Okay. Time for more about TomKat. Not that I've written about it here before, but if you are reading this, you've gotten more than your fill of them for the past year.
Tom Cruise is crazy. Everyone agrees. He's in a crazy religion where they think the world, after an invasion of earth by a bunch of freaky alien dudes, was infested with midi-chlorians or something and you have to pay a bazillion dollars for spiritual guidance to rid your body of these thingies. Then, and only then can you be a fully realized human being. A lot of these folks are movie stars, who believe that apotheosis is possible while here on earth. Because they are supah stars! That was your 10 second theology lesson on Scientology.
I've had little reaction to scientology except to think two things about it:
1. Dude, do they really believe that?
2. I think Bono, Jimmy Carter and I could think of a few other things these rich folks could do with their money to help them feel like better people.
That was, of course, until I heard about the silent childbirth stuff. It's fair to say that now, the gloves are off.
I've read around about it, just because at first it sounds so preposterous. From what I understand, it is okay for the woman to grunt. So, grunting is okay. But actually communicating is not okay. FOR SEVEN DAYS. Feel free to insert your own Andrew Dice Clay joke here, about how the ideal woman does not speak, okay? Anyway, according to L. Ron Hubbard, it is traumatic to babies to be born. No doubt, it's a fairly violent act. But his prescription to this is the silence, and no medical tests for seven days.
Before I get to my feminist rant on this, an appeal to mothers: when you met your baby, wasn't one of the most amazing things in the universe watching your baby turn his or her wobbly head toward your voice? The womb is a noisy place. They can hear everything going on inside and outside of you: Every heartbeat, every intestinal gurgle, the vibrations of mamas and others voices. I would think that silence would actually be a pretty disconcerting thing to an infant. But that's not even my issue with it.
Religions have been tough on women through out the ages. Christianity and Judaism state that women's punishment for the fall in the Garden of Eden was pain in childbirth. Islam has women cover themselves up to hide their sexuality. Almost every religion has a "rebirthing" ritual of some sort. A lot of young-man initiation ceremonies throughout the world in aboriginal (as opposed to monotheistic) societies are fairly literal about cleansing young men of having been born of the vagina, and rebirthing them into the world of man. Our culture has baptism, which can be seen as a pristine (again, cleansing) birth into the society of the church, or the briss, which is a physical alteration of the infant from its state when he was born.
I was raised Catholic, and was taught to admire and pray to my intercessor, the Virgin Mary. Mary was a woman, but perfect. She was a perfect woman because she was a virgin AND a mother. Which is an impossibility for the rest of us women. And because of that, we feel guilty. Because we feel guilty we become very artful at making everyone else feel guilty. And that was your 10 second lesson on Catholicism. [and I feel guilty about writing this, because it's holy week]
It seems as though religion has two main aims. It explains what happens to us after we die (which is helpful), and it explains away what happens to us when we are born (which helps some people feel better, but ultimately takes the power of creation from the woman). Women are getting screwed, here, do you get what I'm saying here?
So, the silent birth. If a woman chooses to not verbalize during her labor, I have no problem with that. But dictating that a woman MAY NOT verbalize during labor, that IS a problem. What is effectively done in this instance is stripping the woman of choice, and of her power inherent in her biology. I think what L. Ron did with this is to imagine his perfect woman, like a Virgin Mary. She does not express pain. She does not express wild feminine power. She is silent. Ultimately, she is invisible.