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The Promise of Repair: VBACs and Contemporary Feminist Political Desire

The Promise of Repair: VBACs and Contemporary Feminist Political Desire <p>Abstract:</p><p>This article critically explores feminist activism around a particular birthing practice that is often described as a radical form of recovery from C-section: vaginal births after cesarean (VBACs). I treat VBACs as a dense site of feminist desire that has been produced by what I call the <i>feminist birthing industry</i>. I argue that undergirding contemporary feminist investment in VBACs is not simply the contention that birthers should have access to births that they desire. Instead, VBAC advocacy is often underpinned by a sense that birth is a psychically transformative process <i>only</i> if it is embodied and experienced in a certain way, and that it is the vagina that is the site of maternal transformation. The investment in the vagina as a space of radical possibility that is fundamentally linked to projects of self-making and self-transformation unfolds in a moment where feminism— thanks also to the critical work of queer theory, trans studies, and Black studies—has largely disavowed a politics that tethers the feminine to genitalia, and that invests in the vagina as a site of authentic femininity. My interest, then, is in exploring <i>how</i> and <i>why</i> birth remains a space where feminist advocacy remains distinctively and peculiarly vaginally-oriented, linking the vagina to self-fulfillment.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies University of Nebraska Press

The Promise of Repair: VBACs and Contemporary Feminist Political Desire

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies , Volume 43 (2) – Apr 15, 2022

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © Frontiers Editorial Collective, Inc
ISSN
1536-0334

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>This article critically explores feminist activism around a particular birthing practice that is often described as a radical form of recovery from C-section: vaginal births after cesarean (VBACs). I treat VBACs as a dense site of feminist desire that has been produced by what I call the <i>feminist birthing industry</i>. I argue that undergirding contemporary feminist investment in VBACs is not simply the contention that birthers should have access to births that they desire. Instead, VBAC advocacy is often underpinned by a sense that birth is a psychically transformative process <i>only</i> if it is embodied and experienced in a certain way, and that it is the vagina that is the site of maternal transformation. The investment in the vagina as a space of radical possibility that is fundamentally linked to projects of self-making and self-transformation unfolds in a moment where feminism— thanks also to the critical work of queer theory, trans studies, and Black studies—has largely disavowed a politics that tethers the feminine to genitalia, and that invests in the vagina as a site of authentic femininity. My interest, then, is in exploring <i>how</i> and <i>why</i> birth remains a space where feminist advocacy remains distinctively and peculiarly vaginally-oriented, linking the vagina to self-fulfillment.</p>

Journal

Frontiers: A Journal of Women StudiesUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Apr 15, 2022

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