Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Vaginas are Scary!

Giving birth: it's a traumatic process, long and drawn out, often resulting in scars and emotional trauma that can make it difficult to be interested in sexual intimacy for some time after the child is born.

Not for the woman, mind you. For the man.

Or at least that's the situation according to Dr. Keith Ablow, in an article he wrote for the NY Times titled "A Perilous Journey from Delivery Room to Bedroom." Where many of us might be tempted to focus on the difficulty of, say, the expectant mother squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a dime, Dr. Ablow wants to remind us that there's another person suffering in that delivery room: the male partner forced to view his woman's cooter in a way he never wanted to see it (emphasis mine):

In the age of the "new man," very little consideration is given to the potentially negative side effects of togetherness in the delivery room. [...] And not every man gets over it. Several men have confessed to me that they never regained the same romantic view of their wives that they had before seeing them deliver children.

"They ended up having to cut her open to get the baby," one patient told me. "I saw it. I mean, how am I supposed to get that out of my head? Every time I look at the scar, it's like I'm seeing it again." [...]

The fact that the subject is taboo also means that a man who is traumatized by the experience may be retraumatized again and again, with each child born to him.

"Honestly," one man, married for 12 years, told me, "I think one of the main reasons I don't feel attracted to my wife is that I saw her give birth three times. It's like I know too much about that part of her." [...]

Women may want to consider the risks as they invite their partners to watch them bring new life into the world. For some of the passion that binds them together may leave their lives at the very same time.

Wow, so much to think about. Ablow really raises some interesting points that I hadn't considered before. I mean, sure, typically the woman giving birth is kind of preoccupied what with the small human being ripped from her abdomen and all, but truly: shouldn't she be sparing some thought for the possible emotional damage she's causing her man? I mean, labor is just so ... icky, isn't it? If we could only find a way to make it more aesthetic somehow. Maybe we could camouflage the birth canal with flowers or something - you know, preserve the "mystery" a little. Or maybe we could have porn playing in the background, so guys can associate birth with sex, or ...

Ahem. Sorry, my sarcasmatron just went into overdrive. Look - I'm sure it can be a little unsettling for a man to see his romantic partner in the throes of labor, but honestly: give me a break over here. Does Ablow honestly expect us to believe that a) men are this fragile and b) it's the woman's responsibility to consider this fragility and take care of it? I'm sorry, what century are we living in again?

Fuck it, I'm with Twisty: we need to find a way to remove the human body from the reproductive process. That, or Dr. Ablow and his patients could possibly learn to, you know, cope. (Hat tip to Belle for the link.)