Musings on Mask Mandates | Indie Birth

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Musings on Mask Mandates

May 2, 2022

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This is an edited version of live chat I did in November 2020.

I live here in Minnesota and I guess for the sake of shorthand it’s a blue state, and we are known for being “Minnesota nice”. So if you haven’t heard this term, it’s this idea that Minnesotan’s will do typically anything they can possibly do to avoid conflict. Due to colonialism, there are many Scandinavian roots here and traditions. My family and my ancestry is also Scandinavian almost entirely. So I know this firsthand from my own lineage.

On the other hand, Scandinavian folks are also sometimes kind of obstinate and stubborn. So I’ve gotten a mix of all of that in my own bloodstream and personality. And I have found it really challenging to live here in Minnesota in 2020, where I was finally starting to feel kind of like I was at home. I lived here until I was 5, and wanted to move back my entire life. My family moved back here in 2016 and I started my midwifery practice Duluth Midwife.

It’s been really interesting now this year to see how the chips have fallen in terms of what people believe and who has been willing to passively accept these rules, mandates, government interference and who hasn’t. And I’m especially interested in this conversation after just being in Arizona for two weeks.

I was in Sedona with Maryn, and there’s at least a bubble one can live in in Sedona where people are on the same page in terms of not being afraid of Covid-19 for themselves or their families. And those people are choosing to just continue life as normal. There are, of course, larger conversations that people are having about what does this mean for hospitals and how do we make sure people who need care can access care? And those are important conversations, not just now, but always.

But here at Indie Birth, of course, we definitely are all about freedom. That’s part of our mission. That’s part of our manifesto. Our work is all about having autonomy and freedom in birth. And if you know us even a little bit, you know that that for us also extends beyond birth and into our own lives. So that looks like homeschooling, unschooling and other places in our lives. My family is here in the forest, trying to do our part to grow sustainable food and get our kids more connected to nature, trying to learn from our Indigenous friends and neighbors and respect the land that we’re on and support them in their efforts to strengthen their communities.

So for me, there’s no question in my mind that the government, the state, the city should have absolutely no say in what I put on my face or not. Right? So it’s fascinating And I think I saw some memes going around about this earlier on in this whole thing, which I never even know what to call it since plandemic feels sort of silly. But there were women of other religious backgrounds who had been fighting for the right to wear face coverings and being told they weren’t allowed to in places. And now all of a sudden, it’s required. So it’s just fascinating the way that power works here, where we live in the US as well as around the world. It’s fascinating to me what people are willing to just accept.

And none of this is new. You’ve probably heard these perspectives other places. I don’t feel like I have the most unique perspective in the world, but I want to be more transparent, more clear about where I stand. Maryn shares the same or similar sentiments as well, because we’ve had people messaging us saying, “how could you share this (mis)information?” “You need to be more careful what you share.” “This is false.” And it’s so interesting – why those people would be following our page in the first place if they are so uninterested in critical thinking that they are just taking information at face value that’s being given to them and not wondering, at least WONDERING, if there is another agenda at play here.

I guess what I’m saying is I think it’s just really alarming. And it hasn’t been very many people, but a small handful have messaged or emailed their shock at our anti-mask stance. They’re surprised. So I guess I’m surprised by their surprise because like I said, we are about freedom, we are about autonomy, and sometimes we have to make a choice. And our choices are being polarized to the point of insanity. For example, just because I am not willing to be told I have to wear a mask doesn’t mean I’m like some lunatic Trump supporting whatever, like whatever that even means, right? I don’t even care. I didn’t vote.

We had a new mandate put out here in Minnesota that starts at midnight tonight saying that you are not allowed to socially gather in your own home with anybody outside of your household. Whoa, now they’re not only telling me I have to wear a mask if I want to go grocery shopping and I can’t make my own choice because I’m not an adult now. I also can’t have someone over for dinner. Where does it end? And everyone’s saying, “well, it’s not enforceable”. So what? They wrote it into the law. It could be enforced. They may choose not to, but just because they’re not probably going to enforce it now, why does that make anyone feel better?!?! I do not understand.

So I put out a FB post on my personal page saying I love and respect people who want to follow this new mandate. Whatever, that’s your prerogative. I also love and respect people who are choosing to wear a mask socially distance, whatever it is that makes them feel good and safe for them and their family. I totally get that. But what I would like is for people to also respect that my family is not afraid and that we are interested in continuing to gather and build community with people consensually who also feel the same way. And so I put a call out to see who was interested in continuing to come together and share food, support each other, spend time, especially this time of year in Minnesota. If you’ve ever been here in the winter, it gets dark at friggin 4pm. Dark, not like, oh, it’s starting to get dark. It’s DARK at 4 and it is dark until eight in the morning. And so when we moved here, my strategy was that we really needed to make connections, spend time with friends, family, come up with some really creative ways to enjoy and embrace this dark winter season. And it’s so fascinating that the week before Thanksgiving (which I don’t celebrate as a side note, because it’s racist and colonialist garbage), before many families are planning to gather, they put out this new Minnesota emergency order mandate, whatever you want to call it, saying you’re not allowed to have anyone come over to your house. And of course people are doing it anyways.

But so many people are doing it in secret or they’re feeling ashamed of themselves for not following these rules and regulations and mandates, whatever they are called where you live. It’s all the same thing. It’s control. And there is no place for that in a free, heartcentered, life affirming, positive world. There’s no place. So if you want to wear a mask, please do. If you don’t, please don’t! I support you. There are so many of us who feel this way and so many people are afraid to talk about it because you’ll be labeled as crazy.

Again, I was very surprised that people following us here at Indie Birth were surprised about our stance when that is the heart and soul of what we do here. Be believe that grown ass adults should be allowed to do what they want with their own lives and their own medical and health related choices.

Also, I guess the other angle of this, because I can hear the counterargument from here – that if you don’t have your mask on at the grocery store and you’re breathing (how dare you breathe?) that you could be asymptomatic and spreading your nasty respiratory droplets all over in the air and you might infect somebody, even if they’re wearing a mask, who could get very sick and could even potentially die – and I would say that is true all the time, pre-Covid. News flash. And I also would say we should be more creative then about how we can support people who don’t feel like it’s safe for them to be out in public around all of us potential carriers of this and any other sickness.

So again, these are not the most unique perspectives in the world. They are a logical endpoint based on my other beliefs and knowledge. I think it’s fascinating that people who follow this page would be into mandates and government control. I get that other people out in the world are not of these same beliefs. But anyone who follows this page I would hope is critical of the idea that there is any kind of monolithic Science (capital s science) about anything. That we could have some very grounded, 100% true version of reality makes absolutely no sense, ever. I’m a relativist. I am not a Positivist, but our culture is rooted in Positivism and our shitty birth culture is also rooted in positivism. And part of the reason that it sucks is because of that.

So if you’re following this page and you’re interested in kind of expanding all of this beyond birth or even just thinking about birth in a different way…Yes, we have science. Science that shows the body is capable of birthing on its own without interference. But that’s optimal. Yes, we have really cool knowledge about the hormones of labor and birth. We have studies to back up so much of what we do as midwives. It’s the first line on my website that says science is now discovering, kind of like how Columbus discovered America, right? Ha. Science is now discovering what traditional, independent midwives have long known. And so yes, there is science to back up a lot of it. But I don’t honestly care because we know that it’s true with or without these studies. And we know when human beings do studies, they are flawed, either intentionally or unintentionally in some way, shape, or form. There is no way to conduct a perfect study.

If you want to really blow your mind, go look up the slit test – which is the grossest word, sorry, but that’s what it’s called – where they showed that light particles behave differently when humans observe them. Fascinating. And this is not like woo woo hippie stuff. This is real science. So we know that just the simple act of observing something changes what we see. So again, there is no way to know 100% if masks work.

We shared this new Danish study that came out this week that showed that masks were not effective. When they had one group wear them in public and one group not wear them in public, they showed that there was no reduction in Covid cases. So part of me wants to be like, everyone should read this. See, I’m right. And another part of me says, who cares? Because there’s no way we’re going to get to the bottom of the truth. And even if we did, that doesn’t mean that we should extrapolate that to then force every human being on planet Earth to do the same thing.

At the beginning of all of this, like in the early days of Covid when none of us seemed to know what to think, I called Maryn and I was like, I guess it sounds like we should all probably wear masks. So I was kind of on board for a hot minute there until I did more research, until I checked in with my own intuition and my own gut and I’m also reserving the right to change my mind. If every other person here is getting sick and dropping like flies going to the hospital or worse, perhaps I will re evaluate my position, so I am humble enough to say I do not know the answer for everyone else. I know the answer for me right now and that is all any of us can hope for as humans in this plane.

Right. So I guess here’s my encouragement for you to figure out what’s true for you on this issue or any other. Whether it’s pregnancy, whether it’s birth, it’s all the same. It’s that we need to figure out our own truth. We need to find our own strength in order to live that truth and that’s it. So thanks for being open minded about all of this. And I wish you all nothing but health and happiness.

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Meet the duo behind Indie Birth

We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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