Oooh, a good eToC

*Squeal!*

I am such a nerd. I love a good email Table of Contents alert. One of the first things I did when I got accepted to medical school was access the library website and check out the journal access. EBSCO! Wheeeeee!

Well, I have been signed up to get free access articles from BioMed Central since before that. One open access journal that is one of my favorites is The International Breastfeeding Journal. This week they have several interesting articles, including:

Breastfeeding and feminism: A focus on reproductive health,
rights and justice
. Miriam H Labbok1, Paige Hall Smith, Emily C Taylor.
I need to find a way to go to that symposium next year.

Women’s liberation and the rhetoric of “choice” in infant feeding debates, Bernice L Hausman.

I am off to read them now. I just took my pharm test yesterday, got a migraine, threw up a bit (while driving! great!), slept for more than 12 hours, missed school today, passed the test (whee!), made breakfast for the family, finished a project for an MPH class, and now have some “spare” time to read “recreational” material.

The first article is just an announcement about the Breastfeeding and feminism symposia at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Ooh, I wish I went to med school there! A trip to the 2009 meeting is what I want for my birthday.

The second article is divine. I love how Hausman compares the “choice” discussion to that of choice and reproductive rights.

“Another Enfamil web page discusses “It’s Your Family’s Decision”: “Only mom and dad know
what will work best for their family. So, be confident in the choice that you make. The best way to deal with people who question your choice is to simply tell them, politely but firmly, that you have discussed how to feed your baby with your baby’s doctor. Feel good about your decision and be confident your baby is getting the essential nutrients he needs” [2]. Reading this I imagine what discussions of abortion would be like in the same register: “Look, I’ve discussed my decision to terminate this pregnancy with my doctor and she agrees it’s a good idea, healthy for me. It’s the right decision for my family as well. I’m confident in this decision, so you need to butt out.” To anyone familiar with the abortion debates, it’s clear that infant formula makers champion a rhetoric around “choice” that used to be a common approach to abortion rights but which is difficult to promote publicly today. “

Love it! She comes close to my argument, which is this decision (breastfeeding, and other birthing decisions) is a health decision, not a social decision. She writes:

“Any decision a woman makes about reproduction thus becomes vaguely connected to her “rights” as a consumer, rather than her rights as a human being [3].”

She also examines the defensiveness over choosing the “right” choice and being a “good” mother, and appealing to emotional topics like love rather than health advantages.

Another great quote:

“In breastfeeding advocacy we see how much economic self-sufficiency makes breastfeeding a difficult practice to sustain for most women [5]. This is why, in my view, the structure of market work is one thing that must change in order to accommodate true maternal freedom, which would involve a relatively unconstrained ability to breastfeed one’s children.”

Yes, breastfeeding and mothering are not and should not be seen as opposing women’s economic freedom. In the way our employment paradigm is structured today, it is hard to breastfeed and work. I pumped at two jobs for more than a year, combined. I was able to bring S to work with me for six months, which was an incredible opportunity for both of us, and I worked from home 3 days a week with Zach. Most women do not have that kind of flexibility.

“Infant feeding choices—whether made by “heart” or “head”—are practiced in the context of the social, cultural, and economic forces that structure most people’s daily lives and intimate decisions. It is our responsibility, as feminists, to identify the constraints that reveal the “choice” itself to be not so much a choice but a class privilege, and then to figure out how to challenge the status quo that makes it so.”

Hear, hear!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Oooh, a good eToC

  1. You know this warms a librarian’s heart, right? :)

  2. Pingback: Breastfeeding post on feministing community « Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

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