A new-age meld of hippies and feminists

ROSEMARY MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 03/01/2013
January Jones
REUTERS
January Jones, who happened to eat her baby's placenta last year.

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Rosemary McLeod

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OPINION: I missed the report that voluptuous television actress January Jones ate her baby's placenta last year, so I gag after the event. What they never tell you, especially in the year's news roundups, is the telling details, such as, in this case, what it tasted like.

My guess is that it would taste like all offal, which I will not eat, rolled together in one slippery mass - a bit like tripe, but uglier.

The justification for this revolting new-age practice is that all other mammals do it, so it must be good for you.

Well, my cats have brought two dead rats into the house this week, but I don't see myself tracking vermin on all fours and snapping their necks with my teeth.

There is a reason why humans walk on two legs, not four: We find better things to eat.

I once fell out with a friend over a placenta.

She had buried it at the bottom of the garden of her rented house and planted a kauri seedling over it, as mothers of newborn babies were doing at the time, for symbolic reasons not entirely clear to me, but possibly a placenta is good fertiliser.

I later bought that house, and wanted a garden without a future giant tree in the middle of it.

We dug up the seedling and whatever was under it and carried it along the road in a bucket, so she could replant it in the yard of her new home. But she was displeased. We had interfered with the joss or karma of her baby and, besides, a whole new ceremony would have to be devised for the reburial.

She was a dear woman, a great believer in inventing pagan rituals and a vigorous supporter of whatever was unorthodox or verged on magic.

When feminists crossbred with hippies, some curious beliefs arose, and I am surprised that in Jones' case, they survive, if only in California.

Rebirthing was one of those beliefs, and my placenta friend tried it. It involved people holding her down firmly under a pile of tightly packed blankets and making her wriggle out of them a new person, her former bad birth experience as an actual baby put to rights.

Anyone who has been involved in real births will immediately see the humour in that.

She did, too, I'm glad to say.

There were recipes back then for tasty placenta meals to share with friends, and underwater births were catching on, because we were basically just dolphins who happened to live on land and wear shoes.

Humans will believe anything, even in our apparently enlightened society, where we get a chance to be educated, and can access facts at the touch of a button.

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Something deep in our nature wants to challenge facts, though, those enemies of intuition and killers of fun.

Friends who went that way all came from middle-class homes with lots of books and no lack of parental money, but they felt the need to turn their back on luxury and live the way my family had for lack of choice.

Only the happy parts of subsistence living appealed -  they could ignore the nasty bits -  and so they lived, as a brave experiment, a lifestyle they didn't have to and could opt out of, and felt superior and smug.

Which brings me to the terrible gang rape and murder of a young Indian medical student, which has led to mass demonstrations against the Indian government and police, and turned her into a martyr.

Feminists protest that a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes, but their complaints are not taken seriously by the police or by lawmakers.

Protesters spoke of misogyny and sexual abuse of women in everyday life, as they faced tear gas, police batons and water cannons. Hopefully, good will come of this shocking crime; it seems the government there may change the law.

But I'm thinking of the people I knew who thought India was all about patchouli, gurus and spangly clothing, and were happy to overlook the lives of grinding poverty they saw there. I wonder if they ever came to understand that those people had no choice.

- The Dominion Post

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