I did it again. I read the comments. Dear God, why did I read the comments? Nothing good can come from reading the comments, am I right?
It all started with this image:
Then 600 odd comments (at the time of writing this) ensued.
Apparently, according to the posters on the BellyBelly facebook page, breastfeeding beyond 12 months is:
Disgusting, gross, wrong, dangerous (teeth, ya know), weird, and sexually abusive.
Feeding beyond 12 months will:
Stop your child from being independent, leave them without coping skills, make them backward, make them socially inept, hold them back, and not allow them to grow up.
The decision to breastfeed beyond infancy is:
Selfish and only benefits the mother, pointless, devoid of nutritional value and something you need psychological help for doing.
While I really wanted to engage in a caps-lock punctuated rant about the terrible ignorance and offensive sentiments I saw expressed- I didn’t. I tried very hard to be polite. I posted links, information, excerpts from studies. I explained. I gave examples. I talked about how breastfeeding past infancy is normal and healthy and beneficial and safe. Because for all I know, the women talking in this thread have never researched breastfeeding. Many of them did not know of the World Health Organisation recommendation to breastfeed for two years and beyond. Many were unable to see that breasts are not a primary sexual organ.
In this conversation, women who breastfeed longer than a year were ridiculed, judged, criticised and abused. At one point it even became racially motivated. I’m not even joking. And this is one discussion among many.
I’ve banged on a million times about the right to breastfeed and the benefits of breastfeeding. I’m not wanting to do that again (just now- I’m not ruling it out for future posts!). What got to me was the willingness of women to tear down other women over something that has no impact on anyone else’s choices or life. The bloody, freaking Mummy Wars. If it’s not working vs stay at home it’s breast vs bottle or routine vs on demand or slings vs prams.
Why do we do this to each other? Why do we feel that we constantly have the right to voice an opinion despite the lack of relevance to our own lives? If a parenting practice is not harmful, not illegal and not impacting anyone else why do we continue to lambaste each other for our choices? No one in this thread demanded that all women breastfeed their children to the age of 5. That is a very personal choice. Yet so many felt the need to voice their disgust and horror at the thought of doing so. So many felt the need to mock, shame and ridicule those that have or are feeding past infancy. Which brings me to my next point: why does bodily autonomy fly out the window in these discussions? You have the right to make your choices based on your opinions, beliefs, research- whatever floats your boat. What you do not have the right to do is to tell another person how they should or should not use their body. We should not be shaming each other over how we feed our babies and children- breast or bottle. I’ll be the first to tell anyone that how you feed a baby is an important decision and that it’s important to learn as much as you can about your options in this regard. However, feeding is just one small factor of parenting. It is a much wider landscape than these ridiculous Mummy Wars paint for us. We would do so much better if we could support each other, accept our differences and share our knowledge without judgement and without ridiculing those who make a choice we would not when it comes to things that don’t affect us. Women face enough challenges in our society without attacking each other; a little understanding would go a long way.