Posts Tagged ‘objectification of breastfeeding women’
Objectification of women is one the most prominent subjects in feminism. To objectify means to treat as a thing as opposed to a being. Most people are familiar with sexual objectification of women that is treating women as objects, things, toys for sexual gratification. A woman exists as a sum of her body parts, not a whole being with thoughts, wishes, feelings, and ultimately dignity. Sexual objectification is often used to sell products.
Very little if anything is said about objectification of breastfeeding women in medicine, feminism, and breastfeeding advocacy. Objectification of breastfeeding women is very easy to pinpoint.
When you equate “a woman nursing a child” to “milk” that is when you substitute a substance for a woman, you are objectifying a breastfeeding woman. Read the rest of this entry »
The image objectifies women by dissecting them into parts. Here we can see breasts. The women are headless, faceless, legless, and armless. In this image women’s breasts are viewed as milk factories that produce medically valuable commodity, a “dream product”. The inscription in the image reinforces what the image “says”.
I am horrified because feeding and immunizing everybody on earth does not sustain life nor does it nurture anybody. Two experiments come to mind. One is Harlow experiment on monkeys, where infant monkeys always preferred a warm furry surrogate mother to a feeding wire mother. Another one is a famous language acquisition experiment by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (1194-1250). He “bade foster mothers and nurses to suckle the children, to bathe and wash them, but in no way to prattle with them” because he wanted to learn what language the children would speak in absence of caregiver speech (Montagu, 1986). “But he laboured in vain because the children all died. For they could not live without the petting and joyful faces and loving words of their foster mothers.”
Current college requirements include a course in psychology, however, old chap Maslow did not include a need for touch into his pyramid of basic physiological needs. It is not surprising that the discussion on nurturing children focuses on food and not on a vital (literally) relationship between a mother and a child, where there is no dissection into food, immunization, touch, as well as petting, joyful faces, and loving words.
It is a mother, a woman, who satisfies all the vital human needs, not nursing, not breastfeeding, not feeding, and most certainly, not milk.
Montagu, A. (1986). Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York, NY: William Morrow
Objectification of breastfeeding women is a process in which a whole breastfeeding woman with her unique personality and feelings is reduced to a lactating breast and/or to breastmilk that exists independently from the woman. It is distinct from sexual objectification that practices treatment of women as objects for sexual gratification.
Objectification of breastfeeding women is a process inherent to medicalization of breastfeeding because medicine focuses on biological and physiological process of lactation (milk production) as opposed to the lived experience breastfeeding (a relationship between two people). Objectification of breastfeeding women devalues women as whole human beings and affects women’s feelings of self-worth. Objectification of women has harmful effects on women’s well-being and overall health.
Objectification of breastfeeding women is most evident in images of breastfeeding in popular culture.
The October 2012 issue of Parents magazine advertises an article about breastfeeding. The image accompanying the contents entry is French lemonade bottles filled with homogenized milk that looks very different from expressed women’s milk.
The article shares that 98% of the magazine’s viewers approve of breastfeeding in public. This news gives us hope in light of the recent Adrienne Pine discrimination case. The illustration right above it suggests that women breastfeed in public to provoke and “titty-llate”.
A lactation consultant practice logo portrays a child attached to the breast. The child’s mother is lost to the viewer.
The C-Lacta Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc., a network of individuals and organizations which share the unique mission of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, has a logo that shows a breast with a heart that exist without a woman. The name of the organization clashes with its declared goal of supporting breastfeeding rather than milk feeding.
The Logo for a blog and Facebook community “The Leaky Boob. Breastfeeding Pub” suggests that this is a network to connect people who want to be either suckled at the breast or given breastmilk as their choice of beverage. A prominent display of a breast with leaking milk focuses on a body part, not a woman, as well as a commodity of breastmilk that can be bought and sold. In either case a breast and breastmilk exist independently of a woman.
In fact the goal of the blog and community is to connect breastfeeding women. The logo suggest that it is more of a connection for leaky boobs, not women.