Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Feminism and Breastfeeding

I was reading The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog, which raised the question, "Can you be a feminist and breastfeed?"  Head over there to read the information provided, but I wanted to post on this topic, because I did not feel that writing a book in the comments was a good idea. LOL!

I consider myself a feminist, and I nurse (a lot...for almost 19 months now), and I consider myself a breastfeeding/nursing advocate. To some this might seem contradictory, but I don't believe that to be true.

Let me start by admitting that until I was in college, I did not even know that there were different types of feminism. However, Feminist Jurisprudence really opened my eyes.  I adhered to more feminist thought than I knew I did, but I was all over the spectrum.

There are eight major forms of feminist ideology: liberal feminism, conservative feminism, radical feminism, individualist feminism, black feminism, socialist feminism, ecofeminism and post-modern feminism. There are more ideologies, so don't take my list as gold, but those are the most discussed.  Generally, I fall in to a combination of eco-feminism and cultural feminism. 

Personally, I do not see breastfeeding and feminism (at least as I practice) to be contradictory. I made the choice, for a variety of reasons, to nurse The Boy. Some of those reasons are environmental. Some related to my health. Some to his. And most importantly, I made that decision for us. The alternative was (and is) inferior when I am capable of providing this to him. 

What do you think? Comment on The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog or here. I'd love to see what more people think.


KaritaG said...

Well, now that I can comment, I am just going to second a lot of what's been said over at Motherwear - I look at it as, isn't feminism supposed to be about empowering women? And allowing us to do stuff on our own without having to have men or society in general "help" us or "watch out for us" or assist us in any way in being contributing members of that society?

That being said, what's more powerful or self-sufficient than being able to provide for your child?

Echoing some motherwear comments - being "equal" doesn't mean being "the same." Men and women will never be the same, I mean, just look at us for starters...but more and more research is showing significant differences in the way our brains work, how we use logic, how we react to stress, how our bodies age and react to trauma differently...I think it's foolish to discount that in the name of "equality."

Therefore, I don't think breastfeeding and feminism are contradictory.

care said...

yes, you can be a feminist and breastfeed in the same way you can be a feminist and pee sitting down.

that sounds flip, but it isn't.

feminism isn't just about how women can do everything men can. it's more than that, and some of it is about being proud to be a woman and embracing who and what you are, not just trying to fit into all the norms that men can find. a feminist who is ashamed of being a woman isn't much of a feminist, from where I sit.

and, who, for the sake of an agenda, would deny a living being the best kind of nutrient there is? one that is tailor made for an infant and baby? not giving your child every opportunity you can to benefit from a very natural normal, process is the most selfish thing I've ever heard! (note: I understand there are exceptions to this situation. and they are important. but if you're able and capable and the baby latches, I can't see how you wouldn't. moving on.)

anyway, the short answer to your question is "yes, absolutely." :)

Rebecca said...

I had never thought as feminism as "gender neutral." Equal but DIFFERENT. You have got to recognize that women and men are different from each other, but we are still equal. I agree with Karitag that feminism is about empowering women and embracing what it is that makes us female. Breastfeeding and childbirth are the essence of femininity. "Femininity" being all things female, not necessarily the cultural understanding of the world, which often means dainty, frilly, and submissive!

I have a hard time imagining a feminist who opposes breastfeeding. Maybe I just don't know enough about feminism!

Adamgv said...

Women need to be empowered more in general. They need to use their looks for good rather than use them for personal selfish persuits. When you get a moment check out:

www.prettygirlssavetheworld.com .

Rachel said...

I don't have children of my own, but I am a proud life-long feminist. Growing up, my mom often reminded me of this Rebecca West quote: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." We're not better than men, just their equals. Men have genetic gifts, and so do women.

With that in mind, I can't think of anything more purely woman or more empowering than giving birth and single-handedly providing nourishment for another living being. To be a feminist--to be a proud woman--is to embrace that power.

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