Final Notes on Breastfeeding
1) While I completely agree with the push to make breastfeeding in public socially acceptable and to remove the stigma and discrimination from women who breastfeed their children in public, I think that there needs to be more of an emphasis on alleviating American Prudishness rather than on trying to get everyone to believe that there is nothing sexual/sensual at all about breastfeeding. I think that goes the wrong way -- justifying the prudishness in the first place; (A prudishness which, I would like to point out, is also a factor in discrimination against queers)not challenging people's assumptions that sexual/sensual things in public automatically make everyone uncomfortable and are inappropriate. I mean, look around! Sex is everywhere writ large. Half naked women are larger than life on our billboards, are on flyers in our public transit system, are represented as mannequins in our store fronts, are beguiling us from our TV screens and even on the previews before children's movies. Sex and sensuality and nudity IS ok in public -- but only if it's used to sell something. THAT's the assumption I think should be challenged by lactivists and their supporters. Not that some aren't. But from my position over here, it sure seems like the favored position is the one that screams "breastfeeding has absolutely nothing to do with sex because really, all breasts are are lumps of fat and mammary glands, and its only your social conditioning and your wrong-headedness and your gutter mind and that stick up your ass that causes you to see breastfeeding as sexual/sensual at all so get over yourself." I'd much rather see one that said, "yes breastfeeding is related to sex in a way, and yes, it's a sensual act; but it's a natural act, and a necessary one, and a beautiful one, and if you think it's better/more noble/less offensive for that airbrushed, collegen-injected, fat-sucked 50 foot tall woman's breast to be hanging out in the air selling over-priced merchandise most likely made by under-paid third world workers than a mother's real, soft breast hanging out in the air (or, most likely, tucked discreetly under a blanket) feeding a child, then you should get a therapist right quick because you've got a problem, not me!"
2) You know what I'd like? I'd like a dominant cultural ideal of motherhood to tell me not that I'm a good mother in spite of the fact that I'm a good lover, or that I'm a good mother because I'm not a passionately sexual person. But something that says that I'm a good mother because I'm a passionate and sensitive and responsive lover. OR that the things that make me a good mother AND a good lover are the same things – sensitivity, responsiveness, sensuality, creativity, love, and passion – and that that's why being a mother and a lover feel so similarly and can happen so simultaneously. THAT'S what I'd like to see. That's the way I'd like our society to change.
3) Maybe that's the reason babies come from sex. Maybe because the qualities that make a good lover, and make one sexy (see list above), also make one a good mother. I mean, scientists have been saying for years that our beauty standards come from some antique indicators of fertility and health. Maybe sexuality works the same way? People who would (by these standards) make good parents are considered to be exceptional lovers and thus given more chances to procreate? Ok, I know there are holes in this theory, particularly since I know a number of people who are great in bed but would make lousy parents, but then clear skin and bright eyes and shiny hair do not necessarily mean a person is healthy and fertile, either.
4) And yet we're (And by "we" I mean "American culture, for the most part") stuck in the religion-based paradigm of Madonna/Whore. We're trapped between the two shallow Marys. The Mary that we only see as an asexual mother and the Mary that we only see as the scarlet whore. Even though I'm not Christian, it pervades me. I mean, in Wicca the goddess gives birth to her son, grows up with him, takes him as her lover, becomes pregnant by him, ages with him, watches him die, mourns him, and then gives birth to him (and rebirths herself) again in the spring. Nowhere is she sexless and chaste. Nowhere is she mother OR lover. She is always the two together and so much more. And yet here I am struggling with a Christian dichotomy…
Ok, I think I'm finally done. Feel free to add. I'm pretty sure that I bored and/or alienated every single one of my readers with this little obsession of mine.