National Breastfeeding Month ended yesterday. So did Black Breastfeeding Week. World Breastfeeding Week was apparently at the beginning of August. Over the course of the month, I read and heard a lot of stuff that made me angry and sad and confused: medical professionals promoting breastfeeding with a disturbing prescriptive zeal, mothers pointing to their bleeding nipples as evidence of a glorious martyrdom, other mothers and doctors claiming that breastfeeding is already mainstream, that it needs no further promotion or celebration, that to do so is to shame parents who feed their infants formula, white mothers claiming that Black Breastfeeding Week was unnecessary. In the middle of all of this I sort of started to wean my daughter, who turned two smack in the middle of World Breastfeeding Month, and I cried a lot, and I sort of stopped weaning, and felt weird about that, too. I wanted to write something about these thoughts and feelings. A manifesto, or a well-researched, well-reasoned essay about how we’re living at a historical moment when parents are shamed for formula feeding and for breastfeeding; the precise level of shame may vary by region or race or ethnicity or socioeconomic background, but in my experience you can feel deeply ashamed of both of these choices in the same city, the same neighborhood, the same pediatrics practice. (Oh wait, did I say that this is a historical moment when an issue primarily affecting women results in the shaming of women’s bodies and the removal of their agency? Ha ha ha ha. Sorry, I meant to say, Infant feeding is primarily a women’s issue, so of course it’s a fucking nightmare.) I always stopped, too daunted to grapple with the tangle of social, cultural, emotional, biological, economic, and public-health issues surrounding infant feeding. Now Breastfeeding Month is over and I’m swamped with work and I definitely don’t have time to work out a nuanced response to “The Skeptical OB”’s kind of horrifying dismissal of breastfeeding advocacy, or the weird structure of the Wikipedia page about breastfeeding (they start telling you The Way You Should Do It in the second sentence). I just have time for a provocation, followed by a rant. Here it is:
DID YOU NOTICE that breastfeeding was only allowed to return to the mainstream when it could be fully integrated into capitalism? Continue reading
This is an ad for a kitschy brand of wine cynically marketed at feminist housewives, so it’s basically the best possible illustration for this quiz.
Dedicated readers of WEIRD SISTER know that you can be a feminist housewife. Morgan Parker wrote the manifesto; Becca Klaver and Lauren Besser provide case studies in their podcast, The Real Housewives of Bohemia; I’m kind of a part-time feminist housewife myself. Or a part-time feminist SAHM, which is a stay-at-home mom or a student-artist-home-working-mom. So, like, don’t worry about whether women who don’t work outside the home or who do unpaid caretaking labor or who don’t directly contribute income to their families can be feminists. ISSUE RESOLVED.
But there’s been some debate lately about this kind of ridiculous book, Primates of Park Avenue, in which anthropologist-turned-Park-Avenue mom Wednesday Martin describes the bizarre culture of super-rich New York families. See Martin’s op-ed in the New York Times, or this hilarious contribution in the Post from a somewhat aspirational Wife Bonus-getter who wants us to “STFU,” or this interview on NPR, which I haven’t listened to, but in which I’m pretty sure Martin uses the phrase “going native,” which, uhh, nope. Also see various accounts of the inaccuracies in Martin’s book: her PhD is actually in comp lit (ooooh does this mean I get to write a book called Primates of Ditmas Park?), she misrepresents when she was pregnant and what fancy gym she went to, and she pretends you could get macarons on the UES during a time when you could CLEARLY ONLY GET THEM IN FRANCE. Hopeless lower-class poseur or not, Martin gives us a shocking glimpse of a forbidden world in which highly-educated skinny moms spend their days Mean-Girlsing each other, grooming their toddlers to be captains of industry, and having weird gender-segregated dinner parties and going on vacations where they all wear the same color (well, come on, that sounds pretty fun. It’s not like I’m not going on an all-you-can-drink-rosé booze cruise this month where we all have to wear something pink. No, I seriously am.) The big shocker, though, is that some of these rich moms, many of whom have MBAs and formerly held high-income, high-pressure jobs like Business Lady and Captainess of Industry and Executrix and Lawyeress and Bankerina and Stock Market Girl Wonder and Political Risks Insurance Brokeress and a bunch of jobs I don’t know about because I don’t understand and will never be allowed to understand the language of Wealth and Power, apparently get Wife Bonuses, probably so they can feel like they still have a high-stakes Rich Person job. The bonuses are distributed by their husbands, who are their bosses, and they’re often based on their Wife Performance that year, which usually involves getting the kids into a school that will help them become Captains of Industry or the wives of Captains of Industry or maybe Bankerinas. The Wife Performance may also involve blow jobs BUT that might just be Martin trying to titillate us, since we know the wives and husbands never see each other for the length of time that a really bonus-worthy blow job requires.