Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heritage of Words - A Child Is Born

14. A Child Is Born

Germaine Greer is a feminist writer and lecturer. ‘A Child Is Born’ is an extract from her book ‘Sex and Destiny’. In the essay Greer presents the comparison between traditional and modern societies in the matter of pregnancy and child bearing system.

In the traditional societies childbirth is accepted culturally and collectively so that the mothers do not feel any psychic burden. The potential misfortunes and anxieties are managed if they follow the ritual approach to pregnancy which limits them with taboos and prohibitions. Many of the ritual observances involve the participation of husband, relatives, and members of the society. The pregnant woman feels secure. She doesn’t need to think about the pain of delivery. The traditional societies are superstitious but the western societies are also not untouched by it. In the western societies a child is born unattended but in non-technocratic societies (traditional), except for remarkable accidents, childbirth is always attended. Child and mother mortality rate is greater in the traditional societies which is a great tragedy and should be prevented. Modern medicinal care for pregnant women in the hospitals has helped to decrease the mortality rate.

In some societies, women are not accepted as members of their new family until they have borne a child. So they wish for a child who provides them recognition in the family. In some traditional societies, the women are known as the mother of her first born child. She loses her identity. In such societies the relationship between the mother and the child is more important than the relationship between husband and wife.

In the Rajput society, to give birth to a child for a woman is a great success in her life. It is an occasion of joy for the whole family. In Bengal, the reward of the pregnancy is that she is allowed to go to her maternal home. The birth of a child is celebrated by feasting and singing by the women of the community. Similarly, in Bangladesh, children under the age of five or six are looked after by the whole family.

The traditional societies are affected by the modernization and technological change. All the emotions have been lost. The allopathic doctors depend only on drugs, equipment and electricity. The labouring women are ignored and treated only as patient or a case without any compassion. Though the chance of live birth is greater, the women will no longer continue to offer their bodies and minds to such brutality, specially if there is no one at home to welcome the child, to praise the mother for her courage and to help her raise it.

At last Greer suggests that if we do not feel so much proud and dignified out of child bearing, the population growth will be controlled. Thus the essay presents a comparison between the parent-child relationship in the affluent (rich) western and traditional agricultural Eastern societies.       


What differences does Greer show between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of pregnancy, child birth and child bearing in her essay “A Child Is Born”?

According to the writer, eastern society is called a traditional society and western society is called a modern society. There are many differences between a traditional society and modern society in matters of pregnancy, child birth and child bearing. In the traditional society, people believe in superstition. Women are prohibited to do something in pregnancy. They have to follow the tradition, customs and religion. They are made sure to think that they are secured and helped by their husbands, relatives and others. They have to follow the rules and restrictions. If a pregnant woman does so, she does not have psychic burden. But in a western society, the pregnant women can do anything that she likes.

In traditional societies, woman is not taken as a member of family until she gets a baby birth but in western societies it is criticized bitterly. In traditional societies, the death rate of child and mother is higher but in modern societies it has decreased.

In traditional societies, a woman satisfies her members of family by giving a baby birth. Family members are eager to see the child. They are happy to celebrate the birth of baby. The mother is visited by her relatives and friends. She gets well treatment and is looked after well. There are many ritual functions after the baby is born in traditional societies but, however, in western and modern societies these all traditions are not found. Therefore, there are some fundamental differences between traditional and modern society concerning child bearing system.