As a middle child, I am the consummate peacemaker. I want everyone to get along– the vegans and the paleos, the Tories and the Whigs, Sadie and Simon. I walk the line to keep the peace, and I always will. You can’t fight birth order, so I no longer try.
In the context of the lactivist debates (that terribly politicized question about whether to breastfeed and how long and where), I felt upset about the polarized opinions. I was a working mother during my first time breastfeeding. No one ever got in my face, but it was floating around in my social circle and in culture at large. I felt an imperative to give breastfeeding my very best efforts because I read the research. Higher IQs! Better bonding! More secure! I actually believe the messages, even though some of the messengers were sociopathic know-it-alls. (There are jerks on both sides of every debate, right?)
I had my own nursing journey with my two kids, and I actually still nurse Simon.
BUT, I can credibly remain on both sides of the debate because I only nurse him on the right side. Yep, my lopsided nursing has the beneficial upside of allowing me to supporting nursing on the one hand (and breast), and support the world of choice and formula on the other.
Except, it might be a bit of a “lose” for me since I have breastfed Simon only on the right side for about 11 months. Use your imagination to picture how spectacularly uneven my rack is now that one side has been used a lifesource for my child (I think it’s time to admit he’s not a baby) twice as long as the other side. Take it from me, there’s not a bra in all of Target that can address this situation.
“Excuse me, where are your half-nursing bra/half-sports bra hybrids?” It’s fun to tell them that on your right side you want a nursing-style cup and on the left side you want a good old Champion sports bra. Try that with one of those red-shirted employees at Target. Report back in the comments.
I actually never think about this debate now that I am consumed with picking out outfits to wear when I do preschool pick up and obsessing about the stupid stuff I blurt out while we wait for our kids to come out and NOT tell us anything about their days. But, one of my professor colleagues (one class per semester still counts, people) sent me this link to the college professor who breastfed her sick baby during class.
(Read about Professor Adrienne Pine’s breastfeeding in class here. Even more interesting is Professor Pine’s response to the interest in her decision to (1) bring a sick baby to class and (2) nurse the baby during her lecture.)
Now, I teach 9 first-year law students the art of legal writing. I personally cannot imagine nursing in front of them. But I have a husband and resources that Professor Pine does not have. I so don’t judge her for breastfeeding, in class or anywhere else. But, I do judge her for how she treated the student (female) reporter who approached her about the situation.
Pine treated the reporter as if she was one of those stupid chirpy birds that accompanies Snow White through the forest. At the same time, however, Pine was pissed off that the reporter had the gall to “hound” her and catch her off guard, grabbing an interview when Pine was sick and vulnerable.
Pine writes: “But her questions were so biased and sophomoric—although she appeared to admire that I had committed some sort of radical feminist act, which was not in this context at all my intention—that it became clear that the goal of the article was to explore/create a controversy where there was none.”
I’m sorry, but Pine didn’t have to be such an asshole about the woman who interviewed her. If her questions were sophomoric, maybe Pine, as a professor, could educate her. Fine, if you don’t want to be the darling of a movement you want no part of, but then why didn’t you explain your position and the bias that incensed you. Professors are hired for teachable moments aren’t they? She doesn’t work in the Bursar’s office; she’s hired to teach. The class she breastfed in was called Sex, Gender and Culture. Why not use the situation to speak critically about culture, instead of about the student reporter?
So, Professor Pine, I don’t care who you show your nipples to, but I care about how you treat other women who are trying to make their way through the world, just like you once did.
What do you ya’ll think? Let’s engage in rousing debate before the weekend comes, and I have to come up with something fun for the kids to do.