo-Tantric circles. Yoni can designate the vulva, but on a deeper level it often designates the womb, it also can carry the meaning of home place, birthplace, a thing’s derivation or foundation. So the usage of Vulva (not strictly speaking Vagina) is obviously derivative of an older stratum of meaning. The preference of using the word to denote a vagina (and the inability to differentiate between the vulva, and the vagina) is something that puzzles me, among Westerners interested in a sort of neo-Tantric, neo-Hindu spirituality.

In the case of this event, considering the interest in the sacrality of motherhood and birth, it would make more sense if the word’s primary significance as womb was presented. This isn’t a petty point, Western perceptions of Hinduism often loll in the idea that Yoni worship is literally the worship of vaginae, whilst it’s actually the veneration of the female principle itself, en divinis, for which the vulva in some cases can be symbolic.

Of course those awfully fond of worshiping ‘giners sometimes tend to see “amrita” (a Sanskrit word that originally corresponded roughly to the Persian/Indic Haoma/Soma, but that modern Western neo-tantrics have appropriated for the fluid emerging from a woman in her ejaculatory orgasm), as some sort of holy libation or suchlike. Sometimes a good cum is just a good come, and one needed worship it.

Now I mentioned that I support the basic cause.

I’m not being a hippy-dippy flake here. One of my best friends chose to have a home birth, it was painful and for her perhaps the most meaningful and refreshing experience of her life. The pain of a natural childbirth wasn’t something traumatic, it was something soul affirming. The fact that for 40,000 some odd years Homo Sapiens have collectively given birth naturally and somehow things managed to go well isn’t a trivial point. The wanton tendency of doctors to force C-Sections on women who do not need it, out of impatience for the process. Somehow in the last decade or so this has mysteriously become the norm, with roughly 65% of women being subjected to a C-Section. However ‘safe’ the procedure is, it’s not without risks, and is an invasive procedure, and essentially often involves a medical professional making a decision to subject a patient, the mother, to something she did not consent to.

I contend there is a knowing rhetorical blowing smoke up the fanny effect here, in which an attitude of omniscience and superiority is taken.

Look, I know the score about this stuff, and frankly the scare tactics out there on the supposed dangers of natural birth are specious.
I come from a medical family, my father was a doctor, I have physicians among cousins and uncles as well. One was a dean at a rather well known medical school. Many female family members have been nurses. I have several friends who are, or were medical students, and/or who come from medical families. A general awareness of medical matters, thus, sort of floats in the air. I’m not impressed with the anti-natural birth rhetoric.

Some of these people have commented on the fact, that while there are good doctors and nurses, there are also such things as institutional biases. It’s not difficult for a sort of partial blindness to some areas of human life to set in. Many have also noted an increasingly paternalistic and arrogant tendency of some physicians to arbitrarily assume an attitude of superiority over patients. Physician friends of mine have even commented on this, and themselves find it disturbing.

This affects badly the public’s trust on medical practitioners.
Which in turn makes it difficult for the good doctors to have their advice even heeded in the first place.

There is no reason why a woman who wants a natural birth should not get it, the length of time a natural delivery takes is not a valid objection, unless the doctor is utterly morally bankrupt, in which case he/she really ought not be practicing in a field founded upon ethics from the get go.

Capiche?

So I support licensed midwifery, it’s quite common in Canada, has proven to be very safe, and most objections to it seem based on outright ignorance and a willful desire not to look into all aspects of the issue. My own father once told me hospitals were among the most dangerous places he could think of, from medical practitioner mistakes, to strange flesh eating antibiotics resistant infectious bacteria, he honestly – as a very experienced medical practitioner – had somewhat of a fear of hospitals and preferred clinical settings – or at least this I remember him mentioning to me in the months before he died.

Licensed and legal midwifery makes sense, it does not make sense to burden the public already in financial crisis with additional layers of institutionalization of functions that can be, and have been, performed at homes in a loving safe environment.

People who want to join OFSB can go to www.safebirthohio.org, and click the “join” button. They are heavily lobbying the state in Columbus and I’m hopeful the government will see the immense advantages in allowing the legal option of Safe and Certified Natural Home Birth

Shouldn’t people, mothers like yours and mine, have this option if they want it?

6 Comment

  1. Favorite Kafir Aurat says:

    So a Yoni Show is the hot spot if a good muslim girl wants to meet a good muslim boy, eh?

    Who knew?

  2. I was going to get around to replying to this, but for not its sufficient on my part to make 3 points;

    One, I find your obsession and preoccupation with “good muslim boys” (or good muslim girls for that matter) to be rather peculiar, to each their own, but I do find it peculiar.

    Two, benefits for worthy causes, such as reform of laws regulating home births, are probably a good place for “good” people of whatever stripe to meet. Since I tend to go to such places with no agenda other than supporting the cause in question and suffering through whatever performances may happen to occur therein, I really couldn’t comment on whether such places are hot spots, or not.

    Three, you should really try being more open minded and getting out of the box more often, don’t take that as an insult, it’s actually a friendly suggestion.

  3. Favorite Kafir Aurat says:

    “Three, you should really try being more open minded and getting out of the box more often”

    Explain what you mean please. How am I closed minded and in the box to beginwith?

    And you seem to be a tad uptight and take things way too seriously.

    Relax and take a joke, Kemal.

  4. I wasn’t exactly being serious. I mean, it’s a “yoni show” after all.
    Often if it sounds like I’m taking something seriously I’m either half tongue in cheek or at least slightly bemused, expressed in an exceedingly formal register.
    As for the things I truly take seriously or sacred I typically keep silent about unless there’s an absolute need to respond.

  5. OFSB should be concentrating on making sure the midwives it supports are highly trained and educated and aren’t out killing babies due to negligence. They need to hold midwives accountable for their actions instead of supporting them regardless. One NE Ohio midwife has at least 7 dead babies under her belt, with at least three due to her negligence, and at least two going to the grand jury. My local pd considered my daughters death negligent homicide but “wouldn’t go on a witch hunt”. These are the people OFSB wants legalized! That doesn’t sound very safe, now does it??

  6. Bambi, first let me say this.
    I respect your opinion and again I truly feel for your loss. I won’t patronize you about it, because no words can truly suffice.

    No words from a stranger could make up for the loss of a loved one, much less than a daughter. I have no idea of the circumstances surrounding the death of your daughter, but I have no desire to patronize you or your loss with Hallmark card words of condolence. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one, having watched my father pass away, having loss multiple friends, and even a lover. But I have no idea what it is like to loose a child and can only dimly try to imagine this pain.

    From the bottom of my heart, I offer my condolences.

    Here is what I believe based on the facts as I know them, you are free to disagree of course but I hope you will at least consider this.

    I believe that the point of groups like OFSB is to push for and instate regulated and hence safe home birthing.

    If home birth and midwifery were legalized, and properly fully trained and registered, as it is in other very civilized places that allow it like Canada, I truly believe that this would be a safe option for mothers.

    While not wishing to argue with you about something as personal as this, I will say this:

    * It is a fact that maternal mortality is rising in the USA, this is in hospitals. An increase in Caesarean sections have been implicated by some physicians who have studied this phenomenon.

    * My father was a physician, and he was scared to death of ever ending up in a hospital due to medical mistakes, drug resistant bacteria, etc. He made sure that he personally helped deliver some of my siblings, not trusting this precious job to other well trained strangers.

    He once told me “Kamal, I hate hospitals, they are places to send people to die.” This was a man who saved many lives in his life, but also lost some. And saw other doctors loose them.

    * Though this may sound counter intuitive and not common sensible, I suggest it is a complete and total illusion to believe that hospital environments are in and of themselves safer places of child birth than a well attended home delivery, barring certain very real, but also very uncommon, complications.

    Given that part of the push by many women towards natural home birth is a reaction to the very real and often noticed fact that unneeded Caesarean sections are increasingly being pushed onto mothers, and that there are mothers dieing from consequences of this all across the country, and some doctors have been known to push C sections to minimize time in delivery because they wanted to attend a damn game of golf, I would say that the solution is to make Home Birthing safer for women as an option that they can freely choose, as adults, and mandating rigorous training for Midwives.

    I believe that OFSB stands for this, I could be wrong of course, but I hope this is what they stand for. Making it truly safer.

    As I see it, if we look at everything involved, hospital births as now practiced are alienating, and traumatic experiences for many mothers. And they are clearly not safe, given that an increasing majority of American women are having C sections shoved on them.

    To save the lives of more mothers and to make their child birthing positive experiences I believe they should have the choice as free agents and adults to choose safe home birthing and that creating more well trained midwives able to operate in the open is an important step.

    This is what I believe, and again I wish I had something more than just words and regret to offer for your loss.

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