The lactofascists strike again

Oh, the horror!

New Zealand professional athlete Piri Weepu was shown on television giving a 6 month old baby a ….bottle of formula.

Never mind that Weepu is the baby’s father. Never mind that the “incident” took place during a television commercial designed to discourage smoking around infants and small children. Never mind that the scene was designed to convey a father’s love for his child. The lactofascists were outraged:

La Leche League, a pro-breastfeeding organisation, has taken offence from a few seconds of film showing the All Black tenderly feeding a bottle of milk to daughter Taylor. The brief scene has been cut from an anti-smoking ad, due to complaints from the league.

One email said: “The damage that this shot of a celebrity All Black will do to breastfeeding in New Zealand Aotearoa will be significant.”

Weepu became a national hero during the All Blacks’ World Cup-winning campaign.

The Health Sponsorship Council’s TV ad is part of its “Smoking, Not Our Future” drive and features Weepu at home with his two daughters: 6-month-old Taylor and toddler Keira. In it Weepu speaks about the positives of having a smoke-free home and car.

… [T]he camera followed Weepu around for a day, including for an hour at his home while he played with his daughters.

“He happened to feed the 6-month-old briefly while they were there,” [Health Sponsorship Council chief executive Ian] Potter said.

People associated with the La Leche League initiated an email campaign against the ad, resulting in a “significant amount of feedback” to the council.

Why did La Leche League oppose an image of a father lovingly feeding his baby daughter?

La Leche League director Alison Stanton said the trouble wasn’t with Weepu bottle feeding but with the overall message.

The overall message? And what exactly does La Leche League think is the “overall message” of a father bottle feeding a baby?”

Asked what was wrong with Weepu cuddling and feeding a baby, she said: “You’ve got the healthy eating message, exercise, breastfeeding, smoke-free environment, wearing safety belts and this is about making sure that we give consistent health messages.”

Right, we all know that bottle feeding kills thousands of babies in first world countries each year. Wait, what? It doesn’t kill any babies at all? Surely for La Leche League to vociferously oppose bottle feeding during an anti-smoking ad it must have double or triple the risks of smoking around infants and small children. Wait, what? There is no evidence that is harmful to first world children at all?

Not to be outdone, the midwives piled on as well:

Karen Guilliland, chief executive officer of the College of Midwives, said her organisation opposed the ad too. “We just figured that Piri Weepu was so loved that whatever he did would carry a huge weight.”

Have these people lost their minds? What the hell do they think they are doing?

What they are doing is behaving like lactofascists. They are not content with promoting breastfeeding. They want to moralize infant feeding and demonize bottle feeding. Most importantly, they want to show that good mothers (mothers like themselves) would never bottlefeed, would never even consider letting their husbands give the baby a relief bottle.

Columnist Bob Trott had this to say in response:

The saddest thing is that the real breastfeeding issue of the day is whether moms should be able to pump and feed in public or at work. Bans on public breastfeeding are ridiculous – the idea that a woman feeding her child is offensive or indecent or inappropriate is, I think, offensive, indecent and inappropriate. And new mothers should have spots in their workplaces where they can pump or feed in privacy.

Apparently Bob does not understand that the real issue for lactofascists is to demonstrate their own superiority as mothers and to shame anyone who doesn’t do exactly what they do.

The ultimate irony of course is that many lactofascists support homebirth, although it demonstrably increases the risk of neonatal death. They insist that a woman’s right to control her own body means that she should be allowed to make any choice in birth, no matter how risky.

Evidently, a woman’s right to control her own body applies only from the waist down, however. She has no right to control her own breasts. When it comes to feeding an infant, woman’s autonomy be damned. There is only one right choice and the lactofascists want there to be no mistake about it.

Bob Trott sums it up best:

When Piri Weepu or any other guy is trying to be a good dad, let him be a good dad. Good dads feed their kids.

Good moms feed their kids, too, and it doesn’t matter whether they do it by breast or bottle.

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