I learned recently that former talk show hostess Rick Lake has begun work on another documentary concerning women’s health. This one, called Sweetening the Pill, has me really excited because it supposedly is going to be focused on shedding light on the facts about how dangerous hormonal contraceptives are to women’s bodies and will explore alternatives to the suppression of women’s natural fertility.
Lake’s famous documentary, The Business of Being Born, which came out in 2008, and the subsequent film More Business of Being Born (2011) focused an investigative eye on the current birth practices in our country. The theme of these films is that women’s bodies and births are being commoditized by pushing expensive measures and procedures that increase risks of complications in birth. She uses her own natural home birthing experience and interviews with midwives and mothers to advance the natural birth movement’s belief that women’s bodies know what to do in giving birth. Others need to just get out of the way and support them to do it.
The focus of her newest documentary makes perfect sense to me if she is to follow the logic she used in The Business of Being Born. If women’s bodies know how to birth and women are capable of giving birth without expensive medical intervention, then why would managing our fertility be any different? The suppression of our natural cycles of ovulation and menstruation is big business to pharmaceutical companies and depends on women buying into the notion that they are not capable of understanding their bodies’ natural rhythms. Like childbirth, fertility awareness and family planning can be done all naturally, and the evidence is out there to prove that it is safer and healthier for everyone involved in both cases.
As I was writing this post I was reading more about Ricki Lake’s work on women’s health. I was going to say that logically following the progression of her work we should expect to see a film about breastfeeding next from her. As lactation is the last of the three physical Feminine Abilities of ovulation, gestation, and lactation, it would make perfect sense for her to tell the story about how formula companies have made millions of dollars by convincing mothers over the past 100 years that their own breastmilk was inferior to a manufactured product. That would follow the theme of suppressing a natural ability of the female body for the profit of some corporation or entity, which she shows in her films is being done with childbirth and fertility. I guess Ms. Lake is further along on the path to adopting New Feminist principles than I previously thought as her documentary called Breastmilk was released last year!
I am so excited that a voice in Hollywood is boldly proclaiming that women’s bodies are not broken and that we do not need to suppress and destroy what is unique about them to achieve equality. New Feminists know that being paid the same wage as men and having all the same rights as them is worthless if it requires we give up our Feminine Abilities. We must work to change the culture to meet our needs as women, not change ourselves to fit into a cultural expectation that is based upon childless, working men.
I would be remiss if I didn’t end this with a short acknowledgement that there IS a proper place in women’s healthcare for supplementation to all of the three Feminine Abilities of fertility care, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Of course there are instances where lives are saved through the use of pharmaceutical therapies, childbirth interventions, and formula supplementation. However, these instances of needing intervention are not as common as we currently see them occurring in our culture. The bottom line is that many women have not received proper education about their bodies and thus still feel too intimidated and overwhelmed by the negative cultural influences to believe they are capable of naturally managing any of the abilities of their bodies. Society has convinced us that to be women fully and naturally is not only impossible but irresponsible. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am hopeful this documentary will address some of these things and I suspect Ms. Lake may one day call herself a New Feminist.
Do you remember your middle school or high school reproductive health class? When I think back to my education about periods and “How babies are made” my memories are brief. I can remember short parts of videos or awkward condom demonstrations and disgusting pictures of STDs. Does this sound familiar to you?