Friday, August 08, 2008
courtesy our good pals at La Leche League, for those of you who like to keep abreast of these things. (snerk)
Say what you will about the boob nazis (and you will, I'm sure), I respect their work. and I think that most of the time, under most circumstances, breastfeeding is the best choice for a mom and her baby and that all reasonable effort should be expended to ensure that breastfeeding continues for as long as both parties desire.
I say this because so far, nursing has been really rewarding for me. It's kept me sane and relaxed and healthy (more or less) - and my goodness! what a racket nursing is!
"Hey hon, can you iron my shirt?"
oh, sorry darlin'. I'm feeding the baby.
"Can you fix dinner?"
eeeeeeeeeeyeah, no - I'm nursing.
"clean the bathroom?"
see "nursing", above.
"Hello, this is Bill Billcollector, is Antiprincess at home?"
sorry, can't come to the phone. I'm nursing.
"dingdong! landlord calling!"
so, yeah, it's been great for me the past five months. heh heh heh...pretty crafty of me, I think. nursing does give me a chance to slow down a minute, take a deep breath, relax a little - there's no way that's not healthy. And I think it's cool that no matter where I am, no matter what I'm doing, I can make that annoying whine stop instantly just by jamming a boob in the baby's mouth. at home, at work, in the grocery store, on the city bus - absolutely free and instantly effective. the transformation from screaming trainwreck to merry little cherub is nothing short of miraculous.
(sigh...'scuse me while I renew my commitment to breastfeeding...)
And we're back!
seriously, if all my milk dried up tomorrow and we had to switch to formula, Wolfie would be fine, just fine. ('course, paradoxically, we'd have to sell the baby to FormulaCo, or whoever. that shit's expensive!) but I'm not overly worried that formula is made of pure poisonium killyounate, at least not while our privileged white american asses have a reliable source of clean water.
you all know where this is going, I'm sure.
in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, let's revisit our esteemed blog colleague Justicewalks, to wit:
We could do this by refusing to be mothers to males. Even in places where abortions or other adequate birth control are lacking, women could refuse to nurse male neonates. You may wonder what horrible tragedies would befall the poor women who didn't give men the sons they demanded. Might they be beaten? Might they be raped? Might they be killed?
I remember back in the summer I went a little nuts about that, when I read it. maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the hormones, who knows. but I came fairly completely unhinged about it.
JW later explains herself here, saying:
A good keyboard-chum of mine reminded me the other day about all of the overwrought histrionics surrounding my supposed advocacy of male infanticide. I’ve found it all so amusing, really, the way the slightest anti-male thing gets purposefully misconstrued as violent, irrational, and haphazard, that I haven’t felt the need to counter it with any sort of dignified response. For me, the raving attacks on me have only served to show my opponents in all their saturated male-identification. But, for clarity, I thought I’d revisit that situation.
This is all I said:
We could do this [free ourselves from men] by refusing to be mothers to males. Even in places where abortions or other adequate birth control are lacking, women could refuse to nurse male neonates.
Then, Bird, whoever she is, in the very next comment, equated this, refusal of reproductive (and sexual) services to males, with killing them. Apparently, If you’re not offering up your wombs and extended nipples to the bastards, you’re KILLING THEM, I tell you!
well, yeah, overwrought histrionics, guilty as charged.
nonetheless, I struggle to find a common ground on this subject. even now, five months after those crazy pregnancy hormone spikes, it's still really sensitive and overwrought-histrionic-inducing for me. but I'll try to remain rational for a change.
maybe back then I should have asked exactly what she meant by "refusing to nurse". because there are plenty of other options to sustain the lives of newborn babies. I mean, was she thinking that baby boys should be given formula? baby boys should be given formula by their fathers?
unlikely, given this paragraph here:
In any event, and just to be perfectly precise about my perspective, I know that we must drastically reduce (if not eliminate) the male population in order to assure girls’ and women’s safety from prostitution, marriage, rape, sexual indebtedness, and reproductive slavery. And, yes, I see birth control, abortion, and abandonment as being the route toward that reduced (or eliminated) male population.
so, yeah, the way I read it, a drastic reduction (or elimination) of the male population would require making live male babies (not fetuses, not embryos) dead.
later she says:
"Abandonment is not murder."
but see, someone's gotta stick around and feed them something. otherwise they'll die. any baby (boy or girl) will die. at this stage in the game? the "neonate" stage, prior to a year, maybe two? yeah, leaving a baby to fend for itself is pretty much a death sentence. abandonment IS murder.
maybe at the time I missed her overarching point that men commit infanticide of girl babies all the time, and where were the condemnations of that? why does just a simple, innocent, harmless little suggestion of turning the tables cause such an explosion of rage?
well, for me, it was because I was pregnant, and touchy, and really trying to keep a lid on things IRL, and so probably lashed out inappropriately.
this whole "refuse to nurse male neonate" thing only works if you think that there is some innate characteristic of males that makes them Not Worth Saving, some inborn flaw in their character that is borne on their bodies, indelible, un-correctable, some Mark of Cain that predestines all men to devote their lives to harming women just by their very presence, and so worth abandoning.
but myself, I don't think that misogyny is innate. I think it's learned. or, hopefully, if I'm careful and cautious and responsible and paying attention, NOT learned.
and is there anyone, really, that can carry some innate characteristic of chromosome that is Not Worth Saving? is there any way to justify the abandonment of babies-of-color, on the grounds that they'll just grow up to (do whatever horrible thing people of color are assumed to do)? or the abandonment of babies with disabilities?
so, JW and I may respectfully disagree (now that I'm significantly less hysterical), if such is even possible for her, knowing that I'm a fairly white, privileged, "male-identified" and therefore irrelevant voice in a much larger blogosphere.
I am so so sorry to hear that. I did not mean to upset you (or anyone).
email me if you want to.
some babies can't nurse. some moms can't nurse. and I didn't mean to imply that because it worked for me, it should work for everyone (and that there's something Wrong With You if it doesn't work). I am not EveryWoman.
I should be more careful.
I did try breastfeeding, managed 8 days and had to give up, and it was such a relief when I did! But I agree with you, it is definitely the best thing, if you can manage it, and if you can't there's no need to worry - my son loved his formula and he certainly hasn't suffered because of it! :-D
The reason it would work to reduce the population is because, a) women would not be fucking men and getting pregnant with kids, male or female, as often in the first place, and b) men show less interest in their children's welfare than women do. I imagine,with the reduced number of males being born and the increased number of male children dying of male neglect, the male population eventually be reduced quite substantially. And it's not as if women need men to comprise anywhere near half the population for the simple continuation of the species.
Anyway, even if men didn't manage to kill off the male neonates through neglect or abuse, they would eventually get old and die. And since women wouldn't be replacing them at the same rate anymore, you'd still have a reduced male population.
I'm really not sure what's so hard to get about that. I mean for women to let men take care of the male children, if they will. I further intend for women to stop bringing so many male children into the world. And I believe I said that somewhere in that thread.
but clearly your son is fine, right? which is the important thing.
and I think a lot of my more rigid colleagues in the world of motherhood lose sight of that. you get to do what's necessary to keep yourself and your family functional.
I hope you are feeling well (or at least better) these days. PPD is pretty serious.
A woman was told not to breast feed in a store in Vancouver BC. When the word got out mostly via the internet the store was swamped with breastfeeding moms who came to support and protest what happened to her. The store apologized and mothers won and made a huge statement.
It is rather a long address but it is at http://cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia
titled Breastfeeding moms fill H and M Store.
I'm not sure I remember you saying that, to leave male children to men, specifically. although you might have and I just didn't see it.
I get the sense that you would not be pleasantly surprised if men actually stepped up and nurtured their sons...
but it's an interesting theory.
so, assume for the moment that all boy children are immediately dumped on their fathers (or nearest male relative).
just thinking aloud here -
if maternal care (reserved for daughters) is preferable in some way to paternal care, are you not consigning male babies to second-class citizenship, when they themselves (the male neonates) had no real hand in harming women?
since they're, you know, infants.
making future generations pay for the sins of their ancestors doesn't seem fair to me, and seems to imply that one can never ever rise above biology.
it seems to say that if you're unfortunate enough to be born with a penis, you are doomed to harm women, and therefore women are justified in removing you from sight.
which I just can't buy.
yeah, I read about that. so-called "nurse-ins" happen fairly frequently.
I keep waiting for someone to give me grief on the bus, so I can call in the boob cavalry.
why? I'm not sure how that follows.
b) men show less interest in their children's welfare than women do.
why is that, do you think? is it biological? or just because as children boys are discouraged from nurturing play, and so grow up to view nurturing as "girly"?
The whole conversation was about what would bring revolution - it was never just about the boys. So, that's where the "women not having sex with men" comes from - it was part of the conversation.
so it's really monkey see, monkey do on the part of boys, and no amount of sane and non-sexist parenting will ameliorate that?
is it just the feeling of entitlement itself or the fact that men are feeling entitled?
I mean, I feel entitled to a hot dinner cooked for me when I get home from work. and nine nights out of ten, I get one. I feel good about that. I do. but will that sense of entitlement come to corrupt my child? would it corrupt my child if he was a girl instead of a boy?
Of course, in a short while this will become an untenable position, as said male neonate has no interest in politics.
Entitlement to the sexual/reproductive/domestic/religious/etc. services of women, period. Your dinner has nothing to do with it. And, no, girls aren't susceptible to that sort of socialization under patriarchy.
my dinner (your dinner, future dinners) has everything to do with it, falling as it does under "domestic" services as presented on your list above.
my question is - is it that feeling entitled (to anything) is wrong, or is feeling entitled (to anything) only wrong for men?
I'm saying, despite being a woman, I feel entitled to lots of things, most of which I get.
that doesn't mean I think that rape is cool. it just means that I don't think the feeling of entitlement is the root of all evil.
And, no, girls aren't susceptible to that sort of socialization under patriarchy.
so it's impossible for a girl to grow up feeling entitled?
where does that put us with regard to class issues?
as a side note - I want to thank you again for participating in this discussion, and I'd like to state for the record that I'm quite convinced you don't eat babies for breakfast.
which is a shame, because right about now I could use a few recipes... ;)
I do not see women as being socialized to feel entitled to the bodies/labors of men, regardless of whether or not they feel entitled to objects.
not to get all MRA on you, but I'm not entirely convinced this is true.
see Family, Traditional; also see Divorce, Messy.
I, again, felt pretty damn entitled to the fraction of "net worth" accumulated by my abusive exhusband that the judge decided was due to me.
and there's more on this I want to say but Male Neonate is entitled to eat. and I'm off to work soon.
if men were not socialized (by many forces, not just those at work in the home) to feel entitled, would it be safe to include them in society?
so it is possible for a girl to grow up feeling entitled, if she's rich enough to demand (and receive) the labors of others?
You said, "I think men's problem is entitlement. They won't stop feeling entitled until they stop getting what they demand (sex, kids, domestic services, etc.). "
Who the f--k are you to say that?
Do you paint opinions with a Wagner Power Painter all the time? (I actually own one of those - they RULE as far as painting a wall or deck, but opinions... not so much)
I'm sorry, as I man, I've always felt that I was entitled to (quoting "Men In Black") precisely dick.
Who is entitled to ANYTHING in life. No one. You either earn it or inherit it. And if you inherit it, you haven't earned it and unless you know what you're doing, you'll p-ss it away or just get lucky and pull a Nelson Rockefeller and die happy at age 70 something in bed with whomever.
I've been through one really long term relationship and after that a 10-year relationship/marriage that is going to end soon - for the better on both fronts I think. Do you think I feel I'm entitled to anything? By taking a wedding vow, yeah, we pledged to be together, but did that ENTITLE me to anything? No! Regardless of how wonderful the relationship was, it
didn't ENTITLE me to anything! She could have said adios the week after we were married, and so could I.
Does it ENTITLE me to anything now? No! Is it my freaking birthday? Is it freaking Christmas? Is it freaking Chanukkah? Ramadan? Any other freaking holidays? Arbor Day? Flag Day?
Why in the hell you paint all men in the same colour is beyond me. Seems like you have issues there.
I feel entitled to exactly zero. Zilch. Nada. Bupkis. Zipperini. So DON'T assume all men feel that they're entitled to sex, love, devotion, cooking, cleaning, domestic services, a-- wiping or any other things.
By the way - yeah, my marriage is going ppththt but I've done and still do 95% of the cooking and laundry. The sooner you accept that stereotypes are fiction, the better off you'll be.
Thus ends the rant.
Rock it out, antiprincess, re breastfeeding. It is the best thing ever, not for your baby only, but for you-- your boobs, your body, your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual health. I nursed my babies uninterrupted for over 20 years of my life, and interrupted for five years more or so and I have absolutely no regrets and many sweet memories. I have had far fewer menstrual cycles over my lifetime than most women, hence I am far less likely to develop uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer than most women. I *loved* breastfeeding. I found it pleasurable in so many ways. My kids, nine of whom are adults, are so healthy and always have been. I did not support the disgusting, capitalist, exploitive-of-poor-and-Third World women forumula companies, I boycotted them and all their products and always will. I am a true and forever member of the Militant Breastfeeding Cult. I hope you will be too. :)
Your baby is a doll. And damn right, there is nothing essential or inborn about sexism or stereotypically male behaviors. Boys learn it. It is socially constructed. It is taught. It can be *not* taught as well.
since you're here, let me ask you: as a handy representative of Class Average White Guy, do you think men in general grow up feeling entitled to women's bodies? all men? some men? any men?
note to all - I don't, as a general rule, moderate comments or ban commenters or close threads. anyone who comes by is entitled to speak their truth.
I didn't know you read here.
yeah. I fly the boob flag pretty high. but to add some perspective on the subject, I also have to add that in the forty years I've been alive, nursing is the one thing I've gotten 100% right. after so many years of failure failure failure, it's nice to finally succeed at something.
and I know it could all collapse like a house of cards tomorrow - he could suddenly self-wean, something could happen to me or to him, for any reason or no reason nursing could end, just that quick. and then I'd be endlessly grateful for FormulaCo.
heart, since you're here, let me ask you: how did you handle teeth? did you ever find yourself in a tandem-nursing situation? what did you have to eat or drink when you felt that drained, bone-tired feeling?
here's another question - at what age do you think this sense of male entitlement arises?
I'd love to continue this conversation, but I refuse to share threads these days with certain people, Heart being one of them. If you wouldn't mind emailing me - or I could email you, I'd be more than happy to continue this discussion (all of which you'd be free to post publicly). Or if you have a better idea, let me know. However you want to do it.
For now, I will say that the answer to your question lies in this post.
I have tandem nursed, in one instance for quite some time. I breastfed my fifth child, born in 1983, through my pregnancy with my sixth child, born in 1985, and then tandem nursed the two of them for a couple of years, until about three to four months into my pregnancy with my seventh child. It's weird, I could never tandem nurse quite that way again after that, though I had four more kids after my seventh. About four or five months into subsequent pregnancies, breastfeeding became too painful to continue. I think I had just reached the limits of what my body was able to do after tandem nursing my fifth and sixth (who by the way stayed very close throughout their growing up years and are still very close today as adults.)
Re food, during this time of my life I was a very strict vegan (later I wasn't and I'm not now though I'm still a vegetarian). I was a huge homemade soup and homemade bread person then, still am, for that matter, and so are the kids, and given that I had such a huge family, there was always a pot of soup on the stove and always homemade bread every day. I had a grain mill and a bread kneader (not the weird bread machines that you put everything in and out comes a loaf of bread, but a bread kneading machine) and I milled raw red spring wheat every morning and made three loaves of bread made from freshly-milled wheat, olive oil, molasses, yeast, salt, water, and sometimes other grains or dried fruit. I made vegetable soups, most of them from the Moosewood cookbook, Gypsy Soup, Minestrone, Curried Potato soup, Black bean soup. These foods are nourishing, really inexpensive, and delicious. The cost of a homemade loaf of bread back in those days made the way I describe was .27. We ate lots of grains, steel-cut oats with raisins, or rolled barley, triticale, etc., in the morning. All this stuff is inexpensive comparatively so long as you've got a grocery store that sells it bulk. Here in my area Fred Meyer still does, although back then I ordered everything through food co-ops that I and other women organized so we could buy direct from wholesalers.
Anyway, that's the way we ate, lots of dark, leafy greens, lots of vegetables and salads, homemade bread, greans, beans and lentils, fruit. We had a soy products stage -- soy cheese, etc. -- but none of us was much a fan of soy so we didn't really in the end rely on it for protein, etc. This was a time in our lives when we were strict about health in all sorts of ways, used herbs for healing. I am a devotee of stinging nettle infusions for overall energy and vitality for women and of raspberry tea when breastfeeding. For really good guidance so far as health just in general throughout women's lives nobody is better than Susun Weed. She has a lot of stuff online, too, if you google her.
There's really no avoiding being exhausted at times and the only thing to do when you are is rest. The great thing about breastfeeding is, like you say, it forces you to rest. Your body also releases hormones when you breastfeed that cause you to relax and go to sleep.
I have checked in here occasionally from the time I knew you were pregnant. I can't stand the way so many feminists treat mothers and issues around motherhood, a huge pet peeve of mine. I hope you've checked out the mothering dot commune boards at the Mothering Magazine site. I still read over there when I get the chance and there is lots of good info that women share on those boards that you don't find anywhere else, the stuff you're asking about, tandem nursing, food, etc. and there are feminist women there. Plus the little smilies/avatars on those boards are a riot! You should check them out.
Just wanted to weigh in on something relevant that I don't think has been mentioned.
Sociologists find that women have more rights in geographical areas where there are more men than women, rather than vice-versa. It's because women are precious commodities to men there, to put it in plain ugly language, and a man can't just "go get another one" with lower standards if his current S.O. doesn't like what he's doing. So abuse and so forth tends to be lower.
Likewise in a world of few men, you might imagine that for the straight women who really wanted a partner, she might deem it desirable to bend over backward (submit) to beat out all the other straight women who also have their eye on that man. Not to mention the ugliness of polygamy that might develop with womens' consent.
on the gripping hand, i like to think i understand a little bit about history and human societies from having read and thought about them somewhat. not as a scholar, but as a seriously interested layperson. and the whole "leave boy-child rearing to men" idea seems really stupid to me from that point of view... because it's basically just another sex segregationist approach.
patriarchal societies have used sex segregation for a long time. from literal moon huts to sex-based coming of age rituals to postpartum purification rituals that stretched forwards to "churching" women after birth, there's no end of examples. and off hand i can't think of one example where this served to do anything but strengthen patriarchy, and to ensure that women's segregated status in society was explicitly below that of men.
i doubt if any of these approaches have ever reduced pregnancy rates, either. certainly nowhere near as drastically as gender equality and access to reliable birth control have. as for reducing how often people have heterosexual sex? umm, er... i wouldn't bet on it, no.
put in other terms, the proposed solution is to try and coopt a method that the abstracted patriarchy has thousands of years of experience of using for its own ends. while i don't have a crystal ball or anything, i can easily think of several ways that might backfire really, really badly.
let's say it was implemented. boy children now have to be cared for and raised by their fathers, or some other group of men in society. okay, there'll be a short period of acclimatization; a generation or two for new systems to be put in place to handle this. then...
...men will start to value their sons even more, now that they by necessity have even more investment in them. conversely, they'll see less reason to value daughters, since they'll have less incentive not to just dump those on their mothers to care for. (something like that seems almost built into this from the outset... the proposal seems to assume women should value their girl children more than boys, or why else bother with all this?)
i can't be the only person who can think of societies where male infants were ---are --- considered "better", "more valuable" than girls, can i? women's status in such societies tends to be... less than great.
as a bonus, there might be less warfare going on after this was all implemented. young men would be busy raising their sons right during their prime military age, and they'd (likely, though it isn't guaranteed) value their sons too much to carelessly send them off to die. of course, that doesn't mean they wouldn't just find other outlets for aggression and violence right at home, and general peace certainly does not ensure social equality.
...and, have i misunderstood something, or was "reducing the male:female gender ratio in society" one of the explicit goals of all this? somewhere in the back of my lizard hindbrain a wannabe bronze age patriarch is jumping up and down with glee at that concept. he's not going to ever be let out of said hindbrain to play, because i know just exactly how antisocial that would be, but i know he's cheering the notion of polygyny. he certainly doesn't think that would threaten male dominance in the slightest; it never has in the past, after all.
maybe i'm some kind of pessimist, but i can think of an awful lot of ways this could go horribly wrong and historical precedents for most of them. conversely, real advances in gender equality seem to have been achieved with an almost exactly opposite method --- greater integration of sexes in a shared society, and a breaking down of systems that once separated the genders into disparate domains of life.
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