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Sad White Babies With Mean Feminist Mommies

The Atlantic is reviving the tired feminist-baiting question “can women have it all.” Le sigh. In celebration of this backlashtastic event, I’ve compiled some of my favorite images that are often the art in these kinds of articles: The mean/frazzled/distracted working white mom (because WOC don’t exist in this narrative) who has been fooled into thinking she can have it all by feminism. Good times.

Note: I haven’t read the piece (it’s not out yet) and for all I know is a scorchingly awesome piece of feminist writing. But the headline/art/cover is just too awful and (knowingly) plays into the anti-feminist cliche the search for work/life balance is greedily trying to have “it all.”

You know, in Western cultures, we give a lot of lip service to motherhood. We call motherhood special, we valorize our own mothers, we say it the most important job on earth, but in practice there’s very little out there that supports mothers as a class of people. As a culture, we can barely come to an agreement on whether children, the most vulnerable population among us, have the right to food, clean water, safe homes, and access to health care. As teenage parents, we are on the receiving end of some particularly nasty judgement because we happen to hit a lot of these buttons: we’re young, we tend to have less wealth, we tend to have less education. And because the system is set up against us, a lot of folks as satisfied just shaking their heads and telling us we should have kept our legs closed.

That’s not good enough. You do have rights. You have the right to work, to attend college, to live in safe neighborhoods, to access quality health care and nutrition for your children. Some jerk’s false perception of you as a promiscuous loser — whether this jerk be your parent, your uncle, your freshman English teacher, or some stranger — is not a valid reason to prevent you from accessing these resources. In cases like this, knowledge is power. Know what your rights are and how exactly to exercise them when someone is putting up roadblocks to keep you from reaching your goals. What someone else thinks about you is none of your business. Forget their judgement.

Lauren Bruce, founder of Feministein an interview about teen motherhood

Why breastfeeding supremacists can suck my left one

Yesterday, when I quoted Lorrie Hearts about a hospital’s decision to stop making free formula available to new moms in an effort to be “baby-friendly”, I got a lot of supportive comments and questions through Tumblr. (Thanks, y’all!) I also got a lot of hate and misrepresentation directed at me through Twitter. (Does this decide the never-ending social media battle in my head? Maybe!)  

When I wrote about breastfeeding and formula feeding for my column in The Daily earlier this year, what I stressed was that too many moms who choose (or must) formula feed are outright shamed for it:

But why a woman doesn’t nurse is beside the point. Whether she’s unable to or simply chooses not to, the guilt has got to go.

We should reserve our motherly disdain for systemic issues that make parenting harder — workplace inequities and the maternal wage gap, the lack of paid maternity leave and affordable child-care options — not other women’s personal decisions about how to feed their babies.

So it’s all the more infuriating that the responses directed at me (shrouded in patronizing rhetoric about wanting to “educate”) have been absolutely rife with shaming.

FeministBreeder, a blogger and lactivist whose Twitter description touts herself as a “rocker chick turned natural mom” (I’m dying to know what kind of mother isn’t a “natural” one), started in by suggesting my post was “harmful to women’s health,” that I hadn’t researched the issue, and that I was “siding with the formula marketing industry” who take advantage of “vulnerable” women. 

Her tweets actually embody the main issues I have with those who shame formula-feeding mothers: the condescending attitude that women who formula feed are somehow stupid or have been duped, the assumption that anyone who formula feeds or supports women who do so isn’t educated on the issue, and, of course, the shaming inherent in suggesting that formula hurt women (and babies). The other issue, which I’ll get into in a bit, is the mind-boggling classism I’ve seen bandied about.

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