New feature: ‘It’s not RAPE rape’

// 3 October 2010

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A flurry of reports on birth rape have prompted a backlash against women who use the term to describe their assault experiences. Amity Reed responds

Birth rape is not rape because: the intent was not likely malicious; you solicited the services of the midwife or doctor willingly; it is not sexual; it denigrates ‘real’ rape; you got a healthy baby at the end of it; you should have said ‘No’ more clearly; you should have been more educated; be glad you’re alive — women used to die in childbirth all the time, you know!; if you didn’t want hands or instruments up your vagina, you shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place; it’s for the well being of your baby; it was for your own good.

Those are just some of the claims made about birth rape in the last few days, by many of these articles’ authors and readers alike. The consensus appears to be: you are making too big a deal of this and, p.s., stop whining. In some quarters, allusions to natural birth fanatics with unrealistic expectations, hell-bent on smearing the name of good doctors and midwives across the land, are rife with derision. There seems to be a popular idea that a fringe group of radicals who despise medicine and technology and think women should give birth alone in clover fields, with only the moon and stars to guide them, are working to further their birth rape ‘movement’ and inappropriately co-opt a word that is already taken and means something completely different.

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