Facilitate the power of love - confront the love of power

Tue, 11 May 2004

Cultures of domination

I turn on the TV at 9.45pm Monday 10 May to see the BBC 1 News at 10.

A stubbly man threatens another stubbly man with a knife. The threatened man headbuts the man with the knife, who falls to the ground.

I switch channels.

On Channel 5  there is a huge closeup of an enormous bleeding wound. I watch horrified. A surgeon chats casually about what she is going to do. It's an operating theatre. Its an 'operation', live.  Eventually I realize—a caesarian delivery live.

Shielded by a curtain across her abdomen from this astonishing violence, the mother, awake, alert, due presumably to an epidural injection, lies completely passive.

The surgeon cuts again. Into the uterus. She reaches into the cavity and grasping the baby, pulls it out. A wonder-full sight as ever. The new born baby I mean. After the umbilicus is cut, the surgeon holds the baby boy up over the curtain for a moment so that the mother can see it and then passes it to an assistant. She patiently wipes him clean. Weighs him. Wraps him in a blanket.

It seems an age before all this medical housekeeping is complete. She brings the baby back to the mother  'give me your hand' she says, 'I don't know where my hand is', the mother replies. Eventually the baby passes to the father who is close by.

In the studio, two men, consultant obstetricians I guess, recycle the notion that Caeserian birth is a 'good idea' and that the 25% proportion of UK births by this method is also a 'very good thing'.

Meanwhile, out of sight, the surgeon deals with the too messy to show placenta, and stitches up the mother's belly.  At 9.59pm the live peak-time show ends.

Childbirth as a spectacle.