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Sara Cohen Shabot Seminar

Event date: 3 March 2023

Venue: Hybrid

The Shame and Medicine Project and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health are thrilled to welcome to the University of Exeter Sara Cohen Shabot, Associate Professor at the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, at the University of Haifa, to give a seminar on ‘Shame and Obstetric Violence’ on Friday 3rd March 2023 at 10.00.


TITLE: Grotesque Bodies, Bad Mothers and the Question of Complicity: Shame in Obstetric Violence.

ABSTRACT: Obstetric violence – violence that women and birthing persons suffer during medicalized childbirth – constitutes a phenomenon negatively affecting women worldwide. In this presentation I will discuss shame as a tool for perpetuating obstetric violence in the labor room. I will present three forms in which shame acts within scenarios of obstetric violence: first, as shame birthing subjects experience because of their birthing bodies regarded as ‘inadequate’: dirty, out of control, grotesque. Second, birthing subjects are frequently ashamed for refusing to behave in labor as ‘good mothers’ should – that is, as self-sacrificing subjects, who are ready to cancel their own needs and desires in order to ‘save’ their babies. Lastly, I will consider how self-objectification or complicity with submission in labor (in the form of submission to violent practices) could also be a result of shame and the desire not to be ashamed. The question on how this shame can be resisted will conclude my presentation, providing some resources from disability theories.

BIO: Sara Cohen Shabot is an Associate Professor at the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, at the University of Haifa. She specializes in phenomenology, feminist philosophy, and philosophies of the body. Her present research and publications address feminist philosophical perspectives on childbirth and the maternal embodied subject. Lately, her research has focused on the phenomenon of obstetric violence as gender violence – and she has published several papers looking at this subject from different philosophical perspectives in journals such as Human Studies, Feminist Theory and The European Journal of Women’s Studies. Her co-work on shame and obstetric violence was published in Hypatia in 2018.


Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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