We live in a society that functions in dichotomies: feminine vs masculine, public vs private, personal vs political, black vs white. These dichotomies help us make sense of things in the world by categorizing their essences into easily understood boxes. These boxes then, define our understanding of what it means to be human. They define our very being. However, these dichotomies also work to create power systems that suppress the impact of certain types of labor and oppress the humanity of certain types of individuals. Birth, and birth work, is an inherently political act that has often been subverted into categories with the intent of minimizing its revolutionary impact.
The work that occurs during pregnancy, inside a birthing person, who is often but not always, gendered female, is the foundational work of society building. Within the pregnant body, the future of the human essence is built. The birthing person breaks their own body, deconstructs their own self to give rise to the future of revolution. What once was a human being, becomes a superhuman being, a keeper of the secrets of the universe that stem from sexual connection and orgasmic creation. To be filled with a fetus is to be filled with the same dust of stars that make up the cosmos. However, when pregnancy is in question in the liberal capitalist society, it is rendered the work of the private, the person, the woman, the body, but not work of the public, the political, the man, and the mind. The truth being, pregnancy and birth are actions that break down all barriers of dichotomies, revolutionizing our understanding not only of what it means to be a political subject in society, but what it means to be human.
The act of birth not only produces a child or children, but it creates a future political subject. Someone who will be molded by their entrance into society, the way their parents were treated upon their entrance, and every step and breath that comes with their upbringing in political culture. For this very reason, it is impossible to separate birth from the political sphere. The unfolding of a birth is revolution in action. The birthing body, covered in blood, spilt of fluid, reaches a point where they are equally close to life as they are death, and with each moment, they become closer to changing the foundational makeup of the universe and the future of political society.
Furthermore, birth creates parents. The most intimate and personal relationship one has for a long time is with their parents. Parenting is more than the mundane quotidian existence of life mixed with unconditional love, while that alone is fairly remarkable. Parenting is a political act. When a parent is born, they are the guiding political force in a child’s life. They create normative assumptions about reality and transfer this understanding to their children. Understandings of race, gender, the environment, and all other political subjects, are first formed within the private sphere, and are only brought into the public sphere once the private has provided sufficient conditions for growth. These two spheres however, remain intrinsically dependent on one another. They are married, and thrive off of each other’s success. Perhaps they are truly one sphere, a sphere that understands that the private does not exist without the public, and that the public cannot live without the births that occur in private.
Our modern medical system attempts to silence the roars of birth, clean up the blood of the vagina, dull the sensations of oxytocin with drugs, and surgically moderate physiological birth. As has been done to women for centuries, the female body is to be made as small as possible, as quiet as possible, and must take up the least amount of room as possible. In birth, the birthing person is placed into the factory of a birthing machine that aims to speedily haste the normal functions of the body by synthesizing hormones and claiming the superiority of their efficiency. For after all, modern liberal capitalism fetishizes efficiency above all else. The birth is to be quiet, with a controlled entrance of the child. The birthing person may not push of their own terms, but must wait for the all-knowing gatekeeper of birth to arrive of their terms. For after all, trust in the female body has never been the strength of patriarchal society. Pain is something to be feared, and dulled, and the birthing person is confined to a bed barely large enough to fit a body swollen with the life of pregnancy. The birthing person takes up as little space as possible. For after all, liberal capitalist society has never taken too kindly to revolting in spaces not deemed acceptable. If the birthing person is a person of color, the chance of death is higher in America than in any other “developed country”. For after all, hatred of black bodies is systemic in American history.
Birth does not need reclaiming, for it has always belonged to the child-bearer. However, birth must been seen as a revolutionary act. With each surge that overtakes the body, with each week of pregnancy, the breakdown of societal norms, hierarchies, and oppressive barriers occurs. The power of birth is to change the fundamental makeup of human society and in turn the human condition. Birth as revolution is it’s true nature, and the true nature of revolution is to be born.