I know this is a massive issue that’s probably going to cause a lot of arguments again but that is literally the opposite of my intention.
Breastfeeding is a feminist issue. I firmly believe that. But I think it’s a feminist issue in 2 ways.
Firstly, I think that women should not be afraid to breastfeed in public and they shouldn’t be made to feel that their breasts are solely for sexual pleasure. Laws protecting women who feed in public are necessary. Companies who throw people out of public spaces for doing it are disgraceful. Women shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable for breastfeeding. Breast milk is obviously great for babies and it has great benefits for mothers as well, and if they can and want to then they should be supported in every way possible.
Secondly, and the flipside of this, is that women shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable for not breastfeeding. I fundamentally cannot understand people who claim to be feminists (especially pro choice people) but judge and criticise women who formula feed. If you believe a woman has the right to make decisions about her uterus, why can you not extend that to her breasts? It seems really simple & obvious to me! There are arguments about women with HIV or other illnesses, or women who have had mastectomies, or who have damaged milk ducts due to surgery, or children who are in care or adopted. Those are valid points. But why is “I have thought about it and decided I don’t want to” not an option? I’m also a sociologist and there’s no part of me that can believe that breast milk or formula in the first year of life can determine every aspect of the next 80 years of life, like some people say. Socioeconomic factors are just as important!
The thing that annoys me most is seeing women attacking other women for their choices, especially when it comes from women who call themselves feminists. Breastfeeding should be encouraged, but not aggressively, and not after the point where a woman has chosen not to. Once she’s past that point, she should be supported in her choice to formula feed and her decision should be respected.
Breast, formula or combi feeding are all valid choices. It’s okay for us to feed our babies in different ways, in the ways that suit our situations and capabilities best. I support anyone’s individual informed choice. What I don’t support is anyone guilting or criticising anyone else because they would make a different choice.
Women have enough shit to deal with - can we please stop attacking each other for things which don’t affect us?