since representation and technology form an intrinsic part of human ‘nature’ and human lives, the distinction between the natural and artificial is problematic if intended as a reference to specific characteristics of human bodies, characteristics or abilities. instead this dichotomy serves as a linguistic device employed in order to justify preferred (‘natural/normal/healthy’) forms of life.
–lucy yardley, the quest for natural communication
so what are the ‘preferred’ forms of life?
let us remember that the concept of ‘natural’ childbirth or lifestyle is dependent on the concept of the ‘artificial’. that the normal birth concept is dependent on the existance of the technological and medicalized models of birth.
so natural/normal birth did not exist before modern western birth culture.
and who has a natural/normal birth? predominately pregnant middle and upper class educated white women who have the economic and racial privilege of having choices. so a small segment of birthing society, privileged women, is allowed to be ‘normal’. and as for those for who do not have access to these choices, well, they are condemned to an abnormal unnatural pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. …these women have ‘typical’, ‘common’ childbearing experiences.
and the predominately pregnant middle and upper class educated white women are a numerical minority, ‘normal’ized and ‘natural’ized. how does this normalization occur? by exoticising and imitating and co-opting the practices and images of (primarily)3rd world brown women childbearing cultures.
would these brown mamas be welcomed in a home birth class like the one i was kicked out of? or would they be told that they had ‘issues around culture and anger’ that could not be fixed? would they be told that they were in ‘culture shock’?
if we understand that the natural/normal concept is really code for ‘preferred’, are ‘naturalized’ elite women stating that they would prefer to be a third world woman? of course not. no, it is the elite white women who has the preferred childbirth. it is she who has the preferred (natural) body. it is she who is normal. and she, her body, her lifestyle, her childbearing, her mothering, and inevitably, her children who set the standard through her privilege and access of what is normal and natural.
and as for the rest of us, we are either allowed to follow, or we disappear.