This is not a post about homebirth... | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

This is not a post about homebirth...

This is not a post about homebirth. It's a post about the way people argue on the internet.

Let me make this clear from the very beginning. This is not a post where I argue about whether or not women should or shouldn't have, or be allowed, to choose a homebirth. I have my own beliefs and feelings on the subject, and for the purpose of full disclosure, I had both of my daughters at my local hospital. If you want to discuss whether or not you believe women should birth babies at home please do it somewhere else as that is not what I want to talk about. This is a post about the way people argue about homebirth. It's been sparked by quite a few articles I've read over the last few years that do nothing to further or add value to the debate and aim to simply sensationalise, demonize and pit woman against woman, for the sake of clicks to their websites.
ranty pants

The way in which people argue about homebirth, from both sides of the coin, fucking shits me to tears! There is no bloody reason why the "homebirth debate" has to have such vile, negative language. In some circles (yes, I'm looking at you Mamamia, that cesspool that used to be a halfway decent blog 6 years ago) people who choose to homebirth are regarded with as much respect and disdain as those who choose not to vaccinate their children.

In both cases, whether you agree with vaccination or homebirth or not, the language used to discuss these two things needs a radical overhaul. There is a way to make your point, and argue a point of view without being a condescending asshole about it. I don't give a shit if in your head you think people who have a homebirth, or people who choose to not to vaccinate their children are uneducated fools who have no clue. But when you choose to discuss it in a public forum, such as online, please show a little freaking respect for your fellow human beings!

It happens on both sides of the debate. Those who believe that no woman, ever, should have the choice to homebirth talk about those who do homebirth as if they are the world's biggest narcissistic idiots. And there are those that are so in support of homebirth that they think anyone who chooses to give birth in a hospital is a conformist numpty. Neither of these assumptions is right, and treating people in this way is not going to do anything for whichever side of the fence you're sitting on.

People are much more likely to listen and consider another point of view to their own if it is presented in a calm, non-condescending manner. If you get all alarmist and start spouting tales of woe and horror about how this homebirth went wrong, or how this hospital birth was an act of torture, all you're going to do is stop the person who's hearing this from listening. Because they will get angry. They will feel insulted. And before it's even started, the discussion is shut down and nothing will ever be resolved.
 internet argument, ranting, homebirth debate

I've had it with the way people argue with each other on the internet about all sorts of things to be honest. In so many places on the internet the discussions are just a reflection of the kind of trash confrontations we see on shows like Today Tonight, ACA, and dare I lump them together, Jerry Springer. However I can tell you now, he who shouts the loudest is not the one who's right. Just once I'd like to read a story or article discussing an issue that doesn't imply that anyone who isn't of the same opinion is an uneducated fool.

On a site like Mamamia, so often one of the ways people with a differing opinion are shut down is the old "please provide links to the study on (insert respected medical/scientific journal's name here) to back up your argument" chestnut, or the whole shtick of the quoted study being taken out of context. I'm not big in to the whole "Big Pharma" conspiracy, but I am also not naive enough to take any study that appears to support certain arguments at face value. Many medical and scientific studies can have pieces of data picked and chosen to support whichever side of the "argument" you are sitting on, and can often have enough data in the one study to support either cause if you find the right pieces.

The people who conduct medical and scientific studies have to be paid by someone, and that can have an influence on the bias and/or findings of the study. Not every study is affected by where the money comes from, but not every study is free of bias towards the source of funding either. So please don't shut down debate about something by screaming "show me your data" and thinking that just because you've read a few studies whose findings support your point of view that you must be right and everyone else is wrong. Because there may be just as many studies out there that support the other sides point of view. But if you're only of one opinion then you're only going to be reading the studies that fit your view, aren't you. In fact I'd wager that when it comes to a lot of things, you can find a "study" that will support any damn point of view you want!

And why is one person's "google" research that supports their side of the argument any more valid than the "google" research of those who hold an opposing view or belief? I could search PubMed and find articles that support both sides of an issue, but if I'm on the wrong side to you then my research is automatically discounted and believed to be not as good as yours. Argh!!!! Give me a fucking break. Unless you're an actual doctor or scientist who works in the field then please don't shut others down with that kind of nonsense. What makes some people think they can read and comprehend better than any other Tom, Dick or Harry?!

But I digress. All I want is certain topics to be able to be discussed without people getting all het up and nasty and negative and judgemental and condescending towards those who don't agree. You'll catch way more flies with honey, believe me.

And for the record, I don't know a single woman who's had a homebirth that did so without doing a lot of research and without considering all of the options, all of the pros and cons, and talking to a lot of medical professionals, both those for and against homebirth. Every woman I know in offline life or through the internet that has ultimately chosen to have a homebirth has, 9 times out of 10, been a hell of a lot better educated on the realities, risks and processes of labour and birth than many women I've spoken to who chose to give birth in a hospital.

Those that think a woman who chooses a homebirth does so without being fully aware of what they are getting themselves in to, and believes that they are stupid or don't know anything about birth, really has no business putting others down for that choice as they have clearly not done any broad research themselves. I wouldn't call a woman who has worked as a midwife in government hospitals for many, many years, attending hundreds of births, who chooses to homebirth their own children, ignorant or uneducated, would you? And yet there are many women who fit exactly that description who have chosen to birth at home, rather than in a hospital. A better question for the whole homebirth "debate" should be why that is, not whether or not it should be.
arguing on the internet, internet argument meme, funny internet argument, homebirth argument

When people talk about hot button issues on the internet it would be so lovely to see people writing calm, rational and respectful comments. It would be nice if the comments could centre solely on the topic or issue, with no aspersions cast on the people who hold an opposing view.

But sadly I reckon that's about as likely as an internet argument actually having any real impact on the issue being argued!

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT this fine Tuesday morn!


  1. It is a weird thing, isn't it? I had a friend say to me that her friend was very upset at the reaction she got to her homebirth from people. All I could think was "The kid is 4, why is she still talking about the birth?" So I guess that sums up more about me than anything else...

  2. Haha, thanks for the chuckle. I agree 100%. Let's just talk about it. And I agree 100% with your statement about research - the people I know who have had homebirths (admittedly not many) know WAAAAY more about labour and birth and looking after themselves and their bub in the early stages than any other mothers I know.

    But respect and decorum? On the internet? HA! Good luck! x

  3. People get very "brave" on the internets, hiding behind their keyboards. They say things they would never dream of saying to another's face. I am really worried about what it will be like by the time my son is old enough to be involved in the internet and social media. I think most people can have intelligent calm respectable conversations about these things, it's the extremists who are overly "passionate" about it that seem to fly off the handle!

  4. It's a bit like the 'don't bring up religion or politics' thing. These days there is a lot more that people are fanatical and opinionated about, and the internet gives them the perfect sound board.

  5. Yep it does appear that if you are hiding behind a keyboard and screen there is no need to be as nice as if you were dealing with them in person. I don't understand why mass media likes to inflate issues all of the time and why people are so readily biting when giving such crap.

  6. I don't think it's only homebirths that bring these arguments out - it really is anything where there are differing points of view. I don't know why everyone has to try to be 'right' - we all have our own opinions - which differ - that doesn't make them right or wrong - just different.
    Have the best week !

  7. Love it! Yes, it boils down to the state of the world in general doesn't it. If everyone just listened and respected, the world would be a better place. I love the rant face too! Jody at Six Little Hearts

  8. Yep, yep, yep!!! As for 'research' about things medical, if people haven't paid the money to read the proper medical journals I doubt they have done the real research! Like you said anyone can find anything that supports your argument on the Internet! Drives me a little batty too! Karen x

  9. Agree, I think some people online forget to be gracious and kind when they encounter something they disagree with. The anonymity enables this so easily. I've witnessed the vicious trolling that women receive particularly on Twitter, where they're attacked personally, horribly.

    'Criticise the argument, not the person' is my mantra. And even then I don't like criticising much (think I was born a wuss!)

    Great piece. :)

  10. Yep I hear you!! Mamamia had been annoying me lately too. For many of the sane reasons! !

  11. Amen sista! Not the slke focus of your post but I remember when you found Mamamia and it was cool. Every dog has its day I guess.

  12. The internet is just so easy for people to slag each other off because most people don't have the guts to say things to each other face to face, no matter what the subject matter. Judgement is made swiftly and hypocritically on the net, and it's not going to stop. Love your rant, and that first pic - hate to get that face in my face :) xxx

  13. Ahh the internet, what a funny little place it is. On one hand it is a wealth of information, on the other hand a ticking time bomb. Once upon a time issues about birth, parenting, anything really were discussed over cups of tea at the dinner table, or with your local GP. Now the opinion is open much wider. I think some debates need to be trashed out on the internet, but I really think in all cases we should use language that shows respect -despite what side of the fence you are swinging from.

  14. Yes, yes, yes. It doesn't even matter what the topic is does it? It's about encouraging healthy, respectful debate regardless of which side of the fence you're doing it from. During one of the great recent "Mummy Wars" I wrote a post about this too, encouraging people to remember "the rule of I", that is, say what *you, yourself* would do (or have chosen and why. Not tell everyone else why they are wrong and get abusive. Then by the end I remembered: debates like this sell copies and get clicks and ratings. And my word there seems no end of suckers jumping to take the bait.

  15. Love the Police Academy pic! That brings me back.. Agree completely, it's too easy to write something nasty in the heat of the moment.

  16. I love this, and your photos too! This really makes me get ranty too… Especially when I can see that people are purposely trying to create conflict, others bite back and it turns nasty and personal. Now I often skip the comments sections, as I know it's just going to make me angry!! If only people would respect each other and write calm, coherent and intelligent comments in response to these kind of issues……. *sigh**

  17. So true. There is no point behind it all, and I hate to be corny but isn't it easier to be nice than to be nasty? Since when did sharing opinions and beliefs mean you have to verbally attack one another?

  18. Yes! So much yes! I also hate that troll or bully is thrown around every time someone disagrees. It really stunts the debate process and kind of makes people look like they are teenagers. Yes someone who calls you names, refuses to listen to your side of the story and does nothing to help the argument is a bully. However someone who states their position on something, why they have that position and then listens to the other side is not. Friends and family can disagree with us on things all of the time, so why is it expected that the internet is any different? We are all people, who have different experiences and different ideals.

  19. I was nodding right through this post, sums up what I pretty much think. Great post!!

  20. Well said Kylez. Look I'm a pretty passionate person about a lot of stuff, and believe me there are times when I have read something that has made my blood boil. It's those times when you want to say your piece and put it out there, but honestly whose it helping? If you're angry you're only going to fly off the handle and if you're angry, it's because the article has been deliberately inflammatory so it's not worth the reply. More people need to just learn to walk away.

  21. The internet is such an easy place to argue that is the danger of it. People have the time to go and "Google" something before they make their next response giving them a false ego. I always try and maintain a would you say it to their pretty face policy. Your ranty McRanterson Made me laugh :)

  22. You're wearing my favourite pants!!! SO very very true. And I'm totally with you on the ACA and a Current Affair - I call it 'lowest common denominator' news. Nothing based on fact in there - just sensationalism designed to wind people up based on NOTHING. Respect. Always, no matter what forum you're having a discussion in - even if it's out your car window. Awesome rant Kylez. One of your best :)


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