By Ginny Engholm
A recent Facebook post by our own Jacqueline Antonovich weighed in on one of the most contentious issues in the mommy wars — breastfeeding. She was responding to another Facebook post by a well-known feminist blogger who goes by the name The Feminist Breeder. Antonovich wrote, “I finally had to unfollow a page about feminism and birth/parenting. I’m all for breastfeeding, but if you are going to say you are not trying to judge, but you just ‘don’t get’ women who bottle feed, then you are too wrapped up in your liberal, upper-class, white world to understand how economics, culture, body type, cancer, and/or sexual trauma can make breastfeeding difficult or impossible. So tired of sanctimonious mommies.”
By Ginny Engholm
Our sentimentalizing of pregnancy, combined with our faith in modern medicine, have contributed to a backlash against birth control, encouraging us to see pregnancy as low risk and to lose sight of its dangers and perils. Contraceptives — and legal access to them — continue to be a source of controversy, political wrangling, and ideological posturing because the political and cultural discussion surrounding them focuses on issues of personal choice and sexual mores rather than questions of health. The recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby reflects this view of birth control as a matter of religious conviction and personal choice rather than reproductive health. If pregnancy is so natural, so low risk for women, then preventing pregnancy is not a medical issue, but rather a personal decision. Even efforts to argue that women use birth control for other health reasons, such as treating PMS or endometriosis, miss the point that limiting, preventing, and spacing pregnancies are medical reasons to use birth control. The backlash against contraceptives stems, in part, from our current misguided view of pregnancy as a low risk medical event for women. The problem with this view is that pregnancy is dangerous, and medical science has a long history of revealing its risks and perils for women.
By Danielle Swiontek
The community in which I live held a march in memory of Trayvon Martin two weeks ago. It seemed so dated, in a way. In this 24-hour news cycle that we live in, it feels like forever ago since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012. It seems like ages since the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of his death this past July. Yet the killing of Trayvon Martin continues to haunt me, as it probably does the people who joined the march. The news cycle has moved on, but the issues that Trayvon Martin’s death brought to the forefront have not. When I first heard about Trayvon Martin’s death, it made me fear for my son. That fear has not gone away in the last two months. It will probably never go away.
by Rachel Epp Buller
I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles over the weekend and facilitate a panel discussion about breastfeeding. The audience consisted of mothers of infants and toddlers as well as expectant mothers, who came for a “Mom’s Night Out” to hear from a panel of “experts” that included Elaine Stuart (childbirth educator and doula), Dr. Tanya Altmann (LA pediatrician), Corky Harvey (long-time lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury), and Jamie Lynne Grumet (the mom at the center of last year’s controversial TIME magazine story about extended breastfeeding). After hearing some of the audience questions I was reminded once again why these discussions are so important, why lactation consultation is on the rise, and why there is a constant demand for breastfeeding classes and breastfeeding support groups: because breastfeeding is not always the easy relationship that most of us expect it to be, and mothers need this information.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
One of my escapes is reading Good Housekeeping. When it arrives in my mailbox, I usually take that afternoon “off,” and spend it on my porch swing, sipping coffee or wine as I page through it. Mostly, I read it and find the pleasure in all of the things that I am not going to worry about. The best recipe for mu shu shrimp? There is no way my picky son will put that anywhere near his mouth, so I’m not going to cook it. How to make the craftiest seating cards for a dinner party? Not gonna do it because my dinner parties are self-serve buffets. How to reorganize your closet so that it is color-coded? Not practical in my tiny hole in the wall. Lose five pounds by doing sit-ups before you get out of bed in the morning? I’d rather just hit the snooze button. It’s not that I find this information or these suggestions laughable or useless or anything like that. I do not mean to sound condescending or snobby about it. I love Good Housekeeping. It’s just that most of its contents don’t really have anything to do with the kind of household that my husband and I maintain. And yet I faithfully read it. Why? Because every so often there is something that works for me. [Like the suggestion to use a cup to amplify the music from my iPhone (March 2013, p. 29). I’ve been walking around with my iPhone in a coffee mug for the last four weeks. It’s brilliant.] And I really do find comfort in the feeling of being free from having to do any of the things that the GH articles suggest that I do to make my home, myself, or my family happier, healthier, or prettier.
By Adam Turner
Genetic counseling, as the previous two posts in this series suggest, has a lot to offer for navigating the tricky decisions things like prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis raise. Well, in this post I’d like to make things a little more complicated. Enter the sheer messiness of history. I still believe genetic counseling is the best approach we have right now for helping prospective parents with hard choices, but it has a complicated — and not so distant — past that continues to shape counselors’ ways of interacting with clients.
Recently, a Facebook app came out called Unbaby.me that blocks pictures of children in your news feed and changes them to something more “entertaining,” like cats. Now, I love Lolcats and Anxiety Cat memes as much as the next person, but really?!? If we are discussing Facebook etiquette, then let me chime in. I can’t begin to count how many posts could qualify as annoying. Let’s take drunken bar pics or updates from playing Farmville or Lose It calorie counter apps or even those Ecard memes. How many are considered acceptable before they cross into “you are getting on my nerves, can’t you post something else” territory? Moderation in all things is my mantra- kid pics or other. But let’s face it: it’s a choice to subscribe to a friend on Facebook (or even to have them as a friend on Facebook), so why is an app needed specifically for blocking baby pictures?
Happy Birthday baby girl! Today you are six. It really does seem like yesterday that I held you in my arms just minutes after your birth. I remember thinking at that moment (and throughout my pregnancy) that having a girl was not going to be easy. As a historian I am painfully aware of hard it was/is to be a female. Yes, women have achieved quite a bit, but there are many individuals (male and female) who think gender equality will lead to the end of human existence, and who are hellbent on placing women within the box of inequality.
Breasts are everywhere in popular culture. This is nothing new. And yet I’ve been struck in recent years by the resurgence of the breastfeeding body in visual culture and contemporary art. It’s apparently a big deal (i.e., magazine-cover newsworthy) that Salma Hayek, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Spelling, Kourtney Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, and many other celebrities breastfeed their babies.
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have a difficult time talking about sex.
[I will pause a moment while my friends, colleagues, and former students pick themselves up off the floor and recover from the raucous laughter that I’m sure they just engaged in.]
Okay. Let me clarify: I have a difficult time talking with my son about sex.