Food For Thought

Just like I always said, “I’ll never be an educator,” I always thought that I would never invest much in women’s rights or issues.

Ha.

While I am not an incredibly visible activist on many issues, I donate when I can to cause I care about and sometimes I give my opinion on an issue here and there. This is one of those latter times, as there’s something that’s been buzzing around my head for the past few days.

And surprise–it has to do with boobs. (No, seriously.)

I have a few friends (okay, a lot of friends nowadays) that are new moms. Most of them are active on Facebook, and for the most part, I love being included in their milestones. I am going to hold my tongue on which kinds of updates bother me until I myself have the ability to hold back those own posts regarding my child. Of course, one issue is always all over Facebook, and that thing is breast feeding.

Here’s my take on breast feeding. And yes, I am a non-mother at this point in time, so before you dismiss me as “you don’t know anything, you selfish, career-oriented, ungrateful bitch,” (because I am sure someone wants to do that anyways), hear me out.

Breast feeding is awesome! Hey everyone–my friends are able to provide for their children in the most baseline biological method available. That is something that our early ancestors were doing. In other words, it’s one of the most human things out there.

Here’s the other thing, though. People that gang up on mothers who choose to not breastfeed (and especially those who cannot breastfeed) are the ones who are doing things wrong.

I have read the benefits of breastfeeding, and I believe in them. If I have a kid, I will play everything by ear. (I do have a bit of a tough time imagining myself wanting to nurse my child after he or she is eating solid food and/or able to talk, but I don’t rule anything out at this point in time.)

Playing it by ear, though, also means that I am going to have to change game plans if I don’t produce milk, if my child refuses to latch over and over, etc. and so forth. I would even consider formula.

Someone out there is red in the face about me acknowledging that I would utilize formula if necessary.

Hold up.

I was an exclusively formula-fed baby for the same reasons I just listed. This baby wouldn’t latch after my mom’s supply of milk showed up, and I had never even heard of the options of breast pumps until a few years ago. Were they available in Chelan, Washington in 1985/1986? I don’t know. Either way, I had a bottle and my infant formula to keep me alive and growing.

There’s the bottom line: I was alive, and I was growing. Did I seem to catch more than my fair share of childhood illnesses? Maybe, but my statistical methods back then weren’t the most robust. Do I seem to get sick more often now? Maybe, but the times I’ve gotten really sick are all times when I’ve been living in resident halls (a.k.a., several hundred college students packed into one space, all the time) or traveling extensively. Did I excel in school and music growing up? You bet. Did I go on to get an advanced degree and now I work in education, just like I said I never would? You bet your britches.

And I dare you to even try and say my mother isn’t the best gosh-darned mom out there. You wouldn’t last one second.

What I’m saying is, mothers nowadays have a choice in how they nourish their children. We hope for the best, but what’s best for one family, isn’t the best for another. Please, lay off attacking one another; personal philosophies differ, and you may not agree with each other.

Furthermore, on a bit of a different tangent…

Humans are biological, but we are also social, sexual, philosophical, and spiritual beings (to name a few attributes). We have socialized ourselves to think that the female breast is a sexual object. I just read a snark piece responding to another young mother’s experience that she was “creeped out” by breast feeding her own child because she had been socialized to view her own breasts as “for her lover only.” The snark author went off, kind of shaming and pitying the original author, and lauding the benefits of natural breast feeding, but for a snark piece, it really missed the point.

It missed the point that currently, “lactivists” are fighting against this notion that breasts are purely sexual. I applaud the efforts to normalize the images of breast feeding on the Internet. But then there are some in that movement who are still calling women in bikinis pornographic or offensive. They’re slut-shaming their fellow women.

Hold up. Again.

That’s still buying into the idea that the female body is a object. You don’t see an uproar when any of your male friends post their topless photos on Facebook. Why is that? Because the male body isn’t sexualized the same way that the female body is.

Now, I’m not saying we need to flaunt all our bitty parts around. But here’s a thought–what if, all of us were at a nice, warm sunny beach, and there are men all around without their shirts, and there are women breast feeding because they can and their child is hungry, and then there are us who are sitting around, getting terrible tan lines in our expensive, skimpy bathing suits? And if I wanted to no longer wear the top piece of my suit, I think that I should be able to because female breasts are always present, whether we are lactating or not, whether we are trying to attract a mate or not, and that too is a baseline biological feature.

And it’s not because I’m slutty or I want attention. It’s just because I want to feel the sun on more of my body because under it all (no pun intended), I am just another human being who has evolved and socialized and done so much that I deserve more than to be considered just a sexual object.

It’s going to take a culture shift, and it’s going to take pushing back against the Puritanical values that have led us to fighting for public breast feeding. So, I’m hoping that some people read this, and some people ponder it, and some people get the conversation going further regarding the fact that we are still not where we should be after all this time.

Thanks for getting this far.

Other countries are OK with it...

Other countries are OK with it…

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One thought on “Food For Thought

  1. aliciawest5 says:

    Hooray! The best thing you can do to prepare for motherhood is to not rule anything out. I never though I’d breastfeed for longe than 3 months. 16 months and going strong! Thanks for doing your part to normalize what is truly a basic human function. Means so much more coming from someone who has never had the experiences. 😀

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