Thursday, July 30, 2009

Poison for Your Brain: Misogynistic Quackery!

So there's this doctor, name of Denis Walsh. I like to call him "Doctor Douchebag." This man has an idea about how mothers ought to give birth to their children, and it's totally ridiculous. I mean that in the original "worthy of ridicule" sense. You may have seen this dick-bag on Pharyngula: he's the guy who says that women ought to decline painkillers during childbirth because the pains of labor happen and it will strengthen the bond between mother and child.

No joke.

Since this is Poison for Your Brain and not a rigorous philosophical paper, I'm just going to come out and say that this is nothing more and nothing less than hazing. Yes, it's a well-known phenomenon in psychology that an investment of time, money, effort, or pain will tend to cause the object of that investment to be perceived as more valuable. It doesn't matter if you're beating in a gang member, paddling the ass of a frat boy, embarrassing the shit out of a new sorority girl, or screaming in pain during childbirth. Leaving aside (for the moment) the fact that this is extremely sexist because there's no analogue for men (how should two male parents achieve such a bond with their adopted child?), he also commits the naturalistic fallacy: this is how something is, therefore it is good that it is that way, and doing it differently is bad.


We humans need our pelvises to be a certain way - or, more accurately, within a small range of possibilities relative to all of the options available - in order to be able to walk upright as we do. We also need large skulls to house our prodigious brains. Being placental mammals as we are, these two biological necessities are at odds with one another, which puts humans in a fairly unique position when it comes to how our young are brought into the world. An equally valid interpretation is that human births are unnaturally painful and so should be heavily medicated in order to avoid a whole bunch of unnecessary pain that only the mother will experience for no good reason.

If a woman wants to go through childbirth totally sober for any reason (or even none at all), that is her prerogative and unwanted medications should not be forced upon her. This is already an option, and it's also not what Doctor Douchebag is proposing: he's saying that all women ought to be this way, ought to have these certain values, and ought to do things his way. Getting back to the sexism alluded to above, this entails that men do not need to form a bond in such a way. Why not? Well, either they don't need to be that connected to their children, or they can establish an equally valuable connection by other means. And corollary to that is the idea that mothers, for whatever reason he'd care to dream up, need to have this connection which men don't, or can't get it by that other means (otherwise he'd have no cause to say that the connection should be strengthened in this way specifically). Because this is based on differences between the sexes, this position is sexist insofar as it treats women one way because they're women and treats men a different way because they're men. And because what he is advocating is pain for women (whether they are OK with that pain or not, which some-but-not-all clearly are), it is also misogynistic.

What an insufferable fuckwit.

BONUS! I texted the following to my roommate:
Doctor, to Women: you shouldn't use painkillers during childbirth, because labor pain will make you more attached to your child. My comment: like hazing?
My roommate's response:
Sure! Just like if he got a root canal he should do that without painkillers, so he will appreciate having teeth more.
Fucking priceless.

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