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Getting the husband stitch makes misogyny a cinch

by Shelby Toth - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 13th 2018 06:00 pm
Men have a long history of cruelty toward women for their own benefit. In this day in age, they are able to continue that tradition of abuse with surgical precision as they use myths about women's genitals to further their own perverted desires.
Men have a long history of cruelty toward women for their own benefit. In this day in age, they are able to continue that tradition of abuse with surgical precision as they use myths about women's genitals to further their own perverted desires.

Every time I think progress has been made in regards to the treatment of women, something else just comes up and ruins my day. Imagine having just given birth; you’re completely drained, both mentally and physically, and completely reliant on healthcare professionals to take care of you, especially if you experienced vaginal, or perineum, tearing while giving birth.

According to Mirror, 90 percent of women experience a tear in the perineum during childbirth. While the degree of tearing can range from first to fourth, with each one getting worse, it is up to the doctor to stitch you up afterward.

And here is where the sexism comes in.

Doctors in the past and, unfortunately, the present, have made a habit of adding one extra stitch than needed, known as the husband stitch. The husband stitch, also called the “daddy stitch,” is added purely under the idea that it will “tighten” the vagina, making it more pleasurable for whatever man that woman has sex with.

Not only is this horrible practice done without a woman’s consent, used as another way to oversexualize and dehumanize a woman, it also has lasting negative effects.

According to gynecologist Dr.Sheila Newman, in an interview with The Independent, a husband stitch can cause real pain for a woman, especially during intercourse. An anonymous woman, who also had a husband stitch forced upon her, posted on The Bump that she couldn’t “run, use a tampon or have sex” since receiving the dreaded extra stitch, with no consultation from her doctor on whether she actaully wanted one or not.

The other fact of the matter is that, that’s not how vaginas work. According to OB-GYN Dr.Jesanna Cooper, in an interview with Healthline, “a ‘husband stitch’ would not affect overall vaginal tone, as this has much more to do with pelvic floor strength and integrity than with introitus [opening] size.”

So why do trained healthcare professionals still feel justified “throwing in” an extra stitch?

     According to Healthline, the routine of the husband stitch became more commonplace when episiotomies became popular. An episiotomy is the cutting of the area between the vagina and anus, also known as the perineum, during childbirth in order to widen the vagina and supposedly make childbirth easier. The idea behind the procedure was that if they did the episiotomy and then could repair it, the doctor could then ‘tighten things up’.

The practice was made popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but episiotomies are still sometimes performed today. This is troubling, in a 1980s extensive research came out against episiotomies, explaining they didn’t really help the mother, and caused “severe tissue trauma,” among other negatives. Other research in 2005, and then later in 2017, also did not recommend episiotomies, as they didn’t help the baby nor the mother.

Luckily, the use of episiotomies is decreasing in the United States. In 2002, 33 percent of births involved them, but the percent dropped to 12 in 2012.

A husband stitch can also be reversed, but unfortunatly, it's not always caught until some time later.

36-year-old Angela Sanford from Fort Mills, South Carolina, was unaware she had recieved a husband stitch until five years after it happened, when a midwife she had never been to before, during a Pap smear, asked her who had sticthed her up after her first birth. Sanford, who had been expieriencing extreme pain during sex for years, was shocked to learn about the husband stitch, somerthing she had never even heard of before.

“My husband has been worried about me and fearful of hurting me," Sanford said to Healthline. "He would never have asked for this.” 

Women are constantly boiled down to their bodies, taught that that’s where their worth lies, but when these already damaging ideas seep their way into legitimate medical practices, it becomes a whole other, and scarier issue.

 “An OB-GYN should be there for his or her patient and not for a third party’s interests,” Cooper said to Healthline. “We serve women first and foremost. An ‘extra stitch’ goes against surgical principles of healing.”

A woman's body is not purely a vehicle for male pleasure. Childbirth is incredible, and women should be celebrated for undergoing it. Giving birth is not an inconvenience to women’s vaginas and men’s potential pleasure from it.

If you (for some deluded reason) think the perfect time to make a woman’s body “more ideal” for a man is when she’s nearly or fully unconscious after delivering a baby into the world, you need to grow up and have your medical license revoked.

 

stoth1@u.brockport.edu

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