Thursday, April 15, 2010

Calling all AZ Birth Junkies

My friend Cassie (who also happened to be the doula--in red--who counter-pressured, encouraged, and photographed me throughout my son's birth) is hosting a viewing of the film Orgasmic Birth at her house in Glendale on May 6th.  (I posted last year about the film.)

Don't let the title turn you off.  I haven't seen the film yet myself, but I appreciated Rixa's review of the film in which she explains:
I found myself particularly troubled with the word “orgasmic.” I think a number of other words describe more accurately what the filmmaker is trying to communicate in this film: ecstatic, empowering, or transformative come to mind. In our society, orgasmic is always used in the narrow, sexual sense. In that sense, orgasmic birth = having a literal orgasm during birth. But that isn’t really what the film is talking about at all. We do see at least one woman literally having an orgasm during her labor (she said it was very unexpected and quite lovely), but the other women experience something else, something more nuanced and more complex than simplistic sexual climax. . . .
The other day, I looked up “orgasmic” in the dictionary. . . . The second meaning, one not in circulation in our everyday language, is “intense or unrestrained excitement” or “a similar point of intensity of emotional excitement.”
I had an “aha!” moment. Debra Pascali-Bonaro is arguing that birth can be a peak emotional, physical, and spiritual experience. And given the right setting and preparation, birth can include moments of ecstasy, transcendence and occasionally even sexual pleasure. Her film explains the hormonal and environmental similarities between making babies and having babies. If we see birth not as just a narrow equivalent of sex, but rather sex and birth and breastfeeding as a continuum of important and inter-related life experiences, then the phrase “orgasmic birth” makes much more sense. Think of it this way: if women were expected to make love in the same kind of setting that they labor and birth in (in a clinical environment, observed by unfamiliar professionals, monitored and tethered to machines, and above all their biological rhythms forced to adhere to a strict timetable), they would undoubtedly have a high rate of sexual dysfunction and disappointment.
After watching the film three times, here's how Rixa's concludes:
In sum: the birth scenes are incredible and the movie is worth watching for that reason alone. They're not overly romanticized or sanitized. I found them incredibly realistic, in all their variety, about what giving birth normally is like. I'd like a different title, because I think that it will keep many people from watching it, but I also understand the rhetorical power of "orgasmic birth."
Rixa's review helped dispel any hesitancy I might have had about viewing the film.  And I have since heard multiple women describe Orgasmic Birth as their all-time favorite birth film.  Rixa also interviewed Orgasmic Birth's filmmaker, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, if you want to check that out. 

I am looking forward to seeing the film. Are you coming?


Cassie said...

I'll definitely be there!

(in all fairness, it is my house)

Also, any AZ birth junkies, please feel free to join the group on facebook that Lani linked too. We could use some more members!

Missy said...

I'm in Tempe, so I'm not sure how far out that would be to drive.
I would like to see the movie though, it sounds great:)

Cassie said...

Missy - it's about 35-40 minutes away (depending on where you live in Tempe, that can vary) if you take the 51 to the 101 to my house :-)

My address is posted on the events page on Facebook if you want to look up directions and see how far away it is. Hope you can make it! (and I hope I'm not too far away!)