We don't stand with you, Ina May.


I have been a die-hard Pearl Jam fan for 23 years. Since my father allowed (encouraged! influenced!) me to purchase Vitalogy at age 8, I have seen Pearl Jam eleven times in two different countries and I own every album they've ever recorded. Because I loved the band so much, I began listening to bands affiliated with and influenced by the members. This choice led me to Ben Harper, who actually introduced me and my husband. So it seems natural that people frequently ask me why I do not have a Pearl Jam tattoo. 

The response I always give is that Pearl Jam is a band, and bands are comprised of people, and people are human beings. And it's not beyond imagining that they could wake up one day and decide that they no longer identify with social justice, and they no longer champion for the people and for freedom, they no longer talk about Howard Zinn, they start using racial slurs and hate speech. It's not probable. But it's possible. And then, what? I'm stuck with a tattoo that reminds me of the respect I had for people I loved from afar, who had (in my book) done me wrong? No, thank you. I will not forget my idols are mortal. 

And as I think on this, I can't help but think that I damn glad I didn't get an Ina May-inspired tattoo. 

On August 20, 2015, an open letter was submitted to Midwives Alliance of North America. In this letter a group of midwives identifying as a group called Women-Centered Midwifery, including Ina May Gaskin, petitioned a decision made by MANA to choose to change some (but not all) instances of the words "women" and "mothers" to "pregnant people" and "birthing individuals" in its core competencies document. (If this language sounds familiar to you, you may have already contacted us to receive a welcome packet of our materials!)

I don't need to dissect and rail against and challenge and hold court. If we're being honest, I kind of can't even right now. So what I'll say is this:

Intown Doula, LLC does not stand with Ina May or with Woman-Centered Midwifery. Intown Doula, LLC screens all of its affiliates carefully to ensure steadfast alliance with Atlanta's LGBTQIA* community members. Intown Doula, LLC and its affiliates celebrate your pregnancy regardless of your gender or your sex. And lastly, Intown Doula, LLC simply cannot abide the notion that being inclusive to all individuals means being exclusive to women. As Trevor MacDonald points out

We do not need to choose between celebrating women and including people of all genders. Why can't midwives serve "women and people of all genders?" Organizations trying to grapple with respecting the feminist legacy of midwifery care while using inclusive language should be generous with their ink. Queer folks have done well to add more letters to our "alphabet soup" LGBTTQIA acronym. We can all handle a few more letters.

Ina May, if you're reading this, I'm going to take it there: according to Sarah Silverman's recent assertion that refusing to grapple and change with the times makes you old, you're showing your age. And if our leaders are going to age out of the capacity to change, it may be time to seek some new ones.