Mark and Lynna do some really great interviews. I blogged the interview with Dirt and I’m also blogging this interview with Michelle Peixinho & Mary Lou Singleton, two radical feminist midwives who are really good examples of woman-identified women, and they have a wonderful and refreshing anti-capitalist and environmentalist viewpoint. I just loved this interview and I’m going to share here some highlights and my thoughts on them.
The interview begins with the obvious topic of birth, since the two of them are midwives. They talk about how childbirth has become medicalized and turned into a scientific and mechanical process controlled by men. Birth is not treated as a natural process that works well due to women’s biology. The medical establishment treats women as patients and decides for them how to give birth. Women are not allowed to control the process nor tap into their own knowledge of their bodies. They are also given synthetic hormones even though women produce these hormones on their own.
Michelle became interested in midwifery due to giving birth herself and finding the medical establishment really terrible. She found the doctors were authoritarian and intimidating and made her feel childlike. As a survivor of incest, this authoritarian attitude that doctors displayed toward her body was triggering. She didn’t even know she could give birth outside of the hospital until luckily some friends told her she could get a midwife and she jumped at the chance. She is very positive about the experience of giving birth outside of a hospital with the care of a midwife. She felt it allowed her to exercise her own bodily sovereignty and in having control over the birth process she felt it had a positive impact on her health and her parenting.
Both women are survivors of sexual abuse and found that when they gave birth it helped them to heal since they learned to be in awe of what their bodies and do and finally learned to love their female bodies instead of hating them. They want to help other women to feel the same bodily sovereignty and the power women have to create life.
In the U.S.A., the health care system is a capitalist system, so it does not provide what is most healthy for people. Instead it focuses on turning a profit. A for-profit health care system is not a health care system at all—capitalism is inherently unhealthy. There is money in pathology so hospitals are more likely to manufacture pathology where there really isn’t any. This leads right into the marketing of gender identity disorder. The medical system in the U.S.A makes a profit whenever they treat people for G.I.D because it’s a very costly treatment. Mary Lou says she used to feel dysphoric about her body and would wear baggy clothes and bind her breasts, and she could have easily fallen into the gender identity trap and gotten all sorts of synthetic hormones and unnecessary surgeries just for having the normal experience of hating one’s body. In this culture, we are all made to hate our bodies. Human bodies are commodified and sold, and corporations deliberately cause us to hate our bodies through advertising campaigns so that we will buy the products they create to “fix” them. Capitalism creates problems where there aren’t any so they can sell us the cure.
Body dysphoria isn’t just created by capitalism though, it’s also caused by sexual abuse and rape culture. All women are violated by the patriarchal culture we live in whether it’s through direct sexual abuse or exposure to sexual harassment and pornography. Lots of women react to this by trying to hide their femaleness or escape out of it. It’s no surprise that this would happen.
Michelle talks about how trans activists use the phrase “assigning gender at birth” in a nonsensical way. Midwives are accused of “assigning” a “gender” to infants when they are born and that this makes them “bigoted.” But midwives don’t assign a gender to babies, they observe what their sex is, and then society assigns a gender based on their sex. They would prefer that no one assigns any gender to the baby at all. In fact, midwives don’t even normally state the sex of the baby because the mother can tell for herself, so there is often no discussion of sex or gender at all at the birth. When trans activists suggest that midwives are assigning a socially constructed gender role to a baby that is completely daft. Mary Lou says that at lots of the births she has attended, the family doesn’t even ask about the sex, they are just happy the baby is here. The idea that a midwife can “assign” a sex to a baby is as silly as the idea that she could “assign” fingers or toes to the baby.
Midwives are told they are “exclusionary” because they are not involving men in the birth process. But the birth process truly has nothing to do with men. Men are trying to insert themselves where they do not belong. It’s just silly to think that men can give birth. Trans men can give birth because they are female. How bizarre to give birth while identifying as a man! There is nothing more female than giving birth to a child.
An interesting point about a mother who is pregnant with a female child is that the female fetus has ovaries inside her body already, so the pregnant woman has not only her own ova inside her but the ova of her potential grandchildren. What a fascinating concept! It’s so beautiful to hear knowledgeable women talk about female biology and how amazing it is. These two are passionate and loving toward women as a class and toward our bodies. It’s like a breath of fresh air when we’re surrounded by so much hate and lies surrounding female bodies.
These two women are interested in herbalism and like to talk about natural remedies. I partially agree with this and partially disagree. We tend to romanticize nature and treat herbs as a magical remedy for health problems. Some herbs can have healing properties and some can have no effect at all and others are poisonous. Just because something is herbal doesn’t automatically make it healthy or effective. I definitely agree with them on their overall attitude which is that we rely too much on synthetic “health products” and technology, and need to return to what is natural and healthy. But we shouldn’t go backwards and ignore medical science, what we really need to do, in my opinion, is create a health system that is not capitalist, that promotes health for the sake of promoting health and that conducts unbiased research with the goal of discovering truths, not making money. This would give us a balance between being grounded in nature and also researching ways to be healthier through human intervention. The “health system” we have now is designed to create profit for pharmaceutical companies and this is definitely not making us healthy.
Mary Lou and Michelle have an exceptional understanding of the way women are oppressed because of our sex. They know that women have the power to create life and men control this power in us as a part of their domination over the Earth and its people. We are oppressed based on our biological functions and men’s desire to control them.
They talk about how it is very telling who trans activists are attacking. Even though men and the medical establishment understand human biology and the difference between male and female, trans activists are not attacking them. They are only attacking woman-identified women such as midwives, feminists, and lesbians. Trans activists are very obvious about their misogyny and anti-feminist goals.
It is really refreshing to hear people acknowledge out loud that we have reached end stage capitalism and our whole society is relying on technology that isn’t going to last. We know that the Earth has limited resources and that either we will stop capitalism or it will destroy us. This causes widespread fear and trauma among the planet and its people. It’s obvious why people want to disengage from the natural world and why we are dissociating and feeling disembodied. The environment is poisoned and even breast milk is poisoned because we are made of the Earth around us. We can’t get away from the toxins at this point. I haven’t read the Deep Green Resistance book but I believe that I will probably agree with them. It is fruitless to talk about any social issues while ignoring the fact that capitalism is ending and taking everything out with it, and that needs to be our focus.
Michelle and Mary Lou do not think it’s possible to be born in the wrong body, and neither do Mark and Lynna anymore, although they did transition previously. People are suffering and trying to make sense of a crazy world but going on a lifetime of synthetic hormones doesn’t provide a solution. Michelle wants people to be happy but is not convinced that this is a healthy response to the kind of pain we’re all suffering on this Earth right now. I agree. The person who is traumatized will often engage is destructive behaviours to avoid dealing with the trauma. It’s a common response but the coping mechanism is not an identity that needs to be validated.
Mark ends the interview with this beautiful quote: “We need to stop this madness of being “born in the wrong body” and doing all these things to align ourselves when the alignment is already in you. You are perfect the way you are. There is no need to do anything else but breathe, love and be.”
Thank you Mark, Lynna, Michelle and Mary Lou for this wonderful discussion.