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I’m MADD and ICAN do something about it!

October 13, 2011

I’m MADD and ICAN do something about it!

or A Homage to Victim Advocates Everywhere:

Genny White

Twice in my life I have been supposedly advised by well-meaning individuals to stay away from “certain” elements of society. What are these associations you might ask, groups of self-aggrandizing bigots? No, you may be surprised to learn that to some members of the general public  organizations that reach out to the victimized and advocate for their empowerment are shall we say “Dissed.”

The first such verbal dissuading occurred in the classroom of midwives in the North West.  In this scholarly classroom of peers, and the best of the best in midwifery education, the sound bite was dropped: “you want to stay away from the zealous group of the likes of ICAN.” (International Cesarean Awareness Network)  What did my ears hear: “stay away from the likes of the zealots of ICAN.” I was so shocked and dazed it took me a few moments to grasp what my cohorts were saying.

“Oh really,” I responded, ” if it were not for the women of ICAN, I would not be here today. The room became silent as if I had stood up and my skirt fell off, revealing my skivvies. “Yes, I am here today because ICAN showed me the way to overcome the trauma and emotional hurdles of facing a VBAC pregnancy.”

My love of midwifery and of woman care was born from my sisters there in ICAN. They held my hand, counseled me, understood and educated and empowered me. They supported my research into nationwide polices for VBAC in freestanding Birth Centers. Thank you ICAN of MA! You see I would not have ever seen a VBAC without the direction of these supportive women and I certainly would not be here in this classroom without the influence of these women. I am proud to be in association with the ICAN women. I have never encountered an ICAN group characterized by irrationalism or fanaticism. Not once have I stumbled into a group clad in combat boots. ICAN is the place to go to find support for cesarean recovery and for VBAC. It is also the place for midwives to be born! Maybe the concept of VBAC is what is brazen in this greed ridden and medically litigious culture that we exist in and try to bear our children in.
Years later in the weeks and the wake of having my daughter taken from me, my family and all that loved her — by the heinous selfish acts of a drunk driver.  After this event, and the burial, as I was walking a visitor named Ed to the door, who was a family acquaintance , he glanced down at me.  As I looked at his Nordic chiseled face and his staid eyes gazing in the direction of the MADD, (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) bumper sticker on the back of my car, he spoke and said “Genny, I know you have been through a lot, and the temptation may be very strong to join in the activities of MADD, but I really would counsel you that associating with such angry women is really not in the long run in your best interest. Try and avoid becoming ensnared in their group.”

“Yeah, umm thanks, Ed” I said to cover the awkward point of this confrontation.  I was thinking to myself, “Stay away from MADD what are these women doing? Are they standing on street corners burning their bras screaming in frenzy against the ills of drunken drivers?”  As Ed drove off I continued wondering, ” Well Thank you Ed, but you don’t know my MADD advocate, Sharry Graham, who was one of the first individuals to contact me on the heels of the loss of my daughter.  She was there with a listening ear and the information and knowledge about how to scale the grief journey which my family had just started. She also held the torch enlightening the path of the legal justice system that we walked through together. She sat right there beside me in prelims, and in hearings and in trials. Sharry stood with me as we heard about each and every drunken maneuver the defendant made in the surrounding hours of the catastrophic crash that ended our daughter’s life. Sharry is always only one phone call away despite the fact that she cares for a severely disabled son rendered in this condition by another drunken driver. Thank you Sharry Graham and MADD of Orange County CA! “So Ed, if you don’t mind since MADD provides this comprehensive assistance to victims’ families that, others simply cannot provide. You will find me with MADD as long as the day is long.”
What is wrong with the world when an organization that seeks to comfort those who have experienced traumatic birth experiences and provide them with education and empowerment should they seek it out to set them on the course to be successful in giving birth vaginaly is characterized as zealots. Furthermore where has civilization gone so wide of the mark by ascribing an organization that is against the behavior of drunk driving as a bunch of misguided, estrogen-fueled, and unbalanced angry women? I think the commentaries of my class mates, my cohorts about ICAN and the verdict of Ed regarding the activities of MADD is more an indictment of society rather than on the parties besmirched by these censors. Both MADD and ICAN seek to empower individuals, some might say Victims. ICAN and MADD both serve to educate the population on behaviors that have adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of our citizens. And what is wrong with that? I will tell you it causes us to engage with the realities of life that we are not prepared or equipped to deal with as a shallow and image based polite society. What the critics are saying is “Don’t impose upon my experience in life your loss and your trauma, grief and pain.” Don’t shine a light on that blemish, we would really rather not see it. Their stance may be relevant until they are needlessly traumatized, or they receive that knock on the door by a highway patrolman informing them that their loved one is now dead due to the actions of an intoxicated driver. Then they themselves may find themselves in the ranks of Mothers against Drunk Driving, or surfing the internet to find a contact for ICAN in their area. MADD is not only there for Mothers; one of the first people I spoke with through the MADD organization was a father who had lost all of his children in one singular crash caused by a drunk driver: realizing that I had only lost one of my children, and this man had lost all of his children. I said, “Thank you and good night.”

People may shoo us away and tell us to be quiet when we are at a loss, or in so much pain, but I say NO I am MADD and ICAN do something about it. If my being proactive makes you confront the ills of humanity that you would rather wish didn’t exist, too bad. It is by confronting the ills of social order and making change that we make this world a more beautiful place. When we simply sweep misfortunes under the carpet and not acknowledge them or deal with them. We cause a rot in our floors and it stinks. I encourage us all to be responsible in our areas of loss and to be proactive. We don’t need to settle. If we are mad we can do something about it. Taking conscientious actions and doing something about our grief, assisted by those who have been there before us makes this world better for all of us!

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