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Jesusa Ricoy

Jesusa Ricoy

Jesusa Ricoy

Jesusa Ricoy

Matriactivism

Matriactivism

Matriactivism

Matriactivism_AN

Interview by Bisila Noha and Inés Alcalá Freudenthal, December 2017

Interview by Bisila Noha and Inés Alcalá Freudenthal, December 2017

Jesusa Ricoy is a childbirth educator and a "matriactivist" – her term to describe campaigning about issues such as the ones faced in childbirth, with a focus on dispelling the patriarchal constructs surrounding it. In her view, this patriarchal view of pregnancy and birth has led us to the increased medicalisation of childbirth and to treat expecting mothers as patients. We talked to her about changing attitudes towards birth, the role of partners during pregnancy, and why we need to talk openly about obstetric violence.

Jesusa Ricoy is a childbirth educator at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in the UK, and a "matriactivist" – her term to describe campaigning about issues such as the ones faced in childbirth, with a focus on dispelling the patriarchal constructs surrounding it. In her view, this patriarchal view of pregnancy and birth has led us to the increased medicalisation of childbirth and to treat expecting mothers as patients. We talked to her about changing attitudes towards birth, the role of partners during pregnancy, and why we need to talk openly about obstetric violence.

I’m a childbirth educator and antenatal teacher, which essentially means I help people to prepare for parenthood, and the resulting decision-making that comes with it. However, outside of my profession, I work as a matriactivist; I use this term to define activism focused on promoting and protecting matriarchy and matriarchal issues. So, to expand on this, it could be menstruation, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, menopause – anything that’s pertinent to the female body. That’s not to say it’s reductive or discussing women exclusively as bodies. However, in a patriarchal order that tends to pathologise women’s bodies, we need to start by reclaiming them in order to then construct ourselves otherwise.
            Of course, there are rights when it comes to pregnancy, birth and the postnatal stage, but one of the biggest problems with rights in relation to matriarchy is that they have been created from a male perception of childbirth; for the most part, how women deal with this experience is dictated by social constructions of a world based upon male supremacy, and I believe that as women, we have to reclaim what belongs to us.

I see this every day in my experience around labour; obstetrics is a field that is entirely dominated by men. Consequently, the entire process of birth as we know it today in hospitals is a result of the perception that men have of our bodies – put simply, we, as women, see our bodies through a narrative that belongs to men. The disconnection is huge. To me, there’s a fundamental lack of understanding about who we are, and how our bodies function. In the context of birth, the only purely female knowledge comes from midwives; they are the keepers of what I believe to be the last remnants of women’s physiology that’s untouched by the patriarchy. That relationship between mother and midwife is key to figuring out how our bodies, and our sexuality, in the case of motherhood, functions. But still, many midwives are corrupted by the ideas of obstetrics and male wisdom. It’s a very feminist issue.

I’m a childbirth educator and antenatal teacher for NCT (National Childbirth Trust), which essentially means I help people to prepare for parenthood, and the resulting decision-making that comes with it. However, outside of my profession, I work as a matriactivist; I use this term to define activism focused on promoting and protecting matriarchy and matriarchal issues. So, to expand on this, it could be menstruation, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, menopause – anything that’s pertinent to the female body. That’s not to say it’s reductive or discussing women exclusively as bodies. However, in a patriarchal order that tends to pathologise women’s bodies, we need to start by reclaiming them in order to then construct ourselves otherwise.
            Of course, there are rights when it comes to pregnancy, birth and the postnatal stage, but one of the biggest problems with rights in relation to matriarchy is that they have been created from a male perception of childbirth; for the most part, how women deal with this experience is dictated by social constructions of a world based upon male supremacy, and I believe that as women, we have to reclaim what belongs to us.

I see this every day in my experience around labour; obstetrics is a field that is entirely dominated by men. Consequently, the entire process of birth as we know it today in hospitals is a result of the perception that men have of our bodies – put simply, we, as women, see our bodies through a narrative that belongs to men. The disconnection is huge. To me, there’s a fundamental lack of understanding about who we are, and how our bodies function. In the context of birth, the only purely female knowledge comes from midwives; they are the keepers of what I believe to be the last remnants of women’s physiology that’s untouched by the patriarchy. That relationship between mother and midwife is key to figuring out how our bodies, and our sexuality, in the case of motherhood, functions. But still, many midwives are corrupted by the ideas of obstetrics and male wisdom. It’s a very feminist issue.

“We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.”

“We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.”

“We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.”

“We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.”

“We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.”

If the only information people have about childbirth comes from the movies, which depict a narrative that reinforces the idea that giving birth is awful and painful, how are we going to understand what obstetric violence is? Women are often dehumanised during birth, forced into avenues they are not comfortable with, or treated as if they have no autonomy. People often say, “It was horrible, but thank god the doctors were there.” When women go on a journey of understanding about the obstetric violence they have experienced, more often they are dismayed; “I even sent them a box of chocolates”. If we are used to being harassed in the streets, being talked down to, portrayed in movies as if we didn’t exist, etc., then how easy is it go into a situation like labour and say “you cannot do that”. With what strength and convictions? We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.

In the NHS, midwives should receive more support, but instead they are overstretched, because of cuts, and after Brexit the UK might have more issues because most midwives are Spanish or Italian. Supporting midwives is supporting women. There has been a similar impact on support around postnatal issues. Ideally, there should be better rooms in hospitals and a more holistic set up, rather than a very industrial-like approach. I don’t mean creating this in hospitals, but focussing on there being better birth centres around the country. However, you can have tons of campaigns for all these things, but what we really need is a change in culture. You cannot change a country’s health system without changing the movies, TV, or politics that people absorb every day.

When I am asked what the ‘ideal’ birth is in terms of environment, support and pain relief, I find it a very difficult question to answer. To put it in very basic terms, I feel that we as humans, as a species, are in captivity, and have little connection, or recollection, of our instincts in these circumstances. Imagine you were a monkey in a cage – what would be the ideal conditions for a monkey in a cage to give birth? Presumably, everyone would agree that the ideal would be for the monkey to be outside of the cage, following its natural instincts. And it’s the same for humans. Obstetrics have made us see our bodies as flawed, as if there was a problem with them. Babies are deemed as something that needs to be extracted, and women are to be saved from that situation; it’s not a process, or an experience, it’s a procedure. Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it. And the most incredible thing is that we are still adhering to that narrative. To the point that now in Spain, in the 21st century, there’s a book written by three male doctors entitled Being a Mom – and women buy it. As I say, I find it hard to advocate a certain type for birth – I think women should do whatever makes them the most calm, confident and happy during the process. However, in my experience, a home birth is a great option. If you are in your house, you are the host, and the midwives are your guests. When you go to a hospital, you behave as though you were ill: you are the guest, and you are at the expense of whoever is there. So the behaviour is very different.

If the only information people have about childbirth comes from the movies, which depict a narrative that reinforces the idea that giving birth is awful and painful, how are we going to understand what obstetric violence is? Women are often dehumanised during birth, forced into avenues they are not comfortable with, or treated as if they have no autonomy. People often say, “It was horrible, but thank god the doctors were there.” When women go on a journey of understanding about the obstetric violence they have experienced, more often they are dismayed; “I even sent them a box of chocolates”. If we are used to being harassed in the streets, being talked down to, portrayed in movies as if we didn’t exist, etc., then how easy is it go into a situation like labour and say “you cannot do that”. With what strength and convictions? We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.

In the NHS, midwives should receive more support, but instead they are overstretched, because of cuts, and after Brexit the UK might have more issues because most midwives are Spanish or Italian. Supporting midwives is supporting women. There has been a similar impact on support around postnatal issues. Ideally, there should be better rooms in hospitals and a more holistic set up, rather than a very industrial-like approach. I don’t mean creating this in hospitals, but focussing on there being better birth centres around the country. However, you can have tons of campaigns for all these things, but what we really need is a change in culture. You cannot change a country’s health system without changing the movies, TV, or politics that people absorb every day.

When I am asked what the ‘ideal’ birth is in terms of environment, support and pain relief, I find it a very difficult question to answer. To put it in very basic terms, I feel that we as humans, as a species, are in captivity, and have little connection, or recollection, of our instincts in these circumstances. Imagine you were a monkey in a cage – what would be the ideal conditions for a monkey in a cage to give birth? Presumably, everyone would agree that the ideal would be for the monkey to be outside of the cage, following its natural instincts. And it’s the same for humans. Obstetrics have made us see our bodies as flawed, as if there was a problem with them. Babies are deemed as something that needs to be extracted, and women are to be saved from that situation; it’s not a process, or an experience, it’s a procedure. Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it. And the most incredible thing is that we are still adhering to that narrative. To the point that now in Spain, in the 21st century, there’s a book written by three male doctors entitled Being a Mom – and women buy it. As I say, I find it hard to advocate a certain type for birth – I think women should do whatever makes them the most calm, confident and happy during the process. However, in my experience, a home birth is a great option. If you are in your house, you are the host, and the midwives are your guests. When you go to a hospital, you behave as though you were ill: you are the guest, and you are at the expense of whoever is there. So the behaviour is very different.

If the only information people have about childbirth comes from the movies, which depict a narrative that reinforces the idea that giving birth is awful and painful, how are we going to understand what obstetric violence is? Women are often dehumanised during birth, forced into avenues they are not comfortable with, or treated as if they have no autonomy. People often say, “It was horrible, but thank god the doctors were there.” When women go on a journey of understanding about the obstetric violence they have experienced, more often they are dismayed; “I even sent them a box of chocolates”. If we are used to being harassed in the streets, being talked down to, portrayed in movies as if we didn’t exist, etc., then how easy is it go into a situation like labour and say “you cannot do that”. With what strength and convictions? We desperately need to build awareness of obstetric violence.

In the NHS, midwives should receive more support, but instead they are overstretched, because of cuts, and after Brexit the UK might have more issues because most midwives are Spanish or Italian. Supporting midwives is supporting women. There has been a similar impact on support around postnatal issues. Ideally, there should be better rooms in hospitals and a more holistic set up, rather than a very industrial-like approach. I don’t mean creating this in hospitals, but focussing on there being better birth centres around the country. However, you can have tons of campaigns for all these things, but what we really need is a change in culture. You cannot change a country’s health system without changing the movies, TV, or politics that people absorb every day.

When I am asked what the ‘ideal’ birth is in terms of environment, support and pain relief, I find it a very difficult question to answer. To put it in very basic terms, I feel that we as humans, as a species, are in captivity, and have little connection, or recollection, of our instincts in these circumstances. Imagine you were a monkey in a cage – what would be the ideal conditions for a monkey in a cage to give birth? Presumably, everyone would agree that the ideal would be for the monkey to be outside of the cage, following its natural instincts. And it’s the same for humans. Obstetrics have made us see our bodies as flawed, as if there was a problem with them. Babies are deemed as something that needs to be extracted, and women are to be saved from that situation; it’s not a process, or an experience, it’s a procedure. Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it. And the most incredible thing is that we are still adhering to that narrative. To the point that now in Spain, in the 21st century, there’s a book written by three male doctors entitled Being a Mom – and women buy it. As I say, I find it hard to advocate a certain type for birth – I think women should do whatever makes them the most calm, confident and happy during the process. However, in my experience, a home birth is a great option. If you are in your house, you are the host, and the midwives are your guests. When you go to a hospital, you behave as though you were ill: you are the guest, and you are at the expense of whoever is there. So the behaviour is very different.

“Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it.”

“Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it.”

“Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it.”

“Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it.”

“Over time, men have examined our bodies and created rules surrounding birth, without having a clue of how our bodies feel or what we experience during it.”

We’ve been severed from our instincts. We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster. Women’s bodies remind us collectively, as a species, that we are animals – we excrete fluids, we bleed, we produce milk. So while I am a great believer in science, I don't think progress can ever be achieved while this fact remains unrecognised.

There is an article by a midwife who compares the ideal conditions for giving birth to that of a cave: darkness and silence. Think of a wildlife documentary where a gorilla is about to give birth: everyone is silent, it’s dark, and nobody dares to go close to the animal… that’s what humans need. However, we have somehow ended up with a scenario that’s the opposite; lots of people, bright lights, etc. Think also what would happen if someone tried to take the baby away from that gorilla – the gorilla would lash out as an immediate reaction. We are the only mammals that wouldn’t punch the person taking away our babies immediately after birth – we’ve been made to feel that we don’t have the right to hold that baby anymore, as a result of this disconnection created by a patriarchal framework, whereby men are in control of birth. To me, it’s a sign that we are completely incapacitated, not only as mothers, but as mammals.

The role of a non-pregnant partner is no less complicated – sexism affects us all. I also believe that men should have their own journey, discovering what being a father means to them. We have come from a tradition of men not being present at birth at all, but nowadays, a strange modern taboo has been created – men can’t say “I don’t want to be there”. Men come to the classes and are expected to be present during labour. And, ironically, their support has turned into an appropriation of a female experience. Now I hear fathers say “we are pregnant” or “when we go into labour”. And I think, “well, you are not actually”. You might think I’m being a bit too forthright, but from my perspective, it’s important to reclaim that, because it is one of the very few experiences in life that you physically go through alone. However, a partner is having a baby as much as we are – feeling it or not feeling it. So my point is that they need to have their own journey and it cannot be at the expense of ours. They need to find their references and their place.

Another tendency that compounds the issue is the infantilization of men. We often say “Oh, poor them, they don’t understand”, which comes from a classic way of making allowances for men in our society. Men are only infantilised when they are to be forgiven, while women are most often infantilized to be manipulated; the contrast being “Oh, they don't know how to clean”, or “Oh, they behave like this because they are feeling emotional.”

I think that the only way to re-establish female identity outside of the patriarchy is to go back to the beginning: the biggest decisions, the system, are built by men, and historically, that means that when you try to find what you need, you need to make sacrifices. We now have to question all that and think “I want to be a woman, I want to be a mother and with all my rights remaining intact. I’m birthing the future of humankind, so I should be considered a goddess.” End of. No negotiation.

We’ve been severed from our instincts. We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster. Women’s bodies remind us collectively, as a species, that we are animals – we excrete fluids, we bleed, we produce milk. So while I am a great believer in science, I don't think progress can ever be achieved while this fact remains unrecognised.

There is an article by a midwife who compares the ideal conditions for giving birth to that of a cave: darkness and silence. Think of a wildlife documentary where a gorilla is about to give birth: everyone is silent, it’s dark, and nobody dares to go close to the animal… that’s what humans need. However, we have somehow ended up with a scenario that’s the opposite; lots of people, bright lights, etc. Think also what would happen if someone tried to take the baby away from that gorilla – the gorilla would lash out as an immediate reaction. We are the only mammals that wouldn’t punch the person taking away our babies immediately after birth – we’ve been made to feel that we don’t have the right to hold that baby anymore, as a result of this disconnection created by a patriarchal framework, whereby men are in control of birth. To me, it’s a sign that we are completely incapacitated, not only as mothers, but as mammals.

The role of a non-pregnant partner is no less complicated – sexism affects us all. I also believe that men should have their own journey, discovering what being a father means to them. We have come from a tradition of men not being present at birth at all, but nowadays, a strange modern taboo has been created – men can’t say “I don’t want to be there”. Men come to the classes and are expected to be present during labour. And, ironically, their support has turned into an appropriation of a female experience. Now I hear fathers say “we are pregnant” or “when we go into labour”. And I think, “well, you are not actually”. You might think I’m being a bit too forthright, but from my perspective, it’s important to reclaim that, because it is one of the very few experiences in life that you physically go through alone. However, a partner is having a baby as much as we are – feeling it or not feeling it. So my point is that they need to have their own journey and it cannot be at the expense of ours. They need to find their references and their place.

Another tendency that compounds the issue is the infantilization of men. We often say “Oh, poor them, they don’t understand”, which comes from a classic way of making allowances for men in our society. Men are only infantilised when they are to be forgiven, while women are most often infantilized to be manipulated; the contrast being “Oh, they don't know how to clean”, or “Oh, they behave like this because they are feeling emotional.”

I think that the only way to re-establish female identity outside of the patriarchy is to go back to the beginning: the biggest decisions, the system, are built by men, and historically, that means that when you try to find what you need, you need to make sacrifices. We now have to question all that and think “I want to be a woman, I want to be a mother and with all my rights remaining intact. I’m birthing the future of humankind, so I should be considered a goddess.” End of. No negotiation.

We’ve been severed from our instincts. We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster. Women’s bodies remind us collectively, as a species, that we are animals – we excrete fluids, we bleed, we produce milk. So while I am a great believer in science, I don't think progress can ever be achieved while this fact remains unrecognised.

There is an article by a midwife who compares the ideal conditions for giving birth to that of a cave: darkness and silence. Think of a wildlife documentary where a gorilla is about to give birth: everyone is silent, it’s dark, and nobody dares to go close to the animal… that’s what humans need. However, we have somehow ended up with a scenario that’s the opposite; lots of people, bright lights, etc. Think also what would happen if someone tried to take the baby away from that gorilla – the gorilla would lash out as an immediate reaction. We are the only mammals that wouldn’t punch the person taking away our babies immediately after birth – we’ve been made to feel that we don’t have the right to hold that baby anymore, as a result of this disconnection created by a patriarchal framework, whereby men are in control of birth. To me, it’s a sign that we are completely incapacitated, not only as mothers, but as mammals.

The role of a non-pregnant partner is no less complicated – sexism affects us all. I also believe that men should have their own journey, discovering what being a father means to them. We have come from a tradition of men not being present at birth at all, but nowadays, a strange modern taboo has been created – men can’t say “I don’t want to be there”. Men come to the classes and are expected to be present during labour. And, ironically, their support has turned into an appropriation of a female experience. Now I hear fathers say “we are pregnant” or “when we go into labour”. And I think, “well, you are not actually”. You might think I’m being a bit too forthright, but from my perspective, it’s important to reclaim that, because it is one of the very few experiences in life that you physically go through alone. However, a partner is having a baby as much as we are – feeling it or not feeling it. So my point is that they need to have their own journey and it cannot be at the expense of ours. They need to find their references and their place.

Another tendency that compounds the issue is the infantilization of men. We often say “Oh, poor them, they don’t understand”, which comes from a classic way of making allowances for men in our society. Men are only infantilised when they are to be forgiven, while women are most often infantilized to be manipulated; the contrast being “Oh, they don't know how to clean”, or “Oh, they behave like this because they are feeling emotional.”

I think that the only way to re-establish female identity outside of the patriarchy is to go back to the beginning: the biggest decisions, the system, are built by men, and historically, that means that when you try to find what you need, you need to make sacrifices. We now have to question all that and think “I want to be a woman, I want to be a mother and with all my rights remaining intact. I’m birthing the future of humankind, so I should be considered a goddess.” End of. No negotiation.

We’ve been severed from our instincts. We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster. Women’s bodies remind us collectively, as a species, that we are animals – we excrete fluids, we bleed, we produce milk. So while I am a great believer in science, I don't think progress can ever be achieved while this fact remains unrecognised.

There is an article by a midwife who compares the ideal conditions for giving birth to that of a cave: darkness and silence. Think of a wildlife documentary where a gorilla is about to give birth: everyone is silent, it’s dark, and nobody dares to go close to the animal… that’s what humans need. However, we have somehow ended up with a scenario that’s the opposite; lots of people, bright lights, etc. Think also what would happen if someone tried to take the baby away from that gorilla – the gorilla would lash out as an immediate reaction. We are the only mammals that wouldn’t punch the person taking away our babies immediately after birth – we’ve been made to feel that we don’t have the right to hold that baby anymore, as a result of this disconnection created by a patriarchal framework, whereby men are in control of birth. To me, it’s a sign that we are completely incapacitated, not only as mothers, but as mammals.

The role of a non-pregnant partner is no less complicated – sexism affects us all. I also believe that men should have their own journey, discovering what being a father means to them. We have come from a tradition of men not being present at birth at all, but nowadays, a strange modern taboo has been created – men can’t say “I don’t want to be there”. Men come to the classes and are expected to be present during labour. And, ironically, their support has turned into an appropriation of a female experience. Now I hear fathers say “we are pregnant” or “when we go into labour”. And I think, “well, you are not actually”. You might think I’m being a bit too forthright, but from my perspective, it’s important to reclaim that, because it is one of the very few experiences in life that you physically go through alone. However, a partner is having a baby as much as we are – feeling it or not feeling it. So my point is that they need to have their own journey and it cannot be at the expense of ours. They need to find their references and their place.

Another tendency that compounds the issue is the infantilization of men. We often say “Oh, poor them, they don’t understand”, which comes from a classic way of making allowances for men in our society. Men are only infantilised when they are to be forgiven, while women are most often infantilized to be manipulated; the contrast being “Oh, they don't know how to clean”, or “Oh, they behave like this because they are feeling emotional.”

I think that the only way to re-establish female identity outside of the patriarchy is to go back to the beginning: the biggest decisions, the system, are built by men, and historically, that means that when you try to find what you need, you need to make sacrifices. We now have to question all that and think “I want to be a woman, I want to be a mother and with all my rights remaining intact. I’m birthing the future of humankind, so I should be considered a goddess.” End of. No negotiation.

We’ve been severed from our instincts. We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster. Women’s bodies remind us collectively, as a species, that we are animals – we excrete fluids, we bleed, we produce milk. So while I am a great believer in science, I don't think progress can ever be achieved while this fact remains unrecognised.

There is an article by a midwife who compares the ideal conditions for giving birth to that of a cave: darkness and silence. Think of a wildlife documentary where a gorilla is about to give birth: everyone is silent, it’s dark, and nobody dares to go close to the animal… that’s what humans need. However, we have somehow ended up with a scenario that’s the opposite; lots of people, bright lights, etc. Think also what would happen if someone tried to take the baby away from that gorilla – the gorilla would lash out as an immediate reaction. We are the only mammals that wouldn’t punch the person taking away our babies immediately after birth – we’ve been made to feel that we don’t have the right to hold that baby anymore, as a result of this disconnection created by a patriarchal framework, whereby men are in control of birth. To me, it’s a sign that we are completely incapacitated, not only as mothers, but as mammals.

The role of a non-pregnant partner is no less complicated – sexism affects us all. I also believe that men should have their own journey, discovering what being a father means to them. We have come from a tradition of men not being present at birth at all, but nowadays, a strange modern taboo has been created – men can’t say “I don’t want to be there”. Men come to the classes and are expected to be present during labour. And, ironically, their support has turned into an appropriation of a female experience. Now I hear fathers say “we are pregnant” or “when we go into labour”. And I think, “well, you are not actually”. You might think I’m being a bit too forthright, but from my perspective, it’s important to reclaim that, because it is one of the very few experiences in life that you physically go through alone. However, a partner is having a baby as much as we are – feeling it or not feeling it. So my point is that they need to have their own journey and it cannot be at the expense of ours. They need to find their references and their place.

Another tendency that compounds the issue is the infantilization of men. We often say “Oh, poor them, they don’t understand”, which comes from a classic way of making allowances for men in our society. Men are only infantilised when they are to be forgiven, while women are most often infantilized to be manipulated; the contrast being “Oh, they don't know how to clean”, or “Oh, they behave like this because they are feeling emotional.”

I think that the only way to re-establish female identity outside of the patriarchy is to go back to the beginning: the biggest decisions, the system, are built by men, and historically, that means that when you try to find what you need, you need to make sacrifices. We now have to question all that and think “I want to be a woman, I want to be a mother and with all my rights remaining intact. I’m birthing the future of humankind, so I should be considered a goddess.” End of. No negotiation.

“We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster.”

“We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster.”

“We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster.”

“We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster.”

“We think that progress requires a complete intellectualisation, and a total disconnect, from our animal side. I think that’s a disaster.”

My grandmother gave birth to 16 children. It’s made me think a lot about how births have evolved over three generations – in fact, it’s become a personal project.

I want to learn more about my grandmother and interview the eldest women I can, that have given birth hopefully at home, to understand what has happened to this process, and how. Spain in particular is very interesting in this regard, since it experienced a very quick economic progress that had a great impact on feminism – childbirth is a very interesting reflection of this. So for example, while my grandmother gave birth to all of her children at home, my mother had a very technocratic labour. Take another step forwards in time, and women from my generation want to have a caesarean and thank progress for offering them choices that spare them from going through certain experiences. It took only two generations to completely eradicate any ideas of home birth, and assimilate this somehow with poverty, and animal-like. Like a home birth is the worst you can do when you have all this progress, technology and intellectualisation of the experience of childbirth.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I created an email account and started emailing her from the point of being six months pregnant. I suppose it’s like being able to give my younger self advice, which is to concentrate as much as possible on you as an individual, to try to get away from the bullshit and propaganda and think “who am I, who do I want to be and what would I like to do?” To be your own character rather than playing a supporting act for so many others and to trust that it’ll be ok, that you, as a woman, are more than capable to make it in this world without having to follow or rely on men. This conversation should start from birth.

The cultural perception of women needs to change. Sexism needs to stop, and so does harassment in the streets. It’s all connected. It is a world where we women don't fit and because we don't, we suffer. I appreciate that sounds pessimistic, but actually, I’m very optimistic – I think we can do it. People tell me “well we won't see the change, but our daughters will” and I think “well, fuck that. I refuse to stay in this world thinking that what I have ahead I have to endure it and it is impossible to challenge”. No way. Because otherwise, somebody else will tell my daughter “well, your daughter will see it…” It’s already far too late.  

My grandmother gave birth to 16 children. It’s made me think a lot about how births have evolved over three generations – in fact, it’s become a personal project.

I want to learn more about my grandmother and interview the eldest women I can, that have given birth hopefully at home, to understand what has happened to this process, and how. Spain in particular is very interesting in this regard, since it experienced a very quick economic progress that had a great impact on feminism – childbirth is a very interesting reflection of this. So for example, while my grandmother gave birth to all of her children at home, my mother had a very technocratic labour. Take another step forwards in time, and women from my generation want to have a caesarean and thank progress for offering them choices that spare them from going through certain experiences. It took only two generations to completely eradicate any ideas of home birth, and assimilate this somehow with poverty, and animal-like. Like a home birth is the worst you can do when you have all this progress, technology and intellectualisation of the experience of childbirth.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I created an email account and started emailing her from the point of being six months pregnant. I suppose it’s like being able to give my younger self advice, which is to concentrate as much as possible on you as an individual, to try to get away from the bullshit and propaganda and think “who am I, who do I want to be and what would I like to do?” To be your own character rather than playing a supporting act for so many others and to trust that it’ll be ok, that you, as a woman, are more than capable to make it in this world without having to follow or rely on men. This conversation should start from birth.

The cultural perception of women needs to change. Sexism needs to stop, and so does harassment in the streets. It’s all connected. It is a world where we women don't fit and because we don't, we suffer. I appreciate that sounds pessimistic, but actually, I’m very optimistic – I think we can do it. People tell me “well we won't see the change, but our daughters will” and I think “well, fuck that. I refuse to stay in this world thinking that what I have ahead I have to endure it and it is impossible to challenge”. No way. Because otherwise, somebody else will tell my daughter “well, your daughter will see it…” It’s already far too late.  

My grandmother gave birth to 16 children. It’s made me think a lot about how births have evolved over three generations – in fact, it’s become a personal project.

I want to learn more about my grandmother and interview the eldest women I can, that have given birth hopefully at home, to understand what has happened to this process, and how. Spain in particular is very interesting in this regard, since it experienced a very quick economic progress that had a great impact on feminism – childbirth is a very interesting reflection of this. So for example, while my grandmother gave birth to all of her children at home, my mother had a very technocratic labour. Take another step forwards in time, and women from my generation want to have a caesarean and thank progress for offering them choices that spare them from going through certain experiences. It took only two generations to completely eradicate any ideas of home birth, and assimilate this somehow with poverty, and animal-like. Like a home birth is the worst you can do when you have all this progress, technology and intellectualisation of the experience of childbirth.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I created an email account and started emailing her from the point of being six months pregnant. I suppose it’s like being able to give my younger self advice, which is to concentrate as much as possible on you as an individual, to try to get away from the bullshit and propaganda and think “who am I, who do I want to be and what would I like to do?” To be your own character rather than playing a supporting act for so many others and to trust that it’ll be ok, that you, as a woman, are more than capable to make it in this world without having to follow or rely on men. This conversation should start from birth.

The cultural perception of women needs to change. Sexism needs to stop, and so does harassment in the streets. It’s all connected. It is a world where we women don't fit and because we don't, we suffer. I appreciate that sounds pessimistic, but actually, I’m very optimistic – I think we can do it. People tell me “well we won't see the change, but our daughters will” and I think “well, fuck that. I refuse to stay in this world thinking that what I have ahead I have to endure it and it is impossible to challenge”. No way. Because otherwise, somebody else will tell my daughter “well, your daughter will see it…” It’s already far too late.  

Jesusa Ricoy
Illustration by Anna Nicolo

Jesusa Ricoy
Illustration by Anna Nicolo

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