Monday, March 16, 2009

The Case Against Breastfeeding or For Selfishness?

There are some fantastic comments over at Lisa Belkin's New York Times "Motherlode" blog about Hanna Rosin's anti-breastfeeding rant in the current issue of The Atlantic.

While I agree with Ms. Rosin that the scientific case for breastfeeding isn’t remotely as strong as “lactivists” would have us believe, I was extremely turned off by the selfish attitude so pervasive throughout her article. What her entire argument boiled down to is that moms should not feed their children the way God (or Nature if one prefers) intends because nursing requires the mom put her child’s needs ahead of her own desires. Hello, that’s called parenting! All the reasons Ms. Rosin gives for not breastfeeding are selfish ones- mom’s career, mom’s desire not to be “tied down”, mom’s discomfort with nursing in public (just wear a nursing top & coverup/blanket if modesty is a concern), mom’s desire to alternate night feedings with dad so she can sleep better, whine, whine, whine. It’s all about what SHE wants and not what’s best for the baby.

The most outrageous part of the article to me is that Ms. Rosin spins her anti-breastfeeding position as the "feminist" one. What ever happened to trusting womens' bodies to nourish their babies being the feminist position?

Here's an excellent comment on the NYT blog signed "MJ":
"Like many women my age, I blame the previous generation’s feminist movement’s focus on having everything for men and women be exactly the same. News flash–men and women are NOT biologically the same! We carry the babies, we nurse the babies, we are the mommies. My husband and I have what I call a more enlightened equal marriage. Instead of trying to divide every task exactly down the middle, like the author’s Canadian friend seemed to be doing, we realize that we have different abilities/strengths and divide the housework and childcare duties according to those. Yes, I feed the baby during the night, but that’s because I have the boobs! It’s ludicrous to think that men and women are exactly the same. We need society to realize this, and provide the kind of support for families that women are crying out for–laws mandating that employers provide maternity leave and the support new moms need when they return to the workplace. When you feed your baby formula solely because it is more convenient, you are giving up the fight for the rest of us. We need to stick together and demand that society supports us in our choice to breastfeed!"
Poster "Amanda" added:
"It’s articles like these that make me wonder whether or not I want to be affiliated with the feminist movement. I am empowered by the ability to create, grow, and feed another human being– not brought down by it as Rosin suggests. As others have said, I cannot understand why people are so hell bent on men and women being the same. We are different and I wish the feminist movement would focus more on those differences. Why should I be eager to make myself more like a man? Shouldn’t we celebrate the things that make us WOMEN?

For those who think that breastfeeding causes an imbalance in your marriage– you probably have problems that go far beyond breastfeeding. If your husband can’t pick up the slack in other places, then that’s something formula feeding cannot solve."
Here's another good comment signed"Soon to be Mother Mary":
"Rosin’s article is an example of the growing backlash against women who choose a more traditional approach to motherhood. Her response, 'We are in a time of incredibly intensive parenting,' 'Why now, when women have less time and more opportunity than ever before? You would think some other form of parenting would be thriving now.' is indicative of the disconnect between the two groups. As a woman who has taken up the banner of pregnancy and motherhood rights, I’ve discovered that more traditional feminists view me and my compatriots as confused at best and turncoats at worst. They don’t understand why, when we could be out there making money, we quit our jobs, clip coupons, and raise our children. Because of this, we have a situation where traditional feminist organizations like NOW will only lend token support to the issues of pregnancy rights.

The problem I had with Rosin’s article was that she attempts to do exactly what she accuses the lactivists of doing. Where they have tried to guilt her into breastfeeding, she tries to make them out to be air-head fad followers."
And here's a man who gets it, "Josh Hill":

"The notion that breast feeding is some kind of sexist plot to manipulate women into changing diapers is beyond ridiculous, almost a satire of 60’s era radical feminist chic. Men don’t breast feed because they don’t make milk. Evolution has equipped the sexes to have specialized roles in the raising of offspring. Her acquaintance should be glad she doesn’t have to sit on eggs.

I’m glad to express my support to those women who make the sacrifices necessary to breast feed. And at the same time, I unequivocally condemn those who make life hard for them, and those who, lacking a sound medical or economic reason, are too narcissistic to do the best thing for their children. The state of our knowledge may one day change, but as far as we can tell from the current evidence, they might as well drink or smoke during pregnancy."

Amen to that!

1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

So call me old fashioned, but I enjoyed breastfeeding. It gave me an excuse to have frequent cuddle time with my babies, and it was a lot more convenient than buying and mixing formula. I never saw it as a sacrifice; it was a very pleasant experience, saved time, gave me time with my babies--also very pleasant. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I felt sorry for women who wouldn't/couldn't breast feed. I think I was the selfish one!