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Sep 04 2006

Got Milk?

rotel_chows.jpg

Members of the Faster clan (sibling Tidy and niece Ro-Tel) subverting the status quo in 2003

Ripped from the headlines: Actual local TV news ‘update’:

“Is breast-feeding in public beautiful or tab-oo? Tonight at ten find out what Austin thinks about this divisive issue!”

Holy Frito-pie on a Guardian Select aluminum crutch.

So how did infant sustenance come to signify, in the moron world of boobsick TV news copy writers, and ultimately to the debasement of anyone with breasts, either an insipid cliché suitable for framing or a depraved obscenity?*

Hint: it starts with a ‘P’.

[I’ll also accept ‘porn’ as correct.]

Note that a neutral response to breast-feeding is not permitted. In essence, of course, feeding a baby in public is not objectively distinct from taking a chum out for a taco. Chums eating tacos, however, rarely elicit hysterical outbursts from the local news, whereas breast-feeding has morphed into a spectacle. And not just any old spectacle, but one dipped in a vat of thick political intrigue. When observing this spectacle one apparently either (a) chokes back a torrent of liquid polyester teddy-bear tears or (b) is moved to form a citizen militia to stamp out this lurid profligacy and send the offending female back to the mud hut where she belongs.

Recall that the public sphere has, until quite recently in the US, traditionally been the exclusive purview of men and designated sexbots—the hookers, dancers, and sluts required by Dude Nation to provide a ready source of subservient titillation. Even now, in 21st century America, the idea of non-sexually-available women in the public square is tolerated only grudgingly. We are unceasingly bombarded with messages communicating the dominant culture’s discomfiture with our physical liberty, ranging from subtle pressure to conform to the hooker aesthetic (“I feel naked without my makeup”) to paternalistic chidings (“Don’t marry one of those unsatisfied autonomous ‘career girls’!”) to dire warnings (’unescorted’ women will get carjacked, assaulted, kidnapped, raped, and murdered).

Because the only form a public woman is allowed to take is that of the subservient femme, breast-feeding at Starbuck’s is transgressive and confusing. It’s public, and it involves tits, yet it isn’t feminine, and it isn’t getting anybody off. What the hell is this thing? bleats the TV reporter. Kill it!

In fact it’s an authentically female—as opposed to an artificially feminine—behavior.

Whenever women so much as touch a toe outside the bounds mandated by our parochial Boob’n’Womb Monitors, it’s extraordinary enough to make the 10 o’clock news.

Addendum [gracias, csue13]: Here’s what one moron godbag has to say about nursing women:

Their sex life had died completely, and one of the main causes was the mother’s obsession with breast-feeding well into the child’s eleventh month. The baby was attached to his mother like a limb, and he even slept with her every night, consigning her husband to a different bedroom.

I told the mother that in being so devoted to her son, she had committed the cardinal sin of marriage, which is to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child. Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.

_______________________________________
* I’m not saying that controversy, of a sort, doesn’t occasionally spring up at feeding time. Last night at a restaurant Stingray and I got into it over an order of corn-dog shrimp. My position has always been that the dish is a flawless embistroization of deep-fried nostalgia, whereas Stingray pronounces it ‘too jokey’ to take seriously. She’s clearly insane.

Neither do I suggest that there aren’t a thousand and one real depraved obscenities one might encounter while dining (like our controversial hungry infant) out. Few of these apply to babies, though, as they derive strictly from mediocre chefs, painful maroon polyester napkins, and servers who allude to the soup of the day as “vishy-swah.”

146 comments

4 pings

  1. Tanya

    I remember what a nightmare it was to breastfeed in public. I would get outright hostility and stares from people, especially my man. Older women who came from the generation of bottle-feeding, were especially horrible. I was under enormous pressure to make sure that nobody get a glance at a nipple! Oh the horror! But luckily for me I am just not stupid enough to care that much what other people think. And oh, I disgarded the man. YAY! for me.

  2. Cass

    Its just another opportunity for the (in this case, local) media to do what they’re best at, titillate the viewer while pretending to deliver news. Well, it beats another report on child sex predators.

  3. Lavoris

    Stingray may be insane, but that’s no excuse for murdering that stupid crocodile guy.

  4. ew_nc

    Is it just me, or are we going back to pre-1960′s attitudes towards breastfeeding? If I have to hear about one more woman who “just couldn’t handle breast-feeding, but that’s ok, she feels good about her choice (ha!)” I’m going to scream. And all the pediatricins are quite willing to ignore the sound (and really, obvious) information that breast milk is the perfect food for human infants and tell the new little mommy that she shouldn’t feel bad for for giving the child artifically enhanced formula. At which point, she is to acquiese to the wise doctor’s proclaimation and get her post-pregnancy ass back to the gym and exsist on Slim-fast in order to get back to sexbot status as quickly as possible. Oh, and dump the infant on the slack-jawed 16-year-old in the “child care room” so a bottle of wonderful, chemically engineered formula can be propped up for it. This also saves us all from seeing nipples being used for their evolutionary purpose and makes sure we see them poking suggestively thru proper spandexly-sexy work out clothes. Boo-yah!

  5. Pony

    I must have missed it; do the ev psych people have an explanation for why we shouldn’t breast feed, preferable at all, or if we do, not in anyplace either clean or public?

  6. OakenThief

    Tangled up in all this jazz is that “It’s my choice!” mantra that prevents one from leading an examined life, as well as the “Mommy Wars/competition” between mothers that is manufactured by Media, corporations, the Patriarchy (lets all manipulate and backstab to gain what little illusory power is afforded to us…you go, Mary Wollstencraft), etc. I like to read Parenting magazine at the allergists office to make sure my gag reflex is in good working order. A woman once had an article in said rag and she lamented that (I paraphrase):
    “I was run ragged by my children in the local Whole foods that day and saw this mother…giving her children-little girls adopted from China- organic fair trade animal crackers and unpastuerized organic orange juice as she calmly ushered them about the store, responding to their nagging in the firmest but most senstive way blah blah blah…i felt sooo inadequate”.
    This is really sad. Not only did it smack of the white upper-mid class consumer culture that is Whole Foods (surely the children of poor working class women of color survive without Baby Einstein videos?), but Mothers not only have to worry about their job being undervalued and infantilized (or fetishized, in the case of public breast feeding), they have to be up on the newest products, disciplinary methods and apparently ethnically sensitive adoption policies. * [Note: 'Father' has not come up once in this post].
    On a personal level, I love to see Moms breastfeeding in public; if I were to have children I would do it because it needed to be done (after wading through alll the difficulties of a workplace that refuses to accomodate my mother-hood status). Since my every action is a political one (Twisty School of Patriarchy Blaming) I would be glad to do it. Also, I recently shaved my head…and the way people treated me (glares from women who thought “rrr…threatening Lesbian!, young Sexbots scoffing, men freaking out over whether I am to be assessed sexually or not…and everyone else who is just cool about it) changed.
    It hit home how much my body is, in a way, treated as public property [aaand I don't shave, either. Gramma and Mom hate that :)]…and this is considered normal.

    P.S.:For anyone interested in the politics of Mothering, consumerism, the media and the lack of female solidarity, read THE MOMMY MYTH. great stuff; it tears the culture of intensive mothering a gaping New One.

    P.P.S.: Power to women who don’t have children at all!

    *I am by no means criticising adopting parents. This post, I should say also, is coming from someone who is acutely aware of the effects of the Intensive Mothering Cult on my own mom and myself. And that some of this worry is actually the very legitimate fear of raising unhappy maladjusted children in an unhappy malajusted patriarchal culture…it just seems that the political awareness isn’t encouraged in the average Jane (mom).

  7. Tanya

    Far worse than the people that are against breast-feeding in public are those conservative bitches that give women a hard time for not breast-feeding. It can be very difficult to do and it’s not for everybody. Problems can occur and the last thing we need is to make mothers feel bad because they can not make a go of it.

  8. Rose Connors

    I’m sure everyone by now has seen the Parenting magazine cover that raised such a public outcry, containing nothing but a baby’s face attached to a breast. I was immediately struck by the incongruity, having just seen a full page ad in Health magazine promoting awareness of cervical cancer or something, featuring a woman’s body with a quarter section of breast, including nipple, in the upper corner. I didn’t get the connection, but I heard no scandal about that one.

    Anyway, I think babies have the right to eat anywhere, just like everybody else.

  9. maggiethewolf

    I agree with Rose: “Anyway, I think babies have the right to eat anywhere, just like everybody else.”

    And the sexualization of the twin sites that sustain life sickens me.

  10. OakenThief

    Tanya: sort of agreed; thats what I was saying in my above post about competitive mothering. One should argue that we should go to all possible lengths (as opposed to the…well almost no lengths whatsoever) to adjust/tear down a patriarchal system that views the Worker as Male to the reality of women’s lives. And yeah, alot of women have great difficulty breastfeeding because of social contraints, lack of community/partner support, work realities, or just genuine physical pain (ooow latching on). La Leche League can be pretty mean, though I do agree with speaking out against what we consider a “normal” modern diet.

    The breastfeeding culture can be purist and holier-than-though, something akin to the evangelical Vegan (I’m a vegan though, before anyone gets angry…its an essential part of my feminism, actually). This tends to counteract effective outreach.

    We should address what about Patriarchy and consumer culture (and the concept of motherhood being open to public judgement and intense scrutiny) drives women to compete, be generally mean and judgemental instead of setting up a nuturing community of women that makes the consideration of breastfeeding (for those who are physically able and interested) a stress-free option. If people care about the realities of health and breastfeeding, they should be getting to the root of the problems that make it incredibly difficult or not-optional for women to breastfeed, not judging their merit as mothers.

    in solidarity

  11. csue13

    Get a load of this: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/194/story_19451_1.html

  12. Pony

    An “obsession with breast feeding well into the 11th month”. What? It’s not unknown for young women to breast feed into the 2th year now, and often, the 4th year, and always was among aboriginal people for example, until just a couple decades ago. Where is this guy coming from? Of course, it wouldn’t be that she’s exhausted, her body is depleted and recovering from what is still a physical ordeal, Brittany and her clan and their plastic surgeons notwithstanding.

    And here for the bathroom afficionadas, the health hazards of the public loo. It’s actually worse than you think:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060902.wtoilets0902/BNStory

  13. Jezebella

    Man! I’m not even a mother and I’m mortified by the idea that your husband’s sex life should come before your child’s health. This constitutes a “cardinal sin of marriage”??? Holy crap.

    As a mommy friend of mine once said, “Those La Leche League women are MILITANT!” They really turned her off, even though she was well aware of the benefits. I think she nursed anyway, but that’s not my point: I hate it that women feel like their choice – to breastfeed or not, for how long – is subject to anyone else’s approval. Sometimes there’s just not enough milk being produced to sustain an infant’s health. Sometimes, you are a counter-girl at Starbucks and not at the corporate headquarters, so pumping is not a viable option should you wish to stay employed (see the NY Times for a recent article on this). Breast-feeding, like free-market animal crackers and freshly squeezed orange juice, is often nigh impossible for economic reasons.

    Nursing shouldn’t have to be “beautiful” to be not-taboo. It’s just lunch, for heavens’ sake. There was a discussion on a museum listserv last year about allowing nursing in museums when other forms of food & drink are not allowed. No consensus was reached, but it was certainly an interesting debate.

  14. Sara

    “a torrent of liquid polyester teddy-bear tears”

    A HA HA HA HA

    Thank you, Twisty.

  15. Rose Connors

    Well, Shlomey over at beliefnet.com deserves quite a lot of blame. He can only look at a breast or a vagina one way: sexually- created for his own personal gratification, I’m sure. Shlomey, maybe mom wouldn’t be so tired if you helped out a bit around the house.

  16. Pony

    “In my book “Kosher Adultery,” I make the point that infidelity is primarily a sin of omission…”

    Let’s see now. In context, would that be him saying screwing around on your lactating, exhausted, out of shape, leaking from every oriface spouse is HER fault? Maybe it’s the baby’s fault too. Way to go. I believe there’s a really sick fetish with this guy’s name on it.

  17. Cass

    So, our scintillating pieces of flesh have to be single-use in order to remain scintillating? What does this man piss out of?

  18. smmo

    Aw, little Rotel still has her heel stick band-aid on.

    Ahem, blaming engines on, enough baby oohing. My kid is 16 months and still nursing, I had no idea that I’m obsessed nor that said kid’s father is so woefully abused. Good to know godbags aren’t always so-called Christians.

    I suspect what isn’t often acknowledged is that nursing really de-sexbots the breasts. What was once perky is no longer so after being filled and emptied thousands of times. Which, in my opinion, is behind a lot of the “but I tried, it just didn’t work” business. All this MILF crap, and breathless reportage of how fast celebrities are back to looking acceptable in public after givinig birth just piles on the pressure to not look like one of those moms. Mini-van moms are out, cool moms are in. Damn, it is so confusing when one patriarchal mandate interferes with another.

  19. MzNicky

    Sweet Jesus. The breastfeeding-in-public and the bottle-vs.-breastfeeding “controversies” rage on, do they? Same as it ever was. I remember having this shit thrown at me when I was a lactating young blamer, and my kids are in their mid- to late-20s now. I used breast AND bottle. The kids thrived and grew up. Life goes on. Although I would suggest that breastfeeding a two-year-old kid is bizarre. And enough with the attempted shaming of women who don’t breastfeed at all. It’s not a competition.

    Also, the Rabbi Shlomo Boteach is a well-known douchebag, and local TV news everywhere should be banned as a public nuisance.

  20. deja pseu

    I want to second the book recommendation for “The Mommy Myth”. Excellent Patriarchy Blaming contained in those pages.

  21. Abi

    Did you know that men are biologically capable of breastfeeding? Quite a well kept secret and the subject of an anthropology dissertation my friend’s writing. Needless to say, I await the finished product with anticipation. Until then I recommend a google search, although my friend suggests that it’s not as difficult as these sites imply.

  22. CafeSiren

    And there’s also this from the Rabbi’s piece:

    when a mother gives her breasts to her son and takes them away from her husband, the effect on the marriage can feel the same [as adultery].

    What about the radical idea that a woman’s breasts belong neither to her baby nor her husband, but to her?

  23. Jezebella

    Oh, CafeSiren, you so silly! Silly girl, silly silly: women don’t own their boobies! Oh no, no, no.

    Off to re-education camp with you.

  24. jbeeky

    I began breastfeeding in public by forcing my husband to create burka like tents around me nearly asphyxiating myself and my newborn. I slowly became more comfortable but still never got to where I was willing to let everyday strangers gaze at my bare breasts as my son deciding to take a look around while feeding. I do not want people staring at my breasts while not feeding,I certainly did not want to start now. I live in San Diego on the border of a hippy town called Ocean Beach. I belong to the food cooperative there and when I went there for my vegan muffin and fair trade tea I was practically given standing ovations from staff and customers for breastfeeding. That made me uncomfortable as well. Much like Oakenthief with her hair I felt I had been thrust into being a political statement when I just wanted to nurse in relative annonimity. I guess our Aunty Twisty is right, every thing we do is a political statement whether we want it or not.

  25. CafeSiren

    Oh, CafeSiren, you so silly! Silly girl, silly silly: women don’t own their boobies!

    Not even if they pay for them themselves?

  26. the15th

    There was a discussion on a museum listserv last year about allowing nursing in museums when other forms of food & drink are not allowed.

    Here in Ann Arbor, the city council recently passed an ordinance that allowed breastfeeding at the YMCA pool, where no other food and drink is allowed (breastfeeding was already allowed almost everywhere else in the building.) And just in the last week, swimming pools in the county decided to allow street clothes after a Muslim high-schooler wanted to wear long pants and a headscarf to swim.

    I have mixed feelings about all of this. I feel like both breastfeeding and wearing modest clothes for religious reasons are traditionally feminine behaviors — not “sexy,” but sort of the other side of the patriarchy-approved behavior coin. It was also at a pool that Twisty mentioned not being allowed to go topless despite her mastectomy, but there’s no organized crusade to allow that.

  27. Pony

    No we don’t need to attempt shaming of the non-breastfeeders, we can replace it with shaming of the women who breast feed for two or more years. It’s still done in the Arctic, and among some rural communities in N.A. It’s also cheap homegrown birth control (although not fool-proof) and really common in the rest of the world. We do have a skewed sense of who we are don’t we? Not everyone lives in the U.S.

  28. CGG

    The Mommy Myth is one of my favorite books. I think it should be required reading for all of humanity.

    Breastfeeding debates large and small depress me. In my own social circle I’ve seen friendships end over it. Nationally it’s just another way to pit women against one another. I’m not a parent, and who knows if I ever will be, but I sure as hell don’t like the idea that no matter what I go with regards to children and parenting (including choosing not to reproduce) I’ll be judged for that.

  29. Pony

    Inuit feeding larger child. This is the only pix I could find quickly on the net. It will do. The parka should be looser, and of course she won’t be standing around with her hip thrust out.

    The baby is under her parka against her skin, supported by a sling. The parka, which has a huge hood and enlarged area at the back, much more so than shown, makes it easy for the child to nurse. When the child wants to nurse, she slings herself down and around to the breast. Younger babies are helped around. This is an eastern Arctic parka.

    http://encarta.msn.com/media_461513236/Inuit_Mother_and_Child.html

  30. Aussie Liz

    Hey, Cafe Siren you beat me to it, I was going to quote that particular nugget of woman-ownership and have a good laugh at it. What a scream!

    I also love how he lists all the health benefits to the baby of breast feeding, then at the end says that the baby would really be better off if its parents have a good sex life, even if it means having the obesity and the asthma etc. I can just imagine the teenager struggling with the ventolin saying “good call, mum”.

    Also, is it more than a spelling difference between a Mom and a Mum? Sometimes I think I get a different cultural meaning from “mom”.

  31. KTal

    “I told the mother that in being so devoted to her son, she had committed the cardinal sin of marriage, which is to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child. Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.”

    And when the women is harried from having to care for the children and clean the house and work all day, she must also submit in bed, be the whore du jour for her hungry man.

    This is it, the crux is it not? Women are slaves of the will and want of the man. Whether it be corsets, high heel boots, a 24 inch waist or reserving the tit for his pleasure, it is all about what he wants and her will and that of her offspring be damned.

    Choice my ass.

  32. MzNicky

    Thanks, Pony. If I ever time-travel back to the 1600s and am Inuit and am called upon to do so, I now know that breastfeeding my toddler will not be a cause for shaming. Although trying to shame someone here and now for expressing a personal opinion is apparently game.

  33. wren

    “Here in Ann Arbor, the city council recently passed an ordinance that allowed breastfeeding at the YMCA pool, where no other food and drink is allowed (breastfeeding was already allowed almost everywhere else in the building.) And just in the last week, swimming pools in the county decided to allow street clothes after a Muslim high-schooler wanted to wear long pants and a headscarf to swim.”

    In this case, I’m guessing the reason breastfeeding became allowed was because the issues that caused other types of food and drink to be banned didn’t apply there. I’m thinking that pools ban food and drink for similar reasons to why they don’t let little kids eat on playgrounds; kids, in a hurry to play, will take a couple of bites of their burger and then jump in the water before swallowing it properly and end up choking. Or there’s the argument that you could slip and hit your head on the tiles from a spilled drink, or swim too soon after eating and get a cramp, spill fries in the water that then need to be cleaned up, and on and on…. With breastfeeding, though, there isn’t much of a risk of spilling, no one’s going to be tripping over your breast (… one hopes), and if a child’s young enough to be breastfeeding odds are good that they aren’t really going anywhere but the kiddie pool. Now, while it’s possible to drown in a kiddie pool, they aren’t going to be swimming, so they won’t get a cramp. The risk involved in splashing around in three inches of water with a full belly isn’t any greater than splashing around with an empty one.

    As for the Muslim case – this was a female student, correct? I think the pool would have more authority in banning the headscarf, just because it’s easy to imagine it getting wet and tangled while swimming, and so becoming a choking hazard.

  34. wren

    Forgot to say – Shlomey makes me queasy. Those above me have identified the many reasons much better than I. How dare that woman put effort into raising the child, thereby denying her husband (who, let us not forget, was not only involved in creation of said child, but seems to be slacking on his share of the caretaking, if she’s so exhausted) access to her girlie bits? She is cheating on him with their own child, whose siren call he is chastely resisting. Whore!

    Blame, blame.

  35. Ron Sullivan

    …the obesity and the asthma etc.

    (shrug) Eh, Liz, I was breastfed and I got the asthma and the fattitude aplenty. Over my life as an average I’ve been the least healthy of the six of us, and Mom didn’t breastfeed the rest of ‘em. Especially not #4, who was born with teeth.

    It’s a good thing and all, but it’s just shaving the odds a bit, not dipping your kid in the Styx.

    Seems to me that the less anyone cares about nekkid boobs in public, the better off we’ll
    all be. “Cares” includes “evaluates” too.

  36. hexyhex

    Also, is it more than a spelling difference between a Mom and a Mum? Sometimes I think I get a different cultural meaning from “mom”.

    Nope, same word, just different spelling. The only cultural difference is that someone being called Mum is probably an Aussie or Brit, while someone being called Mom is probaly from the US or Canada.

  37. Pony

    Ms Nicky are you on steroids? The pix was from 1600, the best I could find on the net as I said, but the dress is the same. The method of carrying toddlers around is the same, and the reason for carrying them that way the same: access to breast.

  38. MzNicky

    No, Pony, I’m not “on steroids.” Is there any particular reason you would think so? Or do you just enjoy picking fights with people for no apparent reason?

  39. Pony

    That might happen to you in more painful ways than on a blog if you continue to run rough shod over other people’s cultural choices. In fact, you could check with GWB on that score.

  40. ae

    In fact it’s an authentically female—as opposed to an artificially feminine—behavior.

    YES! YES! YES, YES, YES!! Exactly.

    Gynephobic fuckwad sex fetishist hysteria, pure and simple.

  41. KTal

    I breastfed all my kids, my first I didn’t completely wean until he was fifteen months old, I got some comments, but really didn’t care. The other until she was 10 months and the last to six months. I am glad I did as the tumult of my hostage like marriage situation was an emotional roller coaster. The bonding and quiet time with my children I think gave me some peace and also there existed no stressors about sterilizing and storing bottles or how on earth i’d get formula.

    My biggest beef with the formula industry is that it grew out of our culture’s obsession with women’s body as a source of lust and shame. Also, I have always had a problem with the formula industry’s efforts to sell their products in third world countries. Bottle feeding larger a white, western phenom, borne out of easily accessible funds, clean water, storage (for the equipmentand formula) and fuel to heat and clean the equipment.

    More than once i was homeless and destitute while my children were infants. Possibly I would have been motivated to leave the relationship sooner, or possibly, my children would have suffered had they been dependent on formula.

    I also still have a hard time believing the pressure to breastfeed can even come close to the pressure that women still have overall to see their bodies as nothing more than entertainment for men and eschew anything or anyone that gets in the way.

  42. Jenny88888888

    I like to whip out my giant veiny lactating breast whenever my two year old asks for it. It’s no different than munching on Cheezey Poofs in the park. If we don’t get any ON you then it’s none of your business and if you don’t like to feed your kid Cheezy Poofs then it’s none of mine.

  43. Joanna

    I remember at least twice when I was nursing my baby in public places (although not in crowds of people) being approached by much older women who quietly congratulated me, and then made a point of telling me that they had nursed all their children. At first I wasn’t sure why they felt the need to tell me that, but then I got the distinct impression that they had nursed their kids in the 50s or 60s when there was so much pressure to bottle feed instead (which was my mom’s experience). Maybe they had faced a lot of opposition from their family members and had felt isolated. They seemed to be glad to see that it was not such a big a deal for everyone now, at least in some places, as it had been for them. It makes me sad to hear about these situations where women have to even think twice about how they feed their children.

  44. Nia

    makes me feel like having a baby so that I can breastfeed her in public and make people nervous.

  45. Violet

    When our cat was a barely weaned kitten, he would sometimes seek nourishment and comfort from the non-lactating (but swollen) nipples of our adult male cat, who would happily provide for him. Mr Petal took on the role of “dry nurse”/ mother whenever the wee one needed a “drink”. For several weeks after his step-brother arrived, he had a swollen belly (as if he had recently given birth) and distended nipples. I’m not sure what this has to do with the topic of breast feeding in public. This all happened in my livingroom.

  46. Hawise

    My son couldn’t latch on to my nipples so we had to move to the bottle after his first bout of dehydration. I expressed for a year to get him the nutritional value of human milk. If you think breastfeeding is harsh in modern culture then try to explain why you need a clean quiet place to go milk yourself. I kept a supply of dry powdered formula with sterilized water in a bottle. I would feed him first and then go empty the system. People are amazingly weird about biological functions but I like that my DDs are multifunction and not just hard to run with.

  47. Pony

    I was not successful at breast feeding, to my shame. Hawise I wonder if you may have had the same problem I did: very large breasts. I found out only a few years ago that many if not most women with very large breasts cannot breast feed, or have a very difficult time and the child ends up malnouished, dehydrated and underweight. I ended up with purple engorged infected breasts before I gave up. Every time. I had to supplement, not with formula because it was not available (or if it was that was unknown to me) where we lived so I used canned milk. It was sterile, and I added boiled water brought from across the lake by dog-sled just for our drinking water. For the formula, I then also added liquid vitamins. I also did not have paper diapers (not available then or at least where I lived) so with an auger and pick we broke ice in the lake, brought it in in chunks in a large metal trough, inserted an immersion heater and boiled off the oil and bugs and mosquito larvae, then boiled the diapers. Twice. Ice/boil/rinse. Twice. Hung out on the line, to freeze into white squares, then brought inside to hang again until completely dry. They smelled so fresh.

  48. MzNicky

    The problems with unsuccessful breastfeeding can be multiple. I was informed that my own rather unsuccessful efforts were because my breasts were too small, so go figure. I loved breastfeeding anyway—it’s highly erotic—and so supplemented my babies with formula. That way everyone was happy and well-nourished. Which is, I believe, the whole point.

  49. Pony

    I’ve heard there are women who orgasm while breast feeding. I think this is the reason the medical profession/patriarchy discourage it. They’re probably from the same school of thought as the Rabbi

  50. Pony

    Oh I just remembered why. It is possible, and meant to be, that ALL women orgasm while breastfeeding. While the child suckles a hormone is realeased that causes the uterus to contract every so gently, enabling it to thus return to its normal pre-pregnancy size. See? Mother nature thought of everything, then the patriarchy had to step in, “deliver” our babies, make sure we weren’t in the proper birthing position to have the easily, thereby necessitating cesaerans, and in the bargain, developed formula. I think it’s almost considered ‘old-wives tales’ that women orgasm, and are meant to during breast feeding. But it’s not and OWT. It’s true. An we were meant to.

  51. Hawise

    I have large nipples and males in my husband’s family have small mouths. The combination resulted in failure to latch. It worked out fine and my son is pretty darn healthy in an Asperger’s kind of way. Oxytosin (I think the spelling is right) is the hormone that is released during breastfeeding. It is also released during sex leading to orgasm. It is your friend and helps your organs return to normal, returns your joints to their proper location and keeps you from strangling your husband when he tells you he is tired after you got up three times in the night to care for the infant. It courses through you in the build up to delivery and then while you are lactating. It is a magic hormone.

  52. Pony

    Which would be why my arthritis bothers me less since my Hitachi arrived.

  53. Hawise

    It is also highly addictive in its own way, it is a feel good hormone. All natural- you just have to be pregnant and a woman it get its full strength value.

  54. neitu

    Ahem.

    The way I see it, there’s nothing remotely sexual about breastfeeding. Check. And I agree it’s natural. Check. And I agree any woman has the right to decide concerning her breasts. Check.

    But.

    I probably get blasted for this, but I think breastfeeding in public is plain rude, as is picking your nose, farting, spitting, taking a piss or changing a tampon. Vomiting, too, but that is much harder to control.. All very natural functions, but please, please, I do not want to see other people’s bodily fluids in public, especially in a restaurant etc. For any deity’s sake, take the drooling kid and your splattering milk outta my face!

    I’ve loved your site Twisty, admired your courage and sharp wit, and then you start mooing in unison with all these breeders. Sorry about the crudeness, but reproducing does not make anyone a hero or a ‘real woman’. In my book, celebrating an involuntary biological process (ie. pregnancy) and bodily functions (lactating) as some sort of feminist heroism is not blaming the pathriachy.

  55. Hawise

    Neitu- I do not wish to be a blaster but I have to disagree on the breastfeeding issue. For the infant, breastfeeding in public is the same as having an icecream cone or a burger in the restaurant. It is not in anyway related to the functions that you compare it to, that is the problem. We see breastfeeding children and relate it to pooping and pissing!!! The child is just getting a snack for heavens sake. In this day and age, pregnancy is no longer an involuntary biological function for most women and lactating is just a cool side effect. You can chose to lactate without the baby by taking oxytosin injections.
    I’m not a real woman because I had my son, I’m a real woman because I don’t take that sort of guff from anyone. I’m not a hero for it either. Having a child did not make me a woman nor does it stop me from blaming the patriarchy. It does make me less likely to blame the matriarchy, with which I have my own issues.
    I object to people taking my breasts out of context and having DDs that happens alot. They are mine and if I chose to stretch them and tie them behind my back that is my business. If I feel that they can be a portable, sterile food source for any child of mine that is my business. If I want to spend some spare moments having them nuzzled by a partner- also my business.
    Having breasts, I reserve the right to use them as I see fit. If I must lose them, I reserve the right to have them bronzed and put over a fireplace.
    And by the way, Twisty hasn’t mooed once since this got started, I think that you owe her an apology.

  56. Twisty

    Have I just been accused of ‘mooing’? Geeze. Hardcore.

    I’m a pretty adamant anti-reproductionist, but even I don’t put feeding infants on a par with farting.

  57. Pony

    Hawise I never experienced it when pregnant or lactating. I can scarcely imagine it could be better than what I experience now. I am one of the lucky ones who has bladder and uterine contractions when I orgasm. Whoot!

  58. Pony

    Breeders? I can’t imagine how you can live with that level of hatred toward your own. I put that kind of comment on a par with the worst misogynistic remarks from men this blog has seen.

  59. Hawise

    Pony- you must maintain a fairly high level of it naturally- lucky you. I get the contractions too, lucky me.
    The breeders thing can be rather rude or just used as a definition depending on context. She used it rudely but I have seen rather cute uses of it in some free Gay centric mags here in Montreal. Of course, many english phrases are rather cute when used in a French magazine.
    I object to it because it is almost universally used to define females and yet men are also part of the breeding equation. Male breeders seem to get a pass because they do not have the obvious stretch marks.

  60. grrr kitty

    I object to public breastfeeding about as much as I object to public bottle feeding. There’s nothing offensive about either method. But the thought of feeding a baby in a public toilet *does* make me squeamish.

  61. nuala

    No one seems to have mentioned what to me is the biggest reason why I feed my trainee blamer in public. Because otherwise I would be stuck in the house all day. I refuse to bottlefeed just to get out in public.

    In Scotland there’s a law that means you can’t ask a woman to leave any place the public is welcome (shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, swimming pools, anywhere basically) because she is breastfeeding a child under 2. It’s seen as a public health issue.

  62. Hawise

    Not allowing an infant to eat in any public place where others eat is ageism at its worst. I refuse to deny someone sustenance on the basis of their age.

  63. amaz0n

    I found out only a few years ago that many if not most women with very large breasts cannot breast feed, or have a very difficult time

    Oh fuck.

    Seriously, does anyone have any information more information on this? I’m not spawning any time soon, but I’d like to in the next five years, and I’m a 34E and would like to breastfeed.

  64. Hawise

    It is less the breast size as the nipple size.

  65. nuala

    amaz0n, it’s not universally true – I’m a 34H and got the hang of it within a week.

    I would advise any woman expecting her first (who looked for advice) to spend as much time reading about breastfeeding as labour. Starting with Bestfeeding, because it has photos. Also, I found it helpful to think of as a physical skill that we were learning together rather than some that should come ‘naturally’ – there are instincts which help, but the major thing was to just keep trying and retrying.

  66. Pony

    If I were young and planning to have children, or even thinking let it happen, I would contact a La Leche League right away. I know there are things you can do to ‘train’ yourself, but when, and what? I’m sure they know if it’s possible to help in any way. I don’t know exactly what it is that causes the problem, maybe fat? Breasts *are* mainly fat, and it’s your genetics that makes them that way, not your overall body weight (in case anyone thought I meant that).

  67. Pony

    Nuala would you tell me what brand bra you use?

  68. smmo

    I’ve got big ‘uns, and I’m fat, and I was 41 and managed it. A lot has to do with support, how the birth went, the individual baby, etc. The first few weeks are exhausting, but they are with any newborn. Breastmilk is free and boobs don’t need sterilization. I think if I’d had to mess around with bottles and formula I might have lost it, but I suppose the advantage of formula is anyone can do it, whereas the boob is mom only.

    Rabbit Shitheel, linked above, also thinks that men shouldn’t witness the business end of their children being born. “There are certain poses in which a husband should not see his wife. … That is just too erotic a part of a wife’s anatomy for it to become a mere birth canal.” Men really are delicate flowers.

  69. Guy LaPierre

    In Europe (and many other societies), breastfeeding in the public arena is perfectly acceptable. Is the European patriarchy out to lunch? Of course not. Europeans are simply more comfortable with their bodies, the bodily functions, and their sexuality than Americans.

    Consider the toilet: in the U.S., it’s called a “restroom,” or, the even more sterile “lavatory.”

    I think our problem with breastfeeding in the U.S. has more to do with our strange, American abhorrance of bodily functions than with any conspiracy of the patriarchy.

  70. nuala

    Pony, at the moment I wear Bravado nursing bras. Back when my boobs were decorative I bought many different brands from a place called Bravissimo – which specialises in D cup up.

  71. Song

    I second the plug for La Leche League as a free source of reliable and accurate breastfeeding information. I’m an active member (full disclosure of bias here), and I often hear of people’s negative encounters with “those conservative bitches” or what have you, but I very much more often hear about — and see — and even sometimes myself am involved in — encounters that help a mother who wants to breastfeed do so successfully, for as long or short a time as she wishes to do so.

    In that vein, I will quickly point out that with accurate information and proper practical and emotional support, ideally beginning some time before the birth, almost any dyad that includes a mother with one functioning breast and a reasonably healthy infant can breastfeed successfully. Big breasts, small breasts, whatever — barring surgeries or other traumas that damage the lactational machinery, or the very rare endocrinological or developmental disorder, they all work about the same way. The problems that come up mostly are connected to interventions in the birth process and mismanagement (usually stemming from bad information coming from all spheres) of breastfeeding in the early days and weeks. The really cool and hopeful thing, however, is that even dyads who get off to a rocky start because of separations in the hospital or bad advice or whatever can often turn things around — again, if provided with the right information and support. Lactation is resilient that way, especially in the early postpartum weeks.

    My closing comment is to point out that, like just about every other discussion of breastfeeding I have ever seen, this thread has gone down the path of personal choice frames by focusing on what mothers want to do or need to do or ought to do in order to feel good about themselves or to make the proper political statement. I wonder what might happen to nursing-in-public discourse if it focused instead on the question: What do babies need in order to thrive? and what are some practical and effective ways we could help meet those needs? Babies need to breastfeed, and a nursing baby needs to nurse when s/he wants to nurse. It’s really that simple, and from that basic premise, I think a whole vision can unfold of a healthier society FOR EVERYONE.

  72. Song

    And here I got on such a roll with my breastfeeding advocacy spiel that I completely forgot to say that I found Twisty’s analysis of the nursing-in-public “furor” quite thought-provoking. As a reminder she wrote:

    “Even now, in 21st century America, the idea of non-sexually-available women in the public square is tolerated only grudgingly. …. Because the only form a public woman is allowed to take is that of the subservient femme, breast-feeding at Starbuck’s is transgressive and confusing. It’s public, and it involves tits, yet it isn’t feminine, and it isn’t getting anybody off.”

    Yes, I agree. It brings to mind the not-so-olden-days in the U.S. when women of the better classes were expected to stay home if they were visibly pregnant — and in fact I still hear sometimes from pregnant women that they are embarrassed by their bellies, because it feels like a terribly public admission that they have in fact had sex.

    Nursing a baby in public makes much the same statement — it acknowledges one’s sexual activity in our virgin/whore culture, and in that context it also gives the lie to the currently popular idea that becoming a mother shouldn’t necessarily change anything at all about your body or your life. Here you are, a mother, with a whole other person attached for its basic survial to your previously private and very sexualized breasts — Toto, I don’t think we’re in the Kansas of girlhood any more! Hard to pretend that having a baby was just a matter of a brief stay in the maternity ward, but now you’ve got everything under control and back to normal.

    So I am digging the idea offered by Twisty that the nursing-in-public “furor” is further proof that to be female (as opposed to feminine), especially in public spaces, is transgressive and disruptive.

  73. saltyC

    Oh Lavoris, only the third comment, brought evil joy to me this bland afternoon.

    My baby wasn’t gaining for 2 weeks, until I realized I better breastfeed more often. I ended up spending all day breastfeeding for three months or so, before she was able to eat faster, or I was able to produce faster. Actually, the doctor gave me pills to help up the production. Definitely women should not be guilted into breastfeeding it is a huge commitment. But on the plus side you get to keep eating a lot without gaining weight.
    On the minus side, I wasn’t able to tend to the house or cook, which wasn’t such a minus if not for my abusive baby-daddy who constantly yelled at me for being so selfish, and that the only reason I wanted to breastfeed was to impress my friends and get out of housework.

    Well now he’s gone, and every night my baby and I cuddle and she can eat any time.

  74. boomy

    Ugh. Shmuley Boteach SUCKS! I seriously cannot stand that guy– I heard him in person a few years ago, and you would not believe how appalling he is, it is especially annoying because he does it all in the guise of the “hip, modern rabbi.”

  75. Buttercup

    Re: Schmooley

    Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.

    Piece of shit scumbag bastard. It IS a fucking feeding station, you moronic nitwit!

    Clueless unibrowed wannabe poor-man’s Dr Phil garbage brain uneducated potbellied pig.

    I don’t care for him much.

  76. Alecto

    Oxytosin (I think the spelling is right) is the hormone that is released during breastfeeding. It is also released during sex leading to orgasm.

    Oxytocin is also released during labor to help with contractions. Such a wonderful hormone! /science geek

    I have always been cautioned that I should never get breast implants if I want to nurse, since some implants involve cutting the nerves in the areola that cause the stimulation of the hypothalamus, releasing the oxytocin (and prolactin) necessary for lactation. Isn’t it interesting how fulfilling our patriarchal duty as feminine sexbots prevents us from fulfilling our female biological functions.

  77. Mar Iguana

    Neitu, “mooing,” “breeders,” “…reproducing does not make anyone a hero?!” You squeeze that big ol’ human skull out your tender parts, make sure this beyond-helpless-being survives the next several years and then come back and tell me this isn’t heroic. You think any ol’ cow can do that? Suck this.

    Don’t get me wrong. One thing the world doesn’t need any more of is humans and I can only attribute even wanting to become a mother, the single most thankless task on the planet, to patriarchal brainwashing, but I won’t tolerate badmouthing a mother, I don’t care if who/what she is. Of course reproducing has nothing to do with making one a real woman. But, it does make one a mother, the most reviled, disrespected, dehumanized, exploited being on the planet.

    Always safer to kick the cow rather than the master though, isn’t it?

  78. Betsy

    I’d like to offer a thesis: that the patriarchy is profoundly threatened by any suggestion that the mother-child bond might be stronger than the heterosexual pair bond.

    My own realization of this tenet occurred some years ago. Once on a first date (that was when I was violating my own longstanding rule against the whole ridiculous practice of dating) — on this date, after listening to the dude wax poetic about how the male-female romantic bond is the strongest bond ever known, I mildly suggested that the sister-sister, friend-friend, or (gasp!) parent-child bond might be even stronger. The shocked expression on my date’s face was my first revelation that the patriarchy does not care to have its religious obsession with heterosexual “romance” (read: institutionally enforced gender roles) challenged.

    Since that initial revelation, over the years I have seen many more examples of the patriarchy’s attempts to undermine the mother-child bond in favor of enforcing the het-romance model, as supposedly highest and best type of human relationship.

    If one keeps this thesis in mind, it clarifies a lot of things, including Shlmoly’s column rejecting breastfeeding in favor of the woman’s sexual obligations to the (more important to the patriarchy) het pair.

    P. S. — Violet — your post was hysterical — I mean in the *best* way!

  79. saltyC

    Bingo. The idea that putting a child before the husband is a cardinal sin of marriage is exactly what’s wrong. Too many women do fall for that, and do put the man before the child. But truth is, you can’t change the man anyway, whereas the child hasn’t been ruined yet. I knew I was lucky when I siezed the opportunity to put my child first, and her daddy last. And it has paid off, big time, in how well and happily she is growing.

  80. Betsy

    Neitu said: “I probably get blasted for this, but I think breastfeeding in public is plain rude, as is picking your nose, farting, spitting, taking a piss or changing a tampon. Vomiting, too, but that is much harder to control.. All very natural functions, but please, please, I do not want to see other people’s bodily fluids in public, especially in a restaurant etc. For any deity’s sake, take the drooling kid and your splattering milk outta my face!”

    I don’t want to blast you. I do want to point out what the logical effect of a societal consensus that nursing is rude and in a class with the other functions that you mentioned. If nursing women are not able to nurse in public, it will have a huge effect on a couple of things:

    1) women’s mobility outside the home would be hugely hampered, with the old familiar list of consequences: economic dependency; reduced physical self-determination; reduced options for social interaction; inability to satisfy daily needs for goods and services; invisibility; etc., etc. (All the reasons Saudis don’t want women to drive, in other words.)

    2) children’s health. I won’t go into the nutritional and health arguments for breast-feeding, as they are well-known. Suffice to say that behavioral choices to breast-feed or not are *strongly* dependent on the comfort (psychological as well as physcial) of nursing women, so if as a society we want to encourage healthy choices for babies we need to provide a societal setting where breastfeeding is convenient and positive. To the extent that women can’t leave the house AND breastfeed, they will tend to stop breastfeeding earlier or never choose it at all.

    Finally, may I also point out that all the functions you mentioned are excretory (waste elimination) functions, and breastfeeding is not that.

  81. Betsy

    And another thing. I had this Turkish boyfriend once? Well, he grew up in a rural town, and like everyone else there, his mom breastfed him for three years.

  82. langsuyar

    Twisty, awesome as always.

    Betsy, you beautifully summed up the crux of the issue here. A woman cannot fulfill her most vital role in the patriarchy if she is allowing the needs of her child to come before everything including herself and any male gaze that might be strolling around. And if she has a baby then obviously a man already owns her so how dare she be neglecting him, etc.

    ANY outrage or disgust toward breastfeeding in public is a symptom of the patriarchy’s reduction of women to the sex class. Even if that disgust comes from a woman–it is clear evidence she’s internalized her own oppression.

    Breastmilk =/= piss. It is not an excretion, it is a function.

    That being said, babies creep me out.

  83. saltyC

    I wonder how many girls are lucky enough to be breastfed for three years.

  84. Betsy

    And since I seem to be on a roll here (hopefully a California roll) — if you see someone in public and the way they are eating grosses you out, the usual solution is to look another direction that you find preferable, rather than denying that other person the right or custom of being there.

  85. Ms Kate

    When our cat was a barely weaned kitten, he would sometimes seek nourishment and comfort from the non-lactating (but swollen) nipples of our adult male cat, who would happily provide for him.

    My aunt’s fixed male cat loved kittens, and nursed two different ones in such manner. The vet had to call a stop to it because he had sores from one of the kittens.

    When I first adopted two cats who were 9 months old, I still had milk for my then 16 month old. In the middle of the night they would get lonely and insecure and come into the bedroom, smell the overnight buildup of milk, and try to start nursing!

    Their tongues are damn rough!

    I took to wearing t-shirts to bed as a result, and would pull up the polar fleece blanket when they started to knead at me and then ball them up and hold them tight while they purred and purred and purred. They just needed some security in their new home.

    To this day, both cats grab polar fleece items and “nurse” on them for comfort.

  86. Ms Kate

    but please, please, I do not want to see other people’s bodily fluids in public, especially in a restaurant etc.

    Good. Then we will have no more of your bile then, either.

  87. ozma

    I kind of wonder if it’s an American, rather than a patriarchy thing. In Latino culture, breastfeeding is not such a big deal except maybe there is a kind of fear of appearing like the peasantry. You are not required to become immediately succulent afterward and there is much amusement and interest in the child’s enjoyment. If you breastfeed for a very long time everyone thinks it is very cute, although they might tease your kid a little bit if they are 5 and still breastfeeding. Totally different tone than the U.S. Hard to explain. Maybe it has the same upshot but different tones, I’m not sure. I think Americans in particular are weirder about breasts but I can’t really prove this. Americans have a very strange kind of uptight puritanical thing going on with a very prurient perverse weird sex obsession thing. Even the most patriarchal cultures can be more cool with the mama’s milk thing–no outrage.

    There’s something specifically American going on–this kind of horror of the body–that mixes with the capitalist U.S. version of patriarchy.

    Sorry, I’m not making sense.

  88. scratchy888

    When I was young — maybe about three or four — I used to twist the centre of the T-shirt I was wearing into a kind of nipple, and suck on it during the day. I don’t know why I did this. I was told not to, I think, a number of times. “You’ll wear out your T-shirt if you do that!” Anyway, one time I was sucking on my T-shirt, and I let it drop out of my mouth. My mother said, “what’s that in your T-shirt?” “What?” I said. I looked down. I’d sucked a hole into my shirt. I couldn’t believe it — this hole which had come from nowhere. I was really spooked. With an adrenal reflex, I pulled the shirt off me as fast as I could, throwing it into the corner and running out of the tent as fast as I could. (We were camping.) “Get it away from me! Get it away from me!” I screamed.

  89. Mandos

    I second the comment about the (North) Americanosity of the anti-breastfeeding obsession. I have heard both male and female relatives in my South Asian family comment on the sheer absurdity of the social prohibition. Many of them are doctors, btw, and they abhor formula unless necessary. (Which it sometimes is, in the case of one cousin who is quite anemic and couldn’t lactate sufficiently without pills, but the pills had potentially negative effects on her daughter which were prevented in time.)

    NOW, South Asian cultures often have problems with breast *exposure* during nursing (use a cloth), but the act of public nursing itself is considered completely normal, in my experience at least. Of course, there are many South Asian subcultures, so YMMV.

  90. vera

    Hey, MizNicky, I breastfed both my children till they were three years old. Nyah nyah nyah!

  91. wabewawa

    I think you make perfect sense, Ozma. The most comfortable I ever was nursing my daughter in public was when at social gatherings amongst my sister-in-law’s large Maltese family (though still here in the U.S.). The difference in their cultural attitude about that was very striking and noticeable.

    During the 18 months I breast-fed my daughter, I definitely felt the most uncomfortable when trying to nurse her in American shopping malls. I even resorted to using the bathrooms a couple of times in order to avoid the leering gaze of teenage boys especially and the ludicrous awkwardness of trying to keep things “decently” covered with a blanket or such. A public bathroom was just too disgusting and depressing a venue to nurse her in, though, so I would try to get back to our car wherever it was parked to breast-feed her there instead of using a toilet stall when out shopping (if no Macy’s-type fancy restrooms with a couch available).

    Despite a very rocky start (due to virtually nonexistent nursing assessments of my breasts after the C-section, though plenty of my abdominal area, I ended up with majorly engorged breasts and latching problems, and so for 2 weeks afterwards, I had to warm my breasts up with a heating pad in order to soften them up before nursing and then ice them down afterwards, gah, in order to slow down the milk production), it was all well worth the effort in long run. And the kiddo has never had one ear infection in her life, which I think nursing her so long was definitely a contributing factor towards (from the anecdotal evidence I have regarding her same-age peers, the vast majority of whom weren’t breast-fed as long as she was).

  92. wabewawa

    I meant, the vast majority of my 15-year-old daughter’s peers who even noshed at that “attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh” in the first place, for however long, as opposed to being bottle-fed.

  93. Betsy

    Ozma — Never blame yourself for failing to make sense out of the patriarchy.

  94. Betsy

    So I got to wondering — bodily fluids in public. How is it that they are just so darn gross (to neitu, for example) others in the case of breastfeeding?

    Babies drool regardless of whether they’re nursing, but we don’t demand that babies be taken out of public sight.

    As for mother’s milk, a glass of cow milk has been known to appear on restaurant tables, without concomitant demands by other diners that it be hidden from view. Is it really possible that milk from an animal is less gross than milk from a human?

    It defies logic — but then, see my comment to Ozma above.

  95. Kim P

    I breastfed my son for a little over 2 years. It was easy and convenient and I did’t have to spend $$$$ on formula. I used to walk down the street suckling my wee baby and think how great it was I could walk and feed baby at the same time. We lived in Brooklyn then, which seemed a very pro-boob milk place. Babies were breastfeeding everywhere: buses, subways, parks, restaurants, everywhere it seemed. No weird looks from anyone. I would have poke their eyes out. And yet, the local paper had an article about the “issue” of public breastfeeding. The whole crap ass thing manufactured by the media.

    Wabewawa, I had the rock hard engorged boob thing too. My midwives (awesome awesome women) told me to put a cabbage leaf on each boob and leave it there for a while. My boobs became cabbage cookers!! When I removed the cabbage from my bra, it was warm and wilted. A little drizzle of dressing and that’s some fine eatin’. It worked on the engorgement too. My boobs were no longer rock hard and the milk flowed like a river.

  96. the15th

    Comments about “mooing” and “breeders” aside, I just can’t support the idea that breastfeeding is some kind of subversive feminist act. Certainly it’s at odds with a specific late-20th-century American strain of puritanism, but other than that, it’s about the most traditional thing a woman can do. Is it really an accident that, as Ozma says, “Even the most patriarchal cultures can be more cool with the mama’s milk thing”?

  97. Pony

    the 15th, breastfeeding is just too damn female for the patriarchy. Like anything to do with women, it must be suppressed, hidden, shamed, removed, replaced. vilified: Breasts=formula, menstruation=cessation pill, birth=cesaerean, breasts=silicone, ovaries=estrogen, vagina=anus, uterus=test-tube, bush=shaving, labia=reduction. The day I accept designer vaginas is the day I see most 20 something men lining up to get their knobs enlarged. I like em that way, see?

  98. Ms Kate

    it’s about the most traditional thing a woman can do

    Well then, fuck the patriarchy and stop menstruating!

  99. the15th

    Pony, you could also group pregnancy/birth control in with those. Is birth control a patriarchal intervention that suppresses the authentically female state of pregnancy, on a par with cosmetic vaginal surgery and silicone implants? Or is it possible that women choose not to be pregnant for non-coerced reasons? And if so, maybe the same could be said for avoiding painful periods, choosing cesarean deliveries or the like.

  100. vera

    Y’know, there aren’t many things I lose sleep over these days, but after reading this post and these comments last night, I tossed and turned and couldn’t sleep at all.

    Only a truly wretched, twisted culture could take a practice that the very survival of human beings depended on for millennia, and turn it into a means of shaming women.

    And my daughters must function in this forsaken mess. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

    Bottles weren’t invented until the Industrial Revolution. Rubber nipples didn’t exist until 1845. Until that time, babies were fed by breast or they sickened and died. There were substitutes — chamois dipped in a mixture of cow, goat, or donkey milk and given to the baby to suck, etc. — but most babies not put to breast died, period. If a mother couldn’t nurse (and the family had money), a wet-nurse was hired. (In Europe, brunettes were considered to possess the best milk.)

    Formula was invented around fifty years ago or so. Before that mothers mixed animal’s milk with water and corn syrup or table sugar, as Pony described. If you’re older than 40, you were probably fed such a mixture as a baby.

    Anyone who has ever seen a six- or twelve-month-old baby eat mashed up solid food can attest that most of the food ends up on, not in, the child. Even after other foods are introduced, milk or formula remains a baby’s main source of calories for a long, long time. It is natural to nurse babies up to and past the age of two, dear women. If pre-industrial mothers had not engaged in this “bizarre” practice, we would not be here.

    Just because breast feeding is more accepted in other cultures doesn’t mean that the U.S. puts a bigger P on Patriarchy. Patriarchy comes in several flavors, and in the U.S. the boob flavor tends to be very strong. Other patriarchal cultures use different techniques to make women just as miserable.

    I could go on and on about how the practice of feeding babies formula has harmed infants over the past century. Take unsweetened canned milk, invented in the late 1800′s. It was a breakthrough because it was sterilized. Ah, but the can was sealed with a nice lead plug. Mmmm. At one time people used honey as the sweetener. A good source of botulism toxin! And these days the soy formula fed to so many babies is increasingly thought to be one reason for the obesity epidemic, among other ills. I can’t wait till the jury is in on that one.

    I fed my daughters by breast until they weaned themselves, which is how mothers and babies having been doing it since mammals were invented. And like Kim P, I (or my mild mannered husband) would have poked the eyes out of anyone who interfered or objected in any way.

    Neitu, did you really put mother’s milk in the same category with piss and vomit? Do you really think a nursing mother might “spatter”? It’s attitudes like this that should be shamed. Nursing mothers should be respected and supported.

  101. Historylady

    Four years ago when my daughter was 3 months old we drove from Dallas to Seguin for a wedding. By the time we got to Austin my baby was starving and my breasts were engorged, so we stopped at a Taco Cabana to eat and nurse. I sat in the outdoor area, with a hedge on one side and a tall trashcan on the other, and discreetly nursed. A woman with a tight white t-shirt showing every curve of her breasts and nipples came over and commanded me to stop. I told her this was legal, this was what your breasts were for, and also that my breasts were far less on display than hers. She started screaming at me and said she and her friends were doing something about this, that she would kick my ass, and she wondered if I was going to let everyone in the restaurant suck on my tit. Then she went back to her table and loudly ordered her husband and son (who looked around eight) to turn their chairs away so they couldn’t see me. It was very disturbing. For weeks afterwards I was quite shaken and nervous everytime I fed my baby in public.

  102. maggiethewolf

    Historylady, I’m sorry that happened to you.

    A couple Blamers have blamed the Puritans. From what I’ve read of the Puritans, they get a bad rap. Maybe they didn’t party hearty, but they partied.

    If I’m to be a Blamer, I blame the P-word, of course, but I also blame the C-word.

    Capitalism.

    Even though I know women (in the Biblical sense), I’m not especially fond of breasts. Everyone has their preferences: I don’t prefer coffee either. I like hips and lips and tea too.

    But over the decades, I’ve been strung tightly with regards to breasts. They’re served to us on Victoria Secret platters: the big, double-D tease. And the unrelenting, unrepenting sexualization of our udders has me as wired as Don Knotts on meth around breasts. 30 years ago, I barely noticed them. Now, I notice them, not because it’s a natural proclivity, but because I must in this p-culture.

  103. Pony

    Birth control, maybe we could get some seriously workable male birth-control. Spend a couple billion advertising it as sexaaay, empowering, and macho, not to mention SAFE.

  104. Beth in Michigan

    I’m just piping in for anyone who is interested in finding out more about nursing from the larger woman’s perspective.(Why yes, I do have areolas the size of coasters, why do you ask?) I nursed the second one for two years and I’m an expert at the evil eye! I used to threaten to squirt people just to scare them away. Go ahead, confront me on nursing in public, I dare you! Send email for more gory details.

  105. Beth in Michigan

    When I tell people they can email me for nursing advice I should probably include the address, eh?

    theoreticalproductions@yahoo.com

  106. Jezebella

    Maggie, ironically, Victoria’s Secret will have nothing to do with double-D breasts. VS is for women who WANT big breasts, not women that actually HAVE them. Try finding a “full figure” bra in that joint. Ain’t happening.

    And historylady, it’s just plain WEIRD that you were in *Austin* when someone freaked out about public breastfeeding. Anybody with that level of hostility regarding visible nipples is a fruitcake.

    Also, I think it’s fear of the nipple, not fear of the breast, that is prevalent in the US. Witness the Janet Jackson freakout at the SuperBowl. Witness the teeny-tiny bikinis all over network TV that really only cover the nipples. The nipple is the visible marker of the breast’s real biological purpose, and so it must be hidden at all times.

  107. maggiethewolf

    Jezebella, I guess I revealed how little I know about Victoria’s Secret. I looked in a few times. It gave me hives.

    I love this line: “The nipple is the visible marker of the breast’s real biological purpose, and so it must be hidden at all times.”

  108. Friggas Own

    Jezebella is onto something here! I was watching cable recently and I saw completely smooth mammaries! It was the wierdest thing ever, just a pair of nipple-free boobs. They didn’t bother to blur out the guy’s nipples either, so I was really thrown.

    I’m a big fan of legalized public toplessness, I think if people saw more boobs, of all shapes and sizes, they’d get over the titillation factor pretty quick. And yes, I realize I’m advocating for laws that let “unattractive” people show some skin, as one of the unattractive people I’m not particularily bothered by this. I get to see all sorts of people naked in the practice of my religion, and after your first experience it’s neither uncomfortable nor shocking, though I’m still not a big fan of back hair. Though as a caveat, please, remember the sunscreen.

  109. Ms Kate

    Stingray may be insane, but that’s no excuse for murdering that stupid crocodile guy.

    Oh no! According to Man Law, if Stingray poked him, she owns him!

    Crikey.

  110. the15th

    Birth control, maybe we could get some seriously workable male birth-control.

    I definitely agree that the current state of options for birth control is patriarchy-influenced.

  111. Hawise

    I think we have finally hit on the problem. It is not breasts that are a problem in North American society, after all it is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is nipples that cause the kerfuffle and especially if the nipple (breast attached) is doing what it is designed to do.
    Historylady, you appear to hev met one of those women who are totally clueless about their own bodies and as a result afraid that any showing of natural function will somehow devalue them. Pity her, she knows not what she is.

  112. amaz0n

    Oh no! According to Man Law, if Stingray poked him, she owns him!

    Crikey.

    Ms. Kate wins.

  113. saltyC

    Vera, I want to add to your history of breastfeeding. You mentioned that thr rich used to hire wet nurses if they needed to.

    From a Natural History magazine several years back, I read that in France in the 18th – 19th century, nobody in the upper classes breastfed, all the rich children were fed with a wet nurse. An upper class woman wasn’t supposed to let her breasts get worn-out looking.

    On a similar note, a Beverly Hills staffing company is supplying the rich with wet nurses:

    http://www.aplusdom.com/

    seems silicone gets in the way of breastfeeding.

  114. k, plays tennis

    Reliable male contraception, you say?

    You’re alredy soaking in it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat-based_contraception

  115. Pony

    If there’s money to be made from women, the patriarchy will be the ones making it. It will only be a matter of time before Nestle’s steps in. I wonder, couldn’t we just hook them up to something and have them pumped dry two three times a day, then bottle it as Dr. John-son’s Natural Mother’s Milk. Women who lactate freely and copiously will be in demand, the agency will charge more for their milk of course, the sex pos feminists will demand they be unionized and regulated. Their will be tiers; Lactat 1, Lactat 2, and Lactat three, Eventually, some men will read up thread there the post that talks about how they can so lactate…

    I tire.

  116. Pony

    Gosh yes, K,plays tennis. Looks like medical science is all over this one:

    http://tinyurl.com/lhjq8

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/
    query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=
    AbstractPlus&list_uids=7591190&query_hl=3&itool=pubmed_DocSum

  117. Edith

    Lordisa. While I fully support this Twisty post, I can’t help but roll my eyes at some of the comments here, of the “the baby needs to be breastfed,” “breast is best,” “women are selfish if they put their own needs ahead of their child and don’t breasfeed” vein. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive, poor bottle-fed child that I am, but whoever mentioned the Starbucks employee versus corporate member analogy, kudos to you. Because of course, it’s a class issue. Of course. And of course, that very same class issue is USED against members of the lower class to support the “breast is best” agenda: “Look at those awful poor people, forced to bottle feed! Obviously we need to do something so that the women can be free to breastfeed!” Maybe, you know, you should mind your own damn business. Kind of like how I mind MY own damn business when a woman is feeding her kid in public.

    Stupid, bullshit divides between women. Blame the p.

  118. k, plays tennis

    Pretty funny, Pony. I should have guessed that the patriarchy was confused about “infertility” versus “birth control.”

  119. wabewawa

    Kim P,

    I only fairly recently learned about the cabbage leaf thing, a bit too late to be useful (but hopefully I can pass the info along to someone else sometime also). Certainly would have been preferable to ice packs! Unfortunately, at the time when I really could have used some good natural remedies like that, the wise old matriarch of my family who could probably have suggested something along those lines was no longer around.

    I actually think a lot of breast-feeding “failures” are due to engorgement and other such issues that could be fairly easily remedied if we had more midwives and doula types around to provide the teaching and counseling and support needed. The so-called breast-feeding training they had at my hospital when I gave birth was a sad joke (as was them not getting me to pump a little bit ASAP to keep from getting so engorged in the first place).

  120. wabewawa

    Beth in Michigan, I love it! I sure wish I had that kind of chutzpah and moxie, but I’m rather a shy, retiring type in public. And as you probably know, just being kind of uncomfortable, physically or mentally, can interfere with the let-down response in the first place. (But dang, I sometimes would accidentally squirt across the living room, so I could have hit some of those judgmental jerks from a good 10 feet away!) I count myself very lucky not to have ever encountered anything close to what Historylady did, though — just the occasional mal occhio or inappropriate leer.

  121. wabewawa

    I’ve got deja vu big time that this has already been posted here in the somewhat recent past, but seems as good a time as any to bring it up again; i.e., the internet breast milk biz:

    http://tinyurl.com/pv3gg

    http://tinyurl.com/l69xn

  122. ew_nc

    121 comments. Wow. This is apparently a hot button issue. (Feel free to groan at my poor attempt at a pun)

  123. KTal

    “I probably get blasted for this,but being obnoxious is just to hard to resist but I think breastfeeding in public is plain rude, as is picking your nose, farting, spitting, taking a piss or changing a tampon. Vomiting, too, but that is much harder to control.. All very natural functions, but please, please, I do not want to see other people’s bodily fluids in public, especially in a restaurant etc. For any deity’s sake, take the drooling kid and your splattering milk outta my face!”

    Obviously you have had scant exposure to breastfeeding and have instead, adopted the patriarchy version, possibly from a Southern Baptist preacher somewhere? I fed three children and not once was any bodily fluid or tit visible to anyone. Your assertion that such would be the case, has me wondering about the extent of your observation of those who have breastfed? Do you stare with a secret purient wonderment, hoping to witness a stray nipple or the signs of a child satiated without the assistance of the capitalist patriarchy? Does the thought of that make you feel all icky and confused inside?

    “I’ve loved your site Twisty, admired your courage and sharp wit, and then you start mooing in unison with all these breeders. Sorry about the crudeness, but reproducing does not make anyone a hero or a ‘real woman’. In my book, celebrating an involuntary biological process (ie. pregnancy) and bodily functions (lactating) as some sort of feminist heroism is not blaming the pathriachy.”

    Mooing? Breeders? Is this coming from a female?

    Biology 001: It takes a man and a woman to make a kid. Got it? See now, shaming women for having tits that feed a kid and a uterus that carries a fetus just looks at one part of the equation. You’re missing a big part, better try again.

    Nothing more pathetic than a patriarchy apologist trying to pass off as a feminist.

  124. KTal

    Oh and no offense to Twist, but aside from the risk of her laptop battery exploding in fire on her laptop, I can’t see the descriptive ‘courage’ applying to her blogging practice. Twisty is a writer and a good one and puts it to good use.

    Taking action against the patriarchy to defend yourself, your existance or your views, in the face of physical, emotional or economic threat takes courage. Doing the same to defend others you know are unjustly oppressed takes even more courage. Overcoming one’s own indoctrination as a servant to the master class often takes the greatest courage since we must first admit that we are not members of the master class and that complicity will not get us membership. Only then can we put down the club the patriarchy so gladly furnishes us to beat our compatriots into submission and develop an identity based on truths, not the lies fed us by our oppressors.

  125. kathy a

    ktal is on fire!

  126. Aussie Liz

    I’ll say.

  127. Lara

    Amaz0n wrote: “Seriously, does anyone have any information more information on this? I’m not spawning any time soon, but I’d like to in the next five years, and I’m a 34E and would like to breastfeed.”

    The “research” on size and breastfeeding success is scant and poorly done, and focuses on overall body size (not breast size), but was trumpeted around a while back as one more reason why large women are dangerous to their children and should feel guilty, starting now dammit.

    My impression from experience is that it’s possible that larger breasted and/or fat women have a lower rate of breastfeeding, if all other factors are not controlled for. Putting aside the association between poverty and fat (and poverty and breastfeeding rates): fat girls and women are taught from the moment they become fat (if not before) that their bodies are unacceptable, unruly, uncontrollable, untrustworthy, dysfunctional, and must above all be hidden from others’ delicate eyes at all times.

    In pregnancy they are tut-tutted at and there is a general frisson of disgust at the whole situation, possibly because it means others are forced to imagine them participating in sex. They are warned thoroughly and systematically that fat women have trouble birthing their kids, and that they’ll have trouble breastfeeding them. They’re risked out of birthing centres and “low-risk” hospitals and sent to tertiary hosptials to birth. Then they’re subjected to a greater range of obstetric interventions up to and including Caesarean section, and lectured on never sleeping with their baby for fear of their fat smothering the child.

    Focussing on the purely mechanical factor of large breastedness, some larger women need to try different positions from the Madonna-and-child “cradle hold” in order for their newborns to feed effectively. In the (widespread) absence of competent advice on this, they may assume that they just can’t manage it, because when they try breastfeeding it doesn’t look like the pictures.

    I find the slightly lower rate of breastfeeding in larger women entirely unsurprising.

  128. Ms Kate

    Not to go all “just so story” here, but having large breasts is pretty much hereditary. Ergo, if there are large breasted women around, they had to have been able to sustain their infants.

    Many “b” cup women expand a great deal when they have milk, others, like myself and my 40Ds, go up a cup size if that. Observationally, I find that busty women don’t expand as much, possibly because the percentage of their breasts that is milk-producing stuff isn’t as high as with smaller breasted women.

    The only larger breasted woman I know who couldn’t nurse was my uncle’s wife, who, when she had milk, had breasts larger than her hands could reach to hold an infant(4’11″ tall, short limbed and very very busty). She doesn’t even have a cup size, she has to get custom made bras as it is. That’s an extreme and rare situation, to say the least.

  129. Jodie

    What people don’t understand about co-sleeping is that alcohol, regardless of the size of the parents, is the single biggest risk to an infant. If a parent has been drinking, and rolls onto the baby, they are far less likely to awaken.

    Society should make it easy for women, but most especially for women in poverty, to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is practically free (cost of paraphernalia of nursing bras and breast pads is really negligible in comparison).

    I worked with a different employer when I had each of my two children. Both employers worked with me so I could breastfeed on demand, despite the fact that my jobs each time were lower-level employee status, and at least one (and possibly both) immediate bosses were running dogs of the patriarchy.

    As tight as the budget was back then, if I hadn’t been able to breastfeed, I’d have been working extra hours to pay for the formula.

    There’s nothing wrong with using formula to feed infants if it works out that way for you. Unfortunately, the commercialization of formula has been going on for several generations, and unless there is a big push for women to breastfeed, many won’t; there’s a learning curve, it’s difficult to start out, there’s societal opposition (quite a bit, actually, considering that on a feminist thread someone likened breastfeeding to urination and defecation, wtf), and unless the advantages other than cost are pushed, I think there’d be a steady decline in breastfeeding, because the opposition is so strong these days, and lactation education is fairly difficult to come by for hospital births (nurses are severely overworked).

    Babies won’t be left behind, so to speak, if they aren’t breastfed; I don’t think there’s any harm in using formula, and I don’t think a mom or baby is somehow less for doing so. But I feel very strongly that it’s better for mom and baby if breastfeeding can be managed. And even if it weren’t better, there’s no reason for any woman who chooses to do so to feel like she can’t feed her baby anyplace a baby could be fed with a bottle.

    When I was breastfeeding my babies, I was ready, READY, to jump all over the first person who told me not to breastfeed whereever the heck I was (and I went every where that it was appropriate to take a baby). Funny, no one ever did. Which just shows how much things have changed in 20 years.

    KTal, you ARE on fire!

  130. Beth in Michigan

    Wabewawa, you’re right, I do understand completely. I’m sure that’s part of the reason I could never pump worth a damn, I was too tense and anxious about it to relax and let it down.

    Jezebella, thank you! For some reason most bras for small breasted women are designed to make them look bigger while most of the bras for larger women are designed to “minimize” them. I guess the only true, patriarchially sanctioned bra size is a 36-C.

    Ktal, Lara, Ms. Kate and Jodie? Yes, yes, yes and yes! You are all correct! Gold stars for everyone! Oh, wait, sorry Twisty, that’s your decision.

  131. erbie

    Jodie, ITA! And I have had the same experience so far with nursing my two kids. Never so much as a dirty look, though I’ve nursed everywhere, and been ready with the snappy comebacks. I stopped nursing my older child in public after she was about 2.5, lest someone decide it’s wrong and icky and call the cops. I nursed my 4 month old in Starbucks yesterday, sitting right next to a big beefy guy who then proceeded to clip his nails at the table. Talk about gross!

    And to the person who compared nursing to picking one’s nose or defacating in public, I just feel sorry for you. Feeding an infant is not the same as taking a crap. It’s EATING. I don’t imagine you share the same horror when seeing a baby get a bottle in public. It’s the same thing, just a different delivery system. And I guarantee you’d rather see a slight flash of my forbidden nipples than listen to my baby scream because she’s hungry. That kid has some lungs on her! I’ll go nurse her in the bathroom when you eat your cheeseburger in there.

  132. erbie

    Also, I have rather large breasts when I’m nursing (E) and I’m also what the patriarchy considers too not-thin to attract a man, but I have been able to nurse both my kids just fine, including a preemie who was in the NICU for 2 months. I don’t buy fat women not being able to nurse. It’s just another thing to tell fat women they’re not okay. I know plenty of fat women who nurse just fine.

    Yes, there is a learning curve. Yes, it can be difficult and painful. But with support, just about anyone can nurse. I’d say the majority of people who “can’t” don’t have the proper information or support or are given downright misinformation. Many in the medical profession don’t have a clue how lactation works or how to teach a woman to breastfeed.

    In two generations, we’ve lost the entire history of breastfeeding knowledge that was passed from woman to woman.

  133. MzNicky

    Hey, MizNicky, I breastfed both my children till they were three years old. Nyah nyah nyah!

    Really, vera? When my children were three years old they were scrambling their own eggs and making their own peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. They’d also learned not go “nyah nyah nyah!” at people.

    There’s an awful lot of defensiveness on this thread. I guess I know who to blame.

  134. Betsy

    The patriarchy hates breast-feeding because it’s a direct challenge to male power. In breast-feeding women are quite literally the ones who power life and growth.

    The patriarchy doesn’t like to see the evidence of that at all. Hide it! Hide it!

    The breast is a direct challenge to the primacy of the phallus.

    I should say the two breasts, actually — which of course leaves the phallus badly outnumbered. Even more of a threat to the patriarchy, since by its own calculus more is always better.

  135. vera

    MzNicky, that was supposed to be humor. My apologies.

  136. ks

    Novice blamer here. I read the site a lot, but I don’t comment much anywhere.

    When I was breastfeeding my babies, I was ready, READY, to jump all over the first person who told me not to breastfeed whereever the heck I was (and I went every where that it was appropriate to take a baby). Funny, no one ever did. Which just shows how much things have changed in 20 years.

    I was the same way. I wanted someone to say something, just so I could tell them off. But I never had any problem breastfeeding either of mine in public or anywhere else. Because seriously, they’re just boobs, babies have got to eat, so what’s the big deal. I’ve never understood the obsession about it. Well, I do, but it’s a stupid obsession. Even the Janet Jackson thing, I was more offended by the violence implied when he ripped her top off (and that’s what I would have objected to my kids seeing if we had been watching the superbowl, which we weren’t). That you could see her nipple doesn’t really matter at all to me.

    That said, I hated breastfeeding. With an absolute passion. I did both my kids for about 10-11 months each, mainly because it is free and formula is very expensive. But my breasts are mine, and even though their main biological function is to feed infants, they belong to me (and I don’t really like having them touched sexually all that much either). I’m not a cuddly person and I hated having a baby attached to me 24/7 and I stopped breastfeeding as soon as they were old enough for cow milk. I also never had the breastfeeding orgasm. I had uterine contractions while feeding, but more of the painful variety than the orgasmic kind.

  137. Twisty

    You know, I wrote this post because I am irked by society’s condescending attitude towards boobs. Breastfeeding is not, in and of itself, an issue that ought to engender such militancy. Breastfeed, don’t breastfeed, who cares? When I look around at the general populus and feel my customary surge of superiority, I often get the impression that nobody, whatever they feed their infants, knows how to raise’em up to be the sort of adults who don’t piss me off.

  138. vera

    Oh, Twisty, my daughters wouldn’t piss you off. I think you’d find them charming. I can’t claim it had anything to do with their being breastfed, though, or that I (or their dad) can take credit. My daughters are, simply, the sort of young women of whom a radical feminist mom — or a spinster aunt, if only they had one — can be proud.

  139. vera

    (Just re-read MzNicky’s comment) Yes, really. It’s only recently, and in our culture, that breastfeeding till past age two is unusual. In other cultures and at other times, not doing it would have been bizarre.

    It’s not like nursing a baby. Toddlers run around, make peanut butter sandwiches, etc., and at the end of the day, when all is quiet and the’re winding down, they nurse. That’s why weaning is much easier for mothers who continue to nurse older babies/toddlers. The child gradually reduces (usually with encouragement) to one time per day, and then stops. One day you realize “Oh, she’s not nursing any more.” And that’s it. Life moves on to the next phase, and you must bless the breastfeeding days and kiss them goodbye.

  140. Twisty

    Oh, Twisty, my daughters wouldn’t piss you off.

    I forgot to say ‘present company excepted.’ Blamers are doubtless the most exquisite of parents. My lament is that hardly anyone, percentage-wise, is a blamer.

  141. vera

    Currently my main parenting technique is to instruct my older daughter, each time I talk to her on the phone, to read Twisty’s blog.

    Darling, if you’re reading, I’m waving at you!

  142. KTal

    “You know, I wrote this post because I am irked by society’s condescending attitude towards boobs. Breastfeeding is not, in and of itself, an issue that ought to engender such militancy.”

    I got militant at the “boob-juice=piss” poster for that reason. I am tired of the reduction of women to the role of mother/cow or wife/whore. And nothing pushes me into the Vortex of Blame more than a woman wearing the feminist badge running through the joint picking fights with her sisters and using the patriarchy’s script as her ammunition.

    I’d say maybe it had someting to do with the cat fleas that have recently been introduced to my house and keep biting my ass everytime I sit down in my chair to view this blog. But no, I can and will kill off the fleas, unlike the women hating that I mus deal with everyday.

  143. amaz0n

    When our cat was a barely weaned kitten, he would sometimes seek nourishment and comfort from the non-lactating (but swollen) nipples of our adult male cat, who would happily provide for him.

    On that topic, an anthropologist may have finally found out the answer to the “mystery” of dudely nipples, courtesy of a tribe in Africa:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/parents/story/0,,1506843,00.html

    From the article:

    The answer, it seems, is the one my three-year-old (and Darwin, to be fair) suspected all along: male nipples are there as a stand-in for when mum isn’t around and there’s a squawking bambino in dire need of something to suck.

  144. vera

    What a fascinating article. This quote in particular:

    “Jack O’Sullivan of Fathers Direct says he was invited on chat show after chat show on Monday in the wake of the report going public, and faced a mixture of horror, consternation and support. ‘Some fathers phoned in to say they’d let their child suck their nipples – often it had just happened when the baby was lying on their chest in bed,’ he says. But some people were disgusted: the words ‘child abuse’ came up more than once, which points up interesting cultural differences when you think that, to Aka folk, much of the way we raise our kids would count as child abuse to them (babies being left to sleep alone in a different room from their parents, for example).”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/parents/story/0,,1506843,00.html

    The child abuse accusation has also been thrown at women who breastfeed older toddlers. In one case in New York, a child was taken away from her mother and put in foster care for several months because someone in Child Protective Services thought it was obscene for that mother to breastfeed a two-year-old. As this quote demonstrates, perhaps it’s our culture that’s bizarre and abusive. (Ya think?)

    And that’s why I feel militant on the subject.

  145. vera

    Also, didn’t someone call me a “mooing breeder”? I’d ask her to step outside, but we’re all just electrons here.

  146. KTal

    That’s a cool article Amazon and I’m not too surprised, although I’ve never heard of children suckling a father.

    When I had my first child, at eighteen, very young and impressionable, an older woman gave me a book written by an anthropologist about the way in which the Amazonion people parent their children. I was very impressed with the book, the title of which I don’t remember.

    One of the things in that book and in that study you cite, was the fact that the children were carried and held by someone constantly. I nursed my son on demand and carried him and held him all the time. We had no crib, no seperate bed, no basket, no carrier and only a cheap umbrella stroller given to me by a relative (one of the few gifts from anyone as no one in the family wanted anything to do with me because of my now lower status as a young mother). I either held him, or put him in one of those Snugglie body packs when I needed both hands. With my middle child I even was lucky to find a cool over the shoulder sling-type thing to carry her in, a take-off of the slings used by aboriginal woman the world over.

    All my children slept in the bed with me during the first year and not once did I roll over on them. In fact, I never had to ‘get out of bed’ in the middle of the night to feed if they child awoke, I often fed and fell asleep with child attached and my arms protectively around it.

    My children were allowed to explore and learned very early on the meaning of ‘no’. Not once did I raise a hand to them, never. They were happy, well behaved, did not cry, did not fuss. Although I must admit that my middle child (daughter) was a wild one and very kinetic, my other two were more cerebral and easy-going. Still, never a thought was entertained as to giving ,y middle daughter meds to ‘calm her down’.

    Now she’s a young blamer and go getter, my son is a well adjusted, independent young man (self ascribed blamer as well, but his maleness gives him a deficit I like to remind him) and my youngest daughter, still easy going, cerebral and well, of course a blamer as well! My kids have had their share of rough starts due to the harsh economics of their childhood, but they are overcoming and have a maturity and sense of individual responsibility that too many their age don’t have.

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