What is Privilege?

Watching The Business of Being Born brought up for me the question of what it means to be privileged. I have always thought of our birthing process as a privilege — women are allowed to give birth in a clean, safe, hospital environment, and they are given drugs to make the process easier for them. This seems like a much safer environment then those in third world countries, and yet our death and c-section rates are absurdly high. According to the movie, these hospitals are not actually concerned about the well-being of the baby or the mother; they are more concerned with moving the mother and child out in order to maximize profit. While this movie was very biased in a lot of ways, it still raises many questions. We consider this to be a privilege, but if it does not always benefit us, is it? Also, most women are not told about what is actually happening, or the consequences of the drugs they are given. Knowledge may be the ultimate privilege — possibly even the ultimate right — and yet American families do not receive it.

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2 Responses to What is Privilege?

  1. claudiajarenny says:

    You make a very good point here. “The Business of Being Born” was biased in my opinion as well. I was a little confused by the different statistics that were given in the movie concerning the deaths and complications that occur during birth in the United States when compared to other countries. When looking up the birth rates online, I realized the U.S. has a higher birth rate than most European countries. So I’m not sure if these problems can be attributed to the medical negligence in the U.S. or simply to the different rates of birth in different parts of the world.

    I also agree that knowledge can possibly be the ultimate privilege. However, growing up, I remember my parents telling me that privileges were earned not just given and I believe that applies here in a sense. Women need to seek education before making important decisions concerning how they will give birth. Knowledge is imperative, but not always served on a plate of gold.


  2. brossak says:

    Your post is really thought-provoking. I hadn’t really considered applying the word ‘privilege’ to the birthing process in the United States. Obviously, I recognize that our medical systems are preferable to those in third world countries, for instance, so it was nice to have my focus honed to privileges for mothers as a subclass of Americans. Like you said, the film is biased, and I found myself wondering as we watched the film if deaths were higher because we had a greater population than France, Germany, etc. or if it were actually percentages they were citing. I don’t know if anyone else caught the actual terminology and wanted to follow up on this comment. I also wonder if mothers and infants in the European countries mentioned suffer from things like Staph infections more frequently than mothers and infants in the U.S., because financial gain isn’t the only reason doctors want mothers and babies in and out of the hospital quickly. There are plenty of people who go into hospitals for heart surgery and die of Staph infections during recovery, for instance, so it makes sense that mothers and infants would be at risk for these complications as well, so, of course, doctors wouldn’t want them hanging around for more than time than was necessary.

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