Today’s post was originally going to be a rant about the “false conundrum” of motherhood v/s feminism. I am fed up to my back teeth with the perpetually circulated myth that feminists are anti-motherhood. No. We are all about women making their own reproductive choices and having the same options and opportunities as men. Equality is not a synonym for “baby-hater”, dammit.
But then I got sidetracked by parenting styles and the idea of “judging”.
Mayim Bialik, an actress once known as Blossom and now known as Amy Farrah Fowler, has her Ph.D in neurobiology. She is an “attachment parenting” advocate, as am I. Dr. Bialik pointed out in her defense of attachment parenting:
“Here are examples of what mothers who practice attachment parenting are concerned about. We can about what hormonal contraception does to your body and your brain. We research why doctors prescribe birth control to teenagers and adults who don’t have a “regular” menstrual cycle. We object to routine inductions with pitocin and interventions during labor because of the risks to the mother and the baby. We believe that breast milk is biologically and nutritionally superior to anything formula manufacturers tell you is equal to it, and that sleeping next to your baby releases positive hormones that facilitate bonding. We have empowered ourselves and refuse to endure a male-centered obstetric history that has taken women’s bodies and molded them to their preferences for their convenience, their comfort and for their world view.
Now tell me how attachment parenting is inconsistent with feminism?”
Jill, from Feministe, a site I am very supportive of, also quoted this as a an example of why motherhood and feminism were not inalienably disparate things. Great. But then she went on to say that attachment parenting proponents’ “insistence that it is The Best Way can be incredibly alienating and shaming.”
I am so fucking tired of that lie. Every time people try to spread the good word about breastfeeding or whatnot we are accused of being “judgmental”. No. We are being “factual”. There is a shitload of scientific evidence showing breastfeeding is better for a baby, and attachment parenting has concrete biological/emotional benefits for parents and their offspring. What? Are we supposed to just NOT MENTION THE EVIDENCE so that someone doesn’t feel accidently judged because they went with, or plan to go with, another choice? Okay, by that corollary we should never, ever mention the health benefits of eating vegetables, lest mom’s who feed their kids the occasional hotdog feel “judged”. Or mention that organic vegetables are good and GMO’s are possibly bad, because mom’s who chose to, or have to, give their kids factory farmed fruit might feel bad about it.
Look, us attachment parenting people KNOW there are reasons people CANNOT do it, or don’t WANT to do it. If someone wants to skip the breast and go to formula, that’s their business and does NOT automatically make them bad parents. There were no pro-breastfeeding sites on the first 5 pages of a Google search that said formula parents were bad or unloving parents. I stopped at page five, because that was enough to show any accusations like that must be incredibly rare. Most pro-breastfeeding sites went out of their way to explain all options and not shame formula moms. Pro-breastfeeders, as a whole, are NOT engaging in SHAMING behaviors.
Formula or breastfeeding choices come from a complex set of circumstances. Some parents chose formula feeding, just like some parents think GMOs are fine and organic vegetables are a liberal plot that should be eschewed, and that doesn’t mean they don’t love their kids. There are people who run into a great deal of physiological difficulty in nursing and have no one to help them sort it out, just like there are parents who want to buy organic foods for their kids and CANNOT afford to. We demand better formula be provided for parents who want/need to use it (we are so judgmental like that). However, there are people who want to breastfeed or embrace other aspects of attachment parenting and they are stymied by anti-family work policies, misinformed by formula makers who have a vested interest in scuppering breastfeeding, and sabotaged by friends and relatives who want to validate THEIR choices by ensuring the new mom does it the way they did. For the beleaguered breastfeeders we will fight in the streets in order to give them the option of breastfeeding, because they are being pushed to formula feed. That is similar to trying to help moms who want organic vegetables but cannot afford them. There, we want to help get them the vegetables they really WANT their kids to be eating, which means we need to address larger systemic inequalities. It is not shaming, it is fucking helpful.
Yet the minute we fight for breastfeeding, which is also embattled by systemic inequalities, we are accused of being “boob Nazis”. Yeah, wanting women to be informed of facts and have real options (not impossible situations) makes us just like people who committed genocide.
Then, Jill went on to proclaim that she was “on Team Heather McDonald.
Being a mother is part of who you are, but it should not be all of who you are. There is no parenting secret that ensures that your children will grow up and be successful adults. So why would you want to sacrifice your career, your financial security and oftentimes your happiness all in the name of motherhood? To me that is putting all your eggs in one basket, pun intended.
No, I did not breastfeed, make organic baby food or co-sleep with my children. I instead slept with their father, and I am still happily married to him today.
Yeah, basically that.”
Right, Jill. McDonald’s statement has absolutely no judgey implication that attachment parents are women who subsume their identities to motherhood and don’t love their husbands as much as non-attachment moms, and doesn’t suggest husbands are more likely to leave attachment moms. nope. Completely free of that. Also, no false conundrums there, either.
So, why couldn’t McDonald just say different options worked best for her family and leave it at that? Her defensiveness and snarking means that she FELT judged, but there is no proof that any REAL shaming was coming from attachment parents … it is not our fault if evidence supports our theories and that makes HER feel bad about HER decisions.
Worst of all is the fact this false shaming, and the overcompensating defensiveness and attacks on attachment parents by the people feeling judged, is completely the result of patriarchal enforcement of female competitiveness. Because the patriarchy says there is a “correct” way to be a woman/mother, then women get stuck in the mindset that people who don’t do what we do are our enemies, since there is only one RIGHT kind of woman/mother. Thus, breastfeeding moms MUST BE judging formula users and formula users MUST fight back to show they are the BETTER moms!
*sounds of hair being ripped out in frustration*
Attachment parenting is the biological ideal. A lot of women can’t, or won’t, do it, and that does not make them “bad” mothers. There is no SINGLE best way to parent for all families. So let us move past this garbage that suggests there must only be ONE good way to be a mom.
Although Heather McDonald can kiss my ass for implying I don’t love Sweet Babou enough and that I have willingly given up all other identity but “breeder”.