I haven’t formed a complete opinion of the women of Lost. I do like that Kate-the-bank-robber (and whatever else she did, don’t tell me, I haven’t got that far yet) is a woman, and I do wish that someone (of the main characters) besides the pregnant girl was something other than rail thin.
That aside, I’m afraid I haven’t given it too much thought yet. (Bad feminist!) But I really really hated the way the delivery of Claire’s baby played out. Jack the doctor, the natural choice for delivering the baby, wasn’t available. Fine. Even if he was fighting an obviously losing battle for Boone’s life, at least we know he did everything possible. And I can suspend disbelief that only Charlie the out-of-work ex-rockstar ex-heroin addict, Jin the Korean enforcer almost-a-hit-man, and Kate the afore-mentioned bank-robber/fugitive would be present. I can’t remember why Sun, the Korean woman with all the herbal/nursing skills didn’t come and help. But okay, fine, they’re out in the jungle with a fire and not much else, and those three to delivery the baby. I can accept that dynamic.
But here’s where it gets bizarre. Doctor Jack tells Charlie, when Charlie goes to get him to deliver the baby, “Tell Kate she’s going to have to do this.” Then he tells him what to do – cut the cord, etc. Charlie even displays some knowledge of birthing – “How am I going to tell if she’s dilated?” I didn’t know what dilated was until my best friend had a baby. And he’s taking ownership – how can I tell?
So he goes back to where Claire has collapsed on the path and he and Kate engage in an almost-screaming match. Kate categorically refuses – “I am not going to do this,” she says. But Charlie insists, and she caves. Kate? Caves? Since when? I really really expected, when Charlie said she had to, for Kate to say, “No, I don’t,” and walk away. I was astonished when she caved and did it.
But what really chafed me is the idea that only one person needed to deliver the baby. As the story continues to cut back to Claire’s delivery, eventually you get to the real business of delivery and there’s Kate and Claire by the fire, with the camera above Claire’s left shoulder – no bloody immodesty here, no, none at all. Across the way, some thirty feet away and out of the circle of firelight, Jin and Charlie watch and Charlie wrings his hands. Claire screams (only a little, there might be children watching you know) and Charlie starts forward – but Jin (who speaks no English) grips Charlie’s arm and shakes his head.
It’s a tableau familiar from pioneer midwifing scenes in old Westerns – the men congregate in the hallway or outside and listen with concerned faces until the baby comes and then pound each other on the back as if they had done something. It’s slightly bizarre since Charlie is cast in the role of the husband even though he only met Claire when their plane crashed, but roles are clear.
Are men supposed to be bad luck to birthing? Would one untrained woman be better somehow than two untrained men and one untrained woman working together? Did Claire not need anyone to hold her hand or head – she’s lying on the ground, after all? And if it’s modesty we are concerned with, then why are the men sitting where they can see just everything (other than the obvious that that’s the only way you can get Charlie’s reactions in the background of Kate’s actions and Claire’s heaving and screams) instead of sitting by the fire like normal people?