Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who said this?

Statement 1:
Intimacy between two human beings should have its limits ... a [woman] is not at her romantic best in the delivery room.
Statement 2:
[T]here is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child... For many men, the emotional fallout of watching their partner have their baby can never be overcome.
The first statement was written in 1966 by J.H. Morton, MD in the paper Fathers in the delivery room --an opposition standpoint. The second statement was issued by Michel Odent, MD in April 2008, as quoted in The Daily Mail.

There are several striking similarities in these statements. Both men think that it is critically important to avoid any untoward effect on men. For some reason, they think that the needs of men ought to take priority in the middle of childbirth. Second, both men express a longing for the "good old days" when fathers were banned from the delivery room. Third, and most important, both men project their emotional (and possibly sexual) anxieties on all men. They assume, with absolutely no data, that their emotional reactions are some sort of standard, and that their emotional needs are generalizable to all men.

I raise this issue, not because I care about the babbling and emotional difficulties of either man. I raise the issue to point out that Michel Odent fabricates his theories about childbirth out of thin air. In this case, as in the case of his offensive claims about childbirth and bonding, he announced a brand new scientific theory without any research and without any evidence. He seemed to think that it was enough that the theory made sense to him and confirmed his personal preferences.

It is easy for lay people to understand that Odent's "theory" of fathers at birth is nothing more than a projection of his own anxieties and prejudices. It is important for lay people to understand that his "theories" of natural childbirth, waterbirth, and bonding are also nothing more than projections of his own anxieties and prejudices.

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