Erdrich, Louise, “The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Birth Year” (Harper Collins 1995)

Yet, why is no woman’s labor as famous as the death of Socrates? Over all of the millennia that women have endured and suffered and died during childbirth, we have no one story that comes down to us with attendant reverence, or that exists in pictures–a cultural icon, like that of Socrates holding forth to his companions as he raises the cup of hemlock. In our western and westernized culture, women’s labor is devalorized beginning with Genesis. Eve’s natural intelligence, curiosity, desire, and perhaps a sense of justice cause her to taste the fruit of good and evil, the apple of knowledge. Thereafter, the story goes, all women are condemned to bring forth children in pain. Thus are women culturally stripped of any moral claim to strength or virtue in labor. I have no problem with stoicism, I just think it should be acknowledged. War heroes routinely receive medals for killing and defending. Why don’t women routinely receive medals for giving birth?

Or for not giving birth–a decision that, in spite of the focus of this book, is just as profound and inarguably more sensible as our world population burgeons (35-36)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s