Friday, October 19, 2007

Point of view: Why Katie Thorpe should not have a hysterectomy.

A notable aspect about many media reports and blog posts about Katie Thorpe has been their expression of contempt for, and dissociation from, Katie's mother, Alison Thorpe. One consequence of this has been the construction of a binary opposition between bad mothers and good mothers, between Alison Thorpe and the rest of us, and between Alison and her daughter, Katie. One notable feature of the following article, however, which is written by Kate Ansell, who like Katie, also has CP, is not only its abundance of empathy with, and support for, preserving the bodily integrity of Katie Thorpe, but also its absence of contempt and loathing for Alison Thorpe. Instead of loathing, contempt and disassociation, which is expressed in blogs as "I'm not like that," and "I wouldn't do that," Ansell reaches out by sharing knowledge based on her experience of CP, and offering suggestions for alternatives. One outcome of this approach is that it opens up the issue of the removal of Katie's womb for more contemplation and discussion rather than closing it down.

Readers thoughts and comments about the vilification of Alison Thorpe and her representation as the bad mother would be appreciated. For example, is it useful? Is it productive? If so, how? Whom is served by her vilification? Does it diminish feminism to posit women against women? Are criticism and compassion mutually exclusive? How might we argue/campaign/protest the removal of Katie's womb without isolating and ostracizing her mother, Alison? Whom should our protest be aimed at?

The full text of Ansell's article, which argues that although it might be the case that Katie's periods will be difficult, it is also possible that they won't be, and that its best to wait and see how they affect her, can be read here.