May 1, 2012
THE outrage of breastfeeding, in the mind of a feminist, is that it is something men can never do. It is inescapably feminine, an activity that resists the 50/50 division of child-rearing that is so much a feminist fantasy. In her book, Elizabeth Badinter, the French intellectual, insists it is wrong to hold up breastfeeding as an ideal. She writes:
A few advocates of breast-feeding do recognize that mothers might feel trapped by political correctness and they challenge the movement’s sentimental image of motherhood with its erasure of all the other aspects of breast-feeding: the loss of freedom and the despotism of an insatiable child. They recognize that a baby might be a source of happiness, but also a devastating tornado. On-demand breast-feeding can leave women feeling like “a walking meal” or a “giant pacifier” or a milk-producing “ecosystem,” of having lost their status as individuals with their own will and desires. But these cries do not appear in the pro-breastfeeding literature, which claims that what is good for some is good for all.
There is a good reason such statements don’t appear in the breast-feeding literature. They smack of selfish complaining. Whether one enjoys breastfeeding or not, whether one agrees to do it or not, public whining about despotic children is something mothers — I mean, real mothers — resist, in the same way real soldiers resist complaining about helping a wounded friend.