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Birth as an American Rite of Passage (Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care) Paperback – 22 Sep 1993
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"[Davis-Floyd] is a respectful listener who has encouraged her subjects to speak honestly about a complex experience. Consequently, even skeptical readers of the fascinating stories she has gathered should be prompted to reflect on the meaning of their own or their partners' experience of birth. . . . I admire, without reservation, the generous, critical, passionate spirit that animates this book."--Sara Ruddick, "New York Times Book Review
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Pregnant women of course will get out of this a social critique regarding the approaches to childbirth in hospitals, how these support and ensure the continuation of patriarchy in our society, etc. Women who are not pregnant will gain from it a different sense of modern medicine and society as a whole. Men are likely to be confronted with a great deal of information about the nature of culture and things we take for granted all the time.
In the end, this is a solid piece of anthropology, and moreover it does well what women's studies are supposed to do: provide a new angle over well-trodden ground which explores the cultural contradictions regarding gender roles in modern society. This is not a book full of laments of lost prestige (as stereotypes might lead one to presume), but rather a careful, reasoned critique of how our culture operates and how this is intensified during the childbirth process. It further explores why so many women accept and embrace patriarchy in childbirth.
More to the point, this book will challenge how you look at health care more generally and its relationship to societal values. Highly recommended.
The book was very insightful but I found some slow chapters in the middle of the book that seemed to result from saying the same things over and over. I also constantly found myself amazed at some of the experiences of women in hospitals and asking myself if this information is still relevant today considering this book was written in 1992 and a lot of her research was dated in the late 80s. Never the less, it is a great recent history of childbirth in American hospitals. The attitudes of the doctors and women interviewed for this work surely continue to reflect, in many ways, the attitudes still held today considering it wasn't THAT long ago.
I recommend this book to women who plan to have their baby in a hospital because I think that it will serve to inform and as a result empower. If you seek to stay in control of your body and the birth of your child, this book would offer much insight. For women who do not want to have their children in the hospital, well, this book will only confirm why you feel that way.