Author of canceled pregnancy says reaction was ‘dystopian’

A childbirth campaigner who was canceled online for questioning the use of the term “people in labor” rather than women, says the backlash against her was “dystopian.”

Bestselling author Milli Hill, from Somerset, was targeted on social media after challenging the use of the term “people in labor” while talking about obstetric violence – medical interventions performed during childbirth without a woman’s consent.

The mother of three was subjected to ‘horrific’ online hate, faced calls to boycott her books and was dropped by a charity she worked with for years.

Speaking with the turn, Mili said the online bullying left her “terrified and devastated” and that she felt “crushed” by the pressure of “people saying these terrible, terrible things.”

She also claimed that many of the people who attacked her were her professional colleagues, who used the attention to promote their own business.

Bestselling author Milli Hill, from Somerset, was targeted on social media after challenging the use of the term ‘childbirth’ while speaking about obstetric violence against women

“I was terrified and devastated. I cried a lot. It felt so dystopian. I thought, “Is this going to be my downfall?” Milli said.

The mother says she stopped talking to people because she was so upset by the resistance and felt “ashamed” of the situation.

“When all these people say these terrible, terrible things, a part of you collapses and I felt crushed. It was almost as if I didn’t even know what a bad person I am and that I had exposed myself.’

Milli explained that her problem is not with the term “people giving birth,” but that it should be used in place of the term “women” rather than next to it.

The mother of three was subjected to masses of online hatred, faced calls to boycott her books and was dropped by a charity she had worked with for years

The mother of three was subjected to masses of online hatred, faced calls to boycott her books and was dropped by a charity she had worked with for years

She says most of the abuse came not from anonymous trolls targeting her when the backlash began, but high-profile figures in her industry, including midwives and birth trauma specialists.

The mother believes that a select few of these accounts purposely targeted her page to drive traffic to their own social media accounts where they advertise their business.

She said, “There were a couple of accounts who did a post about Milli Hill and the next thing on the grid was, ‘Oh by the way, I only have three spots left on my hypnobirthing course.'”

The social media storm started when she responded on Instagram last November to a stranger who wrote: “Childbirths are seen as ‘the fragile sex’ that should be kept under patriarchal authority by doctors.”

Hill replied, “I’d argue against the term ‘person giving birth’ in this context. It is women who are seen as the “fragile sex” etc., and obstetric violence [medical interventions performed during childbirth without a woman’s consent] is violence against women.’

In 2012, Milli founded the Positive Birth Movement, a network of support groups for pregnant women, but decided to close the page shortly after she started receiving the masses of hate online.

Formerly a creative psychotherapist, the campaigner worked with youth following abuse and trauma, and her work as a journalist and author has focused heavily on women’s reproductive lives over the past decade.

On her blog, she explains that about three years ago she noticed a change in the language surrounding childbirth, particularly the two expressions “human giving birth” – used in addition to or instead of “women” and “male/female assigned at the birth’.

She says she found the latter “confusing” because more often than not, the sex of babies is determined in prenatal tests and scans, rather than birth, while the word “assigned” implies that something is given to you, not innate — like biological sex is .

‘My work and thinking about obstetric violence had led me to believe that it is ‘sex-based violence’. Notice my use of the word sex here, not gender….

The social media storm started when she responded on Instagram last November to a stranger who wrote:

Hill replied, 'I would challenge the term' "birth person" in this context yes.  They are women who are seen as the "fragile sex" etc., and obstetric violence [medical interventions performed during childbirth without a woman's consent] is violence against women.'

The social media storm started when she responded on Instagram last November to a stranger who wrote: “Childbirths are seen as ‘the fragile sex’ that should be kept under patriarchal authority by doctors.” Hill replied: “In this context I would challenge the term “person in labor”. It is women who are seen as the “fragile sex” etc., and obstetric violence [medical interventions performed during childbirth without a woman’s consent] is violence against women.’

“What I saw happening on this slide was a real mix between the absolutely correct idea that the problem here is patriarchy, a system that oppresses and damages women based on their gender, and obfuscated terminology that the oppressed cannot name. ‘

After her comments went viral online, Milli was dropped by Birthrights – a charity campaigning for human rights during childbirth with which the campaigner has worked for ten years.

She was approached by Amy Gibbs, the director of Birthrights, who told her the charity would no longer partner with anyone who doesn’t “share our inclusive values.”

Milli previously told the publication that she finds it “disturbing” that people are being “silenced” for expressing their views, and that she is unwilling to enter into a discussion.

Birthrights replied, saying: ‘Equality and inclusion are at the heart of our ethos, and our services are available to anyone who is pregnant. We regularly review all of our partnerships to ensure they reflect our values.”

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