I´m sorry to have missed my weekly commitment to this blog, but I´ve been really sick. Hopefully, I will be in a better shape next week.
I´m sorry to have missed my weekly commitment to this blog, but I´ve been really sick. Hopefully, I will be in a better shape next week.
Hoy escribe Cecilia Jan en el blog del país mamas &papas sobre el derecho
al parto .
Muchas de las cosas que menciona en su artículo existen en el Reino Unido (aunque por otra parte, no nos vayamos a engañar, el NHS, equivalente a la Seguridad Social española es un desastre en muchísimas otras cosas)
Mi experiencia en dar a luz en el Reino Unido fue en general muy buena. Me sentí respetada, escuchada y apoyada. Tuve la misma matrona casi toda la noche conmigo que no se separó ni un minuto, dándome la mano durante las casi 6 horas que duró mi el expulsivo ( para ser más exactos fueron 9). Sarah, nunca olvidare su nombre fue atenta, cariñosa y muy humana. Lloró conmigo cuando por fin me pusieron a mi hijo en mis brazos y nunca olvidare su sonrisa y sus palabras de ánimo.
Mi madre y mi pareja estuvieron todo el rato conmigo en la habitación y las matronas y el personal médico me explicaron en todo momento qué pasaban y qué iban a hacer. Me dieron opciones y me apoyaron, y cuando nació nuestro hijo, como es la tradición al menos en Escocia, nos prepararon un té con tostadas que nos supo a gloria después de toda una noche sin dormir.
Mi parto fue natural, es decir solo con gas&air. Elegí no tener epidural, ni ningún otro método para paliar el dolor porque quería estar plenamente presente en el parto, pero como acabé con forceps y con una episiotomía tengo que decir que fue bastante duro. Me preparé para el parto con hipnosis y me ayudó muchísimo para estar concentrada y calmada.
Si tengo un segundo parto no se si optaré por la epidural porque mi primer parto fue un poco traumático, pero lo importante no es que el parto natural sea el último objetivo a cumplir, sino cómo se sienta la mujer al respecto, que tipo de parto desee y en qué ambiente.
En el Reino Unido puedes elegir entre parto en casa, en el hospital pero con las matronas (que tienen un pabellón aparte) o en el hospital como una paciente mas. Yo elegí dar a luz en el pabellón de las matronas.
Me dieron una habitación para mi sola donde pude dilatar a mi ritmo, comer si quería, incluso nos llevamos una mini cadena portátil para escuchar algo de música. Podía moverme, y el ambiente era tranquilo, concentrado, casi místico.
Nunca volví a ver s Sarah una vez que di a luz, pero siempre la recordaré con muchísimo cariño. Por alguna extraña razón, y a pesar de que mi madre estaba presente, yo recurrí a Sarah como si ella guardara el secreto de dar a luz, de ayudar a las mujeres en esa transición, de acogerlas y animarlas.
Me sentí muy agradecida de haber podido vivir esa experiencia y de haberla podido compartir con mi familia. Cuando E. nació me lo colocaron encima de mi vientre. El pobre estaba todo morado de los fórceps, y no me separé de él en ningún momento. Todas las pruebas que le hicieron las llevaron a cabo mientras yo estaba con él.
Una experiencia muy diferente de la que tuvieron mis amigas y familiares que han dado a luz en España. No se trata de heroísmos a la hora de parir, o de ver quien aguantó mejo el dolor, sino de lograr que las mujeres podamos
sentirnos dueñas de ese momento tan importante en nuestras vidas. Se trata de
poder elegir estar presente, de buscar la manera en la que tu cuerpo te pide
parir, porque en definitiva, como dice una amiga, no se pare con la cabeza,
sino con el cuerpo, y para ello es necesario poder dar el espacio para que el
cuerpo encuentre su lugar.
En los últimos años veo cómo han cambiado las cosas en España, y espero que pronto las mujeres puedan decidir cómo parir y en condiciones más humanas para ellas y para sus bebes. El artículo de Celia Jan camina en esa dirección y me alegro enormemente.
I will be travelling today and tomorrow…so see you next week!
I am sure I left plenty of things out, but this are what come to mind now…how about you?
Gardiner, Maria; Tiggermann, Marika; Kearns, Hugh and Marshall, Kelly, 2007: ‘Show me the money! An empirical analysis of mentoring outcomes for women in academia’, Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 26, No 4, pp. 425-442
In the last past months I’ve written a great deal on women in academia and the disadvantages that they suffer in terms of promotion, access to grants and interesting career prospects. This article addresses the same topic from a different perspective: it addresses what can be done to spawn a change in academia, and the answer that the authors give is mentoring.
The data analysed in this article are related to a mentoring programme conducted at Flinders University in Australia. The project involved 22 female academics, mostly at Level B (lecturer), who had been employed by the university for around 5 years and were offered the possibility of joining a mentoring scheme. In order to assess the progress of this group another control group of 46 women with similar characteristics but not involved in mentoring was chosen.
The article starts by presenting some well-known statistics and reasons for women’s lack advancement of in academia. The authors focus on the following reasons:
Some of these elements work in a vicious circle:
“Women are unable to successfully apply for research grants because they do not have enough publications, but are unable to publish because they do not have adequate funding to conduct research. This would lead to poorer research ‘track records’ for women than for men, contributing to slower rates of career advancement.” (p. 427)
Mentoring is identified by the authors as an initiative that can increase the proportion of women in senior positions. Mentoring can be defined as “an informal process, in which the mentor and the mentee spontaneously form a relationship with the purpose of assisting the mentee in developing career-relevant skills” (p. 427). As the authors explain, several universities in Australia have launched mentoring programmes to assistin the learning and developing of their staff
According to the authors, many studies have shown the benefits of mentoring, including improved career outcomes and increased career satisfaction.
So, what was the outcome of their research?
However, there were two areas in which both groups had almost similar results: career satisfaction and job satisfaction. As the authors conclude:
“Our findings indicate that, in the long term, mentoring seems mostly to affect mentees’ global sense of confidence as an academic, and in the short-term it reduces worries about research. However, our findings also indicate mentoring has minimal effect on career and job satisfaction” (p. 439).
I found this last conclusion very interesting, because it reveals how mentoring can help women to progress in academia, but does not necessarily make women at work happier. This finding suggests that although mentoring or coaching can help women to progress in their careers, academia is, for a variety of reasons, an unfriendly place for women.
I would be interested to know why women progressing in their careers are still not happy. Is it that they need to work more than men for the same returns? Is it that women find it difficult to combine their careers as academics with their families?
I find mentoring and coaching in academia extremely interesting (I’m doing a PG in coaching). Somehow I think it’s not enough to leave all the responsibility for advancing her career to the individual. Mentoring and coaching in academia need to come with some sort of commitment from universities that they will make themselves more friendly to women and minorities.
The other day I talked to a friend about the sorts of messages women receive about avoiding being raped, and a modest dress code is definitely one of them.
I remember going to buy some clothes with my mum when I was around 15 years old and falling completely in love with a red miniskirt (bear in mind that in Spain in the ’80s ‘miniskirts’ were strictly on the knee). However, my mum insisted on my having one a size too big because, she said, “Luego pasan cosas” (afterwards things happen). I didn’t know what sort of things could happen to me wearing that oversized miniskirt apart everybody laughing at me, but my mum seemed to have other things on her mind. Finally she bought the big miniskirt, and I decided it to roll it up whenever she wasn’t around.
In the ’80s’ , Grace Jones was an icon with her big shoulder pads and the image of a superwoman conquering and reaching high levels of achievement in her professional life. However, my puritan education did not leave a lot of room for lucubrations on miniskirts, tight tops and the meaning of being sexy at 15. My mum would have killed me if I’d dressed the way I see teenagers dressed these days, but of course that was long time ago when mothers could still lock the door and say: “I’m sorry, but you’re not going out to this party tonight because you slammed the door, and in this house we do ressssspectttttt and education”.
So I grew up with this stupid idea that dressing modestly was the right thing to do to avoid being raped, along with not getting drunk, being alert all the time when you go out and permanently vigilant when walking alone at night. Later in my life, when I engaged in self-awareness groups, I was shocked to find out about the number of women who have suffered sexual abuse from their fathers, uncles, brothers or close relatives as children. So I learnt that women are more likely to be raped by someone they know than by a stranger.
If dress code doesn’t protect us from being raped, what is all this fuss about not dressing like a slut? You don’t need to scratch the surface much to realise that women are still perceived as sinners inciting men to do bad things. Women get drunk and have this attitude, this way of dressing that is an invitation and a provocation, and it’s all women’s fault. Women are also whimsical and not very clear about what they want: when they say no, they might really want to say yes. None of this is new; we’ve heard it before. What is new is what Natasha Walker calls “the living doll” culture.
In a world in which being sexy and hot is very important, teenagers are getting the message that you need to be sexy to be fashionable. I was shocked a couple of weeks ago when I watched a report by the BBC in which they showed a Primark T-shirt for little girls that read “Don’t even think about it”.
However, once these little girls go for hot and sexy fashion, we tell them that if they are sexually abused or raped it’s entirely their fault. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that there’s something perverted in a society that allows this to happen.
On the 4th of June I’m going to Edinburgh for the Slutwalk, not because I think that wearing very few clothes will help women’s liberation but rather because I think that an industry cannot spend thousands of millions of pounds telling women how to be sexy and hot in all circumstances and after tell them that they are inciting rape by following this advice.
What I would like to see as part of the slutwalk movement is people rejecting or at least reflecting this sexy totty culture, which I detest greatly. We are not made just for others’ pleasure, we’re not dolls, or objects for other people’s recreation.
Because of my mother I’m too shy (also a bit old, I must confess) to wear a very short miniskirt, but I will try to be in Edinburgh on the 4th because I think it’s important. Don’t expect me to be very adventurous in what I wear: I’ll just be modestly dressed as mother taught me, but I’ll be there in body and soul.
Laura Gutman es psicoterapeuta familiar argentina, y escritora, que publica entre otras cosas, sobre la maternidad, la paternidad, y vinculos primarios. En la primera parte de esta entrevista habla sobre el (no) valor social de la maternidad, el aislamiento materno, la necesidad de una ‘tribu’ para criar a los hijos, y los diferentes tironeos y desgarros que sufren las mujeren cuando se vuelven madres.
Espero que les guste.
Review Chapter 2: What’s wrong with Cinderella?
Orenstein, Peggy, 2011, Cinderella ate my daughter. Dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture, New York: HarperCollins Publishers
Orenstein starts this chapter describing how she was surprised to find her daughter at a party deeply involved in being Snow White, and loving it. She described how she had kept away this story and thought she would not encounter it, or like it, for the passivity of the princess, and her washed out personality. She is good at tidying up, and singing, but nothing else, apart of course, from being pretty, and being chosen and saved by her prince solely on this premise.
And she goes on to explain that she was a Disney kid, but that somehow things have changed since then. The princess phenomenon is a case in point. The Disney princesses as such did not exist until 2000. She interviews the ‘maker’ of this phenomenon, Mooney, an ex-Nike executive who discovered a goldmine at a Disney-on-ice show, where all the girls had princess outfits that were homemade. From this shocking fact, Mooney created the Princess line. It was new in that Princesses had never been grouped together (which is why she says that when they figure together, they never look at each other, but in a slightly different direction). It was like hitting the jackpot, sales soared immensely. Today, there are over twenty six thousand Disney Princess items in the market. Mooney says ‘we gave the girls what they wanted’. Soon after Mattel followed with a princess line, and even Dora the explorer has an episode about turning into a princess.
Orenstein admits that girls might like to play princesses – but 26.000 products? She asks herself where the line between giving them what they want and coercion begins. And most of these are clothes, accessories, and make up: appearance based. Mooney says the typical line for this ‘it is just a phase’, and that there are no studies that show that playing princesses harms girls.
But, as Orenstein points out, there is much evidence that show that the more mainstream media girls consume, the more importance they place on being pretty and sexy. And that those that hold values which emphasise beauty and pleasing behaviour are less ambitious, more prone to depression and less likely to report to enjoy sex or insist partner wear condoms. And this are not particularly withdrawn and passive girls and women, but exposure to stereotypes has been shown to affect girls quite a lot, and quickly too.
Orenstein shows how girls nowadays are under much more pressure, pressure to be perfect. And what this means is that they want to be very good at school and sports but also be kind, pleasing and be thin and pretty. What she concludes is that girls today have much more opportunities, but at the same time are victims of this broadening of expectations. Again, it seems the more girls achieve, the more they obsess about their appearance.
She argues with herself that boys have also limited range of play things, and that fathers tend to police their masculinity much more than girls’ femininity, but ends up concluding that girls are the ones who seem to have their world and possibilities much more circumscribed.
So she asks herself why do parents go for this. As she says
‘princesses avoid female bonding. Their goals are to be saved by a prince, get married [...] and be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Their value derives largely from their appearance. They are rabid materialists. They might affect your daughter’s interest in math. And yet…parents cannot resist them. Princesses seem to have tapped into our unspoken, nonrational wishes. They may also assuage our fears: Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty may be sources of stability in a rapidly changing world.’
She described how princesses are seen as safe, as inspiring, as helping little girls stay little girls as much as possible. As she points out, maybe it is related to our need for comfort, for stability, for tradition in an unstable world. She looks then at what seems like an antidote: the American Girl Collection. This is because these dolls are well-made, and the author strived to offer an alternative view of childhood, one also linked with history of the USA. In the books that went with the dolls, girls were portrayed as being much more independent and feisty, probably more than what they could possibly be at the time, and also to emphasise character over appearance. Much better than a Bratz doll like Jazmin, who cares mostly about her appearance, gossip and celebrities.
However, this collection is rather paradoxical. She points out how while books advocate against materialism, the products around these dolls were multiple, and very expensive. She concludes that line from both Disney and American Girl ‘promise’ parents to keep girls, girls, and safe from early sexualisation, but do so through introducing them to a material culture that encourages exactly the opposite. And that these imply that intimacy between mothers and daughters is done through consuming ‘girly’ things.
I liked this chapter in that it emphasises what parents might see in this princess culture, what they like in it, and why do they indulge their daughters in it. Furthermore, it shows the contradictions that these kind of ‘desire’ is embedded in: a deeply materialistic culture which emphasises girl’s appearance. And even if she cannot show how this will affect girls in the future, she shows how this emphasis more generally, strongly affects girls and young women. What I still don’t get here is the sense of how much of this immersion matters. What if princess play is only part of what girls do? Maybe mothers or dads with older children could tell me, is this kind of play overwhelming, and ? For instance, can you buy an American Girl doll and a book, and be happy with this? As this does not exist in Argentina, or as far as I know, in the UK, I am not sure how insidious this is. I know Disney is, so I understand her predicament. What I think is that she is trying to show here these contradictions, to highlight the materialistic nature of this ‘culture’ and the emphasis on beauty, which I agree is negative. And I agree with her analysis. I am still unconvinced though about how all or nothing this is. But I might be innocent, since I am not there yet, just incipiently… Any thoughts?
Keenan, Julia and Stapleton, Helen, 2010, Bonny babies? Motherhood and nurturing in the age of obesity, Health, Risk and Society, Vol. 12, No. 4, 369-383
This article grabbed my attention as I am very interested in issues of feeding and nurturing as core activities of motherhood practice, as well as in body image issues. In this article, Keenan and Stapleton draw on women’s accounts of their interactions with health professional and families to see how the prevalent and powerful biomedical discourse around obesity plays out in practice. The authors describe the importance of this discourse for this study as involving the medicalisation and moralisation of large bodies in pregnancy as ‘obese’ and thus the creation of subjects ‘at risk’ to themselves and their foetus/infant.
This paper is based on findings from a qualitative research project, conducted from 2006-2008 in a city in the north of England, and this paper draws mainly on accounts and experiences told by participants with large bodies.
First they discuss the World Health Organisation’s definition of obesity as ‘excessive fat accumulation that may impair health’. This definition is operationalised many times through the use of Body Mass Index (BMI), based on a height to weight relationship, which is a simple and cheap tool. A BMI of over 30 is most commonly seen as obese. For children, categories are based on the percentile position on ‘normal’ growth scales. Obese children are considered those which surpass the 95th or 98th percentile.
The authors discuss the different problems that the use of BMI to figure out risks brings, and show how critical studies of obesity question the link between BMI and health, which often are translated into policy in oversimplified ways that create definitions of certain bodies as fat and problematic.
The authors show how biomedical research links appropriate pre-pregnancy weight, weigh gain and nutrition in pregnancy with satisfactory foetal outcomes, and more and more with infant health over the life-course.
In the biomedical literature, a BMI over 30 is linked with
‘increased risks of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, blood clots, haemorrhage following birth, increased risk of induction and instrumental delivery, post-caesarean wound infection, genital and urine infections, giving birth to an infant with an abnormally high birth weight and problems with breastfeeding; obesity is significantly implicated in maternal deaths (CEMACH 2007). Babies born to ‘obese’ mothers are at increased risk from premature birth, still birth and birth abnormalities and are more susceptible to health problems, including obesity and diabetes in later life.’
However, as the authors point out, there is still debate about how much of an increased risk obesity brings, and these risks are not exclusive to women with BMI over 30. And there are contestations to the notion that adult health is predetermined by infant body size.
But this discourse comes strongly through social and cultural norms concerning the right way to prepare for pregnancy, and is framed in the media in this terms. This authors point out how health has increasingly moral connotations, and how being obese, this ‘risky’ bodily state is seen as an individual and moral failure.
However, given this atmosphere, the authors were surprised to find that women in antenatal interviews reported that health workers did not discuss ‘obesity’ with them. Very few were under consultant care due to their weight, and most of them were not aware of any of the risks listed above, apart from those few who were self-informed. In the UK, maternal weight in pregnancy is not monitored. So apart from a one-off measurement of weight and height at the beginning, weight is only informally monitored by midwives. Women with a family history of diabetes, or with a BMI over 30, where tested for gestational diabetes, and monitored if the results were positive.
The authors argue that it is understandable that health workers were reluctant to broach the subject, as despite the urgency of the obesity debates, there are still no clear policy guidelines, support or resources, and health workers do not want to make women feel guilty, uncomfortable, or encourage them into weight regulation. Although the authors do not go into this in detail, they highlight that negative comments were always given by family, their social circle or the media.
In this way, weight was not made an issue during pregnancy by health workers, and while attempts at discussing this issue by participants were met with reassurance, some women found this helpful, while others found it frustrating, as they would have liked some support and discussion. This was especially the case for women in terms of birth plans. Most of them were led to believe that they could just plan whatever birth they wanted, but they were unaware of the regulations that prohibit certain options for women with BMI over 30, and they felt that, at the last minute, they were snatched of their choices.
Furthermore, the lack of dialogue about the risks for women and their babies meant that when health professionals, especially higher rank ones, mentioned weight as the cause of ‘poor outcomes’, these were dismissed by women. The approaches that higher ranking health professionals used were crude, induced blame and were insensitive, and did not work in terms of the goals of these professionals – raising awareness about the risk of excess adiposity – but made women, quite rightly, discredit their comments.
In terms of infant size, the authors note that across their data as a whole, underweight or premature babies generated much more anxiety around their weight than a baby deemed to be ‘big’. The authors show that the much like the more traditional understandings of ‘bonny’ babies, bigness and a good appetite were seen positively, and not as a problem. The only exception to this unproblematised view of weight gain was done by women who managed diabetes through pregnancy.
The authors end up concluding that while they do not want to contest the studies that relate excess adiposity with increased risks for women and infants, they want to identify the problems that using a measure such as BMI can bring in terms of policy, or in its translation in the treatment of individual women to improve birth outcomes and health. This article shows the disparity between discourses and practices. At the moment, health workers do not encourage women to manage biomedical risks, within pregnancy, but there are many policy and guidelines in the pipeline that are probably going to change this. Moreover, this article underlines how it is not possible to understand the medicalisation and moralisation through the work of one type of actor, such as health workers, but other social actors need to be included.
I liked this article because it tackles a sticky issue: how to understand in a measured way the risks that ‘obesity’ might bring, while problematising deterministic studies and the individualisation and moralisation of this problem. At least I find it tricky. I am worried about what these studies are showing, and scared, frankly, but at the same time, am wary about how this might be translated. If I had to bet, I would say it will probably end up in blaming the mum, and not only for a difficult pregnancy and or birth, but for the health of their children now and forever. Which is not the outcome I would like to see, but it is one that is taking shape in the media for instance. But just because it is sticky does not mean we can ignore it, or act as if nothing happened….It is the same with women’s bodies and fat shaming. We don’t need more of that, and we do not need more women who are not happy in their bodies. In this case, how could there be support for women, without it being medicalising, moralising and individualising the problem? As I say, tricky.
If you’re in Scotland on the 4th of June, there’s something you can do. Come along and join Edinburgh SlutWalk.
The protest was prompted by a police officer’s declaration on his visit to Osgoode Hall Law School:
“I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.“
Well, that sparked a massive protest through Facebook, and Twitter organised a protest against the view that women provoke rapists, that you need to dress modestly or never leave your home, or never go out at night to reduce the chance of being raped.
Below are some figures reported by The Guardian that show the gravity of the situation and how important it is to take action:
“A 2009 Home Office report into violence against women in the UK found that 36% of people believed a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk, and 26% if she was in public wearing sexy or revealing clothes.
The British Crime Survey showed a rise in the number of sexual offences recorded by police from 53,091 in 2009 to 54,602, up 3%, in 2010 with a 6% increase in the number of most serious sexual crimes – up to 44,693 from 42,187 in 2009.”
So please be clear and pass on the message: not wearing a mini skirt will not protect you from not being raped: your body belongs to you.
Come and join us in Edinburgh, London or Cardiff!!! Maternalselves will try to its best to be there.