Archive for 29 September 2009
Birth bloggers, Mommy bloggers, and TV bloggers seem to have united in the past couple weeks with posts galore on the Mad Men birth scene: passive Betty, Twilight Sleep, rough nurses, absent drinking husbands–yep, birth in 1963 in a nutshell. This blogger at Reproductive Health Reality Check has a good overview, complete with a nice set of links to other key posts, of the episode.
I saw the episode, of course, but had pretty much refrained from discussing it–on the Web or in real life–until now, because it just aggravated me on two fronts.
1) From a literary perspective, I thought the dialogue between Betty and the nurse was pretty clunky and awful, relying more on “telling” rather than “showing,” and the scene as a whole felt heavy-handed to me and without emotional impact. On the show, birth in the 1960s seemed just another Issue to Cover–it’s checked off, now, apparently, and the writers can move on. Even with the advantage of visuals, the scenes didn’t have the impact of the birth scenes in A.S. Byatt’s novel Still Life or Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone (both set in the same period).
2) From a birth-focused perspective, I was scared that the reaction to the scene would–and indeed it has seemed to play out this way–focus on how much “better” women today have it than Betty did. And yes, some things have changed since the 1960s, but frankly, not nearly enough. I think most viewers didn’t get the all-too-real sense that birth as depicted on the show is frighteningly closer to reality today than it should be: in medically-managed hospital births today, after all, your OB won’t be there, a stranger will deliver your baby, you are expected to remain passive and behave, and the medical team will do things to you with or without your consent because that is hospital protocol.
Other reactions? What did people think of these scenes?
A recent study has found that due to the recession, women are more concerned than ever about family planning — that is, many are re-considering the number of children they had been planning to have and/or increasing their spacing between children in order to be more financially secure for when their families grow again. At the same time, however, women are finding it increasingly more difficult to afford their out-of-pocket expenses for effective forms of birth control, making it more likely that they will have accidental/unplanned pregnancies due to the financial burden of, say, filling oral contraceptive prescriptions.
Surely I am not the only one who senses the horrible irony of THAT situation??