Saturday, May 08, 2010

Why "Radical"?

My husband has said before that he doesn't understand why I would identify myself as 'radical'. He thinks it has a negative connotation. And, maybe it does in many situations. Honestly, I was originally inspired to pick the name 'Radical Midwife' for my blog by the amazing Radical Midwives Association in the UK.

But, there is more. I cannot tell you how often I feel on the fringes of the 'norm' in midwifery. Sometimes it is almost as if I live in a bubble, where I assume at least most midwives not only practice evidence based midwifery, but also know what 'trust birth' means and act on it. Well, if I live in a bubble, it is popped on a regular basis every time I venture out on the Internet or start talking about birth and midwifery with other students or practicing midwives.

The opportunity to reconsider the name of this blog arose recently when I opened a twitter account to begin twittering. I had to choose a user name. After some thinking, i went with 'radicalmidwife'. The obvious reason being that it matches the name of my blog, so people who know me by my blog will recognize me. However, this also compelled me to re-consider the word 'radical', to be sure its still how I want to identify myself (it is).

So I looked up the definition of 'radical':

From the Merriam Webster dictionary:
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin radicalis, from Latin radic-, radix root
Date: 14th century

1 : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as a (1) : of or growing from the root of a plant (2) : growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground b : of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root c : of or relating to a mathematical root d : designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue
2 : of or relating to the origin : fundamental
3 a : marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional : extreme b : tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions c : of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change d : advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs
4 slang : excellent, cool

First off, I love that the word relates back the the Latin form of 'root'. I am constantly thinking about what is midwifery, at its root, and how to get midwifery back to its roots. The 1st definition doesn't really apply...I'm not referring to plants, or linguistics, or mathematics, or eradicating diseases. The 2nd definition listed above fits nicely, though, and of course I can't deny that I love the 4th definition.

3 a and b are more interesting to ponder:
3 a : marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional : extreme b : tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
Midwifery is one of the oldest professions / occupations in human history. Yet, I feel we are at a cross-roads on many levels. "Traditional" midwifery or "modern" midwifery? And, what do they even mean? Do they mean the same to everyone? I'm not going to get into this right now; that's another blog post that I promise I will write.

I still really feel like 'Radical Midwife' is a fitting description of myself.


Martha said...

I'm called "radical" and "extreme" too (also "cult leader") and find it reflects the mainstream's level of cognitivive dissonance that simple facts like "birth is a normal physiological function of the human body like breathing and eliminating" apparently make one "radical" and "extreme". It really shows the hydra-like nature of what we face that there's an answer to everything and every time we chop one down, another rears up to silence or malign us.

We really need to simply steer round the obstetric monolith now, I think, and stop letting it set the agenda.

Love your blog.

Janet in Australia

Carolyn Hastie said...

A beautifully thought provoking post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Being radical (back to the roots) about things that matter, like the way women and babies are treated in birthing and how babies are born is a vitally important role in helping the paradigm around birth to right itself.

trust said...

I love you so much my dear friend. I love that you are radical. I think I am pretty radical, too. You are exactly right about the root connection. I am afraid that we have lost the title midwifery to medwifery. Authentic with woman midwifery is now "radical" grandma would turn over in her grave, as they say!