Thursday, May 22, 2014

per·mis·sion

noun \pər-ˈmi-shən\
the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted
via Merriam-Webster.com

As a midwife, mother and general birth junkie I have been a part of many online and in real life discussions between women about their prenatal care, labor, birth and child rearing. Most of the time these discussions are among mothers, but often they include various birth related professionals, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators etc... Regardless of who is taking part in the conversation there is one word I hear far too often: "let". "Ask your doctor if they'll let you...." "They let me....." The latter being said usually with some excitement as she received special treatment and privilege for whatever reason.
So why are women being encouraged to seek the permission of anybody on how their's or their child's medical care will proceed? Women talk about wanting better birth options, wanting more respect, but they have given away their power. They've accepted the idea that they are not in authority over their own body. They've accepted that the doctor has the right to decide what will be allowed or what won't.

I asked my facebook friends "As grown adults whom do you have to ask permission of and for what?"
The general consensus was that as adults we don't generally ask permission for things that don't impose on others. We ask those we're in contract with to alter that contract (that does impose on another). We do ask the government's permission to drive, although I would say that we don't so much ask permission as much as meet a certain requirement for the ability. Some ask their spouse for permission, but I have to assume that is mutually agreed upon as most people would say that's abuse, most of my friends would say they discuss things with their spouse and come to a decision. One friend, a midwife, said she asks permission of her clients to serve them. Why is this not the general expectation? 

One friend said "Women aren't respected during the most vulnerable and influential point in our lives by health care professionals, and even other peers. You hear countless stories about how a doctors appointment is different when the male partner is present versus when they aren't. It is sad that we have such a need for advocates just because we are women." my response was "I think half the problem is that women have accepted it." Why have we accepted it? Why do I see women telling other women to seek permission? Why aren't we instead saying "This is your body, you pay that doctors paycheck, you decided how things are going to go!" Women simply need to stand up and demand it! We did not get the right to vote by making facebook memes and sitting around complaining to each other. Black Americans didn't get the right to sit at the same lunch counter by sitting by and quietly asking for permission.

"Birth Trauma" should not be common terminology. Women should not be getting PTSD from their birth experience. Women should not be shamed, threatened or coerced into  or out of any procedure they feel necessary. This will not change until women make it happen. We need to demand that our doctors do what we want them to do. We need to take back our authority they've taken, and stand tall, stand strong and most importantly stand together. It doesn't matter if your neighbor decided she wanted a fully drugged c-section, or a completely unassisted homebirth. It's her choice and she needs to make it and you need to tell her "Well done!"

I've started a campaign, t-shirts that say "I don't need your Permission" and on the back it says "nor was I seeking it" Buy one for yourself and one for a friend, pass the link around to women everywhere, encourage them to stop asking permission and make their own decision.
http://teespring.com/nopermission

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