Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breastfeeding and when will everyone get over it already?

I wanted to break from my book reviews to address this: Breastfeeding and Sex: Is Latching On a Turn-Off? You can read it if you want to wash your eyeballs out with bleach afterwards. It is just a poorly written essay by a man complaining about how his wife’s extended breastfeeding makes him want to cheat on her. (But he is sooooo disgusting wonderful, nobody else could put up with him he won’t.) It was indescribably hard for me to keep reading after I got to the word “Nookie!”

I feel like he could have brought up some valid points {How does breastfeeding impact the marriage/dad? How should a family deal with that? (sidenote: this topic of prioritizing the kids versus the marriage comes up in Bringing Up Bebe, which I'll discuss more later)}, if he hadn't immediately come across as immature, vile, and incapable of making a coherent argument. (ed note: after thinking it over, I feel like if I had read this in a book about marriage or even just a guy's memoir, I wouldn't have have been so annoyed by it. I might have even laughed a little. I think that by putting it in the NYTs parenting blog, it took on a more political meaning that really annoyed me. What I'm trying to say is, that site just isn't the same since Lisa Belkin left.) I really couldn't even tell you his point (other than he is some kind of martyr in this whole breastfeeding scenario). I just had a bunch of questions: is he suggesting all breastfeeding is "gross"? Is it just extended breastfeeding that is "gross"? Is he saying a woman's breasts don't belong to her? Is he saying that breastfeeding is comparable to or competitive with the sexual function of a woman's breasts? (To the former I give a giant, disgusted, eye-rolling, NO). 

Some of the issues he got close to addressing are valid. I don't have any answers, but think there is no reason they shouldn't be discussed. What bothers me about this essay (besides the fact that it lacks clarity, focus, or even humor, which can often times make up for a multitude of sins), is that nobody can get past the fact that his wife is breastfeeding a five-year old. I was sort of shocked by people's (over)reactions. It is something that I can't, for the life of me, understand: why do people think it is their business? Do I have any plans to breastfeed a kindergartner? No, not at all. Please,God,no. But do I support a woman's right to do so? Yes. (Just like I support a woman's right to formula feed.) Because it just feels like a slippery slope: at what point is breastfeeding OK/not OK? and who decides? Um, how about the mom and the baby (in cooperation with the pediatrician and dad)? And everyone else can just mind their own business? Do I think that the mom should listen and be responsive to her partner's feelings on the topic? Yes. But is anybody talking about that? Nope. Everyone is just freaking out about breastfeeding a kindergartner.


  1. You are so eloquent. I completely agree.

    After I had my son a childless co-worker asked me when I intended to stop nursing. He was about 9 months old. I told her that I would stop when we were done. She told me that if he could ask for it then he was too old. I told her that he already did ask for it. He signed milk when he wanted to nurse. She didn't have an answer for that one.

    As an aside. Daniel uses the word "nookie" as a bad word. Like, "Oh nookie, that hurt!" It makes me giggle every time.

    1. Thanks, Jamie. And that is hysterical about Daniel. I might copy him because I'm in serious need of some replacement bad words. But yeah, I don't know where people find these arbitrary "signs" that you need to stop. Like the one, once they have teeth. Maggie had teeth at 3mos.