Our highly sexualized culture has gone too far when women (read: nature’s nurturers) are claiming that breastfeeding is gross. When women begin talking like men in terms of sexuality and defile their own bodies then you know that this third-wave of feminism hasn’t done much to truly liberate femininity. Instead we have colluded with the boys club to masquerade as an equal. This is not equality. Sexualizing our breasts is fine. Breasts are beautiful. But enslaving breasts to all things sexual and sentencing them to a life without maternal power is sad, servitude to all things male.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the facts that have me ranting over my morning coffee today.
Recently Kathryn Blundell, the editor of a leading British parenting magazine, Mother and Baby, wrote an editorial entitled I formula-fed. SO WHAT? . In it, she said breastfeeding is creepy and called breasts “fun bags” and continued with “seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.”
And, on this side of the pond, that wise, sage Kim Kardashian — whose own boobs are limited to working the night shift — tweeted this to her fans: “ew, some woman has her boobies out, she should cover up, yuck, blech, ugh”
I understand that eyebrows get raised by this public display of this natural beauty, for I once staged a research study for my psychology dissertation on breastfeeding and romantic attachment. While interviewing nursing mothers I learned that one of the most common reasons that women quit breastfeeding is embarrassment about nursing in public. All over Europe, paintings and statues of the Madonna (the real one, not the one who Vogues) depict her nursing, yet our American culture still can’t get past the idea that breasts are more than sexual objects.
The sexualization of the breast had very early beginnings. Back in our evolutionary past, when humans got up off all fours and became bipedal, women evolved to grow larger breasts for sexual attraction. Now that we were upright, our lovely derrieres couldn’t be seen from our front side, so breasts got bigger as a kind of, ahem, yes, frontal tushy. Men liked the view on both sides now, and all our lovely orbs signaled our fitness to reproduce.
But for hundreds of thousands of years, breasts still had a day job, and the sight of a nursing woman was commonplace in all cultures around the world. For millions of years, up until 1932, every human being was breastfed by their mother, auntie, or wet nurse. It was how humans survived before infant formula. During World War II, when women were needed in factories to build weapons, mostly male pediatricians convinced women that this new product made from whey (a cheese by-product) was better than human milk. It also allowed women to leave their babies for longer periods. Anyone who has nursed a newborn knows that feeding schedules are based on a child’s needs, not a clock. And, sometimes their need is to just suckle and be comforted, so working full-time is possible, though tough.
Even though breastfeeding is on the rise today, it is in an uncomfortable race with racy messages. Sexy women are hot. MILF’s are hot. Women who nurse are creepy. Fortunately, our increasingly sexual media is co-mingled with a powerful chant of a growing body of women who still think like women. Women who know that breastfeeding contributes to healthy attachments and good health all around. Women like, Bettina Forbes, who co-founded “Best for Babes” a group that normalizes breastfeeding and shows that nursing moms can be powerful, sexy, glamorous, and nurturing all at the same time. Thousands of women follow her on facebook and are the what I like to call, the real feminists.
When women hate the natural function of own bodies, they need to stop and think. Whose sentiments are being recycled? I’ll tell you who. Those of a dying, patriarchal culture whose boys club would prefer that you enslave the boobs to them.
And here’s some news to throw back in the face of anyone who thinks that breasts are only “fun bags.” According to one of my all-time favorite studies, guess which kind of woman is most likely to choose to breastfeed? The woman who is most comfortable with sex, erotica, and her body. Prudes don’t breastfeed. Hear that Kathryn and Kim? Sexy women can feed their babies.
11 thoughts on “Breastfeeding is not Creepy. Think Like a Woman!”
Great post! I’d love to see that study you reference in the last paragraph–can you provide a reference or title?
Great article, and it is so convenient to breastfeed
Great Post! I agree the topic of sexuality has really screwed with women’s heads in the breastfeeding world – unfortunately. I’m wondering if I can get a link to the study you quoted – that would be mighty helpful to share with expecting parents! Thanks
I am a sexy woman and I breastfed both my own kids and my surrogate children! So there. 🙂
Breastfeeding my babies has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I am proud of what my breasts have been able to do—produce extremely rotund babies. Love this article!!!
While I 100% agree with the sentiment of your rant (I’m currently nursing my 5 week old 3rd child, my first two both nursed until they were about 30 months old), I do have to raise one negative point.
“For millions of years, up until 1932, every human being was breastfed by their mother, auntie, or wet nurse. It was how humans survived before infant formula.”
That is inaccurate. There were breastmilk substitutes long before 1932 that were in use – they were in the Sears catalog decades before the Great Depression. Also, goat milk and other substances have been used as a substitute for mother’s milk for unknown number of years, and the milk substitute was not necessarily delivered via breast – there have been archeological discoveries of artificial feeders for infants from thousands of years ago, including the group of “mummies” found that had Caucasian features but were found I believe in northern China a few years back. Given that they’re often found in the tomb of the dead infant they were probably trying to feed, the success rate was probably not very good, but there have been babies fed other than by breast for thousands of years, just as a point of fact. Most likely orphans without other readily available human options, but we can’t be certain of that either, there have been weirder cultural preferences amongst the upper classes than choosing to feed non-human milk to their infants (foot binding, corsets, etc). I suspect that the infant death rates we have record of are artificially inflated by the weird parenting practices of the upper classes, whose births and deaths were better recorded than the hardy peasants. My peasantish family tree seems to show a much better childhood survival rate than the times would have suggested, at least until they stopped breastfeeding and started birthing in hospitals – but that’s a digression 😉
Great, wonderful, brilliant post! I think having a baby suckling on your “fun bags” is far sexier than any man. What could be more beautiful, sensual and sexy than a woman nurturing her baby. Thank you!
@Ahmie. Great info. Of course what I meant was that feeding infants anything other than human milk was pretty unreliable until 1932 and usually resulted in infant mortality.
There’s something funny going on in a culture when it is considered abnormal to have a mummy’s breast milk but totally normal to have the mother’s milk of another species well into adulthood. Very very odd…
I would like to add that While breastfeeding and pumping, my husband commented that This process turned him on. It was something he was proud of, and made him love me more. So to those who say it’s creepy and gross… I feel empowered and sexy. REAL Men find it sexy too!
Here you go Cherise….
“Erotophilic women (verses erotophobic) showed more sexual interest, activity, and satisfaction during pregnancy; they reported more sexual interest and an earlier resumption of coitus in the postpartum period; and they were more likely to breastfeed their child.”