My drafted post of my review of Joy in the Morning was originally a lot longer, because of all my issues with the jerk OB the Dean selected for Annie behind her back. I know this was the 1920s and strongly based on Betty’s Smith real life, but even by the standards of that era, the doctor came off like a total bully jerk and Annie was far too passive in buying into the “doctor ALWAYS knows best!” propaganda.
Annie’s doctor, Dr. Mason, was a total ass. It gave me the creeps how he infantilized her and never even explained anything he was going to do. And of course Annie obediently does as he demands, no matter how traumatized she is, because God forbid Carl see her “in such an ugly position” or while she’s giving birth. “I will do as the doctor says.” Great job buying into the chauvinistic “doctor knows best” propaganda!
I felt violated myself to read about how Dr. Mason just threw the sheet back and pulled Annie’s legs apart without even explaining what he was going to do. She reacted with horror, pulling the sheet around herself, and Dr. Mason and the nurse talked about her like she weren’t even in the room. “Maybe this would be easier if her husband were here.” So creepy how Dr. Mason kept calling her “a good girl” for obeying him. As he’s forcing a speculum into her, he drones, “I know this is a position of great indignity, but it’s necessary.” Bullshit! That wasn’t considered necessary till men took over the business of childbirth and forced midwives out!
It doesn’t matter if your modesty is compromised and you’re really not comfortable with these non-evidence-based procedures. All that matters is that the big important male doctor says it’s necessary. And btw, unindicated pelvic exams are NOT considered necessary by midwives or even OBs practicing evidence-based medicine. America is one of the few countries in the world that considers them necessary in asymptomatic women. People in places like Australia, Finland, Japan, and England think Americans are crazy for pushing this invasive procedure on a regular basis.
Dr. God Complex also gave Annie the old lie about a “small pelvis” and the dangerous advice of wanting a small baby (who thankfully turned out to be 8 pounds). The pelvic floor opens up by at least 25% while in labor, esp. if you’re in a natural position receptive to gravity. This is why it’s so painful, difficult, and against nature to deliver flat on the back, in the lithotomy position, with that non-evidence-based “Hold your breath 12345678910 PUSH PUSH PUSH!” model still used in most U.S. hospitals. I wonder why you thought her pelvis was small when she was forced flat on her back and in a very scary, stressful situation of being medically raped!
It was so creepy when she made her forced enema in hospital into some LOL moment. “That’s the worst indignity of all!” Yes, birth-rape is SO hilarious! Screw your feelings! All that matters is that Big Strong Doctor demands it for all his stupid female patients who don’t know anything!
After the birth, Dr. Chauvinist sabotages breastfeeding with the old lie about Annie’s milk not being nutritious enough. She doesn’t even ask for evidence or an explanation, just sobs about how she’s only half a woman and obediently puts her son on formula. It’s no secret that OBs have long been clueless about breastfeeding at best and outright hostile at worst. Many U.S. hospitals continue to promote formula and sabotage nursing when there are NO legit issues precluding successful nursing. So of course, now Annie and Carl have to spend even more money on formula because Dr. God Complex said so, and it MUST be true!
Thank God American women have begun to wake up and realize they have choices in childbirth, that they don’t have to put up with this kind of chauvinistic bullying their great-grandmothers and grandmothers went through if they used OBs and not midwives. It makes me so sad and angry to think about how men took over childcare and childbirth, and convinced several generations of women that the way they’d done things for basically all of human history, like birthing at home with a midwife, nursing, pushing on all fours or on a birthing chair, leaving the umbilical cord till it stopped pulsating, co-sleeping, and immediately attending to a crying baby, was unnatural, wrong, and would spoil a child.