World War T and the backlash against breastfeeding, two sides of one misogynist coin

There is a backlash against breastfeeding in which women constantly argue they need their drugs more than they need to breastfeed and it parallels the WWT (World War Transgender, courtesy of one Steve Sailer) demands for drugs to maintain a supposedly inborn gender.  Yep, I totally went there!  But in the case of women, as opposed to the men and teenage boys encouraged to take dangerous drugs with horrible side effects, most of the (usually) psychiatric medications they want to take are compatible with breastfeeding.

Another part of the breastfeeding backlash is defining bizarre edge cases where breastfeeding would not be feasible as normal and typical, like this cancer mom http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-breastfeed-nursing-moms-baby-perspec-1015-20141014-story.html#page=2.

Also, in a country where formula feeding is the social and medical norm, screaming about boob nazis (women defending the right of women to behave in biologically normal ways that were historically part of the public sphere) disturbingly parallels the vicious and astonishing misogyny leveled towards radical feminists, who represent another minority group of women desperately trying to defend the biological reality of femalehood and female existence from the relentless onslaught of surgically unaltered men proclaiming themselves more womanly than any woman born.

If woman is just a feeling a man has sometimes, what rights (even to existence) do real women have?

“Women don’t really exist, they’re just a feeling a man sometimes has”– GallusMag at GenderTrender, a radical feminist clearinghouse on WWT and one of the few sources of real journalism on that topic.

The breastfeeding backlash is pretty virulent and often part of nominally conservative circles that identify as more “moderate” and libertarian.  I was inspired to start this post-topic by the weird fact that I’ve seen soooooooooooooooooooooooo many conservative men bring up OUT OF NOWHERE the “boob nazi” narrative regarding why their wives put some or all the babies on formula.  One notable example was reading a dissident right blog mostly about statistical analysis of various stuff and out of nowhere comes the boob nazi thing at the end of a post.  Another interesting example was an open thread discussion on a center-right/libertarian blog that wasn’t about birth or breastfeeding or pregnancy in any way.  But then a dude just busts out with it.

Liberal dudes tend to be super pushy about “posting for their pregnant wife/girlfriend”, which is controlling and weird too, but conservative guys tend to be anti-breastfeeding as a norm.  To brag about how their wife used it as a weight-loss tool, sure, but never as something normal and part of how women birth and nourish infants.  They are also this way about homebirth and midwifery.  Only if they assisted do they support it or speak of it favorably.  One example is the place I purchased some homebirthing supplies from, which was a guy who assisted with his wife’s homebirths enough times that they decided to start a business selling the supplies online.

Breastfeeding for more than a year is especially reviled, which is bitterly funny given the supposed support for SAHMing.

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and it carries a lot of health issues (like being exhausted from the biological process of milk-making, among other things), but it’s biologically normal, it’s part of the great work that is our womanly form.  We weren’t designed to merely have a baby and then, well, whatever foodwise.  We were designed to breastfeed for many months of an infant’s life, with again a natural decrease in production as the infant matures and can eat more and more solid foods into toddlerhood, where the weaning process is supposed to happen.  These are ideals, and the fallenness of this world makes them not always possible for every woman.  But normalizing *anything but breastfeeding* is definitely anti-woman.  And that happens over and over again among conservatives.  It’s so common to denigrate solely feminine spheres in this way, by only speaking of them when they have some utility as a tool to serve a man’s desires.  It’s not just a thing that gets your body slimmer for funtimes postpartum.  It’s not costless compared to formula, it simply comes with different accounting.  It’s a fearfully and wonderfully made system of infant feeding built right in to start working even before you give birth.  Formula is very clever, but breastmilk production and nursing is so remarkable I do encourage women to try it and support them in doing so in the ways that I can (food, employment for nursing mothers, connecting them with other experienced nursing mothers, etc.)

My position is the same online as it is when I’m helping out women offline to breastfeed at all or for a few months longer than they otherwise would.  Formula is a great invention, but it’s not magical and requires a lot of resources to be a reliable feeding method for infants.  Babies that sleep badly will do so regardless of the food they eat.  And if they sleep pretty good, then they’ll do so with breastmilk as readily as formula.  And making milk is work too, just like growing a baby, so dig in.  But the main way to get more women breastfeeding is to actively support and approve of women staying home all day.  Pumping rooms at a job aren’t going to do it and create many other problems, like pressure on women to run to work ten minutes after delivery.  Anyway this is a hobbyhorse so I’ll hop off and leave additional discussion to the floor.

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8 thoughts on “World War T and the backlash against breastfeeding, two sides of one misogynist coin”

  1. “GallusMag at GenderTrender, a radical feminist clearinghouse on WWT and one of the few sources of real journalism on that topic.”

    I’m astonished to find that you are familiar with GenderTrender. Clearly my interests are varied, and I find truth in a lot of different places. What an interesting coincidence.

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  2. I love your work, but homebirth scares me to death. Obviously, a lot of women like it, but the possible downside is enormous (death to the baby, death to mom, brain damage to the baby, premature emergency hysterectomy for mom, etc.). Also, in developed countries where homebirth is a thing, homebirth midwives have a much higher level of training and are much better plugged into the conventional medical system. Here in the US, there’s an outlaw/oppositional culture that means that a homebirth midwife is tempted to keep a mother and baby away from the hospital even in clearly dire circumstances. There’s a reason that few homebirth midwives carry appropriate insurance.

    I think it’s actually a real service that normal dads perform to be spooked about homebirth and other “alternative” medicine that their wives get excited about. Women are great in many, many ways, but one of our weaknesses as a sex is our love of magic beans like homebirth and essential oils and our fear of conventional medicine like vaccines.

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    1. You’re talking about something else entirely. I’m talking about men who are just fine assisting with a homebirth but suddenly if they aren’t participating it’s terrible under any and all circumstances. That’s not the same as what you’re describing.

      I have very ambivalent feelings about homebirth myself because the hospital options are so antagonistic and combative for women who do want a wider range of birth options. Women are driven to the craziness of “I’ll freebirth in the woods” by some of the craziness of hospital stuff that is not evidence-based or safe.

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      1. …or just kind of yucky.

        One of the main reasons I was thrilled to leave the hospital my last visit was that they were having me collect all of my liquid waste so they could measure the quantity make sure I was doing OK. I get the medical reasoning, but at some point, shouldn’t we give my kidneys a clean bill of health?

        I read the Skeptical OB (I had a very medical last pregnancy because of complications and read there avidly), so I’m reconciled to conventional OB stuff.

        I think that where conventional OB probably falls down is on patient education–there’s such a yawning chasm between standard childbirth classes and actual hospital childbirth. My first OB was absolutely miserable at explaining how things were going to go down, even though, in retrospect, the stuff that freaked me out was totally predictable and medically appropriate. I asked her how it was going to go at one of my apts. and she said, “The baby decides!” That was extremely deceptive for somebody like me with the usual hippy childbirth education background–I had no idea at the time that the baby wanted lots of pitocin, antibiotics via IV and monitors, and if I knew what was good for me, I should have an epidural sooner than later.

        If my OB had taken the effort to educate me either beforehand or onsite about any of this, I would have been a MUCH better and happier patient. As it was, I was at least initially attempting to have an unmedicated childbirth while trussed like a Thanksgiving turkey, which was not a happy experience. My OB didn’t have a single word with me about anesthesia, which (now that I’m a big fan of epidurals) I think was a huge oversight on her part. Knowing that I was a first time mom and knowing how much misinformation circulates on the subject, I think it was up to her to have “the talk” with me and explain that epidurals aren’t bad for babies. I didn’t know that going in! I just had a vague, uneducated idea that unmedicated birth is somehow better for the baby, and nobody at my doctor’s office made an effort to deal with my ignorance. It was kind of a veterinary experience that first time.

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      2. I forgot to mention that I had Group B strep and my water had broken. So, as I know now, I was on the clock and they needed to deliver the baby within a certain window of time to avoid infection. So there was a real need for speed, and my doctor wasn’t just dialing up the pitocin to be mean. But nobody explained that to me…

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  3. conservative men are anti-breastfeeding? Say what? Not in my universe, at all. You’re interesting, but you must live in a pretty closed, strange circle to come to that conclusion. Every conservative, Christian couple we know breast-fed their babies, us included. And nobody was “anti” anything. Dang.

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    1. You’re talking about something else entirely. I didn’t say that there was no breastfeeding, only that conservative men disproportionately OUT OF NOWHERE start denigrating lactivists as the reason their specific wives put the kid on formula.

      Also, your statement doesn’t exclude the rejection or disapproval of breastfeeding past one year. Most American women start breastfeeding and stop after a few months. Nothing you’ve said suggests anything different happens in your circles.

      IRL most women and men express shock that my children are massive and tall during infancy without formula supplementation. Formula supplementation for larger infants is very common, and also brought up as a reason they couldn’t breastfeed for more than a couple months.

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      1. I do agree that this is an issue.

        There is a deep and abiding sickness regarding the body that circulates in our society.

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