Is homebirth an extreme sport?Reading the Wikipedia definition of extreme sports makes me wonder whether homebirth in general, and unassisted homebirth in particular, are actually extreme sports.
Extreme sport is a media term for certain activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger or difficulty and often involving ... spectacular stunts...According to David Le Breton, Playing Symbolically with Death in Extreme Sports, Body & Society, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1-11 (2000):
... 'true' extreme sports [are] a leisure or recreation activity where the most likely outcome of a mismanaged accident or mistake was death...
Many amateur sportsmen in the West, have today started undertaking long and intensive ordeals where their personal capacity to withstand increasing suffering is the prime objective. Running, jogging, the triathlon and trekking are the sorts of ordeal where people without any particular ability are not pitting themselves against others but are committed to testing their own capacity to withstand increasing pain... Going right on to the end of a self-imposed ordeal gives a legitimacy to life and provides a symbolic plank that supports them... There is no struggle against a third party, only a method for reinforcing personal will-power and over-coming suffering by going right to the limit of a personally imposed demand...In Death, danger and the selling of risk in adventure sports, an article in the book, Understanding Lifestyle Sport: Consumption, Identity and Difference by Belinda Wheaton, Catherine Palmer notes:
...[This] conceptual collapse between risk and mainstream ... creates the impression that anyone can partake in these kinds of activities. The fact that inexperienced actors can leap from a plane or bungy jump creates the illustion that no expertise is needed to engage in extreme sports. In other words, these made-for-media versions of extreme sports are short-live imitations of risk, rather than serious sporting ... in which physicial fitness and technical knowledge are of paramount importance... [This] mediated normalisation of risk taking in particularly problematic in that it gives the impression that nothing goes wrong in extreme sports. In popular packaging, those activities ... are presented as being entirely without risk or danger.Let's see how well this comparison applies:
... The selling of risk is a careful exercise in discursive manipulation ... [and] particularly tragic consequences ... have accompanied this selling of risk ...
Homebirth DOES have a high level of inherent danger and unassisted homebirth IS a "spectacular stunt."
In homebirth, the "likely outcome of a mismanaged accident or mistake" IS death.
Homebirth IS an intensive ordeal where "personal capacity to withstand increasing suffering is the prime objective."
Homebirth DOES involve "people without any particular ability ... testing their own capacity to withstand increasing pain."
Homebirth advocates DO believe that "going right on to the end of a self-imposed ordeal gives a legitimacy to life and provides a symbolic plank that supports them."
Homebirth IS "a method for reinforcing personal will-power and over-coming suffering by going right to the limit of a personally imposed demand."
The fact that anyone can undertake a homebirth DOES reinforce "the illustion that no expertise is needed."
Direct entry midwifery IS merely an "imitation" of real obstetrics, in which "technical knowledge [is] of paramount importance."
Homebirth advocacy DOES involve a "mediated normalisation of risk taking" that is "particularly problematic in that it gives the impression that nothing goes wrong" in childbirth.
In homebirth advocacy, the "selling of risk" IS "a careful exercise in discursive manipulation" ... [and] "particularly tragic consequences" HAVE "accompanied this selling of risk."
The many similarities suggest that homebirth is indeed a female extreme sport.