Thursday, July 07, 2005

News Roundup

For once the U.S. is more progressive than a European country when it comes to birth! We have male midwives, whereas Switzerland is in a tizzy over their first. His presence is seen by some as a threat to the previously all-female profession.

I’m of the opinion that midwifery has always been a women’s profession and it should stay so. Men should stay out of it," said Lucia Mikeler Knaack, head of the Swiss Midwives Association.

One of Mikeler’s main arguments is that only another woman can really understand what women go through during pregnancy and childbirth. Some women might feel more comfortable being examined or looked after by another woman, she says.

Added to this is the fact that there would always have to be an additional female midwife on shift to deal with patients who are uncomfortable being looked after by a man.

Mikeler admits that her view is not shared by all members of the association.

Some health care professionals have welcomed male midwives as a step towards equality, and argue that being able to deal with mothers and babies is a talent that doesn’t depend on the sex of the midwife.

It is possible to agree with both points of view. I think the ability to deal compassionately and competently for mothers and babies can be found in both genders. For that reason I have no objections to male midwives, or doulas for that matter.

Just because men may be good at it, however, does not mean they should have access to the profession. It is true that midwifery is a historically female profession. It was (is?) an arena of power for women in a culture dominated by men. Its practitioners (in the U.S. at least) have been persecuted, first as witches, then as illegal practitioners of medicine. That midwifery has survived at all is testament to women's solidarity and individual women's strength.

I don't know the history of midwifery in Europe, but I suspect it is similar. In that context, I appreciate midwives' reluctance to welcome men into their circle. I wouldn't have a problem with it myself, but I can understand the resistance.

In a wholly unrelated item (except for some possible subliminal misandrist inclination in me that drew me to both of these), a South African woman has invented a tampon-like device that latches, talon-like onto the end of anything put in the vagina. It's intended to be a rape deterrant. And, because it has to be surgically removed, it could help identify rapists.

Critics are calling it a return to the days of the chastity belt. But wasn't it the husband who had the key to the belt? The anti-rape device has a slightly different power balance, see.

I haven't seen what the device's product name is. Any suggestions?


Blogger Julie said...

I fail to see why anyone would criticize this, uh, thingy. (How about The Thingy?) Unless it's because it might put the victim at greater risk from the angry would-be rapist.

7:13 AM  

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