Natural childbirth, attachment parenting, and policing women’s bodies

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It is a sad fact of history that men have spent a tremendous amount of time policing women’s bodies. And an even sadder fact is that women have often been the prime enforcers in this effort.

Consider female genital mutilation. It is a practice designed by men, for men, to preserve men’s privileges, but it is performed exclusively by older women on female children in order to make their bodies “respectable” for men.

You might think that the time of women as enforcers of policing other women’s bodies has passed. You’d be wrong. There are now entire movements devoted to policing women’s bodies: the natural childbirth movement, the lactivist movement, and the attachment parenting movement.

In fact, with the exception female genital mutilation itself, it is difficult to think of a historical movement that placed more emphasis on the insistence that women use their bodies in the “proper” way. These philosophies are the intellectual equivalent of the burqa. They function in large part to keep women trapped in the home, invisible, and incapable of pursuing the same goals as men.

I recently had something of an epiphany. I’ve been maintaining a version of this blog for more than 6 years. There have been literally hundreds of thousands of comments in that time. The epiphany is that most of them have been in response to, or in defense of what women should or should not be doing with their bodies. Should women experience pain in labor? Do they have a right to abolish that pain? Should women breastfeed? Should women persevere if they have pain or difficulty in breastfeeding? Should women feel free to supplement or replace breastfeeding with formula? Should women carry their infants around all day? Should women have their children sleep in the marital bed each and every night?

This blog is noted for its full throated condemnation of the myths and lies of the homebirth and natural childbirth movements, and emphasizes the fact that homebirth results in preventable neonatal deaths. But I’d like it to also be noted for something else: the firm conviction that NCB, lactivism and attachment parenting are anti-feminist. All three locate the center of women’s worth in her body (specifically her vagina and breasts) and generate elaborate prescriptions for women’s use of their own bodies that essentially control how they use their bodies every minute of every day. I firmly believe that women’s bodies should be controlled by women themselves, not by groups who prescribe the “correct” way to give birth, the “correct” way to nourish a baby, and the “correct” way to nurture a baby.

I’ve joked about the sanctimommy who has advice for everyone on every aspect of mothering. I’ve pointed out that a great deal of the appeal of being a part of the NCB, lactivism and AP movements is the opportunity to feel superior to other mothers, and to belong to a like minded community whose primary purpose seems to be praising themselves. Yet that is merely the incentive to joining these movements, not the purpose of them. The true purpose, sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious, is to generate so many prescriptions around mothering that women cannot possibly leave the home and participate in the larger world.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the prime movers behind these philosophies are men, particularly men deeply disturbed by the idea of women rejecting the conventional roles to which men have relegated them. From Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth, a sexist who decried women’s efforts at political and economic emancipation, to Dr. William Sears, the father of attachment parenting, who is a religious fundamentalist, these efforts at policing women’s bodies began with the ideas and efforts of men.

And I suspect that it is hardly a coincidence that the leading female enforcer of policing pregnant women’s bodies is Ina May Gaskin. She’s a woman in the shadow of a man who is not merely her husband,  but the leader of the cult (The Farm) to which she belongs. Based on her own admission, she was pressured into letting one of her own children die at homebirth because her husband did not want to use the medical system when that baby was born prematurely, on a bus on the freezing Great Plains, in the dead of winter. She was relegated by her cult to the “women’s work” of midwifery, and she has done a fabulous job of making that work important. But no one should ever forget that Ina May Gaskin was relegated to midwifery, and that the only control she was allowed to have was control over other women.

In an ironic twist, the current enforcers of these movements have turned to men to make the job of enforcement easier. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bizarre effort to promote breastfeeding by shaming women who want to use formula is a case in point. In first world countries, the public health benefits of breastfeeding, while real, are trivial. Yet lactivists have convinced Mayor Bloomberg and his staff that it is their right and their obligation to put obstacles in the path of women who don’t want to use their breasts to feed their babies.

Lactivists have created the Orwellian designation of “baby-friendly” hospitals to force women into signing waivers explicitly stating that those who refuse to use their breasts to feed their babies are knowingly choosing an inferior method of caring for them. Can you imagine the howling from the NCB movement if every woman who came to the hospital with a birth plan for avoiding interventions was forced to sign a statement acknowledging that childbirth without interventions was an inferior, and less safe, method of birth? Yet many of these same women seem to positively gloat at the idea of other women metaphorically branded as lesser mothers simply because they refuse to use their breasts in the approved manner.

I tend to focus on the validity of the claims of the NCB, lactivism and AP movements. It’s easy to do so since most of their empirical claims are factually false. However, we shouldn’t forget that these movements are, at their heart, retrograde, anti-feminist and ultimately concerned with policing women’s bodies.

Make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding or attachment parenting if those are the choices that work best for individual women and their families; I chose to do all of them with my own children. But there is something very wrong with philosophical movements devoted to forcing those choices on other women, essentially policing their bodies for every moment of the 9 months of pregnancy, the hours of labor and childbirth, and the years of parenting small children.

  • anotherladydoc

    amen, Dr Tuteur.

  • lulubee

    Meanings can be attributed, but it doesn’t make them a reality for all. Many feminists would disagree with your construction, and would think that a woman’s choice to have a natural birth, to breastfeed, including in public, and keep her baby close, are in fact fundamental women’s rights. These rights have not been respected due to the social unacceptability of breastfeeding (due to men feeling womens breasts are for them and shouldnt be used in public to feed babies?) and due to medicalised regimes (designed by men) of artificial baby feeding which dictated that women and babies should not get too attached, babies shouldn’t be fed at night, and which thwarted breast feeding and made many mums feel like failures. Also that (mostly male) doctors should entirely control birth, and women should do as they are told even if it meant exposure to undignified and intrusive procedures which were not medically necessary. These are all possible constructions to make, and are as valid as the ones you have made. So whether a particular way of child raising or birthing is feminist or anti feminist depends largely on the individuals values and circumstances and whether she has been free to choose, or coerced. I may due to my feminist views choose natural birth, long term breastfeeding and carrying my baby in a sling everywhere. Another woman due to her feminist views may choose elective c section, formula and returning to work at week 3. You are right nobody has the right to insist that others do things their way.But for every mum who is made to feel inadequate by “lactivists” for forumula feeding, there are attachment style mums who are made feel the same way, both by mums at coffee groups, and by health professionals, because their baby doesn’t “sleep through the night” by 2 months,or is below average on the weight charts or some other such hogwash. But baby friendly hospital policies that promote breastfeeding are in fact an important responsibility of health care providers. Do you also think that hospital anti-smoking during pregnancy policies and initiatives are anti feminist because they are policing how women should use their bodies? Although the risks of formula feeding are not as severe as smoking, they are significant, especially in the early months, and for sick or prem babies.No woman should be forced to breastfeed or to endure the pain of childbirth against her will, but she should be supported to make an informed choice. Pretending that the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial just so people feel better, doesn’t negate the large body of compelling scientific evidence to the contrary.

    • “the large body of compelling scientific evidence”
      citations needed

    • Bombshellrisa

      Artificial baby feeding?

    • Eddie

      Paragraph breaks please?

      > due to medicalised regimes (designed by men)

      Ah, those evil men. Sorry, a bogus argument. There are quite a few women doctors. They don’t count? Only the male doctors matter? Doesn’t sound like a feminist point of view.

      I’m not going to go point by point, but I read your whole post.

      > for every mum who is made to feel inadequate by “lactivists” for
      > forumula feeding, there are attachment style mums who are made
      > feel the same way, both by mums at coffee groups

      Yup. This is human behavior. Doesn’t make it acceptible. Doesn’t mean we allow it. This is nothing to do with feminism or anti-feminism. This is just the dark side of humanity. Most regulars here would argue against both groups of “you are inadequate because…” idiots.

      > large body of compelling scientific evidence

      Citations?

    • Meanings can be attributed, but it doesn’t make them a
      reality for all

      Well, you got that bit right. Clearly, different people attribute very
      different meanings to the word “feminist”. As far as I am concerned, my definition is very simple – women should have the same rights as men, and should not be subjugated , coerced or restricted on the grounds of gender.

      After that, I’m afraid I find your assertion that women have a fundamental” right to be Earth Mothers or Birth Goddesses and that they are prevented by the patriarchy more than a bit suspect. To me it makes as much sense as insisting that women have a “fundamental” right to spend their days scrubbing floors or fretting about the whiteness of shirts. If that is what they want to do, then of course, they have the right to make free choices, but making them does not automatically make them admirable. It seems to be your contention that the large numbers, throughout history, who either couldn’t or wouldn’t bf made those choices to please men. I highly doubt that, and the fact that respect for women and their choices was sometimes absent in parts of the medical profession is also a bit suspect. Sure, there are rather large numbers of men who would prefer it if women did as they were told – but the desire to control child birth from the medical profession was not entirely ideological – the desire to stop the carnage and suffering was also part, and they did have some success, for which many of us are rather grateful. The idea that women themselves should “control” childbirth, as opposed to speak out freely about what is acceptable to them, seem less likely to be beneficial.

      Feminism was not invented in the 1970s, and women of my mother’s generation were just as capable of making their own choices. If it is
      your choice to carry your baby everywhere, you are quite correct that you have every right to do so for whatever reason you believe to be valid. But defining any choice as feminist because a woman makes it seems unsustainable to me.

      I might be persuaded to agree that women do have the right to decide for themselves, to some extent, what they see as feminist choices. They absolutely do not have the right to impose them on others. I would
      agree that choices should be informed, but that can get difficult when facts are disputed or distorted for various reasons. Do you have a problem with women “feeling better” when they make choices on different sources of information than those you favour? Women should be supportive of each other, in theory, but I don’t think there is much that is feminist or helpful in being “supported” into group-think.

  • Certified Hamster Midwife

    OT, but not really. I think readers here will appreciate this. http://theworldbreakseveryone.com/the-retro-husband/

  • “There are now entire movements devoted to policing women’s bodies: the natural childbirth movement, the lactivist movement, the ANTI-CHOICE MOVEMENT, and the attachment parenting movement.”

    FIFY

  • qwerty

    I think the last paragraph is key. Real feminism is inherently neither pro- nor anti-NCB, attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, etc. Real feminism is getting women good information and letting them decide for themselves. For one woman it may be empowering to give birth at home, wear her baby, and breastfeed her toddler. For another woman it may be empowering to have a planned c-section, wean her 3-week-old, and use a stroller. The question isn’t “Who owns the real brand of feminism?” but “What is good information?” Telling women what ideology they need to espouse is almost never feminist (I am hedging by using the word “almost”; in reality I can’t think of a situation where telling women what to believe is feminist, but who knows, maybe I just haven’t thought enough). The real feminist goal, I think, is to get the right information
    disseminated, and then we’ll find out what choices women make for themselves. Instead, we find ourselves in a stalemate in which warring parenting styles dominate the conversation and people’s need to have their choices validated overrides their ability to respect others’ autonomy and experiences.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      As someone very wise has stated previously, “Empowerment comes in the ability to make choices, and not by the choices one makes.”

  • attitude devant

    BEST, SOB. POST. EVER.

    Thank you.

  • thepragmatist

    Thank you for summing it up so clearly. I told my husband that he would be a feminist by the time I was done having our child. He didn’t believe me. I thought I would educate him on the politics of birth… You know, the evils of over-medicalized pregnancy and obstetric interference. Oh boy, it was not him who was going to get the education. No.

    What I didn’t know was that I would not be prepared for the loss of agency over my body: that my body would become public property and that I would also feel such despair and horror at the loss. I never realized when I walked into that midwife’s office to plan a homebirth (and went home with Birthing From Within that day) that I would end up choosing a MRCS months later, because I realized it was right for me. That I would meet a powerful, funny female OB/GYN who had utmost respect– more than anyone else– for my agency as a woman, changed my mind about obstetrics forever, and would become a fundamental part of my healing from other trauma. So much for the sexist OB/GYN disabusing the woman of her right to empower herself! Indeed, it was the OB/GYN who was instrumental in helping me understand what it was I really wanted and then manifesting… Certainly not the midwife who told me “not to worry about tearing because we have ways to prevent it” or the other midwife, who when I was having contractions right before my c-section, told me, smugly, “Well, you can’t always have the birth you want.” No, midwifery didn’t empower me, science did. Science and reason. Control over my body.

    I learned, on encountering the world of lactivism and attachment parenting that I had thought would be a good fit for me, that I was not good enough, not mom enough, not enough, no matter what. And that my experience as a woman engaged in the act of mothering was irrelevant. I learned that NCB and AP were not only prescriptive but also fundamentally ablest. The final breaking point was when I — disabled by a number of things — fought my way through many challenges only to be ridiculed for my parenting choices, some very hard to make. And I realize I did not matter as a human being anymore in that context. And that the worse enforcers of this dogma were women themselves. They continue to be. At times derided for such things as “long science-fueled posts” or “normalizing c-sections” and my posts deleted if I dared tried to support a woman in learning to appropriately supplement with formula, for example. Asked to leave our community board for continuing posting “facts” when others would post inflammatory articles like, “Just say No to Pitocin” and I would go, “Uh, yeah, but wait…” At one point I had 40 grown women devote a thread to informing me that I had completely ruined their forum. Those women went on to make a different forum where they screen people very carefully for access with intrusive questions to make sure they are sufficiently NCB/AP and topics such as combo feeding or sleep training are off the table, at all times. Sounds feminist to me… Worse yet is knowing that because they pass themselves off as feminist and science-based they lure in unsuspecting mothers-to-be who they then fill with misinformation about birth. Then later, my OB gets to deal with these women when they show up from home birth a train wreck. Avoided interventions but come out of it with perhaps an unnecessary c-section. But who needs to make good sound decisions based on at least a basic understanding of your own physiology, birth, and the interventions involved, and their risks and benefits, when you could sit in an echo chamber all day and blame obstetric intervention and read the same five books to each other?

    Indeed, it was MY feminism most altered in its trajectory as I made controversial or unaccepted choices with my body and my baby, meeting my own and my child’s needs, being shamed and derided through out, realizing more and more I had been lied to, that the data was skewed, and that the story was rife with inconsistent, contradictory values, unrealistic (at time inhumane) expectations and glaring misogyny. Religion, not science. Not safer. Not best practice. Lies. Nefarious too, because they major players in our community know that they are lies, and have confessed to me in private they know they are lies when I received a message requesting I leave a parenting group. Then I fully appreciated the anti-intellectualism but also how corrupt and anti-woman it really was. It wasn’t that my facts were incorrect, but that they were not in line with NCB/AP dominant paradigm. My facts were indeed, not the issue, they were perfectly true: they just did not want them shared.

    I was naive, to be honest. I had not ever experienced women en masse, of my own age, in such an environment. Member of many topical message boards over the years, where facts and evidence were critical, this was so foreign to me that I could not understand it. Why would you not want to know what was going on in your body? And how could these, the birth duolas and educators, shut me down so completely, when they knew I was correct. Cynically, my husband pointed out I was embarrassing them in front of their client base. “But it’s a lie!” I would shout. He was right. Correcting the “birth educators” on their misinformation was embarrassing for them so they demonized me.

    My husband did, indeed, become a feminist. He is proud to call himself a feminist. he became a feminist not because I educated him about Spiritual Midwifery. He walked with me through making enormous strides as a woman. From my MRCS came the first time in my life I felt power over my own body, as a sexual abuse survivor, and from there, so much more power came. In the moment that I said no to a vaginal birth and someone actually said, OK! I took new control over my body, my sexuality, my needs as a woman. A pivotal moment in my life. And I am told that I was powerless there. Oh no, not at all. Far from powerless. From there the seeds grew to face ALL the misogyny in my life around me and I stopped taking crap from people. I began to see that other women are the real enforcers in a way I never realized. Or wanted to realize. From there-in everything shifted. When my son was just about a year old, I walked into a police station and filed a report against a serial sexual predator, thereby stopping him from hurting anyone else again. Yet I am not good enough for these women, because I fed my baby formula sometimes? I am not powerful? I am ten times braver, indeed. Women who are empowered do not need to empower themselves through their reproductive function. Learned that bit here.

    It has redefined me. But it also makes me feel like a lone wolf, because I have been ostracized for my choices, from decrying the current parenting paradigm, and for actually wanting to talk about the needs of mothers as human beings and not objects, and of course, worse of all, to suggest that women have the right to do what they need to do with their own bodies and have access to accurate information so they know what choices may be right for them. It has resulted in the kind of shaming and shunning usually reserved for promiscuous women or victims of sexual assault. Having been that woman more than once, it feels the same to me. But never have I been so shamed as when I stood up for mother’s rights! Something you think would be fairly non-controversial, given how much these people go on about how women have such rights in childbirth, but those right apparently end there. Because once baby is born, mother has no needs. Huge realization there that I was not actually with feminists. I’m not talking about mothers who “need” to neglect their children, but rather, that it is okay to take into account your own feelings and needs: indeed, it is critical. And indeed, it is the very same kind of shaming, and policing of women’s bodies: through shame and shunning the NCB and AP movement actively silent dissent and enforce prescriptive and gendered parenting roles. At one point, my husband got angry at the continual characterization as men as hapless idiots, incapable of nurturing. He is more of a nurturer, in spirit, than me.

    It is really interesting how oppression of women is a continuum and central, always, to reproduction. So it’s not shocking, really, when a nearby crisis pregnancy center puts on a NCB movie night to raise money to fight abortion and the feminists in the room can’t seem to put 2 and 2 together. Do they say hurrah or get angry? No, they say nothing at all. Eye opening! All around me women call themselves feminist and embrace this movement and they do not know what it is they are subscribing to. This week a film on Ina May is being screened at our local college. Facebook is abuzz. And I want to post, “Did you know she let her premature baby die for lack of medical care? Do you know she doesn’t understand basic anatomy? Do you know that she judges women’s ability to birth on their emotional state? Why is this feminist? Don’t call it feminist. Call it whatever else you like, but not that.”

    I know it would just be deleted.

    The disenfranchisement of women’s right to their own bodies is not what I envisioned. I totally bought it: that it was a movement to liberate women. And I think in my mother’s time, maybe it was. But our fight for reproductive freedom has been hijacked and, in a sense, truncated. Misinformation and out right deceit regarding pregnancy and birth is rampant. And although we have the right to decide to end a pregnancy, the right to effective pain relief in labour and maternally-requested c-section are tenuous in many Western countries where other feminist principles are often adopted. The cultural and ideological creep is no longer creeping here in Canada: it is a tsunami, and there is very little push back. Piggy-backing on the work of real feminists who fought for reproductive rights, inserting itself into discussion on autonomy when it is exactly the opposite, and so many following blindly.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Dr Amy – this needs to be put up as a guest post. I can’t like it enough times.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        I agree. I’m happy to do so if thepragmatist gives me permission.

        • thepragmatist

          I would be honoured, Dr. Amy. LOL I just edited most of the typos out! I wrote this while awake and in pain last night/this morning so it was a bit fuzzy and laden with typos. Though I do respectfully apologize for apparently and accidentally blogging on YOUR blog and one day soon think I should probably start my own! Ha! You have my permission to post this as I am happy to have a place to discuss these issues with other feminist women (and men) where we are not shouted down in a chorus and accused of being anti-woman! Well, except for the occasional troll. Haha.

          • Mrs. W

            i would also be honored to have this as a guest post…

          • thepragmatist

            You next… 😉 You’re doing more here in a concrete way than I could ever hope to accomplish with words…

          • Love your post!

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No need to apologize. One of the things I love about running this blog is the incredible comments.

            Would you like your screen name as your byline or would you like to use your real name?

          • thepragmatist

            My screen name. For so many reasons. And thank you very much.

          • JayDee

            I resurrected this thread just to agree with this being used as a guest column. It’s something that should become viral.

      • KumquatWriter

        Seconded wholeheartedly.

    • AllieFoyle

      I always appreciate and admire your posts. You’re a very strong, smart woman, and I know I’m not alone in saying that your perspective, your story, and your voice are very valuable additions to any discussion. I’m sorry that you were treated poorly and ostracized by the parenting groups, but I suspect that’s more their loss than yours.

    • Brave and impressive post, Pragmatist.

      But I am horrified that you have found yourself fighting like this with so little support. I know – as you do – that the discourses of NCB have infected the mainstream – and yes, that there is not much in the way of push back publicly but I would have thought/hoped that there were enough intelligent women around who also discovered how much of the current received wisdom is lies to provide you with SOME allies.

      You say: ” I think in my mother’s time, maybe it was.” Given that I was probably in your mother’s time, I have to say I don’t think it ever was. Back in the 70s, preoccupied with these issues myself, it always seemed to me that second wave feminism dodged questions on birth and mothering as too difficult. Time after time I would look in some new book or article for answers – always to find that the focus was much more on abortion, glass ceilings, child care so that women could – to some extent – compete better with men. These things were important, of course, – but there still seemed to be a gaping hole around issues of birth, autonomy and, you know, the actual problems that mothering brings. (I was once told by a militant feminist that mothers didn’t count as feminists – they had sold out to the patriarchy.) Attitudes to women’s bodies, control of women’s bodies, the attitude of a patriarchal medical culture – all of these were and are important – but once they fed into the NCB discourses which were anything but feminist, my view is that feminism wandered down a blind alley that has allowed old style misogyny to come back in a more respectable garb. After the 70s, no self respecting woman was likely to be happy to subjugate herself to her man. Substitute her baby, and the natural order of women doing as they are told could be undisturbed, and, comically if it wasn’t so awful, it could be labelled feminist!

      • thepragmatist

        I completely agree here! Reproductive control was a great start. My mother’s generation entered university and male dominated professions in droves, and I cannot ever deride that choice in any way: they suffered in ways for this that I can’t imagine, and I do believe, women entering the professions, especially medicine, has accomplished much in the way of moving forward. But I also agree with the characterization that third wave feminism has lost itself in so many ways. At root, cultural feminists and radical feminists have dominated the discourse: the former, glorifying reproduction and the ideal mother (perhaps unwittingly) in its quest to have work in the home and femininity respected equally to men’s work outside the home, and the latter, radical feminists, taking positions on prostitution, sex acceptance (turned objectification given the context), defining all relationships with men as predator vs. woman victim (when some men are the most feminist feminists I know) and leading unwitting women to believe that power remains located in their bodies. Not to mention the anti-science position that women have some mysterious “other way of knowing” that is no better than when women’s intellectualism was dismissed or ignored. Other ways of knowing? What is a science-minded, rational, liberal feminist to do? So, I have come to see these two branches of feminism twisting together in the NCB/AP movement, and then meeting with profoundly anti-feminist religious fundamentalist movements led by men. Strange bedfellows for new wave feminists. Meanwhile, many feminists that I encounter defend this without realizing what they are defending. And mistake it for empowerment, when I see it as more objectification and biological essentialism. Like Lori down thread, I do see misogyny returning always in more acceptable forms, but still misogyny, and sometimes we as feminists unwittingly endorse it. I think I have in the past made the same mistake.

        • Eddie

          +1. Very well put.

          I fear a lot of what returns as misogyny is ultimately just the ugly side of human nature finding a target. In the context of our culture, sexism is very much alive, if not as in-your-face as a generation or two ago. But it’s there, and it influences people. When it’s not as much in your face, it can actually be HARDER to recognize that it is influencing you. I think this is just one source of what becomes NCB and extreme AP craziness, and the rest.

          One woman I dated was a deeply angry person. So extremely angry so much of the time that it was very clear it was not about me. (I used to choose poorly.) I’ve had friends, on the other hand, where their behavior was much more subtle and I thought their personal craziness was about me, not about them. It took a profound amount of reflection and soul-searching to realize that while I had my faults, and a not insignificant number of them, these so-called friends were sicker than I was.

          Earlier generations had it easier — in some crazy ways — that sexism was so clear and obvious.

      • Squillo

        After the 70s, no self respecting woman was likely to be happy to
        subjugate herself to her man. Substitute her baby, and the natural order
        of women doing as they are told could be undisturbed, and, comically if
        it wasn’t so awful, it could be labelled feminist!

        Spot-on, Lizzie.

    • Yesacsection

      I love your post. My husband and I have felt the same way about people thinking he is a, “Hapless idiot.” He is very nurturing and he takes care of mom too. We share the load. I was glad of that when breastfeeding and baby wearing in the early days made me egregiously exhausted. People who go nuts about babywearing must have never had a c-section that saved their life.

      While I am a very happy mom, I have detested the way having a baby has let society try to impress ‘traditional’ gender roles onto my husband and I. I felt it when I was pregnant for all of the above things you discuss, but I still feel it when it comes to working after having a baby. Why do so many women think it is necessary to suggest if you put your child in a daycare that you don’t love your child, and that a mother is selfish to continue her career?

      I am not. Aside from my career giving me great joy, after years of obtaining post secondary degrees, funded by US taxpayers, I think it is selfish to just quit. I also thinks it sets a bad example for my daughter– I’d like her to know she can manage to have a career and a family, even if it is not a nice cup of tea all the time. Besides, my daycare is phenomenal and they are specialists in early childhood education, where I am not. They are a resource when I have parenting questions.

      Sorry, I seem to be ranting. I did love your post pragmatist.

  • MikoT

    OT: Woman and child from Æbelholt Abbey, Denmark.
    http://goo.gl/kq5xv
    (Via reddit)

  • Isabou

    So much to tell and many thanks for this post! I live in Germany and NCB, AP and BF are really encouraged. One of the difference though is: midwives (well trained!) work in hospitals, which have “Birth room”. The possibility of having a “relaxed” atmosphere in a hospital (with medical facilities) is optimal. At the birth of my first child (in a hospital), an intervention and an epidural was needed because of slow dilation and awful pain. Other little complications followed and thankfully we were in a hospital; my son was transferred in the Neonatal unit. In the end, everything was ok. BF did not go well as my son was not gaining enough weight. Well, I pumped and yes, I gave him a bottle (what a sin!). You know what? my boy is super: intelligent, active, happy and smiling!!!!! I had my daughter naturally (went a bit faster:) in the safe environment of the hospital, with a well-educated midwife. I knew if something would go wrong, an ob and the OR was next door! With my daughter, same breastfeeding story: hard. But I had to face the judgement of other mothers who don’t get it can be hard to BF. Now, I am pregnant with my 3rd baby… not concerned what other “parenting advocate” think. I love my children “über alles”, I am a very IMPERFECT, but playful and warm mother.

  • Lori

    Yes!!! I was raised by a feminist mother, (and in many ways a feminist father too), and I am ashamed to say that before I became pregnant at nearly 29 I kind of thought feminism had few real battles left to fight, at least in the developed world. I mean, me and all my female friends went out and got degrees and good jobs, with women bosses and found great, egalitarian relationships. My generation was livin’ the dream I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now I wonder how I didn’t notice this cultural imperative to control women’s bodies and choices in all ways. And make no mistake, this isn’t just some misplaced, “but think of the children,” angst that affects both parents, this shit is good old-fashioned sexism. No stranger has EVER questioned my husband’s parenting choices to him in public but it used to happen to me almost daily with my firstborn.
    I have a theory, that maybe sexism just morphs into an “acceptable” form with each new generation. Maybe now that it is hard to really wag our tongues at the “hussies” who have cohabitate before marriage, or diagnose women as hysterical or frigid, or you know label the troublemakers witches and execute them we have just found “mommy”-bashing to fit nicely within today’s culture. Just look how the term “mommy” is used as such a contemptuous adjective these days. (Mommy-porn for example,aka porn for those piteous, bored mothers who’ve no idea how to really please themselves sexually.) Mommy bashing brings everyone together in the cause, I mean, everyone can partake, doctors, mayors, judges, authors, bloggers, even (and especially) other mothers!

    The more I think about it I really think this is the perfect outlet for people to unleash their disdain for women in a socially acceptable manner.

    • JC

      “I have a theory, that maybe sexism just morphs into an “acceptable” form with each new generation.”

      Yes! I love this comment.

      • fiftyfifty1

        But I don’t think it’s really the case. I think sexism is being forced to flee from place to place as it is driven out of one location after another. I see progress.

        • Eddie

          Yes, I see progress based on comparing my parents lives to my life to the life of my kids. My degree is in physics. I directly observed sexism in the comparatively unprejudiced world of physicists, but not even close to the level of even one generation earlier.

          Ultimately we’re dealing with human nature here. Human nature means some people are just looking for something to judge, they need to be superior. Society, through changing social mores, is gradually removing the “easy” ways to be superior: racism, sexism, and what not. But we’re talking about people, not robots. People are emotionally driven creatures with logical brains. If a person is driven to be superior and judgmental, they will find SOMETHING, guaranteed.

          That is what we are seeing, IMHO.

        • Lori

          That’s true, I hadn’t thought of it that way, though I don’t mean to imply that there has been no progress, in fact, there has been so much progress I kind of naively felt the only real battles left to fight for women’s rights existed only in places where women are literally still treated as property.

    • Something From Nothing

      “Mom” jeans…the list goes on and on. What an insightful post.

      • Lori

        Haha, yes, how could I forget mom jeans!? And thanks!

      • Durango

        I don’t like “dad” jeans (loose fit, saggy butt) either, though, so I’m equally disdainful of ugly jeans all around…

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I don’t like “dad” jeans (loose fit, saggy butt)

          Yeah, that’s it. It’s the JEANS that have the saggy butt. I agree.

          • Durango

            heh

          • thepragmatist

            LOL. Saggy butt jeans and pants are not acceptable on my husband… does that make me an enforcer of misandry? Just wondering the male perspective. Haha Bofa…

    • I felt largely the same, but delving a little deeper has opened my eyes to a tonne of issues that women still face in our society. We’ve improved, certainly… but there is still inequality.

      I don’t think that men are entirely without

      • Damn it! I keep hitting that post button by accident.

        I was going to say that I don’t think that men are entirely immune to certain sexist attitudes, particularly in terms of stay-at-home dads being labelled as “wussy”, and I’ve see a lot of very blatant and unashamed misandry in some feminist circles, but the scale does still seem tipped in their favour in a lot of ways.

        One which springs to mind is the attitude so many people have that women who are sexually open and enjoy a sexual relationship with multiple partners are “sluts”, and whist in some circles this behaviour in men is frowned upon, I’ve noticed that for the most part, it’s deemed far more “acceptable”.

        Children’s toys are still geared where boys enjoy adventure and action, whilst for girls it’s largely about grooming, being pretty, making a home, pursuing ‘girly’ careers, etc. even Lego these days comes in a pink variety for girls… I mean, wtf?

        Also, this whole “milf” culture wherein female celebrities’ post partum bodies are being scrutinised weeks, or even DAYS after they’ve given birth is frankly disgusting. I actually read one not long ago where the journalist expressed amazement that, “Hilary Duff is still smiling despite not having lost her baby weight yet! Those endorphins must be doing their job!” Yuck.

        Because what woman could ever be smiling if she didn’t have a smokin’ hot body?

        Equality is hugely important to me. Just like I want women to have the option to be working mothers, I want men to be able to be stay at home dads without copping flak. It bugs me that inequality on either side, and in any context (sexuality, nationality, religious beliefs, etc.) is still even an issue in today’s society.

        • AmyM

          Ugh no kidding right? I try to tell myself that it doesn’t matter that I’ve got a little poofy, and oddly wrinkled belly after carrying twins, that will never ever go away. Eventually I did get back to my pre-preg weight, but it’s been redistributed. I want to accept that this is my body now, and it is fine. Certainly my husband thinks so. But, the truth is, I am a little self-conscious about it. I’m sure no one even notices it, but I do. I don’t know if I would feel similarly if women’s bodies weren’t so scrutinized in the media.

          • auntbea

            I only gave birth to one and still have the wrinkle belly.Sigh.

        • Lori

          Part of my epiphany of realizing feminism still has a long way to go was to start reading more about the battles today’s feminists are waging. I agree with you that men being shamed for stepping out of their gender norm to stay home and parent their children is ridiculous, but I personally think that attitude is part of the anti woman structure that actually hurts men. I mean, you use the word “sissy” as an example of what those men are considered. The contempt some have for those men comes from the fact they are “lowering” themselves to the menial work of women. I’ve seen this same attitude spring up towards some of the male nurses I have worked alongside, that they are either med school flunkies or gay men because why else would a man choose to do a woman’s job?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I personally think that attitude is part of the anti woman structure that actually hurts men. I mean, you use the word “sissy” as an example of what those men are considered.

            Absolutely. It’s funny you bring up male nurses being gay, because the gay community has recognized this very issue. Why is there a stigma to being called a fag? That such a stigma exists is evidence of the underlying bigotry associated with it.

          • Eddie

            “I agree with you that men being shamed for stepping out of their
            gender norm to stay home and parent their children is ridiculous, but I
            personally think that attitude is part of the anti woman structure that
            actually hurts men”

            I have to disagree with you, because that framing of it puts patriarchy as “something that men consciously put into place to keep themselves on top, that occasionally backfires and hurts them.” I think it’s far more complicated than that, as is evidenced by the fact that women are some of the prime enforcers.

            For example, I attended Al-Anon meetings for a while. I have a problem with the idea that G-d is male. Being male requires having genitals, for example. No genitals == sexless == not male. A few of the steps have the words “God as we understand Him.” So when it came to me to read those steps, I would read them as “God as we understand God.” Not a single male in any group I ever attended had any objection t this. A number of women — a minority of any group to be sure — had a HUGE objection and made a big deal about it. A BIG deal. Including lying about what agreements had been made, shaming, and manipulation. I pointed out that if G-d is male, then that means the Devil is male, which means the embodiment of all that is corrupt and evil is male. Which kind of means that maleness itself is corrupt and tainted. People let me say it my way after that, although a few women were clearly still uncomfortable. But again, not ONE man ever objected.

            Also, I have seen too many times when MOTHERS are the ones who socialize their boys to be just as horrible as the husbands and ex-husbands those mothers hated. The boy walks on water, the girls do not.

            Patriarchy is a complicated and self-sustaining thing, and it oversimplifies to say that when men are hurt by it, it’s really just a side affect of what they put into place to keep women down, to keep themselves on top.

            Why do I post this here? Whichever way it is has powerful implications on what you can do or not do to change things. If you view it as something men do, that women participate in, you’ll focus on changing men, and you will be ultimately less successful in changing things. If you view it as something that is baked into our society, that existed before ANY of us were born, that we were all born into this and NONE of us *created* it, that is multi-dimensional, something that hurts all of us, some less, others more, but hurts everyone, then you’ll be able to look at things differently, and in ways that IMHO (and I do mean humble) will be far more effective at causing change.

            If a man wants to care for children in his career, more power to him. If a woman wants to be CEO or President, more power to her. If a family decides that the woman will work outside the home and the dad will stay at home and raise the kids, more power to them. Hell, if they both work outside the home, more power to them! For me, feminism means that gender roles become advisory at best, losing all of their teeth. That all of us are free to make choices about our lives and our bodies. And that we don’t celebrate “power over” the way we do. E.g., the difference between an authorative parent (the authority, but in a compassionate and thoughtful and humble way, someone who wants their kids to grow up to be their own persons, whoever that might be) and an authoritarian parent (my way or the highway, with extreme punishments, someone who wants their kids to grow up to be exact copies).

        • fiftyfifty1

          ” Lego these days comes in a pink variety for girls… I mean, wtf?”
          I like the new Legos. My daughter just got a whole bunch as a present. Both she and my 9 year old son have played with them more than any other previous Lego set by far. My son says “These new pastels are so much prettier for interior decoration than the old primary colors”. There is nothing wrong with pretty. The only reason we think so is because it is a “female trait”.
          My only wish is that the box would sometimes show a boy playing with the “girl” Legos. Even if only one 1 out of 20 of the kids pictured would be a boy, that would be enough. And sometimes a girl playing with the “boy” sets.
          I’m very OK with typical/stereotypical sex role expression. Just as long as there is room at the table for atypical expression.

        • thepragmatist

          When my husband took parental leave to stay home with me and our baby because I was sick, he definitely experienced this sort of derision. And it continues as he continues to play a large role as a parent to my son. I am not sure I know another man as involved in caregiving as my husband. Had I not been disabled I do not think he would’ve had the chance (me being a Type A sort), and now I realize this would have been an absolute tragedy!

          Slut shaming is alive and well, and even more strange in a society that encourages women to be promiscuous as men, where little girls are dressed like grown women (and this is called empowerment) and when they conform to social norms, find themselves surprisingly derided.

          I do not know if the scales are tipping in our favour or if they’ve been adjusted subtly to make us think they have been. We may not fight against base injustices like women in some parts of the developing world, but we have a long way to go. A long, long way to go. And also, until we can lift up the women (and children) in the developing world to a degree of basic safety and human rights, I don’t see how any feminist can rest. When half a million women in the world die in childbirth a year, we are not close to winning the war against injustice.

          • Lori

            The book Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy and also The Lolita Effect by M Gigi Durham both delve into the topic of how girls/women are instructed to act and dress sexually to please men in our culture yet are simultaneously punished by that same culture (slut shaming, etc) for actually being sexual, especially when it comes to their own personal sexual thoughts/desires.

        • Eddie

          No-one is immune to sexist attitudes, but it is typically more obvious with woman than with men. I had a black male roommate who briefly worked at daycare center. He was a great guy, very nurturing, but too many mothers complained when they saw him there so he lost his job. (This was in the late 80s. Hopefully it would be better today.) Women are still typically favored in the courts for custody although this is NOTHING like it used to be, at least in most places, from what I hear. And it varies widely. I hear of cases now where courts go too far in the opposite direction in order to try to be fair.

          In my kids’ generation, they refer to the sexually promiscous as sluts (female) and man whores (male). Both are derogotory, but it’s clear that it’s a worse judgement to be a slut.

          The MILF culture you refer to is indeed sickening. I once saw a young teenage girl with a T-shirt “Future MILF” (shudder) But as you say, even very young girls are sexualized. Nothing wrong with sex or sexualization — but at an appropriate age, please. At a blues festival once I saw an adult woman with a T shirt that said, “Feminists f*ck better” (not bleeped on the T). That was funny and clever. But she was an adult.

          The way Hollywood folks are scruitinized is sickening, but there’s nothing new there, really. Hollywood is the epitome of pure image, little substance. Look at how a male actor in his 40s compares to a female actor in her 40s, and how often appearance is talked about.

  • Victoria

    I loved this post. I think it is great to have this post to point to as explanation of what you are really trying to say with this entire blog.

  • tryingtodecideformyself

    “there is nothing wrong with unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding or attachment parenting if those are the choices that work best for individual women and their families; I chose to do all of them with my own children.”

    Dr. Amy, Why did you choose to have an unmedicated childbirth? Why did you choose to breastfeed? Why did you choose to use attachment parenting principles?

    It would be really interesting to hear your own thoughts on the decisions you made for yourself.

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      I second this request. I’ve always been the most curious about your unmedicated childbirths. Is there any real merit (other than curiosity) behind wanting to feel what the body is doing from start to finish?

      I only made it through 6 cm of back labor when I defeatedly accepted the epidural the first time around. I immediately understood why women love them. And I’m looking forward to my next one in 21 weeks.

      But since the time hasn’t come yet, I don’t want to go into it as hard-headed as I went into it the first time, having already decided what I was going to do before I knew what that pain was going to be like. Maybe this next time won’t be so bad and the baby will be positioned better, who knows…I don’t want to be so rigid about my decision again that I fail to see the benefit(s) of the other side (i.e., what the true benefits are of an unmedicated childbirth, if any).

      I still have woo residue in the crevices of my head, so I have some idea of why a woman might want to try to make it through childbirth without pain medication, if everything goes as expected. But I’m particularly interested in what your reasons were, given that you’ve experienced childbirth both with and without pain medication.

      Or maybe someone else can speak to this or recommend some reading on the topic. I’ve been hesitant to “read up” about it willy nilly because now I’m so wary of NCBese and haven’t been away from it enough yet. I guess I kind of trust you all, what can I say.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        I had epidurals with my first two children, but the labors with the 3rd and 4th lasted only a few hours and I felt that I could get by without it. Had those labors gone on longer, I would have gotten epidurals again.

        Having done it both ways I can tell you that the only difference between medicated labor and unmedicated labor is the pain.

        • TiffanyEpiphany

          Thank you…I’m grateful for the truth you tell. That’s why I keep coming back. (Don’t know why I sometimes think that there has to be a secret correct answer to everything.)

        • Rea

          having had two unmedicated births, attended by CNMs at a birth center, I’m rather curious about getting an epidural this time and seeing what ‘the other side is like.’ I don’t enjoy the pain of labor, but I don’t think I would enjoy not being able to feel half of my body or walk around and that sort of thing either.

      • Something From Nothing

        I had epidurals with both of my deliveries. I’m just not that great with pain, and I wanted to be present and enjoy the experience with my husband. I knew that if I went too fast for the epidural with my second that I would cope, but I was grateful I didn’t have to experience birth without an epidural.

        I’ve had a few patients in my practice now who have had unmediated births with their first two or even three deliveries and then wanted to experience labor and delivery with a good epidural. Without exception, they all raved about the experience and said they regretted being so set on going unmediated in their prior deliveries. I agree with Amy. The only real difference is the pain.

        • Eddie

          My wife has *nothing* good to say about the pain she was forced to endure for her first pregnancies (in another country where medical care is quite different). She still talks happily about the epidural she got in America for our youngest.

        • Mrs. W

          I wonder if my first would have been traumatic had an epidural been available….I still would have given birth in a way I did not want to, but absent the pain, would it have been so awful?

    • While it is obvious that people should always be free to make their own choices whenever possible, hasn’t the idea of Making Choices as some kind of big deal make or break thing got a bit skewed?

      Before I had my first, I read up on the pros and cons of bf, and decided I would give it a go. When things didn’t turn out quite as anticipated, I changed my mind. I am a big fan of epidurals, easily convinced there is no down side – but if I hadn’t been in enough pain, I wouldn’t have had one. And do I really have to call myself an AP parent because I liked holding and ” wearing” (horrible expression) my children? It wasn’t some carefully thought about choice, it was what worked. Seems to me that abstract choices based on some ideal are more a straightjacket than a freedom.

      And why does NCB have such a genius for putting the cart before the horse and persuading people it makes sense? An unmedicated birth is a plus when it is unmedicated because everything went smoothly. Gritting your teeth through a horrible birth and risking the consequences of non-intervention just so you can say you did it seems half-witted to me.

  • Expecting our first baby soon, and I have been really frustrated with the information available. It is anti-feminist. I’m a professor, with no plans to give up my career. So I have been just attempting to look into things like combination feeding and child-care options (ideas to get the baby used to another caregiver other than his dad and I so we can continue to work) I had even arranged with the University for part-time, flex-time classes. Yet you would think from vitriol I have gotten, that I was requesting to go joyride drunk with the doctors approval. The doctor chewed me out for not being more dedicated to BF, and lambasted me for considering an elective c-section or induction.

    I got a new doctor. The new one is less of a nazi, but still says its hospital policy to warn me that WHO recommends exclusive BF for the first six months. I told her I didn’t want a kid who was dependent on me for food. He needs to learn to take a bottle from someone else. This doctor was more understanding, but still let me know it was not what they would recommend.

    I won’t even go into the crazy mother squad.

    This is however one of the main reasons I am in my mid-thirties and just now having kids. Honestly, the anti-feminists scared me, and while I wanted children, I have been terrified of them!

    • Alenushka

      If you are blessed with over abundant supply like I was, you can pump while you are on maternity leave and freeze some milk. My baby started on the bottle of my milk on day 3 because I had to go back to school. There was no nipple confusion and all went well.

      • Sue

        I also pumped and stored BM to be fed thru a bottle from the beginning so that (a) I could try to avoid bottle refusal later; and (b) so the baby wasn’t dependent on my presence to feed. Doesn’;t always work, but good when it does.

      • We’ll see what happens, part of the concern is allergy meds which slow or kill supply, but I can’t go without. I feel like I, and baby and everyone else will be much happier if I stay on them rather than attempting to go off and being miserable. I tried for about a month during the pregnancy, but just couldn’t do it.

    • Jessica

      It is absolutely possible to combine breastfeeding with bottlefeeding (whether it’s formula or expressed breastmilk in that bottle) so that you and your husband can go back to work. There’s no doubt about it – pumping is tedious, tedious business and not every woman is guaranteed an abundant supply or that she will respond well to the pump. So getting information on how to combo feed is not only reasonable, it’s quite smart.

      • KarenJJ

        My first was combo fed. If you have the spare time that’s great, but I was missing out on cuddles and playtime with my baby so only ended up expressing once a day when she’d gone to bed for the night. The rest was formula.

      • ratiomom

        Maybe combo feeding and pumping works for some people. It didn’t for me: it was no baby=no milk. It just wouldn’t come out with the pump and my supply litterally dried up overnight.
        This isn’t to say that it can’t work for some people, but you should mentally prepare for this possibility when determining your back-to-work strategy.

    • KarenJJ

      “its hospital policy to warn me that WHO recommends exclusive BF for the first six months. ”

      Weird. In Australia the new recommendation is to introduce solids from around 4-6 months.

      It’s why I find the cry of ‘mothers are not exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months’ frustrating. Paediatricians and immunologists are recommending solids between 4-6 months where I live and most parents I know introduce solids prior to 6 months. Yet still the hysteria that mothers are not exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months!

      My kids were keen for solids prior to 5 months. My first was memorable in how she grabbed the spoon from me and shoved it in her mouth herself. That alone has pretty much explains her temperament. They start sticking everything in their mouth at that stage. Sometimes even food.

    • auntbea

      What? Are you in the States? Doesn’t your doctor deal with two-income families on a regular basis? These are not uncommon decisions you are making.

      • Interestly – sort of – I’m on a military base and just switched to Japanese doctor off base. No, the military is not overly used to dual spouse incomes and they due to the budget crunching measures of the US government recently have been trying to push as much natural childbirth as possible. The simple reason is that it is cheaper. At least they are up front about it being a cost cutting measure and not an actual “healthier” logistic. I made the switch to an off-base Japanese doctor for better healthcare, as the Japanese are currently second in the world as far mother/infant survival and care.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I will reply to the part about child-care options. When babies are just a few months old they don’t have stranger anxiety yet and so really do well with any caring competant person who is minding them. The caregivers that my kids had during their baby and pre-school years were a wonderful positive presence in our lives, and continue to be. They taught my kids things that I never could have taught them myself. And they gave my husband and me a lot of great advice and support around parenting. In our case we went with small in-home daycares. But I have friends who have had similar good experiences with daycare centers and with nannies and with family members as caregivers.
      I always chuckle at the accusation that I read so often of “You are letting strangers raise your children for you!” Yep, guilty as charged! These wonderful caregivers were indeed total strangers before we met them. And it has worked out beautifully, and our whole family is thriving and we have made new lifelong friends.

  • Box of Salt

    I’m going to toss this out as a fresh comment. AmyM’s description of her acquaintance who had a PhD yet defines herself as an AP parent me think. With what kind of group do I identify myself? Am I a scientist who happens to be a parent with a particular parenting style? Or am I a parent who happens to be a scientist? I can’t even define my parenting style – it’s (staying brief) all over the place.

    I realized that how I self-identify depends on the context, but both identities (scientist vs parent) are always there; both are a permanent part of how I’ve developed as an individual. And that way I phrased that brings us to the punchline: do I identify more with one role or the other? That’s still hard to say out of context. But I find myself listing scientist first, because I was a scientist before I became a parent.

    And that led me to wonder how it’s different if a person does it the other way around, and becomes a parent a younger age. Is defining yourself through your parenting style more important to a person who has not yet found definition through other avenues? Or, keeping AmyM’s conter-example in mind, does that matter at all?

    And, finally, does defining oneself primarily through your parenting style make a person more likely to judgmental towards styles that differ from your own?

    • Hmmm… regarding the age thing, my own impression is that defining yourself by parenting style is commoner among older first-time parents. Although I suppose that must be at least partly a class difference.

      • Rochester mama

        I think you are right about the older first time parent thing. I wanted a baby for years before I even started trying, so I had lots of time to read and obsess over it. Having a baby reminded me of my wedding in that by the time it got here I had it all planned in my head how I would do everything. I spent hours reading different books, blogs etc… That was how I found this blog actually. I think also its easy to equate lots of work bringing a better result which is honestly what drew me to AP until I actually had my baby and realized some of it was a bunch or crap and didn’t work for me or my baby.

        • auntbea

          Right. I vaguely remember having a plan, but then I had a kid instead.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          For me, being an older parent brought with it the wisdom (if I may be so bold) that I really don’t know all that much, and the experience that even the best plans go afoul, so you need to prepare to deal with whatever comes. It was the experience I already had that I am not in control of what happens near as much as I’d like to be.

          Being an older parent led me to start out with far more humility I would have had in my younger days.

          • Eddie

            Not having any kids until I was older (even if some of them came to me way older than birth!) definitely helped me be a better and calmer parent. And humility … heh … I’ve been wrong and had to adjust my thinking enough times before I had my first kid that yeah … humility. Intelligence and wisdom are loosely correlated at best, and I think parenting requires much more wisdom than intelligence.

      • Box of Salt

        I must be the oddball then. It wouldn’t be the first time.

      • I was older, and my identity as a mother was – and is – important, but I did still divide myself into mother and person. Quite hard to hang on to the latter when a SAHM, but essential.

        Don’t think they had “styles” when mine were young! Staying sane through the culture shock and sleep deprivation seemed enough to worry about.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I am a scientist, but will admit that I am first and foremost a parent. Does being a parent “define” me? I’m not sure I even know what that means.

      I DO know that I am absolutely NOT defined by HOW I parent. That is completely mental.

      How I parent is undoubtedly a consequence of who I am and all, but then again, so is the fact that I am a scientist. Who I am defines me, and influences what I do. I am not defined by what I do in any particular endeavor.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I don’t define myself as a mother. Partly that is because I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea of being a woman. Partly I think it has to do with my upbringing. I grew up in a household with older and also much younger sibs. So being a member of a family is very important to me. But “defining myself as a mom”, this doesn’t mean anything to me intuitively.

    • Dr Kitty

      I am a wife, a mother, a doctor, a reader of books, a nerd and an enthusiastic home cook. Not necessarily in that order.

  • Box of Salt

    “But I’d like it to also be noted for something else: the firm conviction that NCB, lactivism and attachment parenting are anti-feminist.”

    “But there is something very wrong with philosophical movements devoted to forcing those choices on other women.”

    Brava!

  • grumpy rumblings

    AP is 100% about doing what works for mom and baby. That’s the definition. That’s what it says in the Sears book (he specifically says over and over again, do not do X if X does not work for mom and baby, but do feel like you can do it if it does work). People who don’t understand AP seem to think it means doing things that come off some regimented list whether it works for mom and baby or not. Yes, there are some people in the AP movement who are like that, but there are people who use any movement to be rigid fundamentalists.

    • Guest

      What bugs me is the number of AP parents I have heard use the line, “AP is just being in tune with and meeting your child’s needs!”. Oh yeah, because as a non-AP parent I just slt my child sit in dirty nappies all day and

    • Oops… clicked the post button by accident.

      What bugs me is the number of AP parents I have heard use the line, “AP
      is just being in tune with and meeting your child’s needs!”. Oh yeah,
      because as a non-AP parent I just let my child sit in dirty nappies all
      day and don’t bother to meet his needs. It’s a phrase which makes me roll my eyes every time, and simply reeks of sanctimommy.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Oh yeah, because as a non-AP parent I just let my child sit in dirty nappies all
        day and don’t bother to meet his needs. It’s a phrase which makes me roll my eyes every time, and simply reeks of sanctimommy.

        Of course, try to get them to understand how insulting it is when they say that.

      • fiftyfifty1

        I never let my kid sit in dirty diapers, but I sure did use today’s super-absorbant disposables for every last drop of urine I could fit into them! They were always like water balloons by the time I changed them. I caked their skin with old-fashioned Desitin at every change and never had problems with diaper rash.

        • Eddie

          Been there, done that. I love the old joke, “When the diaper box says 8-10 pounds, that is ALL they will hold!”

          My wife was surprised that kids in America are toilet trained at such an old age compared to where she is from. Well, we have cheap and easy access to VERY VERY absorbent disposables. The little ones just don’t feel the discomfort here that they felt where my wife was brought up. Thus, no rush from the kid’s side to toilet-train.

          We did drop more than one “water balloon” diaper. What a MESS!

    • AmyM

      Well, I mentioned above, I don’t identify with AP or any other specific parenting philosophy, but if AP is 100% about doing what works for mom and baby (what about Dad?), then you could call me AP. Despite the fact I didn’t breastfeed, didn’t cosleep, work out of the home, used a stroller, and on and on ad infinitum.

      My friend basically said what you said, and when I posed the same answer to her that I did to you, she immediately insisted that I most certainly was not AP. If it really means parents doing what works best, then there is no need for a specific title, or calling it a philosophy. Most parents do what works best and they are just called parents.

      Maybe you don’t feel that way, but I have certainly seen enough online and even real life, where some women have a great need to distinguish themselves from other parents, and then make a big deal about what they are doing and how rebellious it is, and how they have superior knowledge and laugh at all the “sheeple.” They are why I do not want to be associated with the term “AP” and they would be horrified if I referred to myself as AP, because clearly I am not the crazy mavericks they are in the parenting world.

      • Yep. Cosleeping and breastfeeding didn’t work for us. I used the baby carrier for a while, but it wreaked havoc with my CHD, so we used it sparingly until he was too big to even think of carrying for extended periods of time.

        If attachment parenting is about doing what works best for mum and baby, then I’d say every parent is AP, but I can 100% guarantee that I wouldn’t be welcome in any hardcore AP group.

      • Becky05

        Exactly. I once had a discussion with someone who was claiming that AP is just “responsive parenting” or “parenting responsive to the baby’s needs” or something like that. I was arguing with that, since by that definition I could claim that sleep training was AP, because it was being responsive to a baby’s need to develop good sleep habits. I really do believe that it was what my family needed, and that it helped my babies as well as myself, as exhausted sleep deprived babies aren’t happy babies. Of course she couldn’t accept that, sleep training can’t be AP! So as you go through various things – having a schedule (even a flexible one), using plenty of things like bouncy seats, swings, strollers, formula feeding, there is definitely an AP list that these things don’t fit in, even if they DO work for you and your baby.

    • Sterrell

      “AP is 100% about doing what works for mom and baby.”

      How is that any different than just parenting? If that’s what AP really is, it doesn’t need some sanctimonious label. But everyone knows that that’s not what it’s about, or you wouldn’t have people bragging about their golden-boobs and their lack of cribs. AP is extremely formulaic.

    • JC

      Honestly, your description just doesn’t eliminate enough parents out there. My experience (and it seems like the experiences of many posters here) is that AP is a pretty exclusive club. Formula feed. You’re out. Use a crib. You’re out. Don’t baby wear. You’re out. Circumcise. You’re out. (If you don’t believe me about the last one, just look at the criticism of Mayim Bialik).

      There is an AP group that meets at my local park. Every single one of them wear their babies to the meeting. They nurse their babies. There isn’t a bottle in sight. They are meeting in the afternoon on a week day, so they probably don’t work (at least not a traditional job). And there is nothing wrong with any of those things. I am a SAHM.

      But you’re trying to tell me if I walked over to them and told them that I’d done a little breastfeeding, but mostly used formula. That I never co-slept. That I wore my babies a few times but mostly to the zoo or park when it was convenient. You’re telling me they would welcome me with open arms because I “did what was right for me and for my babies”? That there would be no judging at all? I am sorry, but I am calling BS on that one.

      And like it or not, these women are the current face of AP parenting. Just because you feel they are misinterpreting the book does not change that fact.

      • I don’t think you’re actually kicked out of the natural/AP club for not doing those things, as long a) you make it clear that you WANTED to do those things and couldn’t and b) you show the appropriate degree of guilt/shame/confusion about not doing them.

        • ratiomom

          Not in my experience. It doesn’t matter what you tell them. If you open your bag and there’s a bottle or disposable diaper in there, you’re out.
          They probably see it like this: they were the ones who had to wake up for *Every Single Nightfeeding* their baby has ever had. They are the ones who wash those shitty diapers every day. They are the ones who had to give up physical intimacy with their husbands for cosleeping.
          These are the tickets that got them into the cool girls’ club. They aren’t about to let someone in there who hasn’t jumped through those same hoops.

    • Becky05

      I don’t buy this. If it were the case, then there wouldn’t be a list of seven “Baby Bs” to describe AP. It would just be, “if it works for you, great.”

    • Jessica

      Sure, it’s about “what works for mom and baby” but as I’ve understood AP (and it appealed to me long before I actually had a baby), the entire premise is that there IS a prescription for what will work best for baby: extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing. If these things don’t work for Mom, well, she’s depriving Baby of what it needs.

      • there IS a prescription for what will work best for baby:

        Could you define “works best”? Who said, how did they reach certainty?

        Is a thoroughly miserable mother irrelevant to what “works best” for a baby? Is this best effect short term or long term? Prospective or retrospective.

        It appealed to you. What would you have done if it appealed less to your baby? And what ill befalls those who are deprived of what works best? Given that they are likely to be the majority?

        • Jessica

          It appealed to me BEFORE I had a kid, when I imagined what kind of mother I would be. When he arrived, I realized the AP-style of parenting held little appeal for me, especially since I would be returning to work full time. I breastfeed, and we used the Moby wrap because we didn’t buy an infant car seat, but that was about it. Baby has slept in his crib in his own room since he was a few weeks old and we use a stroller when we’re out and about. And like millions of babies who sleep alone in the dark and are literally pushed away from their parents (/sarcasm), he seems pretty well-adjusted and happy.

    • Esther

      Well, I guess Dr. Sears himself doesn’t understand AP either, because his book also details a little “study” he did, color coding his little patients’ fules according to how many ‘baby Bs’ their parents used and correlating this to how “well” they came out (whatever that means).

      • Esther

        files, not fules.Off to drink my morning coffee…

      • fiftyfifty1

        Holy crap that is creepy.

    • NewName Jones

      This is the favorite slogan of all things AP, isn’t it? However, I have seen and heard my AP friends keep their children in the family bed when the kids are already asking for a bed of their own, cut back on solids at 11 months in order to stave (starve?) off a self-weaning child, and wear a child who was clearly uncomfortable, smushed up against mom, and too heavy. I’ve had APers criticize me for feeding my child formula when he was starving due to low supply, proudly boasting about how many days they kept their child starving while waiting for their milk to arrive. How are any of these things what is good for the child? I think APers are some of the most deluded bunch out there. How can you be in tune with your child when you are so rigidly in tune with what the movement wants you to be?

    • ratiomom

      Then why am I being given the stink-eye when I give my daughter a bottle in public?
      Why does the supermarket cashier think it’s somehow appropriate to criticise me when I buy formula? I don’t hear her doing it with customers who buy booze or cigarettes.
      Why am I labelled a bad mother if I don’t give up my career and spend at least 6 months naked from the waist up on my couch? Why is there no such pressure on my husband?
      There is a lot of pressure and outright sexism involved.

      • Eddie

        What I would love to understand about this is the wide variability across location and SES. Issues of class and location just must be highly involved in whether or not people run into this. I do not doubt for one second the reports such as yours, but my wife and I did not experience one bit of this in the US midwest. We’re middle class (but not upper middle class); I expected to run into it. Our baby was born in a hospital in a very wealthy suburb (which is not one we live in!). Yet the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, shop keepers, checkout folks, neighbors, and other mothers we ran into and run into didn’t give us ANY of this.

        My wife isn’t American by birth and she has a clear accent. But I don’t imagine that would discourage any of these people who seem so immune to tact and logic.

        I’d love to understand this … why some people run into such concentrated and entrenched AP extremism while others don’t encounter it at all.

        What we did encounter once, and it really shook my wife for days, was when we went shopping with our then infant, maybe two months old, and the bagger at the grocery store muttered under her breath something insulting about people being willing to bring their infants anywhere. The context was a belief from my wife’s section of the world (and this baggers as well, judging by her appearance and accent) that you DO NOT BRING BABIES OUT OF THE HOUSE until they are at least three months old. That it’s A Bad Thing ™ and will harm them for life.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Are you one of those moms who use clip-in car seats?!

    • KarenJJ

      “AP is 100% about doing what works for mom and baby. That’s the definition.”

      I never thought it was the definition. I always thought it was the disclaimer that was added after when everyone realised they sounded like judgemental douchebags. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, using slings are all great options to have access to. No need to have taken it to the level of saying that those who use them are better mothers than the rest of us.

      • Squillo

        No need to stick them with a brand name and form an “international association” devoted to them, either. But “do what works best for your family” is hard to sell books about.

  • CitrusMom

    I love this post and agree with it. But anecdotally, I think many men today are baffled by their wives’ insistence on doing these things. So it’s more about women keeping each other down due to internalized sexism and self-hatred than any remaining patriarchal pressure. My DH did encourage breastfeeding since I think he sort of believed about the health benefits, but if I’d made him look at the statistics (if I didn’t want to / couldn’t BF) he would have accepted there was little benefit. He encouraged me to work and keep my job and CERTAINLY to have pain relief during labor. He is not an outlier by any means – many modern men are more interested in balance than the mothers of their children! So I think the psychology is even more convoluted and perverted than Dr. Amy’s piece can address.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Exactly, I think that was one of the points in the post. It’s women judging other women. I think most men are like my husband. He just wants to keep me happy. If I’m breastfeeding, that’s great. If I complain about the amount time BF takes, he offers to go buy formula and informs me that the baby has probably gotten all the benefit of BF it’s going get by now anyway.

      • stenvenywrites

        Yes, this is one reason why I prefer the friendship of men. Gripe about breastfeeding issues to my particular man, for example, and you’re likely to get a shrug and, if he’s feeling eloquent, the words, “So quit, already.” No drama, no sanctimony, no lectures. Tell him about the judgments you’ve been getting from grown-up Mean Girls, and he’ll say something like, “So, screw them.” If you’re really depressed he’ll bring you a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s really quite affirming.

        • auntbea

          Hmmm…the majority of my friends are men, but none of them has ever brought me ice cream. I think maybe I should trade them in.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            As a guy, I say, screw them, get new friends. You deserve ice cream.

            Actually, I resemble a lot of what has been said. I am very good at the “you don’t deserve this crap, move on” attitude. Life’s too short to screw around with people who treat you poorly. You deserve to be treated right, and if someone isn’t doing that, then you need to find others who will.

            (I have given that speech to a few nieces, in fact)

            What I think is that if more people were actually willing to do this, then there would be a lot fewer folks causing problems, because they would learn when no one wants to be with them.

          • Eddie

            Learning to say “Screw them, get new friends” was a very (very) hard lesson for me, learned in my late 20s and young 30s. I’ve supported my wife through learning the same lesson with some really horrible people. It just sucks. But it’s better to face reality than to pretend that “this person is my friend because they say so” or “this person has my best interest at heart because they say so.”

            I’m doing everything I can to be sure all my kids learn this before they become adults. One of the things I most admire about my teenage daughter is that she won’t take sh*t from anybody. Me included 🙂 She is still pretty naive about people, having too much blind trust that her peers really are how they represent themselves as being … but she’s a teen. That’s normal. Unfortunate, but normal.

            I aim to model for all my kids how to handle the kind of jerks that are being discussed — with grace and confidence and strength, and with the ability to reframe the debate on MY TERMS. (Part of this is doing so when they try to be jerks to me, as just about all kids will experiment with.) My success is more limited than I would like, but I think a lot of this won’t really bear fruit until they are in their 20s or older.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I think for me, it came with the realization that, through my life, friends have come and gone all the time, and as I look back, I can see that those people who I was actually close friends with 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years ago are no longer friends, and I have since made new ones. And it wasn’t because they are bad people or we didn’t get along, it’s just that circumstances changed, and we have gone separate ways to do different things. We all did just fine in our current situation.

            My best friend in college, who I was madly in love with (she alas did not feel the same about me, but we were best buds), now lives 1000 miles away. I have seen her twice in the 23 years since we graduated from college, and one of those times was a couple months after that day at her wedding. It’s been 8 years since I saw her last. Sure, we’ve kept up via email and exchange christmas cards, but it’s nothing extensive. I might be disappointed if we completely lost touch, but that is because I still adore her, and we only are separated because we have different paths. If we were in the same state, we’d see each other a lot more. Those old friends from college, grad school, post-doc, etc? I honestly don’t miss them on the whole. Shoot, I don’t remember half of them unless I see old pictures.

            Breakups hurt when they happen, no doubt (the day my old bud got married was extremely bittersweet for me; I was very happy for her, and her husband is a really great guy (Mr Wonderful in every way), but at the same time, it was painful for me). But time heals, and the thing I’ve learned is that it really doesn’t take all that much time. A year in the grand scheme of things is not much time at all. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future, and as it does, the past gets farther behind.

      • JC

        Yes, definitely. I read SO many breastfeeding “success” stories and through the weeks/months of cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis, clogged ducts, low supply, these “lucky” mom had the support of their husband and friends. That had the “tough love” of these people to cheer them on. I had all those issues. My husband looked at me after the first week as I was crying and nursing our first and he said “Just go get some formula.” I didn’t. I bought a breast pump. That lasted 2 months before my supply dwindled and I had to go get formula. I didn’t research ways to increase my supply either.

        I am sure I could have gotten the baby back on the breast. But, honestly, it just wasn’t a priority for me. She got 2 months of nothing but breastmilk, and screw it, I am going to accept that as an accomplishment. No, it’s not 6 months or a year or two years. But that child has had NO ear infections and is currently almost 5 years old. I must have done something right.

        And I never, ever viewed my husband as unsupportive. He was extremely supportive. He loves me and he didn’t want to see me in horrible pain when there was a safe alternative.

  • PoopDoc

    I could not agree more. My partner and I had a very a la cart approach to parenting. We even had different approaches for each of our children – because different things worked for each individual. It is about a parent’s ability to CHOOSE WHAT WORKS. And not be made to feel like crap if they come do a different conclusion than someone else. I’ve said it a million times… there really is not a right or wrong way to raise your kids.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Oh, I disagree. There are wrong ways to do it. Giving your babies bottles filled with beer is definitely wrong, for example. I could come up with more examples if I wanted.

      Of course, in reality there aren’t many wrong ways (I’d suggest that parents with a debilitating drug addiction is one realistic example) but then again, no one is selling that as a parenting philosophy.

      • PoopDoc

        I really don’t consider giving infants beer “parenting”. Abuse and neglect fall well outside of that.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Yeah, but it’s definitely “doing it wrong”

          🙂

          • An Actual Attorney

            Well, crap. Now you tell me.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No, you were supposed to ask if it depended on the brand of beer.

            Consider the conundrum of homebrew. It’s beer, but…I made it myself.

    • Lisa the Raptor

      Totally agree. Out of three kids I still don’t feel like I could write a parenting book. All three are a different as night and day. Even to the point where my milk supply is different. (Maybe they nurse differently *shrugs*) But if there is anything I have learned it’s that a parent who is miserable is not a good parent…that and don’t EVER pull out baby books and compare. just don’t go there.

      • AmyP

        “Maybe they nurse differently.”

        That might actually be the case.

  • Yesacsection

    Thank you for such a great article eloquently stating the heinousness of strict adherence to these movements. Having my first child, who is now 5 1/2 months, has been an eye opener. Although I am a scientist and a feminist I thought so many women’s issues had a come a long way, I was greated with the stark reality as a new mom. At the first playgroup I went to with my daughter, a woman I had just met asked me how I gave birth.

    I said, “With love and care.” I really didn’t want to engage in what was inevitably about to come. That was not enough for this mom. After continual pestering, I finally told her, “In the hospital”. She said,”Oh a c-section. Well, you wouldn’t have failed if you had gone to my hypnobirthing class.” Unbelievable. My daughter was born with an Apgar of 3, after 41 weeks, with an induction followed by 19 hours of labor with 10hours of it being at 9 cm. At the 18th hour, she must have gotten caught in the cord. My husband and I are still foggy on exactly what happened, because ti was so fast, but the c-section saved her life. After 1 1/2 minutes we cried in relief when we finally heard her cry–and she’s perfect today. We spent weeks worrying. We had a birth plan, but it was like “We’d prefer this, but if A, B,C and D happen, do this.” We got all the way to D. Idiots like that mom drive me crazy. Anyway, while this woman was proclaiming her approbation or disapproval of my parenting, my daughter cried. So I breastfed her. The woman said, “Well, at least you are doing that right.” By now the room of moms and 0-2 year olds were looking at us. I said,” Look, come back to me when my daughter is 18. If she lacks the ability to respect other people, then you can label us as failures.”

    If that had not happened to me, I never would have believed the idiocy so profoundly entrenched in some women. My fellow women, do what works for you. That is that.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      She said,”Oh a c-section. Well, you wouldn’t have failed if you had gone to my hypnobirthing class.”

      Wow.

      I realize it’s kind of hard to just leave, but sometimes, there is a line that gets crossed. That certainly is way, way, WAY too far.

      Leave that playgroup, and if the others ask why, tell them straight out. That woman is by any measure a horrible person.

      I know, easier said than done, but that certainly needs a response.

      • Yesacsection

        We left right after we finished second breakfast, and we wrote a letter to the director.

        • Karen in SC

          I really have to ask, was this a hobbit themed group? That’s the only folk I know that have second breakfast. Then there’s the elevenses, after that I forgot 🙂

          • Box of Salt

            Both of my kids as infants and toddlers are like hobbits. There was definitely a second breakfast! Unfortunately, it was between films series (soon after Lord of the Rings, actually) and no one besides me got the joke.

          • theadequatemother

            we have a little hobbit too!

          • auntbea

            I have eaten two breakfasts and two lunches my entire life. I have yet to encounter an organization that offers this as their meal option, though.

          • Yesacsection

            No, it wasn’t hobbit themed :). But it was a time when it seemed like my daughter was eating all of the time, and since she has rather stubby feet, the hobbit eating schedules was adopted. It was a drop-in playgroup sponsored by the state and run by my town. I’ve found better :).

          • LukesCook

            Lunch, tea, dinner, supper.

            My Polish in-laws eat what they call “second breakfast”, but it’s more of an early lunch.

      • Mrs. W

        Reminds me of the woman who said “well taking drugs in labour has risks…” at a moms dinner after I told her my daughter needed to be resuscitated and NARCAN after delivery…. It wasn’t long after that I left that moms group.

    • quadrophenic

      Wow, what an ass. You know, I avoided mommy groups and play groups precisely because breastfeeding didn’t work and I heard horror stories. I just wasn’t going to subject myself to the possibility of that, even though I’m sure there are plenty of sane people in those groups. That, and the fact that they’re always scheduled during the workday. As with most LLL meetings in my area, btw.

      • PH Student

        Makes me proud that the LLL that I helped lead offered a nighttime meeting. It was a great resource for working mothers or pregnant women who were interested in breastfeeding. It probably helped, though, that my co-leader and I specifically wanted to reach mothers who had felt LLL wasn’t for them because of its philosophy is so geared towards SAHM.

        • quadrophenic

          It’s great to actually provide real support for working mothers instead of just spouting off that “everyone can breastfeed, even working moms!” There was a once a month evening meeting about 30 minutes from me, but it was geared toward toddlers if I recall correctly. Ultimately my latch failure and medication issue stopped the bf train before I returned to work, but I would have appreciated the resource.

          • PH Student

            Yeah, one of our biggest reasons for doing it was because both of us were SAHM with no experience pumping or working and breastfeeding. The best meetings were the ones where we just sat back and let the experienced mothers give advice and tips to the ones who had questions. It’s funny, actually: I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who was expressing her concern that she wasn’t able to pump very much. I pumped maybe 5 times total during the time I was breastfeeding, but I was able to give her some of the tips our working mothers used to share.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Funny. I *had* to pump to relieve pressure and oversupply even when I was a SAHM. First time was Day 6, second day home from the hospital and got 15 ounces. Sounds great, but it was not convenient. I tried to pump just enough to relieve pressure, so I didn’t encourage more supply, but ouch. Just ouch. Being able to actually be empty once in a while was such a relief.

      • KarenJJ

        “I just wasn’t going to subject myself to the possibility of that, even though I’m sure there are plenty of sane people in those groups.”

        My mother’s group was wonderful. A bunch of other mums with a fairly wide range of ages and experience and situations. People did all sorts of different things, from co-sleeping to CIO from breastfeeding to formula – whatever. The babies all looked to be happy and thriving and it’s difficult to pass judgement on anything beyond that. It was kind of unspoken that you talk about options that worked for you and pointed towards sources that you found helpful, without actually sounding like a ‘know-it-all’ by spouting off information yourself. That said everyone vaccinated and there wasn’t an amber teething necklace amongst them, so maybe we were a dreaded “mainstream” parenting group.

    • theadequatemother

      I find the phrase, “I find your unsolicited advice both overly intrusive and ignorant” works for me.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        But shit, that’s not just “unsolicited advice.” That’s an out-and-out insult! (“you wouldn’t have failed” and “this part you are doing it right”)

        • LukesCook

          One of the few situations that merits a short, sharp “Fuck off”.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on” was more my thought, but, yeah.

        • theadequatemother

          true…but so is my response so that woman and I would be even.

      • anonomom

        I’m a fan of Judith Martin’s (Miss Manners) icy stare as a response to idiocy.

        • Dr Kitty

          Me too.
          Also “I can’t imagine why you believe that I would care to hear your opinion on this matter”.

          • Something From Nothing

            How about ” I didn’t realize that what comes out of my nipples is any of your business…”

          • Yesacsection

            I need to work on my clever retorts, and I love the suggestions.

          • An Actual Attorney

            How about “What a cunt you are to be so worried about what comes out of mine”? Some situation calls for extreme vulgarity.

          • Because I can, I play the NICU card.

            It tends to shut people up, because they can’t pretend that everything would be totally fine with a VB because the evidence is clear that it wouldn’t have been.

            Yeah, I totally would have preferred a nice, uncomplicated VB, hold the NICU stay, but most don’t get to choose which data point they will represent. I’m sure mortality/morbidity rates would drop like stones if women could control the outcomes.

          • Well said!

        • auntbea

          Carolyn Hax just suggests, “Wow.”

        • I think I might go with ” I’m sorry, I can’t understand you, I don’t speak fluent stupidity”

          • Squillo

            I always just say, “Thanks. I’m so glad I asked.”

        • desiree

          This is the one situation wherein my tendency to just burst out laughing in uncomfortable situations would actually serve me well.

    • Laura

      ,” Look, come back to me when my daughter is 18. If she lacks the ability to respect other people, then you can label us as failures.” Great comment! It appears that the hypnobirthing instructor’s mother might have missed that part of her rearing….

    • Bombshellrisa

      If she was going to be such a jackass, she should have at least suggested Spinning Babies-supposedly that is the one to get the baby positioned and if she was caught, that is the wrong position!

    • What makes these women think that it’s all of a sudden OK to give their unsolicited opinions of people where children are involved? Do these same women go up to strangers at fast food restaurants and say ” the burger isn’t very healthy, you really should order the salad”? Do they give their SUV driving neighbors lectures about conserving fossil fuels? Do they tell their colleagues at work that if they don’t read and follow THE Business Book they are unlikely to have successful careers? Sure there might be people who do these things but, I don’t hear about them anywhere near as much as I hear about rude and judgemental moms at play groups. I think putting down other moms is a way for mean girls who mentally never left high school to do what they do best–make other women feel bad—while hiding behind the mask of altruistic concern for children.

      • JC

        I can’t believe you got a down vote on this comment. I hope it was an accident. I completely agree. No one else’s business how you birth/feed your child.

      • Megan Keyser

        I agree wholeheartedly! I am just about to give birth to my second, but even before I was pregnant a second time, I STILL got asked years later if I breastfed my first, and when I say I only made it two months, I rarely get a supportive reply. I am currently utilizing WIC benefits in Michigan, and even they bullied me recently about why I stopped breastfeeding my son who is now three. He’s healthy, happy, growing like a weed, and very intelligent. Who cares that I formula fed him after two months? He has a safe, secure, loving home. And yet I meet people all the time who “break the ice” by asking about breastfeeding and parenting. It’s just weird that some women lose all sense of boundaries when it comes to parenting.

        • Squillo

          I humbly suggest that the next time someone asks you how you fed your kids, you ask them what position they used to conceive theirs.

          • Eddie

            If someone asked my wife in my presence how she fed our children (Why do they never ask the husband? Oh yeah, “women’s work.” Feh.) I’d answer, “We fed her in the way that allowed her to be healthy. Why, is there another way?” or something like that.

            My wife would never speak up on her own behalf as such. It’s just how she was raised and all of her siblings (male and female) are the same in this respect. Note: I carefully check with her periodically to be sure that she is not mortified, embarrassed, or irritated by my public stands, when I do take them. (Which is fortunately, not that often and not required very often.) If I will speak up on her behalf when she will not do so, it’s important that she WANT me to do so!

          • Brilliant!

    • Barnmaven

      Can I steal your last quote there? Perfection.

      • Yesacsection

        Of course, this is public domain ;).. and I also don’t mind at all.

    • Lisa Wynne

      I hope I won’t be called names for saying this, but I have had 4 homebirths and 1 hospital birth. Yes, I guess in some ways I’m “one of those women,” whatever that means. Yet I would NEVER speak to another mother in that way. That was completely horrible and there is a special place in Hell for women who try to make others feel like failures. When birth doesn’t go the way we had planed or hoped, we already beat ourselves up enough over it. Why do we do it to each other?

  • Mrs. W

    I think there’s a lot of insecurity among women for whatever reason – and a lot of women feel the need to criticize other women’s decisions in order to feel good about the decisions that they themselves have made. Perhaps its a self-esteem issue. We need to teach our daughters to think critically for themselves and that their most important body part is the one between their ears. It’s fine to be proud of what your body can do – but to believe that all you are is tied to it is what is particularly silly.

    • ratiomom

      Exactly. Remember the woman from a couple of posts back, who lost her uterus after HBAC. Somewhere in the birth story, she wrote that she breastfed that kid for over 2 years, and that it was “her biggest achievement”.

      I’d be very sad if the little girl I am raising never aspires to anything more than having milk flow from her nipples for over 730 days.

      • Guestll

        You bring up a really great point — what is AP/NCB/lactivism really teaching our children? What are the messages being put forth about gender roles, values, aspirations, biology?

        I was really deep into the AP woo when my daughter was first born. Yet the emphasis on the role of biology never sat well with me. My husband is adopted. Emergency section, spent the first 5 months of his life in several foster homes, never breastfed, no skin-to-skin, you get my point. He could not be a more emotionally evolved partner and friend, and he had the least dysfunctional relationship with his late parents of anyone I know.

        I, too, would be very sad if my daughter’s “biggest achievement” was breastfeeding, or being empowered by birth, or successfully delivering a child through her vagina…not the values I want to try to shape in my little girl.

        • suchende

          “I, too, would be very sad if my daughter’s “biggest achievement” was breastfeeding, or being empowered by birth, or successfully delivering a child through her vagina…not the values I want to try to shape in my little girl.”

          This is something I think about a lot.

      • Bombshellrisa

        There is an idiot CPM in this area who states on her website that “having a baby may be the most creative thing you ever do”.

        • LukesCook

          Given her likely audience she may well be right.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            This made me laugh out loud.

        • BeatlesFan

          The only thing creative about my children’s births was the language I used before the pain meds kicked in.

      • quadrophenic

        YES. A woman isn’t a womb or a pair if breasts. A woman is a person who may also be a mother. Men are never defined by whether or not they procreated and in what way kids were born or fed.

        • CarolynTheRed

          I have been a volunteer tutor for years. Building and maintaining a tutoring/mentoring relationship with a teenager takes far more purposeful effort than building and maintaining a nursing relationship has for me. Even if I restrict my ambitions to parenting (and I think my grad degree is pretty spiffy) I’m pretty sure building and maintaining a relationship with my toddler, child, teenager, and adult child will be something that takes more thought and reasoning than feeding an infant.

          • Karen in SC

            Amen! My sons were extended BFers. Now, as teens, I struggle a bit to get them to converse or even listen to me. It does take effort to stay engaged and continue to parent – because they still need some parenting, even if they don’t believe it!

        • Bombshellrisa

          THANK YOU.
          I know another poster here thought that using the term “women’s issues” was extreme when applied to birth and breastfeeding. I wish I could have posted this answer in response

          • Eddie

            That was me. IMHO, calling birth, parenting styles, even BF as “women’s issues” falls into the same trap feminism is trying to escape, that it’s all about gender, that these issues are defined by and bounded by gender. Doing so makes these issues too small. What if a women is giving birth and her lesbian partner (or her mother) disagrees with her about these issues. Does that make it any different than if it’s her husband (or her father) who disagrees with her? It shouldn’t.

            The anti-feminists make this about gender: “Women must do this.” (But also, to a lesser extent, “Men must do that.”) Do we have to accept their framing of this? Can’t we expand it to be bigger than what the anti-feminists are capable of seeing?

            Obviously, for giving birth and EBF, the mother is the sole focus of people telling her what she should do with her body. Can’t we expand the scope to not just the mother, but the mother and the context of all of the relationships that sustain and nurture her AND the soon-to-be child, and a decision made mutually, with respect and discussion?

            And what happens when the mother disagrees with those others, whether they be male or female, adult or teen or child, parent or sibling, family or friend? Well, absent legal proceedings (which I could only imagine applying to giving birth, say, if a high-risk mother wanted an at-home birth), the mother obviously has final say, since it’s her body. But in a better world, it will rarely come to this kind of conflict, right? Isn’t that the world we’re aiming for?

          • Bombshellrisa

            Parenting styles are not exclusively womens issues, as parents are both male and female and sometimes two parents of the same gender raising children. But pregnancy and birth are women’s issues, although as illustrated by this post, people have feelings and opinions about pregnancy and birth no matter how they are related (or not related) to the woman. I get that theoretically everyone’s thoughts, opinions and feelings need to go into the mix, but ultimately, it will be one way or another.

          • Eddie

            And sometimes there are more than two parents raising the children.

            Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I had an pregnant estranged ex with a high risk pregnancy who wanted to have a home birth. Would you fault me for trying to legally force her to have the baby in a hospital instead, in the interest of our child? I honestly don’t know what I would do in this situation. You appear to be taking the viewpoint that the mother gets 100% absolute say, no questions, no iffs, no matter what.

            Of course, there’s no requirement that you reply. But I am genuinely curious and trying to understand where you are coming from.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Here’s the thing: not every partner is as decent as you are. Not sure if you have read the example Dr Kitty wrote. The scenario you mentioned is very much one that would not be inappropriate for you to have an opinion about. But it goes both ways. Allowing for opinions and feelings would also mean that the person in Dr Kitty’s real life scenario would be a victim of her partner’s feelings and opinions, no matter how real they happened to be. I have rarely seen a woman benefit when everyone else’s feelings were thrown into the mix in that manner.

          • Eddie

            The man in Dr Kitty’s real life scenario needs to be behind bars. FGM of any kind is horrific and absolutely indefensible. (And while I’m not a fan of circumcision, it falls into a completely different bucket. One’s a mountain, one’s a molehill. I disagree with both, but they are not comparable. Just sayin’.)

            I see what you are saying.

            I am not arguing that anything we are discussing be “the man’s say.” That would be crazy. All I am saying is that a father has a legitimate interest in those things that contribute to or take away from the health of his children. There are some (very) limited circumstances where I want this backed up by force of law.

            On the other hand, a man has *no* legitimate interest in demanding mutilation of any part of his wife — or daughters. Or sons, for that matter. (There are some MGM I’ve read of in parts of the world that go way, WAY beyond circumcision.)

          • Bombshellrisa

            ” All I am saying is that a father has a legitimate interest in those things that contribute to or take away from the health of his children. There are some (very) limited circumstances where I want this backed up by force of law” I do see what you mean, especially with a scenario like the one you describe. But what if that interest is someone wanting a partner to terminate or continue a pregnancy? It’s a slippery slope.

          • Eddie

            I completely agree that when it come to wanting to force someone to terminate or continue a pregnancy, it is a slippery slope. I do not have good answers there. The room for abuse is vast. I can already imagine the court case of a rapist trying to force a woman to carry his child to term. (**shudder**) I wish there were some way to handle the reasonable middle while trying to sort out a fair way to handle the extremes, but the law does not appear to work that way.

          • Durango

            The solution for men who want a say is to not get any woman pregnant before you have discussed these things ahead of time. Duh.

          • Becky05

            I understand why a man has a legitimate interest, but women need to be able to make medical decisions about their own bodies. Period. Once baby is born, then there can be legal action, not before.

          • Eddie

            So the baby’s needs don’t matter At. All. Period. Full stop. Until it is born??? And if it doesn’t make it to that birth alive, well, too bad? That is essentially contained in what you said. I am not arguing for the other *extreme*, mind you. Far from it. I am arguing for a viewpoint that is not at ANY extreme.

          • Becky05

            There is no way to protect the baby’s needs or father’s concerns that doesn’t infringe on the mother’s ability to control her own body and what is done to it. So, yes, legally, I don’t think they can be considered.

            You might think about how you would feel if a medical procedure were going to be done to your own body against your (strongly felt) will, not for your good but for that of someone else.

            Ethically, what I think a woman *ought* to do is something quite different.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            There is no way to protect the baby’s needs or father’s concerns that doesn’t infringe on the mother’s ability to control her own body and what is done to it. So, yes, legally, I don’t think they can be considered.

            But we aren’t talking about merely what’s legal, are we?

            I have to say, if my wife pulled, “I don’t have to listen to what you think because legally, it’s solely my decision” on me, that would not be a good sign.

            You might think about how you would feel if a medical procedure were going to be done to your own body against your (strongly felt) will, not for your good but for that of someone else.

            Hmm, it depends, on a lot of things.

            There is a long range between “father contributes to the decision making process” and “mother is forced to do something,” regardless of the legalities.

          • AllieFoyle

            The difference between ethics and legalities is important.

            If you ask “should a woman act in the best interest of her baby and take the father’s opinions into consideration?” Well, of course she should, ethically.

            But should we legally be able to override her decisions when doing so will compromise the control she has over her own body? That’s a very different question, and a very complicated one. Biology sort of mandates that there will be gray areas and arbitrary decision points.

          • Becky05

            “But we aren’t talking about merely what’s legal, are we?”

            I’m not sure what else we’re speaking about? Eddie brought up the law, and any other involvement would be entirely up to the woman and her relationship with her baby’s father. Women need to have the legal right to make decisions about their own bodies, period. Whomever they involve in their decision making is their own business.

            I would never tell my own husband, “It is my body, and my baby, and I don’t care what you think.” But other women need to have the right to do that to protect themselves from abuse, or coercion, or to protect their own health.

          • Bombshellrisa

            “All I am saying is that a father has a legitimate interest in those things that contribute to or take away from the health of his children. There are some (very) limited circumstances where I want this backed up by force of law.” This was what Eddie said. It came from the conversation about his feelings that labeling pregnancy and birth as women’s issues is extreme, as both a father and mother have concerns about those things.

          • LukesCook

            “I have to say, if my wife pulled, “I don’t have to listen to what you think because legally, it’s solely my decision” on me, that would not be a good sign”

            Sure. You choose who you breed with and if you choose poorly then it isn’t necessarily anybody else’s responsibility to make things right for you.

          • Eddie

            A serious question, not a sarcastic one: To what degree does that hold true for women who choose poorly who to breed with? I am trying to take this conversation away from absolutes, and it keeps going there.

          • LukesCook

            That’s why I said “necessarily”. There’s a big difference, I’m sure you’ll agree, between being forced to accept your spouse’s decisions about her own body and being forced to accept your spouse’s decisions about YOUR body.

          • No, it wouldn’t be a good sign, because it would mean that attempts to reach a compromise had broken down. Of course parents are both entitled to state what they want but it could never be anything bur abhorrent for any man to force a woman to carry a child she did not want. It may not be fair, or always just, but when it comes to a woman’s body it has to stay legal for her to have the last word.

            How often is this a “real world” problem? In my experience, men can still influence women far more than the other way around in working relationships. The few extreme cases I have seen have usually come about because the relationship has broken down. One very sad case I remember from a few years back was a couple who had had embryos stored before the woman had treatment for cancer. The ex refused his permission for them to be used. Ethically complicated, legally correct, devastating for the woman.

          • Eddie

            Keep in mind that we already seem to have lawsuits of this type (parents, sometimes baby-to-be’s grandparents, disagreeing about how the mother will give birth). Also, we do not have *absolute* autonomy over our bodies. Near absolute, at most, and only once we are adults. I remember reading years ago about a lawsuit from a male burn victim in the US who requested that they let him die — they refused. He didn’t seem to have the legal right to refuse treatment, and once he was well enough to do so, he sued over it. I never heard the outcome. I’ve read of courts forcing a woman to have a C-Section (but I don’t know how accurate the stories I read were).

            Believe me, I completely understand what you are saying. However, just my philosophy, if I had another living person inside of me — who was viable — I would expect my rights to be temporarily modified. Not removed. Modified to take into account the rights of the other life. (This is NOT meant to be a reference to abortion, which is a totally separate discussion even if it overlaps in some ways.) I do understand that as a male, I necessarily look at this from a different position than a woman just as a fact of biology.

          • Bombshellrisa

            But how often would a woman be faced with the situation that you mentioned, wanting to have a home birth with a high risk pregnancy? Not as often as women would be faced with choices about birth control or termination of pregnancy or wanting to continue a pregnancy and having their partner or any number of other people feeling that their interests have to be served as well? There is no middle ground there, you can’t be using birth control AND be trying to conceive, you can’t terminate a pregnancy you wish to end and STILL make your partner happy by carrying it (or vice versa). Talking about things ahead of time before you are ever in that situation helps, but you can’t know what feelings will be until you are in the actual situation.

          • Eddie

            I agree with everything you say above. You’re right (of course) that ultimately with pregnancy, there are either-or decisions that must be made. In that sense, there is no middle ground. (Although that is not the kind of middle ground I was looking for.) And clearly, since the woman is the one carrying the child, she is in a privileged position when it comes to decision making.

          • LukesCook

            “All I am saying is that a father has a legitimate interest in those things that contribute to or take away from the health of his children.”

            Not as much interest as the children themselves. If we accept that a woman’s right to control her own body overrides the fetus’s legitimate interest then it sure as hell trumps the interest of the father of the fetus.

      • anonomom

        Well personally I am quite proud that I have secreted saliva for the past 40 years. I mean, that food isn’t going to moisten itself you know!

    • Yammy

      Yeah, this post really makes me feel a bit sympathetic for the women who are the willing hands that advance these unreasonable and harmful standards. It’s as if someone handed them a toxic yet addictive brew of Stockholm syndrome, Dunning-Kruger effect, and investment fallacy, which they gulped down with gusto and now seek to push on others. The magic effect of which transmutes ideas that make no sense into completely correct and reasonable ideas.

  • guest

    Yes, yes, yes! Brilliant as always. And thank you for that last paragraph. All of those things are good and right if and only if mom chooses them!

  • Bomb

    My AP friends who sneer at those subpar vaccinated, non homebirthed, formula fed, stroller sitting, crib sleeping, non organic made from scratch eating, public schooled (instead of homeschool), tv watching, ‘detached’ kids would just bark something about their choices being right for their family and that they are making all the choices based on what is right for them. The fact they are openly condescending and critical of the parenting choices that are right for *other* families is totally lost on them. I’m not even exaggerating. One friend just today was posting on Facebook that she can clearly tell which kids are APed because they are so much better.

    • Bomb

      Friend isn’t really the right word. People I was friends with in high school and now hate read on Facebook is more applicable. I have zero patience for people like that IRL.

      • ratiomom

        The word you’re looking for is ‘frenemy’.

        • desiree

          We use “hater” at our house. As in, “He’s not my friend, he’s my hater.” Our 4 year old started it, but it’s so apt we all use it now.

    • Durango

      I also think that the ages of ones children come into play. After all, the younger they are the fewer parenting “choices” you have, and it seems like people then invest their entire souls, morality and being into the choices they’ve made. There are plenty of irritating parents of teenagers and the competition is there, but it seems like the focus shifts to how accomplished one’s progeny are rather than how one parents them (though that is often implied I suppose).

    • Bombshellrisa

      Well, if the same holds true when they are teenagers, then I will be impressed. Meanwhile, I was raised by people who were AP then helicopter parents who unschooled me and limited things like sugar and TV. It must be the pitocin, AROM and epidural that my mother had along with delivering me in the hospital that made me such a snot, ruined me for life.

    • Renee Martin

      I can tell kids that have extremist parents, but its because they are actually sick a lot, and so sickly looking, have matted hair, and either are rude, or have weird behavior (typical kid weird). I saw several with the palest faces, and the deepest dark circles you ever wanted to see, recently.

      They are suppose to be the healthiest, most confident, happiest, kids, but they never are. The worse a kid looks, the more I can be sure Mom (and likely dad or partner) is a “true believer”, especially in food/medical woo that restricts the kids diet.

      Often, they see me BF my DD, and wearing my Ergo, and assume we share values. They always look disappointed my healthy, vibrant kids eat all kinds of stuff, are vaccinated, don’t see chiro/NP, and were hospital born (gasp!).

      • Mac Sherbert

        I was just thinking that my teacher friends say they can spot the kids with SHAMs and AP kids that have never been to daycare or preschool on the first day of Kindergarten.

        • Bomb

          Said ‘friend’ had her kid thrown out of kindergarten. You know, the kid is just such a free spirit and all she was just far too superior to learn with the norms.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Showing my age, but that reminds me when Alex Keaton pulled his brother Andy out of daycare when he learned that Andy was learning subversive stuff, like sharing, and that Andy was a really good sharer with his playschool group.

            Funny what jumps in your head when you hear these things.

        • VIctoria

          I think you forgot to include other things like they have never been to play groups, taken rec centre classes, had large social networks or otherwise engaged with people who may be outside the ‘true believers’ – you do not have to put your child in daycare or in preschool for them to be well adjusted, there are other options.
          “SHAMs” – that made me giggle.

          • Mac Sherbert

            “you do not have to put your child in daycare or in preschool for them to be well adjusted, there are other options.” – Absolutely

            “SHAMs” – that made me giggle. — Typing while BF…lol

          • Victoria

            Best typo – breastfeeding really is best 😉
            *And disclaimer to those reading and all – I am a SHAM! Not proud of it – just happy with it 🙂

          • Mac Sherbert

            Me too!

        • me

          I don’t know if that’s really fair. My child has selective mutism. My being a SAHM was used to dismiss my concerns for over a year before she started K (oh, she never went to daycare/preschool… well that must be the problem). Even educators and her pediatrician dismissed my concerns (she’s just shy, she’ll warm up, she’ll grow out of it, etc). I’d get so frustrated – preschool is apparently some sort of modern day panacea; I guess no child that ever went to preschool ever had any issues, oh, wait, bullsh!t. I suppose some would still blame her selective mutism on my being a SHAM (lol, I do like that), or on my bfing her until age 2, or my cosleeping with her from age 6 mos to about 18 mos. Some might blame it on my being induced and getting an epidural. Both would be full of sh!t.

          The fact is my mother (her grandmother) had similar issues when she entered school (back then it was likely blamed on the fact that her mother WOH; go figure). A genetic predisposition, coupled with some triggers (frequent moves and her father being deployed twice in her first 4 years of life) are what I see as “causing” her SM. The upside? Despite being a poor deprived child whose mother never sent her to daycare or preschool, she is at the top of her class academically, is the first to finish her work most of the time, her behavior is beyond reproach, she is never disruptive, she plays well with the other kids and follows the rules and is very cooperative at school.

          I’m only responding to you, Mac Sherbert, because your teacher friends may be looking at a child with a legitimate disability and ignoring the warning signs simply because said kid “never went to prechool”. This delays interventions that could help these kids. My biggest frustration with my daughter’s condition has been getting educators and doctors to take my concerns seriously and understand that this is not something she will “grow out of” or that could have been prevented had she gone to preschool (if preschool is so magical, how come so many ADHD kids went there? hmmm, guess it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems). Sorry if I’m bitter, dealing with this issue has been extremely stressful and heartbreaking. One of the biggest problems is a lack of education and understanding on the part of the professionals who are supposed to be helping. Sorry for the rant… it just rubs me raw to see legitimate behavior issues dismissed over something that has nothing to do with it.

      • In fairness, my son has inhereted the dark circles I have around my eyes and can be quite shy (as I also was as a child, and still am in the right setting) and we in no way fit any of the critera you mentioned above.

  • AllieFoyle

    Bravo! I’m glad you pointed out that women are often the ones enforcing submission to these restrictive philosophies. “Woman-centered” does not always mean better or more sensitive. We need to stop allowing people to limit our role in society in terms of our gender-specific anatomy. And yes to being able to choose the type of birth, method of feeding, and parenting style that suits us best without being defined by it.

    • AmyM

      I agree, but I also know a woman who WANTS to be defined as an AP’er. She is a brilliant scientist, with a PhD and a job, but as soon as the conversation turns to children, she is an AP’er even though her child is in elementary school.

      I’ve had discussions with her about the definition of AP, and she feels/felt that there were 3 very basic tenets that were required to be considered AP: breastfeeding, using a carrier/baby wearing and cosleeping. I’ve seen AP’ers online insist that that is NOT what AP is about, and it IS about being responsive to your child’s needs (physical and emotional). But, usually, when someone points out the obvious–most parents are responsive to their children’s needs–then the lines get drawn in the sand.

      So these women are defining themselves by their parenting method. While that is certainly a valid choice, the ones that not only define themselves but insist that every other woman behave like they do, then you are getting the “women belong in the home” message.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        She needs to talk to Alan, because he knows what TrueAPing is.

        • Oh Alan! Where art thou?

          • Is this like the thing where you say the name three times in front of the mirror?

          • Lisa the Raptor

            Apparently only twice works

          • LOL! Well played.

            See, we can have fun…

          • Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary.
            Boo!

      • Guestll

        Breastfed my baby? Check. Got my cool Ergo? Check. Baby sleeps with me? Check.
        Easy to attach yourself to a parenting method when all you feel you’re required to do is to hit certain wickets.

        • AmyM

          When I was pregnant (with twins) an acquaintance at a party asked me what my parenting philosophy was going to be. I laughed and said “Survivial.” She then informed me (again) that she was an AP’er and blah blah. I give her credit because though she liked to talk about AP, she did not proselytize or pronounce judgement on me or anyone else.

          At the time, I had heard of AP, but the idea of picking a philosophy and following its guidelines/rules closely seemed ridiculous, especially with multiples.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I give her credit because though she liked to talk about AP, she did not proselytize or pronounce judgement on me or anyone else.

            I disagree. The fact that she actually asked you what your “parenting philosophy” was at a party and then felt the need to tell you hers is already a subtle version of proselytization.

          • AmyM

            True, but after that, she didn’t bring it up again.

          • KarenJJ

            Multiples gives you an out. So does disability. I can’t physically AP and therefore must accept that my kids are being raised sub-optimally. Apparently. Or it means that loving and caring for your kids goes beyond a checklist of tasks that should be accomplished.

          • AmyM

            I noticed that too, KarenJJ…I’ve always wondered if I would have gotten more crap if my child was a singleton. Maybe not, since I don’t know many AP families, in real life anyway. My poor, sub-optimally raised children!

            From what I can see, AP makes the child the center of the universe, so I imagine many AP’ers only have one child, (or tone down their AP-ness with subsequent children.) Neither of my children has ever known what it is like to have 100% of parental attention, or anyone’s attention for that matter. There was always a brother to share with, or in daycare/preschool, other children too. I don’t think they are deprived…I guess it must be worse when you’ve AP’ed a child to his 5th bday or so, and then have another baby. The first one must get royally pissed off. I know that many older siblings have to learn to adjust to the new world order when a little sibling comes, but that could be harder if child who was always in physical contact with Mom is now relegated to the side so Mom can nurse/wear/cosleep with the baby.

          • thepragmatist

            Gee, you must have the nice APers there. Because having a disability hasn’t bought me an out at all! And I’ve watched them recommend bedsharing in totally unsafe circumstances:
            Mom is on lots of meds? check
            Mom has night terrors and kicks and screams in sleep? check
            Mom was advised by midwife to not bedshare? Check
            Solution to problems: obviously bed sharing
            Ditto that for breastfeeding, too… I’ve not found that having a physical disability bought me any grace whatsoever from criticism, although it might’ve been the sticking up for other, less eloquent moms as they got slammed for saying that they really couldn’t do such and such a thing… Oh, and assuring them that indeed, even if they couldn’t, things would be okay and suggesting alternatives. Like the evil crib with perhaps a sleep routine and schedule, and using a stroller instead of a carrier. I know, what a fascist I am!

      • Squillo

        It’s like every other designer product: much more appealing with a giant logo slapped on it. It’s not enough to know that you have the Gucci bag and it works well for you–everyone else must know that your bag is a Gucci. Otherwise, how could you differentiate yourself from those people who carry Walmart bags?

      • PH Student

        I’m certain that part of it is due to women like Mayim Bialik who present the popular culture representation of what AP is. I don’t think I’ve read anything by her that says to take into account a child’s needs (aside from self-weaning) because it’s assumed any child who is parented in the baby wearing/co-sleeping/EBF/ style will actually *need* those things. Of course, anyone who has had kids who have different personalities knows that that ain’t so!

        • AmyM

          Ha! I have identical twins, but they most certainly have different personalities. Lucky for us though—as infants, their needs were basically the same (they tended to want food at the same time, sleep at the same time, etc).

          I believe the woman I mentioned above DOES believe that babies need to be breastfed and co-slept, which is, I suppose, how she can say that other parents like me are not responsive or not correctly responsive. Whatever. My boys would cry when they wanted food, they got fed. Sometimes they just wanted to be held–someone held them. When they get sick they go to the doctor. And of course we always love them, so they haven’t had to ask for that particular need, since they got/get it in spades. 🙂

          I really don’t care what she thinks of my parenting, and thanks to discussions about defining AP, I do not want to be associated with that label. I don’t need a label. I’m not an attachment parent, I am a parent. Full stop.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            You are lucky with the feeding/sleeping thing. My nephews did not want to be fed or sleep at the same time when they were first born. Luckily, the one who doesn’t want to sleep during nap time will happily lay in his crib and talk to the stuff animals on a shelf the entire time his brother is sleeping because my SIL is determined to have them on the same schedule.

        • Courtney84

          I had a friend who was a SAHM who also made and sold baby slings and carriers. Her first child loved to be worn, her second HATED it. I remember her telling me it was very difficult for her to accept that he screamed when drowsy in a carrier, but went right to sleep when laid down in his bassinet/crib. She believed that those AP things were what any baby wanted, but in fact they are just 3 of the many things you can do to help your baby meet their various needs.

          • thepragmatist

            Yes, this was my son. Hated his carrier! Hated a lot of things, actually. Born screaming with his fists clenched, he came home from the hospital and was a lovely little baby for a couple of weeks. And then returned to that state. For the next 4 months. LOL. It took a swing, a swaddle, white noise, and me singing at the top of lungs next to his head to make him go to sleep. Oh, and a rigorous schedule like something out of the military. You know he what loved the most, then? Being put outside on the deck (airing the baby out, as my MIL said) like it was 1949. I’d put him out there in a play pen and he’d lay and watch the clouds. Turned out to be a heck of a kid. So smart. But definitely tuned in to his environment and very sensitive. Doesn’t miss a thing. We say something that upsets him and I’m talking about it a week later with him at 3 in the morning when he’s turned it into something really big in his bright little mind. If he doesn’t get physical space, he gets overloaded. Why don’t they understand parenting to your child’s temperament? If I parented him the AP way, he would be a mess now. Definitely not sleeping. Now I hear from people who watch him what an easy going child he is! And all I can see is his red little face and scrunched up, screaming. LOL! He needs space. Lots of it. If I am too intrusive, he gets overloaded. I can’t imagine had he been born to a really intensive mother. He would’ve just been a wreck. I get him and his needs for space, quiet, play on his own, and time to think about things, and his 3AM conversations with me now and then about very important things he’s figured out. I would’ve missed all of this had I imposed some sort of parenting schema on him that didn’t fit who he was. At the time I was far less confident and SURE I was doing everything wrong, but all I knew was what was working. And it worked. What ever happened to just being responsive to a child’s needs? He didn’t WANT to be carried around all day. He wanted to be on his own in the middle of the floor, playing. When he needed me, he let me know. Sometimes he is so intently playing and for so long, I forget he is there, until he comes to show me what he’s been up to. By all measures, I fail at the AP game. Yet, he is securely attached and happy… don’t even bother trying to talk about temperament, as far as I can see, because that also goes no where.

        • PoopDoc

          There was recently an article on the internet in which MB eschewed therapies for her children, in spite of the fact that based on her own descriptions they seemed to have significant delays. That does not sound like taking your child’s needs into account.

          http://www.today.com/moms/why-i-dont-force-my-kids-say-please-or-walk-1C7398514?franchiseSlug=momsmain

          • AmyP

            That was two years ago and a year before they divorced–I wonder if things have changed.

            If her ex-husband wanted to play hardball over custody, that interview would be very incriminating.

          • thepragmatist

            Can’t stand this. My son has had gross motor delay associated with congenital condition, and I’ve worked with physical therapy since he very little. I can’t imagine giving up on your kids for some ideological goal. It’s our job as parents to give our kids the best chance. It’s not about their needs at all to these AP parents, it’s about them, all the time. I believe strongly in allowing children the autonomy to grow and mature and learn on their own time-table, because it works, and I see it work (intrinsic motivation is a powerful thing) but when a child is clearly behind his peers, you are actively preventing that autonomy. Do they get this? No. Same with unschoolers. I know one who has son with pretty significant special needs. She lets him play videogames all day and calls it unschooling. I call it neglect. The children do not actually factor into the equation.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Why anyone would listen to a thing that woman has to say about parenting after seeing her children is beyond me, unless it is to see what not to do.

      • Mac Sherbert

        Maybe we need to come up with a term for those of us that fall in between?

        I breastfeed, but also give formula. I put my baby to sleep at night in a crib, but put the baby in bed with me for a couple of hours for that early morning feed. I have a baby carrier I occasionally use, but let my baby play happily in the floor for most of the day. I clearly have an identity crisis looming.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          We already have a term. It’s “mother.”

          • KumquatWriter

            Doctor Amy FOR THE WIN

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            A-hem. Outside of “handing the baby to mom to breastfeed” as opposed to breastfeeding ourselves, it is also “father.”

            Why not call it PARENTING?

          • Jennifer2

            You know, Bofa, men can induce lactation too. Just sayin’. 🙂

        • I think it’s a chronic case of parenting, but it should resolve on its own with time. The symptoms can be troublesome but are rarely serious enough to warrant treatment.

        • Bombshellrisa

          You clearly are valuing your sanity and time as much as you value your child-sorry, no sanctimommy medal for you (spoken as someone who parked a screaming baby into a bouncy chair in front of an running EMPTY dishwasher in an attempt to soothe her. Apparently she didn’t want to be worn, she wanted to hear the dishwasher run)

          • Mac Sherbert

            (Whine) But I really want that medal!

            In the first few weeks mine really loved the sound of running water. I got to take a lot of nice long showers.

          • BeatlesFan

            With my aunt’s eldest child, it was the vacuum cleaner- she eventually tape-recorded the vacuum running and played it over and over so she wouldn’t have to actually run the vacuum 24 hours a day. It was the only thing that kept my cousin from screaming constantly during the first 6 months of his life.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I have heard that the vacuum cleaner is soothing too. Believe me, I was at the end of my rope and felt like the worst person in the world when I did that. But it worked. I know someone whose baby liked “Murder She Wrote”, probably Angela Lansbury’s voice was soothing : )

          • theadequatemother

            I forked out $10 for “white noise for babies” on itunes. Yep…desperate.

          • PH Student

            Yep. Mine was “Rain Sounds.” Burned a CD with it on there and set that bitch to repeat.

          • GuestB

            We found an alarm clock with nature noises. Wind seemed to do the trick. (sounded nothing like wind, more like white noise). My son just turned 4, and at bedtime, if I walk out of his room without turning it on, he yells “Mom! My wind!!”

          • Lori

            Lol, true story vacuum cleaner actually overheated late one night when my daughter was like 6 weeks old.

          • Isramommy

            Hair blow driers work wonders too.

          • Eddie

            Traffic noise worked wonders for our youngest when we lived close to a major road and during the summer so the weather was appropriate. I’d just walk outdoors with her in a carrier and a minute later relax while she slept.

          • KarenJJ

            I’ve been known to leave the vacuum cleaner running while I get other stuff done. It didn’t work for long otherwise I’d have looked at recording it too.

          • stenvenywrites

            I plopped the baby carrier on top of the counter in his bouncy seat, not in front of it, as the dishwasher ran. I think the vibrations soothed him. We had the cleanest dishes and the happiest baby in the neighborhood.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I was scared to put the seat on the counter! But it makes me smile to know someone else did the dishwasher trick : )

      • thepragmatist

        It is so true. I was basically shunned by our local community group for not following those tenets. Except I have multiple disabilities. And spent a lot of time helping women with challenges have healthy relationships with themselves (building confidence as a mother) and with their babies. I was kicked out of their special club. Nevermind that since I was abused as a child and had psychiatric issue, I enrolled myself, all of my own volition, in parent support counseling that started from before my son was born and has one on to now. Do you know what my infant education worker had to say about Dr. Sears and AP: “The single biggest reason we get get in occupational therapy is for sleeping issues generated by poor sleep hygeine.” This, from the woman who taught me, basically, the fundamentals of securing a healthy attachment with my son in the face of adversity.

        Meanwhile, I know attachment theory inside and out and worked in therapy for ten years to develop what they call an “earned secure attachment” while concurrently working with at-risk youth where attachment building was the name of the game.

        No where have I been so disrespected as on these forums. There is absolutely no recognition for anyone outside of their little world.

        I agree also that you can tell the AP kids. They’re the rude, out of control kids looking desperately for limits… And when you get down to start to actually talk about the ingredients of attachment: stability, consistency, responsiveness, structure and nurture, they can’t follow a long. When the child is a mess and mom is burned out, the chances for secure attachment really start to dwindle. But who cares about facts? It’s religion!

        Meanwhile, I think I’ve earned my right to be called an attachment parent and take special offense at being told otherwise. No baby carrier in the world is going to improve your attachment with your baby. Just go be with your baby. Take care of yourself. Your baby WANTS to attach to you. All you have to do is be present *most of the time*. When I look at what my family has been through since my son was born and then I look at the absolute joy and clearly secure attachment he has, to me, it is a wonder. A sick mom, financial instability, intense personal issues, losses: but my son is securely attached and confident, knows he is loved and safe. So tell me again about how I’m doing it wrong?

        • Rea

          I love and agree absolutely with your post. One thing I’ve noticed with most AP-ers is that the more the AP philosophy fails them, the harder they cling to it. Because, obviously if it’s not working, it must be they who aren’t trying hard enough, who aren’t getting it right. I’m pretty sure most of them, at some point in their parenting, either loosen up and stop being hardcore AP-ers so they can maintain some kind of sanity, stop being AP completely, or keep drinking the kool-aid and plug their ears to any outside input. I stopped being AP and now that I have, I realize how much less I enjoyed parenting when I was an AP parent than now. Even when I had my son and thought that things were good, I realize I was just trying to put a rosy picture on how miserable I was because I shouldn’t have been miserable since I was “doing all the right things.”

  • Great post!

  • Oh my. Dr. Amy, you are nothing if not hyperbolic as a rule, but you have outdone yourself here. Tinfoil hat?

    Would be nice btw when you express concern for FGM to see some for MGM as well. Just saying.

    • Samantha Graham

      And the ‘what about the men’ comes up right on cue. Once you mention feminism the insecure, regressive males come out of the woodwork trying to distract from the real discussion.
      This is especially funny because you’re proving Dr. Amy’s point. You’re here to tell Dr. Amy, a woman, what she SHOULD be writing about. You’re trying to control her speech and her activism by diverting the discussion back to men (particularly insecure ones like yourself)

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        This is especially funny because you’re proving Dr. Amy’s point. You’re here to tell Dr. Amy, a woman, what she SHOULD be writing about. You’re trying to control her speech and her activism by diverting the discussion back to men (particularly insecure ones like yourself)

        To be fair, it is a lot easier than actually addressing her points in a rational manner.

        • I call MRA.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Don’t know what that means, so I’ll call ASPCA. And Alan can call SAT.

          • Samantha Graham

            It means ‘Men’s Rights Activist’. Its what regressive jerks call themselves when they attempt to roll back women’s rights.

          • Wow, yeah…sounds just like me. @@

          • Eddie

            I didn’t know what MRA stood for either, but this is not a fair characterization at all, at least of all of them. It may be true of some, but I’ve known fathers simply trying to get legal access to their children when the courts gave full custody to the mother. Fortunately, this happens rarely *today* without good reason, but that is not to say it doesn’t happen. But I have heard some MRA speak reasonably.

            MRA folks are not a group of people I encounter frequently, so I cannot characterize how they are as a group. Maybe the ones I’ve met were not representative. I honestly don’t know. All I can say is that I’ve met some with legitimate concerns — who were NOT trying to take rights away from women.

          • anonomom

            Agreed. Just like there are tools in the feminist community, there are misogynist assholes in the MRA community. There are however mostly rational people on both sides, who just want equal rights for everyone.

      • So on a man’s blog, a woman would be out of line to dissent with his views? I coulda sworn I have seen Dr. Amy do just that. It is your view that is sexist: women have to have a protected space where men cannot intrude, but men are strong enough to handle all comers. That about right?

        I’m a SAHD; my wife kept her “maiden” name and passed it on to our children (no hyphenation, just her name); I read and strongly recommend the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” and resist dressing ours in pink or exposing her to Disney princesses. But I’m a sexist, patriarchal oppressor? That is rich.

        • Comparing the brutality of FGM to male circumcision is an inherently sexist act. It assumes that removing the foreskin, a relatively small part of the genitals that while it may or may not help sensation is not essential to sexual enjoyment, is comparable to removing the entire, or at least the head, of the clitoris, making sexual pleasure much more challenging. It also assumes that there is an equivalence between the act of removing the foreskin to prove one’s devotion to God, prove one’s strength of character, and/or to make oneself more appealing to the opposite sex (the pre-Victorian historical reasons for male circumcision) and the act of removing the clitoris solely to prevent extramarital intercourse.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            It also assumes that there is an equivalence between the act of removing the foreskin to prove one’s devotion to God, prove one’s strength of character, and/or to make oneself more appealing to the opposite sex (the pre-Victorian historical reasons for male circumcision) and the act of removing the clitoris solely to prevent extramarital intercourse.

            How about to prevent masturbation?

          • All right, extramarital sexuality. (Men have been removing their foreskins since the stone age and it’s almost always to increase their virility, prove their devotion and strength, or to make their penises look bigger and more like an erect penis even when flaccid. The Victorian thought it would curb masturbation but that was kinda tacked on as an afterthought and today is not a significant contributor to why boys are circumcised.)

        • Oh, and btw, the reason that your comment is considered sexist is not that you are dissenting on a woman’s blog. If you came in and said “I disagree with this, a lot of guys don’t want their wives to be baby factories but the women choose it anyway and also lesbians blah blah” then it would be non-sexist dissent. However, instead of disagreeing with Dr. Amy’s actual point, you honed in on a relatively unimportant aspect (to the article) of FGM and used it as an excuse to bring up an issue that affects men (male circumcision), thus attempting to redirect the conversation from “the things society does to police the bodies of women” to “the things that society does to change the bodies of men.”

          • Sterrell

            *stands up and claps*

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          So on a man’s blog, a woman would be out of line to dissent with his views?

          Your comment did not provide any “dissent.” All you did was accuse Dr Amy of hyperbole (tone troll) and then you brought up MGM.

          That’s not dissent, that’s whining.

        • AllieFoyle

          If a man was writing about an issue specifically pertaining to men and a poster (of any gender) gave a five cent response that ignored the substance of the post and instead focused on something only tangentially related (but presumably of more importance to him or her), then yes, out of line.

        • PoopDoc

          Oh Alan! You’re so progressive! It is just super that you are not dressing your girls in pink and avoiding Disney princesses. Now… What if your girls WANT to dress in pink and play Cinderella? Or is that not progressive enough for you? It’s about choice. And circumcision does not have a thing to do with the issues that Dr. Amy was discussing. Wait to try to divert from the issue at hand.

          • If they want to dress in pink and play Cindarella, I will weep, and then contemplate a move to northern Alaska. If they suddenly display such desires, it’s not going to be anything like a real choice.

          • AllieFoyle

            I think that’s an excellent plan. You should probably move there immediately.

          • As long as I can still get Internet access! 😉

          • AllieFoyle

            I’m not sure that’s wise. You never know what kind of foul Disney characters and feminine colors they might inadvertently be exposed to on the computer. Probably best to go completely Pioneer House on them.

          • LOL

          • Sterrell

            Alan’s kids can only like what Alan likes, duh! Imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth if one of them choose to formula-feed!

          • You are right, I can’t deny it: that would be my weak spot. My teenager already has taken to adopting, or seeming to adopt, contrarian positions to see how I will react. It’s tough!

          • Maybe not JUST to see how you will react.

          • He wants to feel like he can have his own beliefs, test boundaries, all that jazz. I took Adolescent Psych in college, I get it.

          • Dr Freud

            Wants to feel like? You mean he can’t really?

          • Well, that depends. He wants to believe for instance that he is capable of taking on full adult responsibility; but I know better.

          • PoopDoc

            Wow. Just wow… How condescending can you get? If my kids are asking for more responsibility, they can have it. Why would you try to stunt your son’s development as he strives to become an adult?

          • Dr Kitty

            Parenting with Love & Logic- I don’t like all of it, but I do like the idea of allowing kids to fail safely so that they have the skills not to fail when you won’t be there to pick up the pieces.

          • WTF, there’s a reason 13 is not the age of majority. I am talking about his chafing against having a 10:00 bedtime on school nights, being required to brush his teeth before bed, take a shower every few days, etc. I think I would be abdicating *my* responsibility as a father if I took a laissez-faire approach.

          • My parents are quite opinionated about a number of political and social issues. I’d say maybe 2/3 of my ideas have veered off course from what they taught me growing up. Some of it may have started as teenage rebellion but, mostly it is just the hazard of letting your kids be exposed to multiple viewpoints and giving them the freedom to decide for themselves. I guess in my mom’s case even breast feeding couldn’t garantee I would turn out “well”! Luckily, my parents dont act all disappointed that I’m not their clone. Yeah for parents that are actually open minded!

          • PoopDoc

            I’m calling horseshit on that one Alan. My daughter loves to dress in frilly and sparkly things. And loves all princesses, Disney or otherwise. And so does my son. We’ve done nothing to encourage this. Nor have we discouraged it. It’s simply how they choose to play, for now.

          • thepragmatist

            Alan… see my above comment. But also, you are doing this gender neutral thing wrong. My mother was like you and I went through an intense rebellious phase where I totally embraced everything she hated most. I would strongly suggest you let your girls be who they are. That is supposed to be the point. Not imposing your ideas about what is appropriate for play. There is a lovely little girl in my life (a friend’s daughter) who is in a serious princess phase, so we give her princess things. It’s just not going to end up the way you think. Shaming your daughter for liking things is not supportive of developing a healthy gender identity, it’s just giving even more power to the things you dislike. Relax already.

          • Eddie

            Yes, this. Absolutely preventing gender norm choices is just as stifling and oppressive as requiring them, even when the motivation for doing so differs dramatically. When my littlest one wants to be a princess, I sometimes ask if she would rather be Queen. 🙂 But I don’t require it. It’s her choice. I just make it clear she has other choices available to her.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Well, we should ask Gina how that works, being gender neutral. I think she tried that for a parenting show.
            As for the pink princess bit, would that mean that you provide the princess toys and dresses for your sons? That would be fair. Wouldn’t want them to be playing with boyish toys or wear boyish clothes. That might influence them to be gender traditional and that clearly isn’t what is wanted for the daughter.

          • Assuming that question was directed at me, we also dislike the gendered clothing for boys that says stuff about being “mama’s tough man”. We just go for neutral colors and designs for both genders.

          • Eddie

            In the 70’s, my youngest brother declared that he wanted a doll as a toy. My military father about had a cow; my mom said, “If he wants a doll, get him a doll” and she did As a grade school boy, I just didn’t see why my father was so out of sorts about it. I understood there was a stereotype “to be conformed to” but I really didn’t understand why anyone felt it mattered.

            What was funny was how my brother played with his doll. It wasn’t girl-like at all, but it didn’t really conform to any boy stereotypes either. He got to choose his own way, which I thought was great.

          • thepragmatist

            My son is really attentive to his doll. My FIL freaked out when he got him a stroller and bottle and highchair for the doll. My son was over the moon. Heaven forbid he grow up… to be a dad or something! Haha. He feeds his doll a bottle and must tuck him with him at night. It’s so sweet. I had bought him the doll because I felt he should have a doll for play. I had NO IDEA he would take to it the way he did. I just went with it when it was evident he was really serious about the doll business. We waited until he could talk and then he named the doll himself. (Needless to say, bought a second secret replacement in case this one gets eaten by a dog…)

          • thepragmatist

            Alan is a tool. But we parent gender neutral. Yes. We provide my son with a wide variety of toys. Right now, he is really digging a purple My Little Pony that has been hanging out in a Tonka Truck for awhile. He enjoys cooking, cleaning (not getting in the way of that one), music, and rough housing. We didn’t find out the gender in utero and we have made an effort to keep his clothing and room as gender neutral as possible. I really wanted to see what would happen and what he would gravitate without applying any gendered preferences to him. He has chosen what he likes. He has a baby doll he cares for quite meticulously but also likes to hammer stuff. I am pretty sure his favourite colour is yellow. I bet if I had a girl, it would be the same kind of outcome… And boy, it clearly upsets my inlaws, especially FIL, lol, who often buy him things that are more clearly gendered, as if I am depriving him… but my son doesn’t really want to play with that stuff much. Like a tool kit and so on. But I do love watching him find his own way! He doesn’t like to wear my dresses though, prefers Dad’s security pass for work and my headbands.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I was parented much the same way-I had trucks and a little jeep, although I didn’t have Barbies, Strawberry Shortcake or other girl specific things. I liked my Legos but I really loved the My Little Pony. It should be about seeing what your kids like and going with that.

          • Dr Kitty

            I try ogdammit, I try to encourage my kid to play with cars and Lego and dress up as a vet and a fire fighter or a pirate or whatnot.

            Most days, however, she’s wearing a tutu or a ball gown and playing with her toy ironing board or kitchen, and demanding I paint her nails.

            I am clearly raising a girlie girl, so we’ll just have to roll with it.

          • I had one of each. First daughter threw a king size wobbly when she got a doll at a party, and not a car, insisted on short hair and once told me “I was a boy when I was little.” Second as girly as you can get – only ambition was to marry a prince, heavily into pink haired plastic ponies. (I’m afraid I would have drawn the line at an ironing board – though a strong interest in cooking came in handy eventually.) She ended up a mathematician, so I wouldn’t fret.

          • Dr Kitty

            The ironing board was the ONLY thing she wanted from Santa. I rarely iron except before going out, so she thinks it is a super special treat that we save for special occasions, and part of the whole process of getting ready for a party.

            Her chatter is about how she has somewhere special to go and how she is making her crumpled dress smell lovely with the special ironing water and look nice by making the crinkles flat and how only BIG PEOPLE get to iron because it is HOT and DANGEROUS.

            I’m not actually that worried about it. 🙂

          • anonomom

            Sounds like she may have a future in welding!

          • Dr Kitty

            Hmmm…with the love of tutus maybe I could ease her gently towards a future in welding with Flashdance?

            She was constructing a “campfire” with a red blanket and a stool earlier, so at this point anything pointing away from arsonist is a bonus.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            The problem with stereotypes occurs when children or people are pressured into conforming with them. There is nothing wrong with conforming with them if that is the choice of the individual child or person.

            For example, it is a stereotype that tall boys play basketball. Enforcing that stereotype would mean pressuring all tall boys to play basketball. However, it would be cruel to tell a tall son that he couldn’t play basketball because you don’t want to contribute to stereotyping.

            Similarly, it is cruel to tell small girls that they cannot have baby dolls, Barbies and pink dresses if they want them simply because you don’t want to contribute to stereotyping.

          • Do you believe individual “want” can ever truly be separated from social norms?

          • Eddie

            It depends on the social norm. For a very strong social norm, no, not perfectly. But then again, nothing in this world is absolutely perfect. If you believe that we have the ability to reason, then we have the ability to make choices even when there is ambiguity, such as “Do I like this because I am ‘supposed to’ or do I like it because it is my free choice and I like it?”

            I am also a strong proponent of letting people make the “wrong” choice, as long as it does not actually harm anyone.

          • Yeah, good points. I just find certain social norms especially pernicious.

          • Eddie

            Some social norms *are* especially pernicious. However, I believe very, VERY strongly in free will, in letting people make choices of their own. There are times I’ll talk to a friend if I think s/he is making a choice out of social coercion rather than a real free choice. If I see someone making what appears to be an uninformed choice, I’ll do my best to *respectfully* and humbly inform them. (Preaching from on high is counter productive in addition to being annoying and rude and off-putting.) After informing them, the choice is still theirs. If they make the “wrong” choice, well, it’s their choice to make. I assume for this conversation we are talking about social norms and not illegal or violent actions, and nothing that will cause permanent damage, psychological or physical.

            I’ll overrule my kids if they want to do something that is dangerous or illegal or particularly unwise (all of this depending on age and maturity). Otherwise, at most I’ll talk to them about their choices and let them know other choices are available.

          • quadrophenic

            My daughter is almost 9 months. I try not to dress her in too much pink – mainly because I like her to have some variety of color. I’m not buying princess stuff because I don’t want to get sucked into the financial drain that is Disney (especially when I live close to Disneyland) so I’m going to wait until she is inevitably exposed to princesses and asks for princess stuff.

            I liked princesses as a kid. I pretended to cook and desperately wanted a toy kitchen set. I also had pet snakes and wanted to be an astronomer. I grew up to be a lawyer who can’t cook.

            When my daughter gets old enough to know about princesses, I’m going to show her Sonia Sotomayor’s bit on Sesame Street. This sums up exactly how I hope to approach the princess thing: http://youtu.be/EHICz5MYxNQ

          • OMG I love this, and her! I wish she had added something blue collar like “carpenter” but still, pretty awesome. It’s like a FTBYAM revival.

          • quadrophenic

            I hope you understood my actual point – it’s fun to dress up and play princess or whatever, you just make sure you’re also teaching the kids that they can aspire to do great things. I may not encourage princesses but I’m not going to hide princess themed gifts or ban princess items if they’re requested – if she’s interested in princesses I’ll just make sure I also expose her to other things and explain the difference between make believe and reality.

          • My VERY girly daughter (who still fancies being a princess, and who encourages her own daughter’s love of dressing up) has grown up to have a very equal marriage, and any views on what is “women’s work” would get very short shrift from her. Her views on birth as “empowering” are also rather a long way from NCB approved as well. Girly girls do not grow up to be girly women, thankfully. And the girly boys she used to play with, who loved to dress up in her tutus, turned out OK as well.

          • KarenJJ

            I have had one win. My daughter saw an iron in a shop once and said ‘mummy, what’s that?’.

          • My daughter saw an iron in a shop once and said ‘mummy, what’s that?’.

            I love that! You are clearly setting her a good example – which even in these liberated times is quite difficult – especially as a SAHM.

          • Sue

            (Embarrassing confession: I like ironing. There, I’ve said it.)

          • You are allowed to like ironing. It is one of those mindlessly pleasant restoring-of-order tasks that can be soothing, and I have been known to get pleasure from turning a crumpled mess into a work of art myself – and get obsessively perfectionist about it. Just so long as you do not find yourself judging the quality of others’ clothes care!

            My stuck in a 50s mindset husband was deeply shocked when I pointed out to him that I was not born with an iron in my hand, and if I could learn to do it so could he. Get your sons hooked on it.

          • CarolynTheRed

            I learned to iron in the military (or from being in the army cadets before that). I never met a guy in the armed forces who didn’t do his own ironing. I’ll add that pink was the colour for the faculty of mathematics at my university (we all got pink ties when we started first year)

            So to me, pink is for young math geeks, and also for five year old girly girls. Ironing is for domestic goddesses who like to look stylish and for muscular young military men (and women) who want to do well on inspection. I can live with my mixed instinctive reactions.

          • AmyM

            Ha! I don’t like ironing, and I suck at it, but I like listening to my husband (or whoever) iron. (which he hardly does anymore, but back when he needed nicer clothes for work) Anyway, I like the shushing sound the iron makes, and trickling water sound…I found that very relaxing. But not if I do it, then I just destroy my clothes. I get around that by buying clothes that don’t wrinkle, and I am lucky I don’t have to dress up for work. They don’t care if I wear jeans every day.

          • Siri

            My mum was a feminist of the good old kind. When I was 2, in 1971, I wanted a straw hat with pink ribbons. My mum bought me one with blue. I still recall my disappointment, and pink is STILL my favourite colour! Mum 0, gender stereotypes 1.

        • Bombshellrisa

          It doesn’t make you NOT an oppressor.

          • What would? Serious question.

          • Bombshellrisa

            One definition is “to weigh heavily upon”. I like the thesarus related words

            Noun
            oppressor – a person of authority who subjects others to undue pressures

            disagreeable person, unpleasant person – a person who is not pleasant or agreeable

            authoritarian, dictator – a person who behaves in a tyrannical manner; “my boss is a dictator who makes everyone work overtime”

            meanie, unkind person, meany – a person of mean disposition

            switcher, whipper – a person who administers punishment by wielding a switch or whip

            persecutor, tormenter, tormentor – someone who torments

            torturer – someone who inflicts severe physical pain (usually for punishment or coercion)

          • StupidFlanders

            Alan, you like potatoes, Samuel L Jackson had snakes on a plane, divert! Divert! Diffuse the situation! Holy diver! You’ve been down to long in the midnight sea!

        • Mac Sherbert

          Oh, know my poor baby is wearing pink right now! I must go put on her that outfit with the little yellow ducks . If I don’t, she might grow up to be a girl. Oh wait, she is a girl. The first girl in a long long long time for my family. Why don’t tell all of them that they harming her by buying her all these adorable outfits? When she gets older and doesn’t want to wear pink that’s different than simply dressing a baby in pink.

          Why can’t women be pink and powerful? FYI – I’m not interested in a discussed on the evils of the Disney princesses.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Best dress her in some boy camo and give her a power tool to play with before that pink outfit harms her more!

          • Mac Sherbert

            I have dressed her my son’s old sleep n’plays! Maybe the footballs will save her.

          • If people could just be like, “hey, I like the color pink–I think it looks cute” and that was really just their personal opinion, like it is with red or green or whatever, then that would be cool…whatever. But to me it feels much more like an oppressive forced conformity.

            At the hospital, when we refused to let them blue and pink bow to our daughters bald head, they acted like we were the weirdest people they have ever encountered. Like instead of saying “no thanks, we don’t want to put that bow on her head”, we had said “oh no, I don’t think we are going to give her a name, so just leave the birth certificate blank”, LOL.

            I’ll tell you what I dread a lot more than all the frilly pink stuff, though: when my girls are teenagers and feel pressure to wear high heels. I legitimately hate those, and not just for their appearance. Talk about oppressing women’s bodies.

          • Dr Kitty

            Alan, you’re now judging our clothing choices!

            Do you not GET how inappropriate that is?

            It really doesn’t matter if you’re advocating flat shoes for comfort or burqas for modesty, telling women that they shouldn’t wear certain items of clothing because you disapprove of them is not on.

            You can, of course, control what your minor children wear, but really I think you’re going to lose that battle, as any woman who has willingly sacrificed comfort for three inches of extra height and a pretty shoe will tell you.

          • I said I hate them, not that I propose banning them. I hate burqas too and will not apologise for that.

            You do realize it’s not just a temporary sacrifice of comfort, but permanent damage to your feet?

          • Dr Kittyk

            Don’t wear them much myself, maybe about 6 times a year for about 4 hours at a time, with little walking and much sitting.
            I like heels, my spine does not.

            But, being a grown woman I can wear whatever I damn well please, just because I feel like it, and sometimes I feel like a 5 inch stiletto and a mini skirt.

            I type this in flannel pjs and sheepskin moccasins, because right now, I feel like wearing that.

          • What men’s fashion is so painful, though? And where do you draw the line? Were whalebone corsets okay too?

            I’m honestly surprised to see a bunch of ostensible feminists defend heels. Do a lot of you agree with me but are loath to admit it just because I have to be Othered into the antithesis of everything that is right and good?

          • AllieFoyle

            There are some versions of feminism that don’t require you to wear patchouli-scented mama-garb and sensible shoes 24/7.

            But mostly we’re not that interested in your unsolicited opinions on everything, no matter how fascinating they may seem to you.

          • I only offer one unsolicited opinion per post now; the rest are solicited, I’m afraid. 🙂

          • BeatlesFan

            It’s decidedly unfeminist to tell women what kinds of shoes they should hate. I think it’s safe to assume the women here defending high heels are doing so because they don’t find them opressive, not because their husbands are reading over their shoulders and will beat them if they don’t convincingly defend this hated symbol of female opression.

          • Mac Sherbert

            Maybe it should be mentioned that heels were actually first worn by men? I believe the King of France liked the way they made his legs look.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I was thinking a codpiece or suit of armor would have been pretty stinking uncomfortable. Those are the only examples I can think of that were mancentric.

          • Eddie

            I imagine the wigs worn a few hundred years ago were pretty uncomfortable in hot weather. And for the armor on a really hot day, I’m sure that “stinking” is EXACTLY the right word! 🙂

          • AmyM

            Not only high heel shoes as others have mentioned, but bizarrely shaped shoes–like toes so long, they had to be tied around the calf so the wearer wouldn’t trip. Modern neckties come from Elizabethan collars (both men and women wore), which eventually evolved to the cravat and then the necktie.

          • Box of Salt

            What about neckties?

            They’re about as ubiquitous as heels, probably less useful (men don’t have the excuse of wearing them to appear taller), and I’ve observed both removed (or in the case of ties, loosened for comfort) often.

          • Fair enough, that’s worth half a point. I just don’t believe they are nearly as intense in their effect though.

          • quadrophenic

            Funny thing is, if you look at the history books, men were the one who started wearing heels. And in the early 20th century, pink was a boy color and blue was for girls. Infant and toddler boys and girls wore identical white dresses in the 19th century. The shifting ideas of gender, masculinity, and femininity through history are a funny thing.

            I like my heels. I’ve owned corsets. I shave my armpits. I’m a feminist. I’m sorry that confuses you. Oh wait, I’m not sorry at all. I don’t have to explain what I like to you.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Napolean, right? Because heels emphasized his calves?

          • Somehow I suspect they were not skinny little spikes, and doubt they pinched his toes into a point.

          • Bombshellrisa

            You are right, they were kitten heels. Personally not a fan, those do pinch and there isn’t a pad, gel cushion or shoe size that prevents it.

          • quadrophenic

            But the technology behind shoes has changed quite a bit since then. I guarantee my Cole Haan 4″ heels with nike air soles are more comfortable than kitten heels of Napoleon’s day. I’m no historian but I think women of the day had comparatively comfortable slippers.

            Actually after googling I discovered Napoleon banished heels. It was Louis XIV who wore intricate heels sometimes 5″ tall.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Oh wow, thanks for the heads up.
            I have to agree, I wear heels with a platform (the uncharitable call them stripper shoes) and they aren’t as uncomfortable as a lower heel with no platform.

          • LukesCook

            I own a variety of shoes ranging from very flat to very high, and there is certainly not a linear relationship between the height of the heel and the comfort of the shoe. The flat shoes are at least as likely to be uncomfortable as the high ones, and the most uncomfortable of all is somewhere in the middle. None of them are so uncomfortable as to be painful though.

          • Sue

            Interesting quadro – yesterday I heard a radio interview with a historian who has tracked gendered clothing colors for babies. She confirmed what you say – the pink for girls and blue for boys is relatively recent – traditionally white dresses for all, pre-walking. (At least, in most Anglo-European middle-upper class families).

          • quadrophenic

            I’d read an article a while back about it and it was written by or about an author of a book that was going to come out – I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the same person you heard interviewed. I’d like to track down the book and read it! My grandmother is very into genealogy and antiques, so I’d seen plenty of pictures of baby boys in white dresses, and always thought it was so interesting that they were dressed alike when we now have gender reveal parties!

          • Sue
          • anonomom

            I like heels because they’re pretty. I kick ass at my profession *and* I like to look pretty. I don’t think other women should wear a particular kind of shoe; they should wear whatever they like, just like I do. Not sure what is anti-feminist about that.

          • Eddie

            My guess is that people here are mostly the kind of feminists who say, “It’s not about banning things that used to be part of forced gender roles. It’s about having a CHOICE in the matter.”

          • Sue

            “just because I have to be Othered into the antithesis of everything that is right and good?”

            What irony! Alan has painted HIMSELF into the opposition on just about everything – unless someone else is writing his posts for him (his wife, maybe?)

          • Bombshellrisa

            Dr Kitty, I am sure you know this, but if you get something with a bit of a platform the shoes won’t hurt as much.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I love shoes and have more pairs than I would care to admit including heels, they look great on, but I rarely wear them. Doesn’t mean I don’t want them when I am at the store.

          • Poogles

            “when my girls are teenagers and feel pressure to wear high heels.”

            Or they just, ya know, want to.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Cause, like, everyone else is!

          • Riiiight. They look SO inviting.

          • Dr Kitty

            Eddie Izzard enjoys wearing his, and looks damn fine doing so.

          • We enjoy his standup, and are obviously not into gender policing, but those shoes are still awful regardless of who wears them.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Right! I never kept pink, frilly, or Disney princesses away from my daughters and they are both tom boys.

            I would not let them wear high heels, except for formal events, until they were/are grown and wouldn’t let them wear bikinis until they were 16. No one was pressuring them to, but they sure tried to pressure me.

          • Bombshellrisa

            “an oppressive forced conformity.”
            Gotta say, when my friend complains about this, I agree with her and sympathize. Of course, she is talking about wearing being forced to be covered from head to toe complete with a cape in Saudi Arabia and the punishment for her leaving the house without being covered up and without her husband is much more oppressive than the discomfort of high heels. I don’t figure the religious police there would let her put in her opinion about how wearing that stuff makes her feel if she was caught walking around without her head covered.

          • And perinatal mortality is far worse in Haiti than it is here. Does that mean you can’t complain about it here, when it is worse than you’d like it to be? Come on, you’re making it too easy; maybe you should stop to think about the logic of these kinds of statements before posting them.

          • Bombshellrisa

            We have the luxury and privilege of questioning and complaining about every cultural norm, whether it’s FGM or pink for girls/blue for boys or sending kids out on a walkabout. That is hardly oppressed forced conformity.

          • You don’t believe social norms and mores exert quite a bit of power even without the threat of violence behind them? Feeling the threat of social ostracisation is pretty powerful for a social animal if you ask me.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I guess I am the wrong person to ask about that.
            But what kind of social ostracisation are we talking about?

          • Many kinds, including that which can impact one’s career. But we were talking about teen girls, so just start there. Do I really have to elabourate?

          • Bombshellrisa

            Oh, it’s not that hard to imagine. Having a 9 o’clock curfew when everyone else’s is 10 was what got me alienated from the group. Same for not having a car, not having the same clothes as everyone else, being an Asian Jew and later being unschooled. I just learned to deal with it, as my challenges in life got much harder as I got more grown up.

          • That does sound like a tricky course to navigate. And I never thought about it before, but I guess now that you mention it, an Asian Jew is an unusual thing indeed (except technically some people say Israel is in Southwest Asia but obviously that’s not what you mean).

          • Bombshellrisa

            That is sorta funny isn’t it-I use Asian Jew to explain myself, because people are always asking “what are you mixed with” so I have to have a short answer.

          • Weird how blunt people are about ethnicity.

          • theNormalDistribution

            Don’t you understand? Women are not capable of wanting to wear high heels or pink. They only think they do because their animal brains fear the threat of social ostracisation.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Thank goodness we don’t have to be worried about being arrested for wearing pink or NOT wearing pink. Fear of that kind would be terrible.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Exactly, it is so funny how I never think these bad things about Alan until he tries to puff himself up with nonsense posts and then I realize those things seem to be true.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I thought we were talking about how certain clothing oppressed women’s bodies. It is a luxury to openly be able to question and complain about something. I don’t understand how the perinatal mortality rate got dragged in, but again, I should know better than to be able to have you read and comprehend before you start firing off with both barrels.

          • The point is simply that just because people somewhere else like Saudi Arabia or Haiti have it worse than we do here does not mean we can’t complain that it is not as good as we would like it to be here.

          • Bombshellrisa

            You mentioned how you felt that certain clothing oppressed women’s bodies. I mentioned an example of oppression and how some women don’t have the luxury of openly questioning and complaining about an oppressive forced conformity. Somehow the perinatal mortality rate of Haiti got dragged in. Please read and reread before you start commenting with both barrels blazing.

          • Sterrell

            Have you actually ever WORN high heels, Alan?

          • Uhhhh…no. My wife wore them once when she was in a wedding, and I believe her testimony, combined with my 20/15 vision (with glasses), and common sense.

          • Sterrell

            So, once again your leaning on your wife for your reasoning. Give it a rest. Your wife wearing heels (or breastfeeding, or special-ed teaching, or having a C-section) does not give her the definitive experience on what wearing heels is actually like for most women.

          • Mac Sherbert

            “If people could just be like, “hey, I like the color pink–I think it looks cute” and that was really just their personal opinion, like it is with red or green or whatever, then that would be cool…whatever. But to me it feels much more like an oppressive forced conformity.” — Actually, I love purple.

            Oppressive forced conformity? I love it. We could turn it around and say that you force your children to wear gender neutral clothing.

            “they acted like we were the weirdest people they have ever encountered” — It seems you get that reaction a lot.

            FYI – I much prefer high heels to those Ugg (Sp?) boots all the girls around here are wearing.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Well, I didn’t think so until this comment.

          • Sorry to hear that. <—-not sarcasm

        • Shrink Rap

          Being a feminist and taking on a female gender role are not mutually exclusive.

        • JC

          My husband is very opposed to the Disney princess stuff. My daughter has a wide variety of interests. She went through a short princess phase. We weren’t crazy about it. She wanted Disney princess bedding for Christmas. We indulged her and got her the most tasteful bedding we could find. None of the horrible cartoonish princesses. And the princesses are a small part of the bedding and aren’t even on the sheets and pillow cases.

          You know what? A week or two after Christmas she said “I don’t like princesses anymore.” I said, “That’s fine, but you are using those sheets and comforter until they are worn out. They weren’t cheap!”

          The point is, we didn’t push princesses but we didn’t discourage them either. Well, my husband did a little in subtle ways. She went through that phase and is over it. I know some parents push the princess stuff on girls because “it must be what girls like.” I disagree with this approach. But it is not the end of the world if they do like them.

          Also, I let my son dress up in girls dresses because he wants to play dress up with his sister. But, they both had some formula as infants, so I am sure they will not really succeed in life. 🙂

          • Therese

            Okay, now I want to know which Disney princesses you consider to be horrible cartoonish ones?

          • They’re doomed! ;-).

            Seriously, though, I like your approach. I guess your daughter must have picked up the princess thing from her peers?

    • CitrusMom

      There is no “MGM” practiced commonly in the world that is in any way commensurate with FGM. Unless male circumcision consists of cutting off the glans and sewing the foreskin back up around it, they are not the same.

      • Not true: Type 1a FGM, or “Sunni circumcision”, is a close analogue to male circ.

        • Guestll

          Sigh. I *swore* I wasn’t going to reply to your posts any longer. But here we go.

          I am not a proponent of routine infant circ in the developed world. No male in my family is circ’d, nor is my husband, and to my knowledge, nobody has complained nor suffered any deleterious effects.

          With that said, to compare FGM to circumcision…seriously, check your privilege, Alan. Also your sexism, and your own hyperbole, and the size of your own tin foil hat.

        • ratiomom

          Oh please. The embryologic equivalent of the clitoris is the glans. The equivalent of the labia is the scrotum.

          For MGM to be comparable with FGM, you’d have to remove all of that, so you’d be left with only the shaft of the penis. It isn’t even possible without castrating the man in the process.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The embryologic equivalent of the clitoris is the glans.

            The “Sunni circumcision” that Alan refers to does not involve the clitoris, but removal of the precepuce that covers it. That is analogous to male circ.

            I am not stating anything about the frequencies of any of these procedures, but it is absolutely true that there are some FGM practices that are analogous to male circumcision.

          • Kum Ba Ya, Bofa! =)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Go away

          • Aaaannd…we’re BACK! LOL

        • anonymous

          Holy christ you have no idea what you’re talking about. Male circumcision has nothing on the ill effects of female circumcision and can be in some cases beneficial. Please actually read articles before you post this nonsense.

          • Antigonos CNM

            We seem to have strayed rather far from the point Dr. amy was trying to make.
            Making rigid rules about what constitutes “correct” and modern parenting is nothing new. In the 30s and 40s, until Dr. Spock made it OK to trust one’s instincts (gasp!), not keeping babies on rigid schedules, sterilizing their entire environments, and not letting them be “spoiled” by being picked up too much, was pronounced by the “experts” as a sure way to create weakling children who would grow up to be degenerates lacking in moral fiber.

            There are times when I think today’s current parenting philosophies are a direct backlash against the parenting philosophies of the previous “scientific” approach, and probably just as useless. It’s notable that when the generation of kibbutz children who were raised communally in childrens’ houses grew up, they demanded that their own children sleep at home with them.

        • Except that it has no medical benefits at all. By contrast, male circumcision probably has some small medical benefits. I am against RIC, just about, on balance, but I don’t think you can compare these two things. The removal of something PER SE is not mutilation; if it were, tonsillectomy etc. would be mutilation as well. Rather, it’s a question of looking at the medical benefits vs the invasiveness and deciding if it’s justified or not. I think on balance RIC is probably not justified in countries like the US, but it’s a close thing and I’d never get stroppy about it.

          • I really think you have to have a male prepuce to understand its function and why it is such a horrendous idea to remove healthy ones.

          • Sterrell

            Well I think you have to have breasts and a vagina to bloviate about homebirth and breastfeeding.

          • Touché.

    • BeatlesFan

      I used to work in immigration. One of my tasks involved reading correspondence from people who were applying for refugee or asylee status here in the U.S. One that particularly stuck out was a letter from a woman, (from Kenya if memory serves) who painstakingly described in her letter what it felt like to have her clitoris removed with a straight razor as a young girl. She was locked in a room and could hear her sister’s screams as it was done to her first; then the letter- writer, with no chance of escape or reprieve, had it done to her as well. I was crossing and uncrossing my legs the entire time I was reading.

      My son is intact- in fact, I don’t believe circumcision should be done at all, unless medically indicated. That being said, even I will readily admit that FGM and routine male circumcision are worlds apart from each other.

      • PH Student

        YES, YES, YES!!! I also have an intact son—I believe in bodily autonomy for both men and women and desired for my son to be able to choose for himself if he wants to be circumcised just as I fight to preserve my daughter’s rights to make decisions about her body–but comparing FGM and circumcision is absurd.

        • We have discussed this before: for any thing bad or morally wrong that one person mentions, you can always find someone else has it worse, someone else who does things that are “eviller”. Yes, most FGM is worse than most MGM; But I could easily envision a future where pressured North African Muslims dial it back to a “moderate” level, sticking with Type 1a, “Sunni” female circumcision, and insist on their right to do so based on the precedent of male circumcision. And that would be most unfortunate.

          What you are calling my “tone argument” is just an observation that blaming a vast patriarchal conspiracy for attachment parenting is really a stretch, to say the least. My wife is as feminist as they come, and her blog reading habits include PhD in Parenting along with Feministe, Jezebel, Feministing, etc. Yes, there are conservative Christian evangelicals who identify with aspects of attachment parenting; but to purposely and so selectively turn a blind eye to the significant cohort of highly educated intellectual progressive women within AP is an extreme distortion.

          Hey: we all know hyperbole drives blog traffic, so it’s understandable. But I am going to call it out for what it is.

          • PH Student

            Did you miss the part where Dr. Amy herself said that she has practiced AP, breastfed, and had natural births?

          • No, just took it with a grain of salt.

          • kumquatwriter

            ^^^not my comment. disqus fail.

          • kumquatwriter

            THAT. IS. NOT. THE. TOPIC. OF. THIS. POST. YOU. EGOCENTRIC. BLOWHARD.

        • P.S. Disqus won’t let me edit any comment on my iPad that is longer than a couple sentences; I just wanted to add my kudos for leaving your son intact.

      • Thank you for leaving your son intact.

        • AllieFoyle

          Now, let’s talk about your driving habits…

          • I have no car, remember?

          • AllieFoyle

            1) You missed the joke

            and

            2) I’m supposed to know or care that you don’t have a car?

          • (1) How about you womansplain it to me then. 😛

            (2) Y’all remember, and bring up (out of context), minute details of things I said days earlier in completely different threads when it suits you, so I call BS on that one.

          • AllieFoyle

            You gave her a cookie for not circumcising (and I’m sure she’s thrilled about your approval), but sadly there are probably areas in which she just won’t live up to your superior hipster creed.

            Those minute details stick out because including them is so bizarre and socially tone deaf.

          • I can’t think of anything in my “hipster creed” I’d consider as important as not circing; not even all the rest of it combined.

          • Lisa the Raptor

            I have one of each. What do I get?

        • Kumquatwriter

          CREEPY. It isn’t your kid. You should not be so invested in the penises of other peoples children. Disgusting.
          We didn’t circ either, so settle down. And stop thinking about MY sons genitals too.

          • Kind of ironic on a blog that discusses other women’s genitals in pretty much EVERY POST. ::smirk::

        • Sterrell

          Wow, I bet she’s just super pleased that she’s earned your approval, Alan. Honestly, what in the world makes you think so highly of yourself?

          • I’m a great judge of character, in addition to all my other sterling attributes. 😉

        • BeatlesFan

          I didn’t do it for you.

          • I know you didn’t, and no. Feeding method is trivial by comparison IMO.

        • EastCoaster

          This comment is incredibly condescending. None of your business.

      • Bombshellrisa

        I have a friend who told me about when this happened to her (she’s from Ethiopia). She had been patiently nodding and smiling at the idiots at her baby shower who were “concerned” about her having a planned C-section. None of them had any idea what she had been through, FGM and repeatedly raped as a child by her uncle. She might have been able to give birth vaginally, but she felt that she wanted to be able to have some say about what happened to her body and didn’t want to be triggered. I have cared for women like this too, it is painful even to see how cruelly these women have been treated. The women who usually perform FGM are the midwives or birth attendants of the area-at least that is what I have heard from the women I cared for or from their interpreters.

        • Dr Kitty

          Thanks for bring back an extremely unpleasant memory from med school, the one time I have seen a relative removed from hospital by the police.

          It was the husband of a woman with FGM who had just given birth and who went ballistic when staff explained that they would be committing a crime if they re-infibulated his wife.

          To say that staff feared for their lives is not an understatement.

          • Bombshellrisa

            That sounds terrifying. And she had to go home with him too

          • AllieFoyle

            That’s a horrifying scenario. I really wonder about the woman’s life after that. Maybe it would have been kinder if they had done it (not that they could or should have).

          • fiftyfifty1

            Interesting. We ask the woman in private during her prenatal visits, explaining her options, and do what she wants when the time comes. Most do not choose re-infibulation but a few have.

        • What I find interesting is that apparently, most infibulated Sudanese and Somali women in Western countries strongly prefer vaginal birth (to the point where many apparently refuse cesareans when indicated…. I believe that most cases of court-ordered cesareans involve women from these groups). On one level, I find it a little hard to understand why a woman would be so keen on vaginal delivery that would give her a 35%+ chance of a sphincter lacerations… but I believe that it has a lot to do with cultural ideas about the “proper” way to give birth, and desire for large families…

    • For you Alan:

      http://emmajenkin.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/bingo.jpg

      I thought the logical fallacy bingo card was too advanced.

      • quadrophenic
      • Karen in SC

        Anj, great Bingo card! Did you fill it in like that? I think you missed a few. There should be one for mansplaining…. because men really don’t seem to get it. I’ve seen it on blog posts about a variety of feminist topics. Like the concept of privilege – if you have it, it’s that much harder to become aware of it. That’s my thought, anyway.

    • Itsjutaname

      Alan,
      You have so many ideas and opinions that simply posting on other people pages isn’t the most productive use of your gifts. Instead of wasting your gifts, why not start your own blog to bring these important issues and opinions to the forefront.instead of burying them in the comments. Why wast your talents on someone else’s page?

      • Karen in SC

        I’d give it a read. His wife has a private blog, and there is *nothing* wrong with that, quite sensible, in fact. There may not be that many fathers blogging about BFing and APing.

        • Thanks, but I’m a social animal: I like to talk to people, exchange ideas, debate. In fact, believe it or not, when I just start with a blank page, I generally can’t think of anything to say.

          How do you know about my wife’s blog?

          • Karen in SC

            I read the FFF blog history and your wife had commented. Of course, maybe it was someone else with a private blog claiming to be your wife. I gave the individual the benefit of the doubt. Thought it would be interesting to read further from the other parent in your AP family, but it was private so that was that. You could ask her if she’s ever seen any examples of mansplaining. In fact, that could be your first topic “Mansplaining, Myth or Logic in disguise?” Other potential ideas: “Formula Feeding kills infants, yes even AAP says so”, “How to encourage circ’ed men to have sex anyway” . I’m sure we can help!

          • Yes, that was probably her. She’s a good writer, too.

          • anonomom

            > “How to encourage circ’ed men to have sex anyway”

            That’s a great idea. How else will the pandemic of male sexual dysfunction due to circumcision be addressed?

          • Bombshellrisa

            I would like the topic “How to grocery shop and feel superior to other parents”. There is just so much material there!

          • Durango

            “How to derail blog topics (except this one of course!)”

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Perhaps Alan will understand if I put it in the form of a SAT reading comprehension question:

      Read the above post and answer this question.

      “Consider female genital mutilation. It is a practice designed by men, for men, to preserve men’s privileges, but it is performed exclusively by older women on female children in order to make their bodies “respectable” for men.”

      In the context of this post, the above paragraph means:

      A. Women are often the enforcers of cultural practices that ultimately benefit men.

      B. Male circumcision is just as bad as female genital mutilation.

      C. There are many different ways to perform FGM and some of them might be analagous to male circumcision proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that male circumcision is exactly as bad as FGM.

      D. Here is a perfect opportunity to suck up all the air on this blog by subverting discussion of this post, that has nothing to do with Alan, to what Alan would prefer to discuss, his super duper special insights, his fabulous family history, and his pompous belief that his approval or disapproval of parenting practices matters to anyone but him.

      • So why are you replying to me?

        You can definitely always be counted on though to go into radio silence whenever I ask about the inherent contradiction in your having said associational studies are “crap”, while relying on just that type of study to inform your analysis of the increased risk of homebirth. Maybe this time will be different but I kinda doubt it…

        • theNormalDistribution

          How did the moon get there? Look. You pinheads who attack me for this, you’re just desperate. How’d the moon get there? How’d the sun get there? How’d it get there? Can you explain it to me? How come we have that, and Mars doesn’t have it? Venus doesn’t have it. How come? Why not? How’d it get here? How did that little amoeba get here? Crawl out there? How’d it do it?
          C’mon.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Why? Why was there water on venus? Why isn’t it there anymore? TND-your hyperbolic drivel doesn’t doesn’t explain why there are no unicorn sitings on the 410 in California, so I heartily disagree and would like to remind you that an aura reader told me that my color was blue which is BETTER than your color. And I read more.

          • anonomom

            Well my wife is an astronomer, and she can answer the question about whether there is water on Venus. That is, if she can spare time between breastfeeding our kids and teaching special ed.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Tell her to bring her own snacks and get over here then. But I am serious about those unicorns. If you can’t explain that, then you are simply avoiding my question.

          • Anonomom

            Why dont you prove there *arent* unicorns, huh? LOL

          • Susan

            I googled Unicorn Scouts; they are a version of boy and girl scouts in Singapore. I still love the term Homebirth Unicorn Scouts!

          • Bombshellrisa

            That is kind of cute-but not the homebirth version!

          • I don’t–it makes me actually THINK about giving birth to a baby unicorn. Ouch!

          • Bombshellrisa

            the episiotomy from hell!

          • Lisa the Raptor

            OMG you guys are killing me. Bring your own snack to play date. Is that a real thing?

          • Bombshellrisa

            You would be surprised-my snacks are not gluten free/paleo/vegan. They are in fact, “oppressive forced conformity” Disney Princess fruit snacks. I tried to find the ones where the princess is covered head to toe to show my “logic” so I would be entitled to complain but alas, they only make ones with princesses wearing tiaras.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            One of my favorite put downs of mothers who judge other mothers’ snacks:

            http://www.skepticalob.com/2011/06/judging-other-mothers.html

          • Bombshellrisa

            I will never be able to look at yogurt the same way again.

          • Sue

            One response might be “You give your child a whole HALF TUBE of that sugary stuff? I replace the whole tube with organic buffalo yoghurt, milked by contemplative Buddhist nuns.”

          • theNormalDistribution

            I highly doubt your choice of snack complies with the Harvard (cock) healthy eating plate guidelines. Therefore, I am a better parent than you. Crunch.

          • Lisa the Raptor

            *Noms on some yummy goldfish and then passes the box to my kids* Would you like a Jucie Juice?

          • Cock?!? Joke obv. but what’s the premise?

          • Kalacirya

            I love it!

        • Sterrell

          Well, I’m still waiting for you to elucidate on your comment that babies that experience HIE are “good candidates for euthanasia, frankly” in regards to your super-awesome health care ideas. You bloviate about everything else but remain super quiet whenever this comes up.

          And nope, I won’t quite bringing it up. People should be reminded that despite your special-education teacher wife and “feminist” ideals, your a eugenicist at heart.

          • LukesCook

            I missed that one. Repulsive.

          • It’s a lie.

          • Sterrell

            It’s not a lie, you just acknowledged what you said above. Your need to blather on about everything betrays your utter lack of insight or empathy; someone told the story of an infant who had an HIE during a failed home birth, and, in typical Alan fashion, you re-directed the comment to inform us about whether you thought that child was worthy of living or not.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            For the record, in Sterrell’s defense, that’s a crock of shit, Alan. Maybe you were thinking those things, but you did not specify them at the time of your original post. – S

          • I’m perfectly willing to elucidate, but you are being dishonest in your characterisation of what I said. The quote was actually “good *candidate* for euthanasia”, singular. I said it in reference to a single baby, not a category of them but one in particular, who was described as though s/he had no existence other than to lie there connected to various machines. Further along in that same thread, I said that if the child is laughing or otherwise showing s/he gets some enjoyment out of life, I do think that is worth preserving. But if a child’s life is either unrelenting pain, or just no inner mental life at all, that is not something we should use heroic technological efforts to keep going IMO. If that qualifies me as a eugenicist, so be it.

      • Susan

        Maybe all responses to Alan, if they must be made, should be in this format . That was really funny! ( just saying) LOL 😉 😉 ROFLOL

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        I don’t know, his disapproval might be of some value.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Actually, he thinks we are making it “too easy” and would like us to apply some logic to the comments we make. Nah. I just want to be part of the oppressive forced conformity and talk about Dr Amy’s post.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I think knowing what is logical might be a prerequisite anyway.

    • T.
  • anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

    Love this post. Even when I was deep into breastfeeding advocacy, I was grateful that formula provided a tool for women to be able to support themselves and their babies while working outside the home. How else would an abused woman be able to escape her husband?

  • Kumquatwriter

    THIS. This is such an important article, Dr. Amy. Thank you for.continuing to fight for babies, mothers and women. You are one of my personal heroes.

  • mearcatt

    amen to the last paragraph. i am all in favor of parents choosing whatever they feel is right for them. where my issue comes in is when anyone slams down someone else’s choices as wrong and builds their own up as superior. inlaws are like this every single day and i’m tired of their judgement. there is more than one right way to do things and if everyone would just recognize and accept that, we’d all be better off.