The Missing Link
This year my son received sex ed in his 7th grade health class for the first time. Much to his mortification, I asked him many questions about what he was being taught about the female anatomy. Unfortunately, but not surprising, while boys were taught about ejaculation and how to put on condoms, among other things, the girls only received half the story about their bodies– they learned about ovulation, periods, and pregnancy.
While they did clarify proper usage of vulva vs. vagina, the class did not even begin to name the outer and inner anatomy of the vulva. The word clitoris was never mentioned, much less the vestibular bulbs (pound for pound as much erectile tissues as men) or any conversation about the pleasure centers of the female reproductive systems.
I mentioned this to a fellow mom and she said, “most people would be happy about that.” Ouch.
This is the world we live in- in which pleasure has little to no value, and is brushed under the rug… often perceived as shameful or perverse. Pleasure is a fundamental part of a woman’s sexuality, but we were never taught that and that is a legacy that is currently being passed onto our children.
The omission of these fundamental parts of the female sexual and reproductive anatomy reduces the female’s experience in the sexual process to that of a “receptacle” to male desire. A girl subconsciously internalizes that she exists for someone else’s pleasure, to fulfill someone else’s desire– that her experience is not of consequence- to her, to her mate, or to society. This has powerful and vastly disempowering reverberations throughout a young girl’s life well into adulthood, a link in the chain of disempowerment connected to eating disorders, date rape, and lower job wages.
Fast forward to a local gathering of momtrepreneurs that I attended- a new biz owner was complaining that she works so hard that her husband hates her. Another mom jumped in, “I’ve been there. Let me give you some advice,” she said. Make sure you put out.”
Everyone laughed and nodded in agreement. Ouch.
It is important to notice and acknowledge that all of us have internalized this dynamic to some extent. Even if you grew up in the most supportive, progressive, sex positive family, these messages are reinforced all the time and all around us- from the media, to our middle schools, to our neighbors… Once you become conscious of this, you can recognize it at play and consciously choose to break that chain- for you and the next generation.
What does all this have to do with CHILDBIRTH?
Here are some of the dominant ways it plays out —
- The current medical model in the US and many other parts of the world treats the woman as object rather than an active participant in the birthing process.
- Her personal experience giving birth is rarely considered beyond the epidural.
- The baby’s welfare is prioritized with little to no consciousness around the fact that the baby’s welfare is inextricably linked to the mom’s welfare.
- Conditions in most hospitals do not support the woman’s fundamental bodily processes for optimal birthing, often making her labor way more difficult than necessary.
- Pleasure is not even a part of the equation.
Here is the thing– pleasure is a fundamental ingredient in a woman’s sexual anatomy. It is not frivolous or separate from her sexuality. Pleasure helps a woman’s tissues engorge, her natural lubrication to emerge. Without pleasure, sex can be painful even traumatic… just like birth.
Childbirth is often painful, even traumatic. Why? Because pleasure has been left out of our birth prep and support models. The importance of the birthing woman’s experience has been neglected and replaced by a cultural and religious inheritance that highlights suffering in birth.
We conceive and birth our babies through our sexuality. Childbirth is a culmination of the sexual act and much like pleasure in sex is a key and transformative ingredient, it is just as powerful in birth- helping to jumpstart labor, manage the flow of labor, and facilitating our ability to open W I D E with ease.
Birthworkers, do you want your clients to experience birth as the natural and ecstatic rite of passage it was meant to be? Do you desire new tools to elevate birth experiences from pain so mothers feel empowered? Do you feel committed to revolutionizing birth from fear and victimization to a sacred and liberating portal? I’ve got something special just for you…