Saturday, February 14, 2015

Elisa Albert

Elisa Albert's new novel is After Birth.

From the author's interview with Shin Yu Pai at The Rumpus:

Rumpus: At the Festival of Writers event this past summer, you talked about writing After Birth so you could “feel less angry about birth when talking about it at dinner parties.” Can you please talk about this anger, as it is reflected in your main character Ari? What motivates the frustration that Ari feels with other women who choose to outsource their birth experiences to medical providers and to avoid educating themselves on their options? Why do you think women and society choose to ignore the empowering and transformative aspects of giving birth?

Albert: It’s a taboo, talking about women’s bodies in birth, because it brings us dangerously close to having to negotiate simplistic ideas about choice and control. Who controls women’s bodies? We don’t want to be raped or executed for adultery or denied the right to terminate pregnancy. We want rightful dominion over our bodies. But when time comes to give birth, it all goes out the window. We’ve collectively bought into some big misconceptions: that birth is problematic by nature, that it is likely to go awry and must therefore be handed over to the “authorities,” that it is “safe” to be completely passive in birth, that if we question, we put our own lives and the lives of our babies at risk. It’s a very old lie. The methodologies used to implement this lie have shifted over time, but the lie remains the same.

The rituals of birth in 21st century United States are harmful to the majority of women and babies. These rituals not only don’t improve outcomes overall, they actually cause injury and illness when used routinely. They are rituals of a culture that fears and despises women’s bodies. That women comply so willingly is perhaps the strangest part.

Why? That’s harder. Because to insist on embracing and embodying the magnificent power of normal birth would be to inhabit the kind of exclusively feminine power that has so threatened patriarchy since time immemorial? Because we remember trans-generational trauma from having been burned at the stake? Because pathologizing normal pregnancy and birth is quite profitable? Because fear is so seductive and overwhelming? I don’t know. This stuff...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Elisa Albert's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Dahlia.

--Marshal Zeringue