Women’s Choices, Midwife Voices: what does it mean to be radical?

by | 7 Dec, 2021 | ARM news | 0 comments

Written by long-time member Lynn R S Genevieve, Midwife Voices, is a living archive of the Association of Radical Midwives (ARM) whose members were asked, ‘what does it mean to you to be radical?’ It is a collection of reflections from invited contributors, the verbatim transcribed voices of the membership, and reprinted articles from the association’s journal Midwifery Matters, along with true, birth stories shared by the author; Midwife Voices is a radical anthology.

A particular trope has been used to underline the experience of those who have questioned mainstream midwifery, that of the witch. From the events recounted, the similarities of witch hunts of old become tangible. As new controversies arise within the ranks of midwifery, ARM’s history of strong midwives, compassion for those giving birth, and love of the profession and the identity of being a midwife, gives confidence that the organisation will continue to support choices in childbirth, and those that work in the field of birth.

Lynn says:
‘To give you an idea of what this book is all about, I would like to share a sample from the foreword as I believe Margaret’s words truly encapsulate what the Association of Radical Midwives has always been about – it is a distillation of ARM’s own aims and objectives which are so very dear to me and many others as members of this woman-centred organisation. Long may it be so…’

‘I felt so honoured when Lynn asked me to write a foreword to her midwifery memoire, her time as a midwife which now feels as if it was the golden age of midwifery. Midwives’ voices, strengthened by feminism and radical midwifery greatly multiplied women’s choices in childbirth – including the ability to say “ No thanks, I don’t want that”…No longer did we have to accept a patriarchy which forced unwanted medical management of birth upon us for our own good. Now the person with ultimate responsibility for the baby could make the decisions. The very existence of independent midwifery increased choice for all, it provided a real alternative, IMs showed the NHS how it could (and should) be done. When my local hospital was “too busy” even to talk to a term+10 mother or her partner on the phone, Ishbel, ARM, Ros and independent midwifery saved the day and I’ve been a member of ARM ever since.
Though not myself a midwife, I am, nevertheless, a full member of the Association of Radical Midwives, ARM. My membership status reflects ARM’s philosophy that mothers are seen as full and equal partners in birth. There is no hierarchy, no expert midwife and ignorant mother, only women working together in harmony to enable babies to have the best birth possible in whatever circumstances the mother finds herself in…
Radical midwives give mothers the freedom to be radical themselves, to stand up and embrace responsibility for their birth, their body, their children. Radical midwives make strong mothers. Radical midwifery is the only way to keep the patriarchy out of birth. It remains our hope for the future. We must continue our fight to retain home birth and midwife led birth centres and shout to ensure that women’s voices are still heard and respected.’
Margaret Jowitt

‘I would just like to add, that I am pleased and proud to pay back in some small way, for the many years of ARM’s support of me and others, by giving all profits of the sales of this book to ARM – they are a registered charity.’

Lynn R S Genevieve has produced a volume that records the depth of feeling and commitment of a minority that has defied their size and has produce many well-known and respected midwives. In publishing Midwife Voices, Lynn hopes that ARM’s contribution to midwifery in the UK will be recognised and valued.
Midwife Voices is now available in our shop: Buy your copy here.


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