Advertising executives have known for decades that there are few words more effective than ‘self-worth’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘free choice’ in making Western women sit up and listen. Every time they and their partners now read these words in magazines, on billboards, during commercial breaks or while they are browsing online, chances are that – far from exercising their individual freedom – they are being persuaded to take one of a very few courses of action, each usually involving parting with some hard-earned cash.
Early parenthood is now one of the most profitable commodities across the pharmaceutical, beauty, fashion, and food industries. To keep it that way it must remain medicalised, instrumentalised and synthesized at every stage. As a result birth and breastfeeding as purely physical processes, actualised by the female body alone and therefore naturally non-profitable, have become practically invisible in our modern Western society and the sight or even thought of them is now met with repugnance, dread or outrage by the majority of the population.
With hardly any genuine advice or reliable sources at their disposal, parents-to-be stand little chance of getting a realistic idea of what lies ahead. While women and their partners think they are simply doing what is right for them when they avoid the pain of childbirth, the impracticality and discomfort of breastfeeding, the changes to their bodies and the impact on their lifestyle, it is likely they are simply buying into an all pervasive marketing campaign which sells only one version of parenthood; the most profitable one.
So, what are the implications of all this? Where does individual choice come into it? What, if any, could be the inter-generational consequences of the dominance of the commercial model of early parenthood? Should safeguarding the prosperity of early parenthood really just be down to individuals, or should some of the responsibility lie with the aforementioned industries and our governments?
In an attempt to answer these important questions, DIEP will be exploring the potential correlation between the widespread alienation, suppression or rejection of the female body in its natural state of birthing & breastfeeding and:
* perinatal mood disorders in mothers and fathers;
* the post-natal emotional and sexual relationships between parenting partners;
* young people’s expectations of emotional and sexual relationships;
* young people’s views on parenthood;
* and more.
If you feel you have written important work or are in the process of conducting academic or independent research which relates strongly to any aspect of the above or adds to the debate on DETECTION vs PREVENTION; SHIFTING PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH POLICY in any other way, you may want to apply to become a DIEP Research Fellow. Please click on the image below to download the application form for more information.