Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If it were men who could breast feed, I'm not sure we'd even be having a conversation.

And that's really the issue here.

Because if men could breast feed, I think we'd have special massage chairs in every public establishment in the US for men to get comfortable while they sustain the next generation and laud breast milk as the global super-food.

I'm a feminist. I'm shocked by how many people are scared of that term. It scares me that so many people are scared of that term.

Things aren't equal, my friends. Sure, we've come a long way from the days of burning women at the stake. Right? But even if that is true, we haven't arrived at some mecca of gender equality. Far from it.

Women in the US are still earning on average about 20% less than their male counterparts. And there are organizations that are outraged by this - great organizations like the National Organization for Women who have been fighting the good fight for a long time. But what about the collective masses. Where are we? Have we forgotten that we can change things?

One of every four women in the United States experiences domestic violence in her lifetime. One. Out. Of. FOUR. Do you have a daughter? A mother? A sister? A friend? Look around you.

I'm not simply angry at Facebook. I'm angry that Facebook has the opportunity, as a powerful social utility, to contribute to gender equality and a better world. But Facebook is acting like a bunch of juvenile frat brothers and doing what has been done throughout the ages - continuing the marginalization of women and women's contributions to society by dosing out patriarchy in teensy, palatable doses.

I was nauseous watching this year's Superbowl ads. The Dodge Charger, amping men up to believe that they are repressed by women - Dockers chanting at men to start wearing the pants again...and I say come on already, America! In a world where patriarchy still reigns supreme - where we go to war and send our children to war, where there is rape and battery and child abuse around every other street corner, isn't enough finally enough?

Whether it's the big-deal issues like the wage gap or the "smaller" issues like Facebook removing pictures of breastfeeding mothers, we need to start standing up. We need to start speaking up. It is these issues, large and small, that work together to create a world where we are so programmed to find gender inequality palatable that we don't say anything.

And that would be scary, if we said something. If we all stood up and said something. Because change is scary. People don't like change. And if we stood up, one by one, stood together, and said "ENOUGH!" things might actually start to move in that scary, changing direction.

Stand up. Please. Stand up.

13 comments:

Heide said...

Well said and oh so true. Can you imagine if men breastfed? Ha, I shudder to think what the global outcome would be. On the other hand if they actually sucked it up and pulled it off, imagine how much better the world would would be if men all over the world, put someone else's needs before their own for 2 solid years. Darwin, can we work something out here?

Shane said...

Thank you all for painting all us men with the same brush. The word feminist doesn't scare me and I would welcome the chance to gain the intimacy and connection that breastfeeding my child would provide me. Instead I found other ways to make up for it. I scheduled one day a week to be father/daughter day where my child and I spend the day together and my wife has time to meet her own needs. I make sure I wake up EVERY morning and help my daughter get prepared for her day, leaving my wife free to get herself ready for her job. Throughout the pregnancy and for the last 17 months, I've made sure that I do the laundry, take out the garbage/recycling, cook, vacuum, dust. In addition to all the above AND my job I also play English teacher for my daughter as I live in Japan and my wife speaks very little English. I strongly believe that if a woman is getting paid less for doing the same work as I do, it is WRONG and will say as much to my employer (oddly enough that's a situation I have yet to encounter). I have NEVER hit, insulted, threatened or denigrated my wife or any other woman, and find those weak, insecure and laughable men who do abhorrent. But where's the mention about how many men suffer the same abuse from the women in their lives? Where's the mention of all the men who HAVE stood up and demanded and facilitated change? I understand the point you are trying to make, but your post targeted the many, MANY guys out there who think and feel as you do. Who would welcome the chance to breastfeed, and who put the needs of their families before their own EVERY SINGLE DAY in crappy jobs, driving minivans (not that Dodge Charger they'd so love to have) who buy cheap imitation Dockers from Walmart so their kid actually has a college fund in 18 years?

Yes things aren't where they should be, but lumping all us men together as feminist-fearing, chauvinists looking to keep a good woman down doesn't help your cause as much as it helped you vent.

Amy S. said...

April, I love that you're speaking up, and totally agree and support what you're saying. The voice of feminism has been awfully quiet in the world lately it seems, and you remind all of us everyday feminists that we need to speak up when we see things going wrong.

My latest outrage is over a billboard campaign in NYC right now by some political action committee with a crying girl appealing to politicians to "Save My Dad's Job." DAD'S job? What about Mom's job? Screwball chauvinists who come up with lame-ass ideas like that are the cousins of FB police who took down your picture. We need to make sure their idiotic actions don't go unnoticed. So cheers to you!

Toad734 said...

You are free to post pictures of women breast feeding on your site. It's not like you aren't free to do so in this country.

But sure, if men could do it I am sure there would be a bit of a different opinion on the matter....But I still wouldn't really want to see them do it...

Daryl said...

I am standing.

April said...

Shane - please understand that this post is in no way a condemnation of men as individuals. I love men - I have tremendous respect for the many wonderful and inspiring men in my life - my father, brothers, brothers-in-law, friends - and my wonderful feminist husband. When we make this issue of patriarchy about men vs. women or women vs. men, we all lose. This is bigger than us as individuals. It is us as a society, and partriarchy as the social order of that society. Men are victims of patriarchy as are women - nobody wins - it is glaringly clear to me that this world order of inequality is not working. You sound like an incredible father. I applaud you and the sacrifices you make for your family. The world needs more men like you. The superbowl ads were just as demeaning to men as to women - don't you feel you deserve better than that? Do you really need Dockers to chide you to "wear the pants?" We need to change the structure on a larger scale - and we need to work together to do it.

James said...

What sort of argument is "Well, if MEN could do it, it'd probably be okay"? You're not making a point there, and you're not really helping your cause by conjuring up 'what if' scenarios that don't exist and attempting to turn them into a plausible argument.

milkstained said...

Facebook acts like a bunch of drunk frat boys because it was started & run by a bunch of drunk frat boys. Period.

Jacalyn said...

ok,well first, I want to be married to Shane. Just kidding. Second, I'm a bfdng researcher - a "lactivist", as I say (you are welcome to use my word! btw) I find that many, many folks out there -including even some pediatricians - don't know there's solid research PROVING that "breast(milk) is best". They think we're talking lifestyle, mommy guilt(or not) etc. Not so! Keep up the good work; I don't use the F-word myself, but would join in any Facebook group that promoted bfdng but didn't use profanity..and so would mnay others of my advanced age group, I think (I'm over 50). JHM

Benjamin said...

Shane...Wow one day a week you sound like a committed father. Unfortunately there are 7 days in a week buddy. Good for you for doing laundry and helping out around the house it's unfortunate you have to point out these "favors" you do, which should be done without question. It sucks your driving a mini van...keep your head up and stop whining. Work smarter not harder.

BSK

Anonymous said...

I can see a huge point here and I am clearly remember discussing this matter in college. What if men were the breastfeeders? Well, they are "allowed" to show their nipples without it being considered to be inappropriate. But, women have nipples and heaven for bid someone else see's them. "Nipple Slips" give the media gossip for a month straight. The point is, we are all born with nipples male or female. Our society builds up women's breasts to be sexual. It is unfortunate, but this is the society we live in. I am not oppose to women feeding their babies, whether that be from the breast or a bottle. Breast milk can provide a baby with many essentials that formula just cannot so I advocate for breastfeeding. My view on the matter is that a breast is only sexual if it is viewed as sexual. If you think of it as a bottle then its a bottle, if as a society we thought of it as an elbow then it would be an elbow. I disagree with facebook removing April's photo as she was just showing skin and feeding her boys. Keep fighting though April. The world would have never developed if people hadn't fought for what they believe in!

Erin said...

When I was 12 years old, I started menstrating, and shortly after my periods started I came to my mom one night with terrible stomach and back cramps and told her "You know, if men were the ones that had to go through this there would be temporary hysterectomies down at the 7/11. You'd just walk in, complain of cramps, and drop your uterus off for the week."

jill p said...

i don't even know you, but i think if we met, we'd be BFFs. i wandered to your blog via a post about your revoked breastfeeding photo. posted that link as my status update. if you're ever in ohio, let me know. we could get coffee and chat :)