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Germaine Greer

This essay is an extract from the book Sex and Destiny written by a feminist writer Germaine Greer. In this essay, she presents a comparison between the parent-child relationship in the rich West and the traditional East. She shows the differences between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of pregnancy, child birth and child rearing. She tends to consider the matrimonial practices of the traditional societies as having greater advantages than those of western attitudes. Her main opinion is that in the traditional societies the people who surround a pregnant woman make her feel good and lessen her mental pain.

The traditional behaviors are responsible to increase her sense of security. However, in modern western societies, a pregnant woman is not cared like this. Since the people in the modern western society don’t believe much on different rites, traditions and superstitions, the pregnant woman is not attended by her husband and relatives. She is not free from mental burden. She is always worried about the possible danger and pain of the childbirth. She has to practice pre-genital exercises and make other preparations herself. She frequently visits doctors for advice and to get her pregnancy checked up. Her pregnancy is not given much importance by her family, relatives and the society.

In the traditional eastern societies, the infant and mother mortality rate is higher because of the lack of modern methods and equipment. The traditional childbirths are conducted among various superstitions, customs, rites, rituals and traditions. The pregnant women don’t visit hospitals for checkup. Because of this, a large number of women and their infants die untimely in the traditional society. In the modern western society, however, the infant and mother mortality rate is very low. The pregnant women shouldn’t carry on various customs, traditions and superstitions. They frequently visit doctors and follow their suggestions. They practice many modern methods and equipment for the childbirth. If the life of the mother or the infant is in danger, the doctors conduct operations to save them. Thus, the women in the modern society give birth very easily and safely among the modern methods and facilities.

After the childbirth, the women in the traditional Eastern society are respected and praised much for their courage. Many people attend her with gifts to see the child and to congratulate the mother. People organize parties to celebrate the birth ceremony. There is feasting, singing and dancing. The mother is given permission to go to her mother’s house for few months. The whole family helps her to rear the child. However, there is no such system in the modern western society. In such society, there is no one at home to welcome the child and to praise the courage of the mother.


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