Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Comments from Lynn Griesemer

Lynn wrote me these comments about her interview with To The Contrary and gave me permission to repost them here:

I visited your blog and just want to say a few things about your To The Contrary comments. These are shortened comments for lack of time

Background: I was asked to be interviewed for the show, not knowing the format. I was hesitant and reluctant to agree to an interview: The executive producer would interview me for 25-30 minutes on the topic and then edit it down. She did not say how much editing. I thought the show was 30 minutes devoted to one topic. I should have done my homework before agreeing. I also asked if there was a format where I could sit on the panel during the discussion. She said that's not how they do it. They interview me and then put the program together, with panelists selected ahead of time (usually women with political backgrounds). I recommended a few names to her thinking she would select one (such as Naomi Wolf, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Suzanne Arms and 1-2 others), but I later saw on the website that there is a list of about 16-20 panelists that they select.

My best experience of media exposure regarding unassisted birth was when I was interviewed for a live midday news program (1998 in South Carolina)--4 minutes of unedited comments.

What she put together did not make me shine, but yes, they were my words, spliced together to form what she thought would do justice to the topic or what would make for good television. The final product and panelists reveal the public's view of birth, so it was not surprising to me to see the end result. I can't be upset about it since I had no power over the final presentation, just like the Washington Post article at the end of July, which had misquotes--the number one being "Unassisted birth hammers home what it means to be a woman." Ouch! Those were not my words, but were condensed from something like, "Unassisted birth reveals a highlight of femininity" or something like that.

I have been criticized and my advice is: I am not the world's best speaker, nor am I photogenic. However, I am deeply passionate about birth and almost obsessed about the importance of birth and how it it is so crucial to our civilization. Those who criticize should step forward and try to get in the media. I respond to the media when called upon. (I'm not saying you are critical at all--I'm thinking of others who are quick to write emails.)

Feminist: If someone asked me, "Are you a feminist?" I would say yes, but the yes is qualified to include the concept that women can and should be able to make a full spectrum of choices--what is right for their lives. I would not join NOW or NARAL--their objectives and philosophies do not mesh with mine. (During the To The Contrary interview, I was asked a few questions twice, worded slightly differently probably to elicit certain comments from me. I am aware of these tactics and was ready for that.)

Daddy delivery: This phrase is the biggest insult to unassisted birthers--especially since it is sometimes used by unassisted birthers! I hate the phrase, which was referred to by many people in Charleston, SC several years ago. I don't know why these women who take the bold, countercultural action of having an unassisted birth refer to it as daddy delivery. It undermines what unassisted birth is all about. No one delivers a baby. Ultimately a woman gives birth, even in a hospital. However, I might say a C-section was a delivery. Generally, I refer to "delivery" as hospital birth and "birth" otherwise. And "daddy"--that is just too cutesy.

The woman is in charge of her birth. She selects who she wants at the birth and gently guides or directs--not really directs, but lets the ebb and flow go how she sees fit. She includes her partner how she sees fit and he takes her lead. Dads should not coach, nor should anyone. I suppose that's the feminist in me. It is the woman who is the queen of her birth.

Maybe unassisted birth is the ultimate feminist act. I'll have to think about that.

I saw somewhere an article that talked about unassisted birth as a militant movement. I think of militant involving some or all of the following: battle fatigues going to war / shield of armor / military / loud obnoxious megaphones shouting and picketing / angrily lobbying based on fear, ego, selfishness or power--everything that is not peaceful.

Unassisted birth is first and foremost peaceful for women, babies, families, communities, the world. Militant is contrary to what it is all about. Many of the unassisted birthers I personally know are humble, just going about the business of life, and many of their acquaintances do not know they birthed unassisted. It's important for a segment of society to work hard at making positive change and I commend people for spending the time and effort at lobbying for important causes.

The final thing I want to say is that almost every time you are on a TV show or interviewed for a newspaper article, there will be subtle or blatant misquotes, misrepresentations, or comments pieced together that lead to slight inaccuracies. It's also very difficult to capture the essence of unassisted birth in a short newspaper article or TV segment. There are so many deep facets to the whole issue. I'm still glad I decided to appear on To The Contrary. It was a good experience / practice.


  1. I feel really frustrated for her. Being misquoted in my personal life is upsetting enough, but in the media, I would be SO mad. I am grateful for this post, thank you.

  2. Hi,
    I've dropped by this space for a few brief moments at different points. I think it's ironic and perhaps significant that this would be the post that greets me this time around.

  3. Thanks for that!
    I would like to add that my comment about the interview was not meant as critique to Lynn by the way. I was totally blaming the 'tv people'. I knew thing were probably heavily edited. So kuddos to Lynn for sticking her neck out!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...