The Messy Me

Dear Lactavists

Dear Breastfeeding Advocates (or as you now like to be called “lactavists” or “lactivists”):

As Dr. Phil would say: “How’s it working for you so far?”

Not so good, I gather by the looks of the Feminist Breeder’s (FB) latest post. In it, FB proclaims that “when it comes to breastfeeding, we can’t handle the truth.” I hate to burst that bubble, but I think that it is lactavists like her who can’t handle the truth.

Because the truth is that breastfeeding, in and of itself, does not save lives. And “ladies” (what feminist uses the word “lady” is a whole other debate!) who do not exclusively breastfeed have the made a choice to use formula. 

Let’s start with the “breastfeeding saves lives” statement

FB compares breastfeeding to the use of car seats as life-savers.

Let’s walk through this then: You put a child in a car seat, the car is in an accident, the child walks away safe. In that same accident situation, the child could have flown through the windshield and died. So, yes, car seats save lives. There is a direct, causal relationship.

But, breastfeeding? No. There is no direct, causal relationship between breastfeeding and a life saved. She cites that of the 911 babies in a recently released study, there were those who dies from SIDS and — so the argument goes — breastfeeding could have saved those lives. But as many commentors have rightly asked: what about the other factors involved — did the baby live in a house with smokers, where the room temperature was too warm? I also questioned the data and received a response from another commentor that included the words “DUH” and “Whatever” — as sentences in and of themselves.

Now let’s move to the big “lie” 

FB moves to the conclusion that because 3/4 of women initiate breastfeeding in the hospital, but that only 13.6% continue with it past six months, that all of us dear little “ladies” have been lied to. That we’ve been told that we can’t produce enough milk.

Please. These women have not been lied to. They have made a choice not to breastfeed. Smart, educated women have made a choice not to breastfeed. 

You might want to re-think your strategy 

Yes, I’m aware that there are studies on why women have chosen not to breastfeed and a common response is: “I couldn’t produce enough milk.”

Have you considered that women are choosing that response not because they’ve been lied to but because they do not want to have to face the scathing judgement of lactavists who refer to formula as “toxic” or “poison”? Or that they have soaked up your “breast is best” message so fully that they do not want to admit to themselves that they would choose something for their child that is not “the best.”

Now, maybe you don’t want to consider these things. And that’s fine. But if close to 80% of women are not exclusively breastfeeding, then I’d suggest maybe your advocate strategies are not working.

And if you’d like higher rates of breastfeeding — if that’s what you truly want, rather than a feeling of self-righteousness — then you’d better work harder to engage with those 80% of women.

A radical re-working of your current strategy, which alienates women and manipulates data, just might help raise those breastfeeding rates. If you’d like a model to follow, I’d suggest Amber Strocel. Read her writing; learn from her respectful and intelligent tone. I really think it’s people like her who’ll help turn the tides and convert greater numbers of those 80% to exclusively breastfeeding mothers.

But remember, it will not be everyone. It’s a choice. And no amount of screaming, and ranting and finger-pointing will change that.

P.S. If you’ve stumbled onto my post because you were googling for breastfeeding support, the La Leche League provides very reasonably priced, excellent support in neighbourhoods all over world.


I just don’t get the cat thing
April 5, 2010, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Peeves | Tags: ,

People can get pretty intense about their pets. I get that. And if people want to have cats or dogs, or snakes or lizards or parrots, sure, fine. But why should I have to deal with your pet? That’s what I don’t get.

If a dog owner takes his dog for a walk, the dog is leashed and its poop dutifully picked up by its owner. (At least, usually. Dog owners do seem, as a general rule, to be very good about this.) If I don’t like dogs, then I don’t have to own one. In this case, we see that the dog owner has not intruded upon my space one bit.

But cat owners? They’re a whole different breed.

It’s accepted fact, it seems, that cats should be allowed to roam outside without a leash. It would be cruel, argues the cat owner, since it’s against their nature. This annoys the shit out of me though. I don’t like cats. Yet my neighbour’s cat seems to really like us. It is here every day. It pisses in my children’s sandbox, it snoops around my yard and into my garage. Heck, I even found it in my house one day! We make hissing noises at it in the hopes that it will find somewhere friendlier to roam. But no such luck yet.

The same neighbour (let’s call him Joe) tells me that another neighbour (let’s call her Lucy) complained to him about his cat. The nerve, he seemed to suggest. A grouchy, old prude, further suggested. He simply scoffed at Lucy and her threats to call the city on his unleashed cat in her yard and told her “live and let live.” Oh, come on. My inner-thought to that is: “Fuck off. It’s your stupid cat. Why do I have to let it ‘live and let live’ on my property?”

But I don’t what to be “that” neighbour who causes a fuss. Especially over a cat. So, where does one draw the line? Do I politely suggest that I don’t appreciate their cat pissing in my children’s sandbox? Well, I would if I thought it would do any good. That cat is out all day and all night. How could they possible control where it goes?

There is a bylaw in our area that all pets are supposed to be leashed when outdoors, but as we know, bylaws — and laws — don’t always get followed. Which puts someone like me in the awkward position of being “that” person.

And none (okay, most) of us want to be “that” person. (Just check out the raging debate over at PhD in Parenting on whether or not a parent should advise another parent on car child restraints, as proof.) And I sure as hell don’t, either.

But, man, that cat really pisses me off.

Reclaiming the word “mess”
March 29, 2010, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Navel gazing | Tags: , ,

If a word is used in a disparaging manner against you, you can reclaim it and then it no longer has power over you. At least that’s the theory behind reclaimed words such as “bitch” (reclaimed by the feminist movement), “nerd” (reclaimed by technophiles), and “queer” (reclaimed by the LGBT movements). The tricky thing with reclaimed words though is that if you are not part of a particular community, then you shouldn’t use the word reclaimed by that same community. So, for example, if I am not a tech-savvy person, it can be offensive for me to refer to one as a “nerd.” But you might find that these same tech-savvy folks will self-refer using the word “nerd” in a positive connotation.

Since I was a kid living at home, I’ve been a messy kind of person. This drove my mother close to the brink, resulted in my university roommate avoiding my room like the plague, and on a nightly basis causes my husband to shake his head in wonderment as I gently work to exact a book from the ever-growing pile on my bedside table.

Recently, though, I heard the term “hot mess.” It was a young man being interviewed on television and he referred to his hair first thing in the morning as a “hot mess.” And he seemed proud. So I looked up this saying in a handy-dandy urban dictionary. Here’s the definition I found: “When one’s thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty.”

Sweet. I could really make this word for me.

Just consider:

Mismatched sports socks stuffed and hidden in fine leather business boots? Hot mess.

Passenger side of car knee-deep in empty Tim Horton’s cups? Hot mess.

Standing outside in housecoat while putting child on the school bus? Hot mess.

Always sporting a hat to cover un-showered hair? Hot mess.

Granny-panties showing above the top of Lululemon yoga pants? Hot mess.

Sure, I am far too old to use urban slang without looking like a desperate middle-aged woman, but I’m willing to risk it.

Family comes home at end of day to find mother exactly as they left her in the morning – pajama-clad, typing on computer, half-empty mug of coffee. They look at her. They look at each other.

She simply says, “What? I’m a hot mess.”