Wednesday, September 24, 2014

On Breastfeeding and Feminism

I kind of can't believe that I haven't already written about this, but alas, when The Boob Geek (who you should definitely like on facebook if you're at all into breastfeeding and/or science) asked me if I'd written anything on Breast feeding as a Feminist issue, I realized that I had not. She went on to pay me the highest compliment a feminist can receive, which is to be called a "real feminist," so here we are.

I mean, to me, this is a no brainer. Breastfeeding is a thing that women's bodies do (no, not all women's bodies, and yes, some men's bodies). OF COURSE it is a feminist issue. The fact that women's bodies, especially the fun parts like the boobs, are so thoroughly legislated and debated over is...kind of one of the biggies in Feminism. One of the very foundations of feminism is women having agency over their own body, their own person. One of the very foundations is women having the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies; their own lives.

And that's sort of the crux of it, in some ways.

Breast feeding is a thing that happens by way of women's bodies; it is a choice in women's lives. It is, by its very nature, a feminist issue.

Of course, it's a bit more complex than that, or a super smart lady like The Boob Geek wouldn't be requesting my two cents on it, now would she?

Let us explore some of the more common arguments.

Breast feeding makes it difficult for women to work, and feminists work, duh. 

Well first of all, some of the strongest feminists I know are stay at home moms, so the assumption that anyone who embraces the ideals of feminism also works outside of the home is wrong, right off the bat.

A lot of us DO work, however, and it is a legitimate point that balancing a breastfeeding relationship with a career can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. Some work environments are not supportive of pumping. They lack the appropriate spaces (private, with a lock, not a bathroom or a break room or a coat room or a conference room-all places I've pumped). They lack adequate break time. They lack places to store pumped milk.

After working (and pumping all day) mothers don't have much time to nurse their babies, because they have houses to clean and dinners to cook and older kids to help with homework and husbands whose feet need rubbing.

So, like, none of that means that breastfeeding and feminism are not compatible. What it means is that feminism isn't done yet. See, one of the things about feminism? Is that it doesn't mean that we just allow women to perform traditionally male roles and allow them into traditionally male spaces and call it good. It means that we don't expect women to have careers and earn money AND do all of the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing. It means a paradigm shift to a society that values and prioritizes traditionally female roles and responsibilities equally. That entails things like longer (and, *gasp* PAID!) maternity leaves, de-stigmatizing pumping and making accommodations like adequate time and space for pumping, flexible scheduling to allow for the additional break time, allowing working part time from home, and providing on-site child-care. It ALSO means more accommodations for fathers to take a more active role in parenting, such as flexible scheduling, working part time from home, and paternity leave. It means acknowledging and accepting that no, women cannot do it ALL which is okay, because SPOILER ALERT, neither can men. It means a paradigm shift to a society that distributes the work load more evenly between partners, so that when both partners are working, both partners are also sharing the responsibilities of keeping a house and raising children.

Now, this doesn't address the additional challenges of single motherhood, but I doubt anyone is prepared for me to suggest that single mothers be provided a nanny, house cleaning service, and personal chef for the first two years of each child's life, so y'all, help out the single moms in your lives, they work harder than the rest of us put together.

Breastfeeding is NOT free, it's expensive and just another way to market unnecessary items to women. 

First off, if you think the marketing of breast feeding related products is predatory and problematic, let me introduce you to a thing called formula marketing, because, holy crap. It is true that marketing is used to convince women that we are insufficient and broken and flawed and need SO MANY PRODUCTS to make up for our many failures. This is true across the board, not just with breast feeding products. We don't need nursing covers. (If we want to cover, a light blanket or shawl works just fine!) We don't need strips to test our milk for alcohol (if we're drunk enough that nursing our babies is a problem, we're too drunk to work those strips, I promise). We (at least, the vast majority of us) don't need special tea or supplements to make more milk. We don't need our nursing bras to be sexy (but if we WANT them to be sexy, that's okay, too).

Of course, the fact that we don't need those particular things doesn't mean breast feeding, especially for working mothers, is free. Working mothers need a high quality breast pump. We need bags or bottles to store our pumped milk in. Breast feeding is definitely easier and more comfortable with supportive nursing bras or tanks. Those who deal with things like chafed nipples might want soothing balms or lanolin, and those early days of engorgement can be made much more bearable with those gel thingies you can throw in the freezer.

So obviously, breast feeding is not feminist, because Marxist Feminist Dialectic, right? Well no. Again, this calls for a shift. It calls for insurance companies to cover breast pumps and for programs like WIC to provide them (they do!). It calls for breast feeding advocates to be mindful of matters of privilege and class as they relate to breast feeding, and to advocate appropriately. It calls for feminists to be just as vocally critical of unnecessary products and predatory marketing in the breast feeding industry as we are of them in the formula industry, in the cosmetics industry, in the fashion industry, and in basically every industry that markets to women.

Breastfeeding activists are dictating what women must do with their own bodies and shaming them into compliance. This is anti-feminist.

It's no surprise that every cause has its extremists, and that there are, indeed, breast feeding activists who proclaim that not breast feeding for any reason is selfish and that formula is poison. These are the exception, not the rule.

In my experience in 5 years as breast feeding advocate, the vast majority of us are focused on supporting women who DO wish to breast feed in accomplishing their goals by normalizing breast feeding, by disseminating accurate and current information, and by working to increase access to resources that protect the breast feeding relationship. We work to de-sexualize the female breasts and to embrace them for their primary role in infant feeding as well as for their secondary sexual functions.

We strive to empower women to make informed decisions for their own bodies, for their own lives, in ways that meet their own personal needs and goals. It doesn't get much more feminist than that.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Granola Strolla Kickstarter

The 30 Day Granola Strolla Kickstarter campaign is live!

I'm happy to share this fundraising campaign for an exciting new product! Please read below to learn more about Granola Strolla, then contribute to their campaign and earn some sweet perks (the Swag Bag at the $25 level is awesome!) or share it with your friends! 

GranolaStrolla is a portable, affordable and easy to use solar charged batterypack able to charge USB devices as fast as a wall charger.

The Granola Strolla works by absorbing power from sunlight, and storing the energy in its environmentally friendly Lithium Iron Phosphate battery. It charges up when you’re out and about so it will still have power when it is dark. Our multi-directional design allows our product to always be charging without requiring any special deployment. It’s light weight, water resistant and less expensive than other brands on the market.

Because The Granola Strolla is Battery Charge Specification 1.2 compliant it charges just as fast as a dedicated wall charger.  It also means that it is compatible with most popular brands and types of mobile devices.

Granola Strolla isn't just an ecotech company. We're an eco-aware family. We want to create products that use renewable energy and resources to help preserve our planet for future generations.

Our charger uses a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4) rather than the standard Lithium Cobalt Oxide. Not only is Iron Phosphate non-toxic, it is approved for use in organic gardening as a way to control snails. LiFePo4 batteries also have double the amount of charge/discharge cycles of most LiCoO2 batteries. That means longer life AND fewer batteries have to be built.

For plastics we decided to go with High Density Polyethylene (HPDE). It has the material strength needed for a sturdy product and it is easily recyclable.  We also intend to have the Granola Strolla made of recycled HPDE as soon as possible.

Join us in helping to make our Kickstarter a success.

Our Kickstarter campaign will run from Friday September 12th to October
You can find us on the web at
On Facebook at

Or Tweet @granolastrolla

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#365feministselfie August

The month of August was a crazy one for me. Work was crazy, home was crazy, life was crazy. I was crazy. There were walks in the rain and merry-go-round rides. There were babywearing meetups and a rare date night. There was lots of silliness and lots of snuggles. We celebrated my birthday and the completion of the elementary school Delilah and Canon will attend. We went to Delilah's 4K Orientation at said school. We found out we were losing our childcare provider and had to scramble to find a solution. We moved the kids each into their very own new bedrooms. We all got more sleep! We survived. Maybe even thrived. But man, I hope September is quiet with an easy transition into autumn. I'll keep the snuggles and the silly, but the crazy can take a hike! Ooooh, a hike sounds good. September #365feministselfie goal: HIKING SELFIES! :)

I love this project. <3 p="">