08 April 2007

thanks to people like you.

I just wanted to take a moment to share a comment that I received from my last post from a thoughtful (*tongue planted firmly in cheek*) reader who had this to say to me and didn't even have the courage to add her name to the comment. As the writer of this blog, I guess that also gives me the right to freely comment in response. Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of fiery dialogue (and constructive criticism or disagreement is always welcome) but just remember this is a personal website so everything you write can and will be used against you (*smiles wryly*) and I will most definitely publish your angry words (because apparently I am pretty angry, so that's what angry people do).

"you sound angry. like just angry. like you're just an angry person. breastfeeding is entirely an individual experience. what do you wanna do? have the gov't promote nursing like it's a federal mandate. you don't understand that your words only serve to make people that don't choose to nurse feel bad about themselves. maybe you need that to feel better about yourself(?) sort of pathetic".

Whoa. Slowly step away from the computer. Take a deep breath. This is just a blog and I was just writing about a TV show....

You know what? Let's get a few things straight, my dear writer of such an angry comment.

Things I am not/don't have/never been:
1) I dont have kids. I've never been pregnant, don't plan on being pregnant any time soon.
2) I have never professed to be the superior knower of all that is parenthood, motherhood, pregnancy or anything of the sort because clearly I am not and never have been any of the above (yet).

Things I am/have/do:
1) A researcher that has done EXTENSIVE work with pregnant women, mothers, fathers, maternity designers and most people in the maternity industry in America and Australia.
2) I have a blog to share my thoughts about pregnancy, breastfeeding, motherhood, and their relationships to popular culture (as well as your thoughts too) to create a free and open dialogue with other women in this world and to celebrate (note: CELEBRATE) birthing bodies.
3) My work has been published in a number of highly respected academic journals, textbooks, and feminist collections as well as in non-academic contexts including newspapers, magazines, and websites. Why? Because I know what I'm talking about and people respect my work (just not you, apparently).

Now, if you go back to my post (and any post of similar ilk), dear reader, I have never endeavoured to judge any woman's mothering practices. In fact, I always preface my comments to necessitate the fact that no experience of pregnancy, motherhood, or even BREASTFEEDING is identical. Of course, every woman in the world is under no obligation to breastfeed and should not feel guilty or inadequate if she can't or chooses not to. I think this would be fairly obvious to regular readers of this blog. I have a tremendous respect for mothers. I've done more than 200 interviews with mothers in the last year. I'm writing a book about mothers. Hell, I even have a mother of my own. And you know what else? I know how hard breastfeeding is for some women and how easy it is for others. Not because I've experienced it (we've already been through that) but because I've witnessed it, heard a diverse range of experiences from women all over the world and read more about breastfeeding in just the last month than you have probably read books in your entire lifetime. Sorry, that was just mean (but then again, I am an angry, angry person).

This is the point. We disagree. I never said the American government should promote breastfeeding 'like it's a federal mandate'. Actually, what I said was that the tired old stereotype of breastfeeding as dirty or disgusting or body damaging that is constantly renewed in the media and on network television is irresponsible. It is. Period. Now, I dont mean to get personal but from your comment I tend to think that you are one of those women that chooses not to breastfeed. That's perfectly fine with me (and it doesn't matter what any one else thinks). What you do is your business and I'm not judging you. But to call me pathetic for speaking my mind is just a reflection of how insecure you are with yourself and with other women's life choices. If you can't handle someone standing up for the positive imaging of breastfeeding (even if you don't bf yourself), then as Freud would say, I think you've got issues.

Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Maybe there was no skinny milk left for your cornflakes. Maybe you feel lonely sitting at your computer at 11pm somewhere in America and are pisssed off with life so you thought you should tell me how 'pathetic' I am. Maybe you, yes YOU, are an angry person, 'like just angry'. Next time you want to post a comment here, sign your name and own your words. Why should I take you seriously if you have to hide? You know who I am. I've got nothing to hide. So bring on your blogger-hating mumbo jumbo because I miss writing angry (because I'm an angry person, remember?) posts because 99.9% of the emails and comments I receive are positive, heart-warming, and glorious in more ways than you could ever understand. And would you believe it? I actually have a waiting list of pregnant women/mothers who want to give me the privilege of interviewing them so they can share their amazingly INDIVIDUAL and UNIQUE stories. So I must be doing something right.

Before I sign off, perhaps you might like to find a synonym for 'angry' for your next comment. I was slightly disappointed that you used the same word three times. Fuming? Irate? Livid? Incensed? Outraged? Heated? Or maybe my personal favourite...CROSS.

You asked for it.

1 comment:

Sazz said...

Great reply Meredith.
I also liked your last entry about that television show, and if you were at all angry I felt it was justified. I really love your willingness to shout down the misogynistic culture we live in which decrees pregnancy, breastfeed and all things relating to the female body as unattractive. We desperately need more feminist voices out there that are prepared to celebrate wimmin's bodies.

And just personally I wouldn't mind a federal mandate ;)
(At the very least it would send a strong message to the public about how important breastfeeding is)
No. In all seriousness, I think more support for breastfeeding is always great, so that those wimmin who can breastfeed get as much encouragement and help as they need to fully enjoy what I've heard is an incredible (exclusively female) experience. And so that more wimmin who might otherwise have decided against it, give it a go.

I think you summarised the issue beautifully when you wrote:

"After all of the hard work that lactation organisations do in trying to promote breastfeeding as a positive and healthy experience, network television has to mess it all up. Sure, breastfeeding is not the most positive experience for all women (obviously) but the suggestion that even the idea of feeding a child should turn someone off of parenthood is such an unbelievably irresponsible notion to plant into women's minds."
(one wonders if your aggressive reader who replied actually read this section, as you clearly state that breastfeeding is not all smiles and sunshine for all wimmin).

And you're right, the last thing our society needs is more breastfeeding bashing from popular culure. It is indeed irresponsible of that television show to reduce such an important, complex, exclusively female, challenging, and rewarding experience to a joke about wimmin's desirability for men *rolls eyes*

Incidentally for World Breastfeeding Week last year I wrote a blog entry about the importance of breastfeeding, and the most interesting text I read when writing it was Sheila Kitzinger's "The Politics of Birth". She spoke
about the sexualisation of wimmin's breasts, and how she believed part of society's level of discomfort or disgust in breastfeeding is tied to the idea that breasts are supposed to be the sexual property of men, not the food sources of babies.
I thus entitled my blog entry "World Breastfeeding Week: Take Back the Breast"

Kitzinger, Sheila, The Politics of Birth, Elsevier, Edinburgh, 2005, pp.33-43.

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