Thursday, March 30, 2006

Giving Birth

Two stories on giving birth caught my snake-eye recently. One is the story about "The Monument for Pro-Life", a sculpture pretending to depict Britney Spears giving birth to her son, pretending, because the baby was actually delivered through an elective C-section, and pretending, because nobody gives birth in that position or with such a calm face.

The other story is about the pregnant Katie Holmes whose boyfriend is a Scientologist:

It appears that the rumors are true. No, not the rumors that Katie Holmes was impregnated by L. Ron Hubbard's frozen sperm, though we're still checking the Smoking Gun for that one every day. The rumors that according to the practice of Scientology -- of which her boyfriend, Dawson's Creep, is a devout follower -- Katie Holmes intends to give birth not only without drugs (as many mothers choose to do) but also in silence (to which many mothers who've given birth without drugs say, "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!"). That is, if you believe the Sun, which reports -- with photos! -- that Scientology "elders" have brought six-foot signs into the couple's Hollywood mansion bearing admonitions such as, "Be silent and make all physical movements slow and understandable."

These rumors might not be true, but then neither is the Britney Spears sculpture a realistic one.

Something bothered me about the near-simultaneous publication of two very odd views on giving birth and on the public interest the stories provoked. I'm pretty sure that the unease I feel is about the public appropriation of the process of delivery and about the passivity implied as proper for the two delivering mothers. They have become secondary by being mythologized in impossible ways.