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Who Censors Birth?
Dreamed 1994/5/2 by Chris Wayan
I'm helping with a long, exhausting birth. The baby crowns at last. I'm more relieved than excited. So tired, and I'm just assisting the midwife. She's REALLY tired. And the mom...!
A magazine photographer has been taking pictures all through the birth. Later, when the article appears, I page through it thinking how rare it is to see such pictures or even written accounts of birth.
Who censors birth, and why? I'm not so sure anymore.
All I know is, I wake up sure that the censorship is real and overwhelming--and I'm NOT so sure it's only men.
- Why IS birth censored? TV shows gore galore! Exploits death, food, sex, every primal urge. We as a people play with fire--except for birth. Why retain this one taboo?
- Maybe men don't want to see pain and blood associated with their sexual playground. Yet plenty of them seem comfortable with fairly sadistic sexual fantasies (especially, to be fair, as long as it stays clear they're fantasies), so is that really it?
- Is it mothers who are uncomfortable with birth images? Maybe they'd rather forget severe pain?
- Could it be that adults identify with the baby? Not everyone's given birth in this life, or even witnessed one, but everyone got born. Is it remembered birth-trauma we're trying to forget?
- Or guilt that you made your mom suffer? That IS nearly universal. Still, it's hardly a secret. Moms have reminded kids of it since language began. Is that it?
- Or is it survivor's guilt, like those who feel they should have died in the Holocaust? Birth's still a risky passage. Yes, the death rate's dropped from 10% to 1% in advanced countries, and our conscious minds may have decided it's safe now, but have we forgotten just how dark and deadly a business it was for endless generations? Maybe there's a visceral fear of birth built in, like some folks have toward snakes. Or the way our eyes unconsciously avoid looking directly at the sun. Is birth like that?
WHAT TRIGGERED THE DREAM?
Simple. That day, I'd read an interview with Ursula Le Guin who said "men writing about birth scenes get it all wrong."
My dreams' response: "Just men?"
LISTS AND LINKS:
birth and babies -
censorship and free speech -
memory and amnesia -
Ursula Le Guin -
pure digital art
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