#MeToo, Obstetric Edition, Dinah's story
For some reason my parents named me Dinah. I have always felt good about my name, liked it. It seemed to suit. I knew that the Biblical Dinah, Jacob's daughter, was raped. That I had not internlized. I thought only that I share the name of the only known daughter of Jacob. Twenty years ago Anita Diamant published "The Red Tent" purporting to tell Dinah's real story. This was a positive spin on Dinah that I adopted as my own. She was not raped, she had fallen for Shechem, it was a love story! And to throw in an extra intriguing element, she was a midwife! As a midwife, this was surely Dinah's story, it seemed to me.
Yesterday, I read the original again. The story is a rape story. The story is a story of total female erasure. Dinah's presence in the Bible seems merely to tell of the awful reponses of all the more important male people around her. Dinah's rapist believes that things are made better if he marries her. Dinah's brothers use the rape as an excuse for commiting violent atrocity on Shechem and the males of his tribe. Their belongings are plundered including the wives (more rape one assumes). Dinah's father, Jacob, is noted to be more worried about his local reputation than the evil itself. Dinah's story is a horror.
That story spoke to me about my calling in a new way yesterday. Midwifery is important because women and their families deserve their dignity. They deserve respectful care. Just as Dinah's story is one of erasure, obstetrics is often a story, a system of erasure of the humanity, the womanhood, the dignity of women.