Fear is the most powerful torture of all. -Lisa Lister, Witch
This blog post is in support and solidarity of Lisa Barrett; a mentor and friend who is being persecuted in Australia for supporting women in birth. Lisa is/was one of the most genuine, humble and brilliant women I have ever met. I want her to know, from across the world, that she is supported and loved. Midwifery is the worse for her not in it, and the price we will pay for her persecution is huge.
I know that we are at a pivotal point in history.
In many ways this is true; but specifically in birth it is true. We are at a juncture where we may not preserve our human rights as (birthing) women.
It's either going to go this way, or it's going to go that way. We are literally in the middle, being pulled in both directions, and we must decide what we stand for.
The current system, as many know, is built on fear.
We see our sister midwives being hunted, being chased, searched, thrown in jail, their phones being tapped. It's enough to scare most people from even considering midwifery as a hobby, much less a full time passion. We see "her," Lisa Barrett, persecuted and we shrink back in fear.
The fear disables us from speaking out loud, and we act like we don't know her. Together, we sit with quiet, blank faces and we convince ourselves that it could never be us; we would never make those same mistakes. We wouldn’t do A or B or C, or we would have done A sooner.
We would never displease this system whose permission we “need” in order to care for women. In addition, we hide behind the scenery that the patriarchy has staged for us.
We try to believe that we are safe in their “play” and and that we are promised protection or redemption because we’ve sold ourselves to this whole production. Whether it’s through obtaining a license or following the rules, we are good girls. We believe it and will throw our own sisters into the fire to maintain this image.
It’s dangerous in EVERY way.
We’ve lost who we were, who we are, and traded it in for a permission slip. We are so scared of being wrong, and of really living our Truth, and it’s working out fine for every one else. We’ve forgotten ourselves as women and so we are perfectly able to do the work of the patriarchy without so much as a blink of being unsettled.
Our fear has erased who we are and the complacency has set in. It’s better like this. We should feel “lucky,” having been given permission to attend births. And when babies die, someone should be blamed! We don’t care who or what or when, as long as it is not us. We are good girls.
The new paradigm operates completely differently.
We REMEMBER who we are and what we are about. We believe so much in women, we believe so much in the natural process of birth. Our hearts bleed for our sisters; both those that lose babies, and those that are hung for witnessing the full spectrum of life, which includes death. Our history is not lost on us; we recall in every cell of our DNA that we have spent lifetimes like this. We know in the depths of our souls that we have been burnt, hung, abused and erased. We know well that we have been silenced. But instead of remaining silent now, when perhaps we are at a critical point in humankind, we SPEAK.
To honor women, we must honor and respect ourselves. We can’t keep quiet because it’s not in our souls to do so. To create the new, we shine a spotlight on what’s not working in the old model. Most importantly, we stand with our sisters. We stand in solidarity and love with Lisa Barrett because we should. We must.
“We’re connected, as women. It’s like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there’s trouble, we all know it, but most of the time we’re just too scared, or insecure to help. But if we don't help each other, who will?” -Sarah Addison Allen, The Peach Keeper
As for me, I have no interest in being a good girl. I have spent time on both sides, and Lisa’s journey has me sure of what’s true and right. I am NOT being pulled, not hanging in the balance. I choose to stand. I choose to speak. I will no longer be silenced. I choose to not erase who I am and what my Truth is. I will be first and loudest; no midwife should be in JAIL for attending a birth, no matter what the outcome. If we allow criminalization of midwifery, we allow criminalization of a woman’s choice to birth where, or with whom she feels safest. When we watch Lisa walk though the fire, we acknowledge that we also get burned. I know, as well as I know anything, that she represents all of us. She is all of us, and her persecution brings harm to EVERY woman.
If Lisa’s story makes you fearful of being a woman, I’m sure you are wondering what my “solution” is then; if we are thrown in jail JUST for being midwives, then how can we ever win?
How can we beat this system that ultimately doesn’t even care whether you hold a piece of paper “legitimizing” yourself or not? (And I hope no one reading is surprised by that. Licensing and regulation do not make it impossible to be criminally charged in the legal system).
I don’t have all the answers. But we don't need answers. The answers come when you STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT.
What I DO KNOW (deeply) is that our change comes from the inside. We do the hard work of knowing that we are worthy, we are powerful, we are strong. No matter what this time we are living in brings, we don’t sell out. We don’t sell ourselves to the pretend “show” and we don’t sell each other out.
Running away does not make us less fearful, but more so. Hiding doesn’t protect us, and the way out of this paradigm is through. Whether it happens in my lifetime or not for 100 years, I could not say. But I speak for my daughters and my great great granddaughters. I will teach them their power and remind them to remember.
Change happens slowly, it seems. But do we not try because we can’t see it happen overnight? Will we allow this to continue so that WOMEN and PEOPLE are thrown in jail and persecuted because of their birth or parenting choices? We must start now. We cannot remain complacent.
To do your part, I ask that you sit with the severity of this place we find ourselves in. You are literally in the middle, being pulled in both directions.
What do you stand for?
What I know is that if you cower in fear NOW, then you are already in JAIL; in a cell that you yourself have made.
The time has come realize you have the power to open the door and walk out.