Pharos-Tribune

Columns

August 26, 2013

LYONS: Look out for breast-feeding controversy

(Continued)

But as it also gave her an unfair advantage over her husband in securing the infant’s affections, the practice needed to be renounced in the interest of gender equity. Baby gets a boo-boo, baby runs to Mommy. And that would never do.

“It’s one thing our bodies do that reinforces the social differences between men and women ... Sometimes we have to do a runaround our bodies to ensure equity. Sometimes we have to do some social engineering to help dislodge our social aspirations from the dictates of our glands and gonads.”

Dislodge our hopes from our gonads? Must we really? Somebody needs to tell Erickson that few unearned patriarchal privileges are sweeter than rolling over and going back to sleep while Mommy tends the baby.

So anyway, if you’re thinking that American University’s famous lactating anthropologist would set her Iowa colleague straight, you’d be mistaken. Motherhood’s evidently not a big part of these gender studies classes. There’s no hint that Pine found breast-feeding particularly joyous at all. Quite the opposite. During her moment in the spotlight, Pine made clear her contempt of people who see breast-feeding as a “transcendental act,” along with “gendered essentialism about the naturalness or sacredness of the mother-child bond.”

In a Counterpunch.org article devoted largely to attacking the “biased and sophomoric” undergraduate reporter from the campus newspaper who interviewed her, Pine emphasized that she had “specifically tried to distance myself from lactivism, which has always seemed hopelessly bourgeois to me — hose marauding bands of lactating white women who go to collectively feed their babies in places where the right to breast-feed has been called into question ... And the whole argument about the breast being more ‘natural’ than the bottle leads down a slippery slope of biological determinism.”

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