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Birth

Related: pregnancy - child

Childbirth in film: Mom and Dad (1945) - Demon Seed (1977) - The Brood (1979)

Definition

Childbirth (also called labour, birth, partus or parturition) is the culmination of a human pregnancy with the emergence of a newborn infant from its mother's uterus.

A woman is considered to be in labour when she begins experiencing regular, strong uterine contractions, accompanied by changes of her cervix primarily effacement and dilation. While childbirth is widely experienced as painful, some women do report painless labours. When the baby is born its birth weight is determined. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childbirth [Jan 2006]

Birth control pill

Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free comtemporary women than feminism itself. --Camille Paglia

The First Mystery: Birth

by Amos Vogel

The cinema has treated birth as a guilty secret of mankind, a mystery to be kept from the impressionable young, a clandestine medical event reserved exclusively for physicians. Had it been related to a woman's navel, instead of her primary sex organ, the taboo would unquestionably have been weaker. For however it may be camouflaged by white sheets, birth still confronts the viewer with "the organ" and reminds him of "the act". Birth thus remainsinextricably tied to sex (and blood) taboos which have their roots in myths and religions that cannot freely accept bodies, their organs and functioning. (Significantly, it was a film from a non- theological society -- Vertov's The Man With A Movie Camera -- that provided an early example of documentary birth.

It is difficult to believe that until about two decades ago, films of this process were not permitted to be shown publicly. Hollywood provided euphemistic or fraudulent paraphrases of birth, occuring either offscreen (with shots of anxious relatives waiting outside) or confined to the woman's face, sometimes showing genteel and manageable discomfort; blood or screams were missing, except in the case of "loose women" who had to be made to suffer. The act itself was never seen.

The medical profession provided the second variety of birth films -- records produced for training purposes, emphasizing technique and physiology, and omitting the human dimension. A white shapeless mass, entirely swathed in sheets, filled the screen. Neither head, legs, nor body were visible, only a disembodied vaginal opening floating in space, mechanically tended, wiped, tugged at by robot-like nurses and doctors with forceps and surrealist rubber gloves. Public viewings of these films were forbidden by both censors and doctors and their circulation limited to professional audiences.

Less technical birth films began to be made in the fifties by both documentary and experimental filmmakers, providing more subjective views of the birth experience. In America, it was the film society Cinema 16 which, together with its showings of underground, scientific, erotic, and political cinema, also pioneered the first public exhibition of birth films in the early fifties, introducing both medical and underground varieties. In the sixties, American television hesitantly began to show birth as part of its educational programming, first in side-views only, later with a few head-on shots. Even today, however, both television and commercial movie theatres continue to be extremely uneasy about the topic and almost never portray it. It remained for the underground to produce the classic films on the subject, displaying a humanist attitude entirely at odds with the clinical approach. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

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