I mother with my entire body

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To hear natural childbirth advocates and lactivists tell it, the entire story of mothering can be reduced to 3 body parts: uterus, vagina and breasts.

Alisa Quart points out in today’s piece in Salon that she mothers her young daughter with her brain as well.

That got me thinking about how I have mothered my four children over the past 26 years, and seems like I have used just about every part of my body.

Arms: I used my arms a lot, not merely to carry my children, although I carried them quite a bit when they were small. I used my arms primarily to embrace them. Hugs are the appropriate response in times of both happiness and sadness, or for no better reason that to be close. I cannot count the times I hugged my children, and even now, when they are adults, I still do.

Hands: I think I spent 10 solid years holding hands. Holding toddlers’hands when they learned to walk. Holding hands crossing the street and in the parking lot. Holding hands just because it is fun to hold hands.

I also used my hands to sew clothes for my children, to fill out a million permission sheets for field trips, to feel foreheads for temperatures, and to help with a billion school projects (if anyone needs pipe cleaners, I still have hundreds.)

Lips: I kissed my children over and over and over again. I kissed to heal boo-boos. I kissed to check for fevers. I kissed for no better reason than I loved to kiss them. Of course there were years I had to lay off the kissing because public kissing was just too embarrassing for teenagers, but those years are over now, and I can kiss again, at least for greeting.

Legs: I walked miles holding fretful infants in the middle of the night, shopping for clothes and shoes and toys, tramping out to baseball fields, football fields, soccer fields and basketball courts to watch countless youth sports games.

Mouth: I used it to tell my children that I loved them, but I also used to advocate for them, to seek out appropriate evaluation and therapy for learning disabilities, to explain them to teachers and to explain life’s leassons to them.

My entire body: Is there anything that gives comfort like a mother’s body? It provides comfort when you are awake sitting near your children, and even when you are asleep lying in bed next to them in bed after a nightmare.

Brain: I thought about my children constantly, when I was with them and when I was not. I taught them facts and I taught them morals. I worried when they were little; I worried when they were teenagers; and I still worry now. I shared my views on how they should treat others and how they should be proud of themselves (or not, as the case warranted). I conveyed my religious beliefs and my political views. I planned for them; I brainstormed with them; and I hoped desperately that I could give them what they needed to be happy, healthy and to reach their full potential.

Last, but not least, my heart:

Not my physical heart, although it sometimes felt like it when they were hurt or disappointed. I am referring to my metaphorical heart. I loved and I still love my children more than life itself and I have tried to convey that to them. They and their father are the most important people in the universe as far as I am concerned, and it is my deepest wish that they know it and feel it.

Yes, my children grew in my uterus. Yes, they transited my vagina when they were born. Yes, I nourished them with my breasts, but I don’t think that made much difference to who they are and to how I love them. I would gladly have had C-sections if there had been even the slightest chance that they were at risk during birth. I would have happily supplemented with formula if I hadn’t been lucky to produce enough milk. My children don’t remember those days, and frankly, they couldn’t care less.

That’s fine with me. Those body parts are not the ones that I want my children to think of when they think of me. I want them to remember holding hands when they were little, countless hugs and endless kisses. I hope they remember my physical presence beside them when they were sick, next to them in bed when they had bad dreams and in the bleachers or the audience for sports and plays and graduations.

Motherhood is so much more than whether or not your newborn passed through your vagina or whether or not you fed your infant with your breasts. In the grand scheme of motherhood, those body parts are trivial, eclipsed by the rest.

I mother with my entire body. Isn’t that what good mothers do?

  • Sue

    My mother was (still is) unconditionally loving, generous and affectionate. I only found out relatively recently that she breast fed me for only a few weeks, then switched to formula. And guess what? I don’t think the formula neutralised the love, generosity or affection. Or even the home-grown fruits and vegetables. Not even the good genes and healthy habits. Thanks, Mum!

  • violinwidow

    This is beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes. It all comes down to love, and that bridges the method of birth and feeding. This is what matters to a child.

  • Meerkat

    I love this post, thank you, Dr. Amy!
    I remember those moments from my childhood- cuddling with my mother, and how warm, and comforting, and big her body was. She did mother me with her whole body, and I am doing the same with my son.

  • kumquatwriter

    Bofa – I think we might be overlooking the seriously hard-core parenting you just said you were doing – that lovely story that comes up if you look under “oldest”. You’re in the trench and are feeling slighted by the implication that you’re perceived as < Mother.

    I am sorry, and I hope you work out something with Kaito's family so the boys can stay friends.

    I think the thread might be worth revisiting when things aren't as rugged with your parenting – and when everyone else has had a good nights sleep.

    • Sue

      Well said, kumquat.

      I suspect Amy used the female body in the essay because it’s about there being more to parenting than vaginal birth and breast feeding. For a loving father (as Bofa clearly is), that goes without saying.

      But maybe we SHOULD say it: fathers can be fabulous, nurturing, loving parents without having to give birth or breast feed. SO maybe mothers can too! QED.

  • Charlotte

    So, clearly I set some one off here and they’re in other places saying and doing things I don’t care to elaborate on. If I agree to leave here, would you stop that? When online disagreements cross over into real life and start to get scary, that’s when I say, okay, whatever I have to say can never be important enough to put myself or my family at risk.

    • kumquatwriter

      Could you elaborate enough to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about?

    • Certified Hamster Midwife

      Who are you again?

      • Poogles

        IIRC from when this was first posted, it was posted under “Charlotte”. Don’t know if it is showing up as “Guest” now because she “deleted” this comment or if Disqus is just being screwy.

    • Squillo

      The moderator of any forum should be able to see the IP addy of the commenter. If you report comments of someone masquerading as you, the mod should be able to delete them and ban the IP. I know that doesn’t solve the scary bit, but at least it could help resolve the problem of someone impersonating you.

      Sorry this is happening.

  • Amy H

    Here’s the original comment, which we’ve drifted quite a ways from:

    {I would really appreciate if we moved away from “being a mom” to “being a parent.” Yes, women have biological aspects, but, as a father, everything Dr Amy discusses above applies to me just as much.}

    The offensive wording (probably not intent, but wording) is not that we need to include “being a parent” in discussions about NCB. It is that we need to “move away from ‘being a mom.'” That’s what rubbed some of us wrong.

    I am my baby’s Mommy! I do not want to be reduced to being his gestational vessel, if you will, or his source of nourishment. But please do not tell me that it was not meaningful or an act of love for me to feel his kicks for ~7 months, and go to that hospital and risk my life for his birth. Certainly, it does not make me more or less a mom whether I gave birth to him by CS or whether I felt the pain, and certainly, it was a very small risk, but I have NEVER seen statistics on paternal mortality.

    Does my husband love him any less? Is he less a parent? No! I love to watch him nurture our 13mo in the way he does. He loved to watch me snuggle with Baby while he ate. Our son loves us both equally, I do believe. He starts fussing when I show him Daddy’s picture on the phone while he’s at work. But if he’s going to “wrestle” on the bed, he’d rather do it with Daddy. If he’s going to snuggle after getting up sleepy-headed from a nap, he’d rather do it with Mommy.

    Is the division the same in every couple? No. Are adoptive moms still moms? Of course. Can a single dad or mom do a good job? Of course. But telling me I have to downplay my role just because there are exceptions to it does not go over well. I am not going to deny that I enjoyed BF’ing or that it mattered to me (probably more than to my baby) just because I know some moms aren’t in my circumstances. We do not have to reduce being a parent or a mom to the absolute lowest common denominator. The moms who gave birth by CS in a coma and died the next day are doubtless revered by their children. The dads who died in war while their wives were pregnant are still cherished and their memories kept alive. That doesn’t mean that typical parenting is overblown, or that we need to move away from talking about parenting with our entire body.

    The fact is some of us still embrace more or less traditional parenting roles, and we have a right to do so without being told we’re belittling dads.

    • AllieFoyle

      Beautifully said. I feel as though this discussion sometimes goes so far in downplaying the importance of the pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding that it devalues the significance of the love and sacrifice that often accompanies those things, just because they are done exclusively by women.

      • Wren

        I’ve done those things. I don’t devalue them because they are done by women. I don’t devalue them at all. However, two of them (pregnancy and birth) have nothing to do with actually parenting a child. The other, as we have seen over and over, is clearly optional. Good parenting is so much more than pregnancy, pushing out a baby and breastfeeding. Not one of those is even necessary to be a good parent, or even a good mother.
        I’m not arguing that women should downplay what they have done, but when the issue is parenting in all its many forms well beyond pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding there is no reason to exclude men. It can just as easily be referred to as “parenting” as “mothering”. There is no need to parallel the NCB elevation of women as parents to the exclusion of men.

        • prolifefeminist

          “However, two of them (pregnancy and birth) have nothing to do with actually parenting a child.”

          I see it quite differently. During pregnancy I parented my children by protecting them and providing what they needed for them. I protected them by abstaining from alcohol, certain medications, and activities that would harm my growing babies. I provided for their needs by lending them a comfortable home and the nourishment they needed to grow. I played with those little thumping hands and feet, my husband talked to them before they were born (and they seemed to recognize his voice after), and I sang them lullabies.

          For their births, I went to the hospital and embraced the technology available there that kept us both safe. There is no doubt in my mind that I parented my children before they were born and during birth. In fact, a big theme on this very blog is not putting babies at needless risk by deciding to homebirth. Every time a baby dies at HB, we all talk about the senselessness of the death, and wish the mother had made better choices to protect her child from the risks of birth.

          I see parenting as a continuum that begins with pregnancy and ends…? Well, apparently they say it never ends lol. I wholeheartedly agree that pointing at any one particular parenting act, or at any one of the many stages of parenting and saying, “aha! Now THAT is the important one!” is beyond silly. That’s a bit like thinking that the teen years are most important and basically ignoring everything else that comes before them.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    Love this post!

  • melindasue22

    What a great post!

  • Stephanie

    These are my favorite Dr. Amy posts. Well done and most appreciated from one Mom to another.

  • I sing to Andy

    I thought this was very moving.

  • I might even be inclined to argue that how a baby is born and fed are truly decisions (when there is a choice) that rightfully should remain in the mothers’ domain – it is her body that is at stake and if she is a good mother it is fair to assume that she will balance her own interests with those of her child.

    • Wren

      I do agree with that. I would argue that she should consider the wishes of the father when he is involved, or those of any other major caregiver, but ultimately the decision should be hers.

  • MichelleJo

    Ooh, you’re sending me on a guilt trip. Of course you are 100% right about mothering being all encompassing and not down to certain parts or acts. But sometimes it is hard to go down to their level. I have to remind myself when I’m turning one half of the skipping rope, that this is what I get my brownie points for. Same for listening with interest and sympathy to class politics with my 13 year old. Doing these things is *way* harder than breastfeeding, slinging and all the other ‘essential’ bits of mothering. But it’s the tough things that children want and need, and true mothering is tuning into your children and giving them what *they* need, and not what makes you feel good.

  • I don’t have a creative name
    • Clarissa Darling

      I find it hard to believe that the doctor recommended she do
      a UC. What she probably means is the doctor got fed up and said “well, the only other option is to have the baby at home unassisted!” I know there are some pretty woo filled doctors out there but, why would someone even bother practicing obstetrics if they are just going to advise their patients to go it alone? It doesn’t make any sense……

      • Tim

        By “Doctor” she meant the guy next door with a D.Eng who was distracted and thought she was asking about building her own PC. That’s the scenario in my head

      • Dr Kitty

        From reading, it sounds as if the “last hope” doctor will face sanctions if he attends VBACs, so has advised the patient that she cannot have a VBAC in hospital under his care, leaving her no other option but UC if she is adamantly against ERCS.

        I’m not entirely sure that is the same as “recommending” UC.

    • AmyP

      She wants to try an unattended home birth after three c-sections! Wow. She says her husband’s an EMT, but still.

  • yentavegan

    OT Dr. Amy, are you going to talk about the induced birth-aspergers link . its been all over the news today. I have a gut feeling that the link is casual not causal.

  • This must be the warm-fuzziest thing you’ve ever written! 🙂

  • Dragonfly

    This is lovely, Amy!

  • Guest09

    This is beautiful Dr. A! You have some lucky kiddos.

  • yentavegan

    Thank you for this beautiful essay. you reminded me of the transitions made as a mother. I love using my whole body to raise and respond to my children. I am now delegated to being a more listening less talking type of mom. Its hard but it is the kind of change adult children require.

  • ersmom

    My little guy while snuggling with me a few months back (and I quote): Mothers are made of kisses and snuggles!

  • Hava NaturalMama

    I love this post! It’s a positive post that encourages mothers to look at the big picture of motherhood.

  • Wren

    My baby turned 6 last week. I am trying to remember why I got so worked up over all of the baby stuff NCB pushes. They are babies for such a short time. Get them through that period healthy and secure and then the real trials of parenting start.

  • wookie130

    I honestly think this is the best entry on this entire blog…and it just couldn’t be more true. What the REST of our bodies do to parent our kids is really what matters in the grand scheme of their lives. Thank you Dr. Amy for this…it really touched me.

  • LovleAnjel

    I am not doing this to be pregnant, I am not doing this to give birth, I am not doing this to breastfeed. I am doing this to have a child.

    • OttawaAlison

      I know, eh! Looking back sure I wanted to be a good mom, but I got so lost in the minutiae of it al, that what I wanted most was to raise a child.

    • auntbea

      You know, that’s what I thought, and then I got a screaming newborn, and suddenly realized just how pleasant being pregnant can be.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        If there were a way to keep ’em in there until they learn how to modulate their voices (when is that, age 25?) I would get pregnant tomorrow.

        • S

          Ouch! I hope you’re planning a C-section. =)

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            Maybe I should look into surrogacy.

    • Sue

      ”I am not doing this to be pregnant, I am not doing this to give birth, I am not doing this to breastfeed. I am doing this to have a child.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • Elle

    I love this! Take that, biological essentialism!

  • Are you nuts

    Beautiful piece!! So many things come to mind when I think of my mother. Her method of delivering me is not one of them.

    • Zornorph

      I assume I was breast fed, but I don’t know for sure. Never cared enough to ask. I know my mum didn’t have a C-section, but can’t imagine caring if she had any drugs or how she delivered me, though I know it was in a hospital. It was all the things she did that defined her as a mother and a woman, not how she gave birth to me.

      • Jennifer2

        NCBers would probably be appalled at the story of my birth. My mom went into labor 11 days after her due date, I ended up being born by c-section with general anesthesia. She tells how she kept waking up in recovery, asking the nurse what she had, being told “a healthy little girl,” responding “oh, that’s nice, a girl,” and passing back out. She also planned to formula feed from the start because she was going to go back to work and thought it would be unfair to me to switch me to the bottle later on. She tells the story about the recovery room like it was funny. And I never thought it was anything but funny until I started reading all the NCB propaganda and thought how horrible it must have been for her not to see or hold me right away and to be so out of it she didn’t even remember the nurse had told her I was a girl. Except I think it really wasn’t that horrible and was just how things went.

        • Zornorph

          And I suppose they washed the ‘birthy smells’ off of you, too. How on earth did you ever bond with her?

        • Lizzie Dee

          My experience was much like your mothers – except I was 35 weeks, and my daughter had pneumonia (and a few other things.) I remember hearing clearly everything that was said to me, and making complicated responses in my head, but couldn’t be bothered making words. I also thought I was still pregnant and had to do it again, while accepting I had a real daughter…somewhere. It wasn’t horrible,it was weirdly interesting. But then I hadn’t been expecting some blissful, defining experience and did regard it as how things went. I remember my husband making some reference to “next time”, and thinking “Are you mad? I am not doing this again – you can have the next one.”

          Made sure I had an epi for the second, though! Which was delightful. The different experiences had zero effect on bonding. I too loved both of them with everything I had.

          • Lizzie Dee

            to continue: I did love to tell my second daughter what a positive experience her birth was. How I learned about the kindness of strangers, their keenness to get this baby out, the atmosphere of care and concern and delight in her appearance (I didn’t put it in those terms – but I did tell her how positive it all was.) She never seemed all that interested. NCB likes to imply that a positive experience makes some profound difference to the way you feel about your child – well, sample of one, but it didn’t. The bond when you come through horrible together and come close to losing your child is also pretty powerful!

            I did come out believing that every woman should get the kind of care I got the second time.

  • Karen in SC

    As one of the older mothers who posts here, I agree! You do parent with your entire being, and it begins with pregnancy and continues to infinity and beyond.

    Those first year challenges become potty training challenges become elementary school challenges. On to learning to drive, dating, college. You get the idea!

  • amazonmom

    My daughter and I went through so many challenges during her infancy that I often get condolences from the NCB nuts. They think we missed out on something that I can’t get back. I like to tell them I was “bonded” to her the second I knew I was pregnant, that I fought through hell to survive and be with her. We went through hell and back together. How she was born, what she ate, and how I carried her around had nothing to do with the relationship we have now.

    • Tim

      I tell people I never had to resent my daughter for waking us up 20 times a night because we had the world’s most expensive childcare dealing with that challenging first month. 🙂

      • Charlotte

        As much as that month in the NICU sucked, I never went without a good night’s sleep.

    • Antigonos CNM

      It became possible to determine the sex of a fetus with ultrasound when I was pregnant with #3. With my first, and second children I had a very definite [but irrational] sense that they were a boy and a girl very early, but with my third, I felt it was a fish until I was told it was a girl. I then proceeded to have fantastic intrauterine conversations with Naomi until she was born. [We’ve had some pretty fantastic conversations since then, too]

  • I was up all night with my teething baby and my bad-dreaming toddler. It was just one of those bad nights when mommy was on duty all night and barely got a wink of sleep. This was just what I needed. Loved this so, so much.

  • FormerPhysicist

    I LOVE this so much!

  • prolifefeminist

    “Those body parts are not the ones that I want my children to think of when they think of me.”

    Perfectly said, Dr. Amy! More than anything, I want my children to feel and remember my love for them. And that love can be expressed in so many, many ways- ways that are universal to human beings who are helping and caring for each other.

    I’m reminded of Mother Theresa, who spent her life showing her love for the poorest of the poor. Or my friend with MS – being confined to a wheelchair changes the way he shows his kids and wife his love – it doesn’t diminish it. Love is a choice that often is accompanied by feelings. Love is an action, a thing you DO, not simply a thing you feel – and it is not to be confused with “bonding.” Love also knows no boundaries. No c-section, no breastfeeding failure, no lack of immediate skin to skin, and no adoption can stand in the way of the choice we make to love. Mothers need to know this, and stop feeling guilty or inadequate if they find that they don’t measure up to someone else’s purported ideal.

  • Esther

    Very good post – you’ve just clarified to me what bugs me so much about LLL’s slogan “mothering at the breast”.

  • slandy09

    This is very beautiful. I really needed this. Thank you.

  • kumquatwriter

    This is so beautiful that I got a little choked up.

  • EB151

    My babies were born by c-section, and you can totally tell. Just today the littlest one rubbed my hair and said, “You’re pretty, Mommy” before she kissed me! Poor thing, overcompensating.

    My eleven year-old wrote me a note from camp, telling me what a great time she’s having and thanking me for all the work I did to send her there. I’m sure she is happy and adjusted at camp because living with a mother whose vagina she did not come out of is a living hell. On her wedding day, I bet she turns to me and says, “It all would have been so much better if you’d just tried the vaginal delivery, Mom.”

  • Mom2Many

    Careful Dr. Amy…your evil, scourge of the internet image gets cracks in it every time you write pieces like this! 😀

    • Sue

      True – “Dr” Amy risks losing her hater status with posts like this.

  • Antigonos CNM

    My three children are very close in age, and when they were babies and toddlers I was also extremely occupied in other ways — I had to get over my mother’s passing, we built a house, and I was working. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of memories of those years; I was in a fog of exhaustion a good deal of the time. My now-adult children assure me I used to play with them a good deal, but I really don’t remember doing so.

    Right now I am running “Savta’s [Grandma’s] Summer Camp” for my 2-and-a-bit year old granddaughter because all forms of childcare here take their vacations in August, and my daughter doesn’t feel right taking leave — she works in a family business and they need her.

    I’m having the time of my life. Shir and I water the garden, make cookies, play in the kiddie pool in the back yard, draw and paint, sing along with an Israeli TV channel which is non-stop children’s songs and stories. The sensation I have every morning when my daughter drops her off and she flings herself into my arms “Savta!!!” is priceless. Children are so open with their feelings; when they love they love with everything they have. It’s a mechiah. So yes, what they say about being a GRANDPARENT, is true — you never really stop being a parent.

    • KarenJJ

      My 2 and a bit year old son spent the day with Granny today (his daycare is also closed at the moment) and had a blast. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as they lived far away so I’m grateful that my kids are now getting that opportunity.

      • Sue

        I missed out on all my grandparents (all in another country, now long dead) – but LOVE the relationship my daughter has with my mother (her Nonna). And she’s an awesome Nonna!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I would really appreciate if we moved away from “being a mom” to “being a parent.” Yes, women have biological aspects, but, as a father, everything Dr Amy discusses above applies to me just as much.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      And it applies to my husband just as much as it does to me, but I thought it was more powerful to write about myself.

    • GuestB

      But then the whole “I’m more than my body parts” aspect doesn’t work as well. Although I totally agree – all the rest applies to both parents.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        But that’s the whole point. Parenting does apply both parents. When you reduce it to body parts, that excludes fathers.

        • AllieFoyle

          But unfortunately, biology has already reduced some aspects of it to gender-specific body parts. Believe me, I would have been thrilled with a little more equity there, but nature didn’t much care for my preferences. It feels to me that you’re demanding, in the spirit of parenting equality, that we ignore those aspects of biology because they don’t apply to you and therefore are uninteresting or irrelevant to your own interests.

    • prolifefeminist

      It’s written this way because there isn’t a movement out there telling men that they’re only good dads if they biologically fathered their children by an act of natural intercourse.

      Can you imagine a movement out there actively encouraging men to feel like their penises are “broken” if their sperm count is low? Telling adoptive dads that they’ll never be able to properly bond because they didn’t conceive the child themselves? Telling military dads who were deployed during their child’s birth or when their kids were young that they’re less than ideal dads because they didn’t quit their careers to stay home?

      Come to think of it, that would be a good parody of NCB…

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yes, I CAN imagine it!

        More to the point, there is no better counter-argument to the body parts claims than to note that fathers can be just as good as parents as mothers. How better to say that body parts don’t matter than to say that it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female?

        Note that the mom > dad is implicit in the body part message.

        • prolifefeminist

          Ok, I can imagine it too – but there isn’t a widespread movement out there actively encouraging men to think this way…is there? If there is, I missed it. I’m not talking men feeling inadequate, etc because of infertility or whatnot – I’m talking a whole movement publishing books, trying to make laws, teaching classes, etc to make men feel inferior if they can’t or don’t biologically father a child and give up their careers to stay home and parent.

          BTW, I totally get your argument that fathers can be just as good parents as mothers. I wouldn’t say though that body parts “don’t matter” – but I absolutely agree that none are better than others and they are absolutely interchangeable…ie, I can show this “thing” (love) with my arms (hug) just as well as with my lips (kiss or kind word) just as well as with my legs (running around in a game of tag with my 7 yr old). I can show my love for my infant by nursing him with my breasts just as well as I can show it with my hands and a bottle (or my husband can show it this way). So I wouldn’t say that body parts don’t matter, but that they are among many different tools we use to convey love. Make sense?

          Anyway, I think your perspective is a good one and so is Dr. Amy’s – and there’s a place for both.

          • Wren

            There doesn’t have to be a widespread movement telling men they are inadequate as parents. It’s all over the mainstream culture. Turn on just about any sitcom to see it. Open any parenting magazine and compare the number of references to moms to those to dads. Just look at ads for baby and childcare products. It’s all about the mom, and biology plays a role there. NCB takes that part of mainstream culture and makes it more extreme. Yes, plenty of NCB moms want a father around but the role of the father is nowhere near as important to the baby as that of the mother as far as bonding goes. In fact, bonding between the father and child is largely ignored, since it clearly cannot be based on method of childbirth or breastfeeding. Women are told they must do these things to bond. This comes with the implied idea that men cannot bond with their child. This issue can be just as damaging to the men who buy into all of it, or whose wives do, as to the women. And that doesn’t even begin to go into the damage NCB and attachment parenting practices can cause to a marriage.

          • prolifefeminist

            This is very true, Wren. I hadn’t thought of this specific topic (NCB/etc) in connection with the mainstream belittling of fatherhood. You make some very good points here.

        • yentavegan

          My husband is the better parent. The kids adore him more and that is fine with me.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        It’s written this way because there isn’t a movement out there telling men that they’re only good dads if they biologically fathered their children by an act of natural intercourse.

        As I imply below, it’s worse. This movement that you talk about who says that moms are only good moms if because of their woman parts is telling men that they CAN’T BE as good of parents as moms EVER!!!!!

        By definition, they marginalize men as parents. Not just men who made the “wrong choice,” but men, by virtue of their biology.

        • prolifefeminist

          Hm. This is interesting. I think I understand your point. I hadn’t thought of it that way in this context; I think I’m so focused on trying to deconstruct the idea that mothers can only show love with their uteri/vaginas/breasts that I hadn’t stepped back to see the bigger picture.

          Do you think that the NCB movement *as a whole* implies that men are lesser parents because of their biology? Or is it more segments of NCB that seem to be that way? I ask because I definitely have seen elements of NCB where the men are cast aside and seen only as a source of income so the woman can AP, but I’m not sure how widespread that idea is. It seems like it’s confined mostly to the fringe element of NCB, whereas the more “mainstream” NCB’ers still value a paternal role, although they see it as inherently different because of different physical makeup (unique but equal).

          As I see it, the bottom line is, men and women have some different body parts. Since we use our bodies to show love, men and women do show it slightly differently – but that should not be a problem! Because as I said before, one body part is not better than another. A woman’s breasts aren’t any “better” than a man’s hands, for example. It’s a fact that they are different – the mistake is to put more value on one than on another, and then declare that the owner of that body part is a better parent. That’s just stupid.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Do you think that the NCB movement *as a whole* implies that men are lesser parents because of their biology?

            It involves anyone who thinks that “parenting” is an issue of biology, but the most flagrant are the “bonders.” Those who claim that mothers can’t properly bond with their baby if they don’t breastfeed, for example, are not just talking about moms. They are talking about all those who don’t breastfeed, including fathers and adoptive parents.

            Since we use our bodies to show love, men and women do show it slightly differently

            In what way? I hug my kids, I kiss my kids all the time, I cuddle with them, play with them, etc. How do I use my body to show love _for my kids_ any differently from anyone else? No I don’t breastfeed, but my wife hasn’t done so since my kids were less than a year old, either (and, besides, how is breastfeeding any more an expression of love than bottle feeding?), so that’s a difference.

            I don’t see any inherent differences between men and women in parenting.

          • prolifefeminist

            “how is breastfeeding any more an expression of love than bottle feeding?”

            You’re completely missing my point – it’s NOT. Why are you even comparing the two? It isn’t a competition.

            Breastfeeding isn’t any “MORE” an expression of love than bottlefeeding, it’s just ONE way to express love. Men don’t have breasts to feed with? No problem! Feeding with a bottle is just as loving. As I said several times, ALL ways of expressing love are equal. There is no “I’m a fit healthy parent so I’m inherently a better parent than the one in a wheelchair.” Is there a physical difference between my Dad friend with MS and my Dad friend without? Sure is. Does that make one a better dad than the other? Nope!

            You cannot escape the biological fact that men and women have physical differences. The problem begins when you assign “better than” to one physical attribute over the other (and the logical fallacy that follows is that one sex is better than the other – a notion we both disagree with).

            In other words, we don’t have to be exactly the same to be equal. Differences are fine. Discrimination due to differences is not.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            You’re completely missing my point – it’s NOT. Why are you even comparing the two?

            Because I am trying to figure out the basis for your claim that because men and women are biologically different, they use their bodies to show love in different ways. Therefore, I considered one example of a biological difference, the ability to breastfeed. I’m glad you agree that this isn’t example of different ways of using bodies to express love.

            So what are these biological differences that affect how men and women use our bodies to express love? I’ll avoid putting words in your mouth, but I’m really having a hard time coming up with anything that isn’t pretty sexist.

          • prolifefeminist

            Using your example of breastfeeding…

            Q: Is feeding a child an act of love?

            A: Yes

            Q: Does it matter how you feed said child? (breast/bottle)
            A: No

            Therefore, does it matter if women have breasts (and some use them for feeding) and men do not? No, it does not matter. What matters is that you use SOMETHING to feed your child and thus show him/her love. Different tools to achieve the same result – showing love to your child by feeding him or her.

            I fail to see how acknowledging biological differences between sexes is sexist. The point of equality isn’t to pretend everyone is exactly the same, it’s to quit pretending that one sex (or race, religion, sexual orientation, etc…) is better or more valuable than another. The point is not to assign some superiority over one attribute over another – not to pretend those attributes don’t exist.

            The same example could be made of pregnancy. Is carrying a child and giving birth an act of love? Sure it is. Are men inferior parents because they don’t gestate and give birth? Of course not. Only if you are assigning MORE value over that act of love than say, the act of love that a supportive partner gives during a pregnancy, could you say that. The alternative isn’t to pretend that the pregnant parent’s loving act is expressed the exact same way as the non-pregnant parent’s loving act. They are different but utterly equal because LOVE (no matter what form it comes in) is equal. Period.

            Again, there are a million different ways to show love for another person. The point of Dr Amy’s post today is that breastfeeding/gestating etc are just a few of ways among MANY. Not a single one of them is superior to another. Love is love. Doesn’t matter what “tools” you use to express it. I have breasts, my husband doesn’t. Big whoop. He has more patience than I do. Who cares – we both love our kids with what we have. And yes, some of those tools are a little different for men and women. Why does it matter if the tools (our bodies) are slightly different? It doesn’t make me sexist to celebrate those differences without needing to elevate one over another. I don’t need to erase our differences to see that we are all equal.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I fail to see how acknowledging biological differences between sexes is sexist.

            Acknowledging “biological differences” is not sexist. However, you didn’t just do that. You claimed that the biological differences created differences in how we use our bodies to express our love for our children.

            You have not provided any justification for that.

          • prolifefeminist

            Ok, question for you:

            Did I use my body to express love for my child during pregnancy and birth?

            Don’t assign a value to that, just please answer if I used my body as an act of love for my child by gestating him and giving birth or not.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            You think gestating a child is an act of love?

            Creating a child, wanting that child, absolutely. Willingly agreeing to be the gestation vessel, sure. But just being the gestation vessel? Not really.

          • prolifefeminist

            Christ, what a disgusting comment this is. Way to belittle the selfless effort that goes into sharing your body with another being for nine months and undergoing all the physical changes pregnancy and birth bring.

            Personal anecdote. My third child was a very unwanted pregnancy (although a very much wanted and loved child). I did NOT want to be pregnant and made a lot of sacrifices to give birth to him so he could have a life to enjoy. To reduce that to simply agreeing to be a “gestational vessel” and no more is pretty revolting.

            I see now where you’re going with this. Men can’t gestate/give birth/breastfeed, so therefore you’ve declared that those things aren’t very important or aren’t even loving acts. The epitome of anti-feminism – take anything that’s uniquely feminine and belittle it. I think I’m done debating you!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            So you ARE a biological essentialist?

          • prolifefeminist

            Haha nice try bofa.

            You need to go look up the actual definition of biological essentialism before going around flinging labels at people.

            Believing that people use their bodies to express love in a physical way is not biological essentialism, not by a long shot.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Bofa, don’t you think you’re being a bit obtuse about this. You know what I meant and you know what the other commenters mean. Why are you trying to drag this off topic?

          • Wren

            I don’t think it is off topic. Everything you listed, excluding the pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, is something a father can do just as well as a mother. That is parenting, not specifically mothering. The NCBers have to differentiate between parenting and mothering in order to make the biological issues the important ones. We don’t need to, do we?

          • AllieFoyle

            So, everything except pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding? Um, those issues are central to almost every post on this site. I would never argue that they are the most important aspects of parenting, or that people of either gender can’t be wonderful parents if those things don’t specifically apply to them, but it seems absurd to downplay the importance of them on this particular blog. If this were a more general parenting blog and Dr. Amy was leaving men out of the conversation and addressing only women or something, then sure, ok, but Bofa seems to be objecting to even mentioning the gender-specific aspects because they don’t matter to him.

          • Wren

            But the point if this post is that those things are not central to mothering. Breast feeding is definitely not essential. Pregnancy and giving birth are, due to basic biology (someone has to carry the baby and give birth, though that someone does not have to be a part if raising the child) but doing it in a particular way is not better for bonding as long as everyone comes through safely.

            The whole point of this particular post was that those gender specific things really don’t matter, yet you argue only one gender should be considered?

          • AllieFoyle

            No, I didn’t argue that only one gender should be considered. Nor did anyone else that I’ve noticed. Parenting encompasses many things, including some that are more biologically determined. It’s not more fair or progressive somehow to ignore those aspects, particularly on a blog that is largely focused on the issues relating to pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.

            I also don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say, because some issues don’t specifically apply to one gender and one can be a complete and good parent without doing those things, that those issues don’t matter. Pregnancy and childbirth do matter profoundly in some ways, and the decision to breastfeed or not of for how long and with what effect on career and family finances is a pressing one for many women. Discussing things that disproportionately affect women from the POV of a woman is not keeping men out of the conversation.

            I agree 100% that in most cases mode of birth and breastfeeding are very minor issues in determining how well a child turns out. Being a good parent is much more than any of those things, but biology isn’t much of a feminist and those issues disproportionately affect women. It simply isn’t fair to ignore that aspect or devalue the sacrifices that women often make in the interests of their children because those things might be less interesting to men.

          • Wren

            “Might be less interesting to men”? Who has made that the issue?

            Pregnancy and childbirth can both take place outside the realm of parenting, or mothering. Ask any adoptive parent of either gender. As for breast feeding, I think this blog has a long history of pointing out that breast feeding is not a necessity for mothering.

            I am in no way arguing that this blog should only discuss parenting issues as they affect both genders, but that this particular post has no reason to exclude fathers. This post was on all of the other body parts, parts which are not sex specific, which are used in mothering. There really is no reason to exclude men from the topic itself as the point was that parenting is so much more than female body parts. Men are, and should be, largely side lined for discussions of pregnancy, childbirth and even breast feeding. Those issues are issues which primarily concern women. I don’t see Bofa posting “what about the men?” on those threads. He does discuss the effects on fathers, their role in supporting and helping to make decisions but I do not see that as making it all about men. Nothing emphasised in this particular post needs to be woman-specific, so why exclude fathers? Is that really any different to the NCBers who essentially ignore fathers as far as bonding and early childcare?

          • prolifefeminist

            “this particular post has no reason to exclude fathers.”

            I can think of one reason – style. Dr. Amy said she thought it would have more impact coming from her personal POV, even though she could’ve said the same things from her husband’s POV. It’s her blog – she can write however she wants.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the major purposes of this blog is to educate and persuade those with a NCB mindset, is it not? With that in mind, I think Dr. Amy made an intelligent, calculated decision to write this from a woman’s POV. The vast majority of NCB’ers are women. This post meets them right where they are and hopefully gets them thinking. I mean, that’s the goal, right?

            Dr. Amy’s decision to speak from her personal POV doesn’t mean that fathers aren’t important. It’s perfectly ok to focus in on one thing at a time – it’s a very effective way to reach the masses and drive home a point.

            And who knows – maybe this blog post was only part one! Perhaps there will be a part two that will expand upon it and be written from a broader perspective.

          • Wren

            I’m sorry. I meant the comments on this post had no reason to exclude fathers. Dr Amy can write from whatever perspective she likes and I do think that it was a good decision stylistically. It’s the reaction of many regular commenters here to Bofa’s request that fathers be included too that bothers me. The rejection of his point as “what about the menz?” is just as dismissive of the father as what I’ve seen over and over again on NCB sites. The focus being moved from the whole post to those body parts Dr Amy herself described as trivial in the grand scheme of motherhood in order to not include fathers in this has been hard to distinguish from the same focus on those body parts seen in NCBers.

          • prolifefeminist

            See, what got me going on this topic is singling out any of the ways we sacrifice for and express love for our kids and calling them trivial. I don’t see the need to rank, if you will, the sacrifices that parents make for their kids – and that goes both ways. The NCB crowd elevates pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding onto a pedestal, which we both agree is absurd. On the other hand, I think it’s absurd to trivialize pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, as if they are don’t matter at all.

            IMO, reducing pregnancy to “being a gestational vessel” denies the dignity of the human person – it reduces a woman to a body part (“a gestational vessel”) just as much as NCB reduces a woman into body parts and their functions. In order to elevate pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding, you first have to focus in on those acts and assign inordinate value to them…and on the flip side, in order to trivialize pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding, you again have to first focus in on those acts and then remove value from them. My point is, I don’t think that zeroing in on those acts and then either assigning value or stripping it away is a good idea. And that goes for men as well as women. People are not collections of body parts, and philosophically dissecting them as if they are contradicts their dignity as human beings.

            IMO. 🙂

          • Wren

            But this particular post was about all of the other ways in which we as women can and do parent our children. My daughter, at 6, has some memories of breastfeed info or so she claims. It is possible as she stopped just before turning 3. My son, on the other hand, has no memories of pregnancy, birth or breast feeding (or formula for that matter). His memories of me as a mother will not include any of those and therefore his opinion of me as a mother should not be based on any of those things.

            I spent 9 months with morning sickness with each child. I dropped out of uni after having finally gone back when I was out on bed rest with my first. Pregnancy was not an easy thing for me and I get the idea of it as a sacrifice. However, I can separate pregnancy and childbirth from parenting, probably because I have a number of friends and family members who adopted. For them, parenting hasn’t begun with pregnancy or birth but with taking on a child after birth, in some cases many years after birth. Their mothering is just as good as, and in many cases better than my own even though it did not include any of these areas NCBers consider so important.

            Again, the topic of this post was mothering in all it’s various forms other than those NCBers consider so important. There is no reason the comments need exclude a father who can do every one of those things.

          • prolifefeminist

            But parenting isn’t all about what your child remembers. If it were, we could do whatever we wanted until around age three or so, and then hunker down and get good at it.

            I think parenting starts when your child comes into your life. For some families, like my good friend and neighbor, it’s when you adopt a sweet ten year old little girl out of the foster care system. For some parents, it’s when they get that positive HPT and skip the glass of wine they were planning to have with dinner. For others, it’s the first time they see their little 10 weeker sucking his thumb on the ultrasound screen and realize “oh wow – I’m really a mom/dad!.” For others, it’s when they first hold their baby in their arms and realize they’re responsible for a whole new little person.

            It’s different for everyone, and my experience of parenting (meaning loving and protecting) during pregnancy is just as valid as my friend’s experience of parenting beginning with their adoption. I don’t suppose to dictate when her experience of parenting began, and she doesn’t dictate when mine began either.

            Wren, this has been an interesting, thought-provoking debate. I love that for the most part, posters here hear each other out and respectfully debate their differences. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on a few things, but I thank you for the very interesting conversation. 🙂

          • AllieFoyle

            If she is a biological essentialist, you are a biological denier. Much as I would wish otherwise, the biology of gender differences is real and does affect the experience of parenting. Unfortunately, a man will never be in the position of experiencing the physical realities (risks, changes, discomfort, etc.) of carrying a child for nine months, or giving birth to it. The same with breastfeeding. He may be in favor of it or feel that it’s a waste of time, but either way, it’s a responsibility that will never fall on his shoulders the way it does on a woman. What is this blog about if not those issues and the context surrounding them? Demanding that to be truly progressive we have to deny the physical reality, sacrifice, and choices that women must make is absurd.

            Equating ejaculation with carrying a child for nine months, giving birth, or breastfeeding (or choosing not to, or not being able to, etc.) is flat out offensive.

            There are many aspects of parenting that can be undertaken equally by parents of either gender, but you can’t simply sweep the implications of biology under the rug. They obviously matter little to you, Bofa, but that doesn’t make them unimportant.

          • Amy H

            You definitely said it better than I was able to.

          • Wren

            I think that is totally unfair given Bofa’s long history of commenting here. You and he seem to be discussing slightly different issues here. Hs concern, as I see it, is about this particular post, in which mothering and parenting could be used interchangeably with regards to the long list of non-sex specific body parts Dr Amy used in raising her children. Your concern seems to be the blog as a whole. When the actual topic is pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding, yes of course gender matters. When the topic is parenting using body parts outside of those which are specifically female, why does gender matter?

          • AllieFoyle

            He’s objecting to Dr. Amy writing about her experience from the perspective of a mother instead of something more gender-neutral. If you could equalize the experience and burden of childbearing and rearing, then I’d be first in line, but until that becomes a reality, the experience of being a mother is still distinct, valid, and valuable. It’s one thing to discuss the value of breastfeeding and childbirth methods and conclude that they are less important than some would have us believe, but it’s going too far to insist that the only aspects of parenting that matter are the gender-neutral ones.

            I know Bofa is well-liked. I sometimes agree with him. But it is beyond offensive to compare ejaculation to the physical sacrifice that women undergo during pregnancy and childbirth–dismissing the medical, emotional, and physical burdens that can go along with that as merely “being a gestational vessel.” It’s also offensive to be told that the only aspects of parenting that are significant and worth discussing are the ones that also relate to men–as if the entire pregnancy, birth, post-partum recovery, breastfeeding struggles and choices, and gender-based social expectations are completely irrelevant because they don’t apply to everyone.

            It would be interesting to have a discussion about how NCB marginalizes men’s roles as parents, absolutely, but there’s no reason that people cannot discuss issues that affect women from a woman’s POV.

            I’m reminded of the time posters were sharing deeply personal and upsetting experiences of pelvic floor damage and he posted something completely tone-deaf about how turned on he was by his wife doing kegels or something. Missing the point and offensive to boot!

          • Amy H

            This. I missed reading it the first time around, somehow. I love “distinct, valid, and valuable.”

            To me, the ones making it a “zero-sum game” are the ones insisting that we can’t/shouldn’t make a distinction between “mothering” and “parenting.” That means that “fathering” can’t be distinct, valid, or valuable either.

          • PJ

            I’m not sure why you’re so offended by what Bofa said. Women get pregnant unintentionally all the time; some women get pregnant for reasons other than wanting a loved child; children can be unwanted and unloved. Some women do things that can and do hurt their unborn children because they don’t care about how it will affect them. Just continuing a pregnancy isn’t an act of love in itself.

            Bofa isn’t belittling your sacrifice in giving birth to your child, either–I’m really not sure how you’ve concluded that.

          • prolifefeminist

            I found what he said offensive, in part because I just spent the first half of my day today working with pregnant and parenting teens, who I can guarantee would agree that bringing their children into the world was done as an act of love. I think anytime someone makes a sacrifice *for the good of another*, that is love.

            “Just continuing a pregnancy isn’t an act of love in itself.”

            I heartily disagree with this. Speaking in general terms, continuing a pregnancy is a sacrifice made for sake of another person so that he or she will have a life. I believe life is a gift. I suppose if you disagree with that, you wouldn’t consider continuing a pregnancy an act of love.

            Another thing – of course women get pregnant unintentionally all the time, or for reasons other than for the good of the child. I never claimed that ALL pregnancies are a physical expression of love towards the child – obviously that’s not the case. That does not diminish the fact that it is NEVER an act of love.

            Just as sex can be a physical expression of love for another person, or a physical expression of hatred and violence (rape), it’s the intention behind it that makes it an act of love (or not).

          • theNormalDistribution

            I think you’re being deliberately obtuse. Re-read what Bofa said. I think you’ll find that he doesn’t disagree with you.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            So here’s my question for you:

            Do you think that ejaculate my sperm in my wife’s vagina was an act of love for my child?

            You have argued that, because of our physical differences,we have different means to express our love differently, but neither is better. But if “gestating a child” is an act of love that only women can do, what are those acts that only mean can do at are “different but equal” expressions?

          • prolifefeminist

            Yes, I do think that intentionally creating a child is an act of love. You yourself just said below that “Creating a child, wanting that child, absolutely” is an act of love. Wanting to create a new person and then taking steps to give that person life is an incredible act of love. What else would you call it?

            ANY time you welcome another person, whether it be into life, into your arms, into your heart, or all three, is an act of love.

            You’re arguing in circles, bofa.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I just to make sure I am clear on the claim. So we are all in agreement that, when ProLifeFeminist claims that we use our bodies in different ways to express our love, she is talking about things like, the biological act of how babies are made?

            The problem, Stacey, is that if you think that “ejaculation” is an expression of love because it constitutes “creating a baby”, then PLF is left again having to defend “equal but different”

            I don’t consider biological function to be an act of love. But that is where you are going with this.

          • Sue

            ” How do I use my body to show love _for my kids_ any differently from anyone else?”

            I thought that was the whole point of the post. Except that Amy DID do that female-biological stuff, but doesn’t see it as the key to good parenting.

            I suspect you are in furious agreement.

          • tim

            The culture seems to provoke a very old-school misogynistic way of thinking when it comes to parenting. Acting like the only thing that matters is motherchild bond more than anything else, but also dedicating the entire birthing class to the idea that the husband is the only thing that can keep the woman sane and calm enough to resist pain medicine. It’s very “long for the good old days of americana”-ish

          • prolifefeminist

            “dedicating the entire birthing class to the idea that the husband is the only thing that can keep the woman sane and calm enough to resist pain medicine.”

            This is what bugs the hell outta me about (in particular) the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Childbirth. Ugh. I don’t need to be “coached”. Supported, sure, but not coached like I’m a quarterback on stage at the Superbowl.

          • tim

            I kept referring to myself as Craig T Nelson throughout the class. It was very difficult to take seriously.

          • Isilzha

            I don’t know how people could sit through an entire class like that with a straight face.

          • Tim

            That part was easier to deal with than trying to make people understand that the word “Radiation” is not a synonym for “Nuclear” , and that Ultrasound Radiation doesn’t have anything to do with Nuclear/Ionizing Radiation. It’s a difficult life to be an engineer in a room full of people who are trading fears about ultrasounds on that basis.
            Also that novocaine/lidocaine/other sodium channel blockers are not “cocaine derivatives” which is part of the fear mongering used against epidurals, anesthesia for episiotomies, and even for having a damn tear stiched up AFTER THE FACT.

          • Box of Salt

            “Nuclear/Ionizing Radiation”
            120 nm. Ultraviolet.
            I’ve done the math.

          • Tim

            This is one of those times I wish the internet had joke-tuation marks. Is this supposed to be something someone who skimmed over a physics textbook in my bradley class would have said, or are you suggesting they do PES of pregnant women’s abdomens now? 🙂

          • stacey

            I DO think NCBers tend to see moms as the necessary, most vital, nurturer, the most important bond.

            I do not see the liberal ones saying men cannot or do not nurture, just that the mom must do the things that make the initial bond (BF, babywear, NCB, etc.) Most of the IRL ones I know value the male as a parent too.

            On the right wing side, they do see the roles as totally different, but do not think men are inferior, just different.

            (and here we are, talking about how this effects MEN. Just as expected.)

          • fiftyfifty1

            Here’s the thing though-since most parents are a heterosexual couple, what affects the man affects the woman too. This is true in a way that is not the case for something like FGM/circ or rape of women/prison rape. If some guy gets raped in prison, that is sad etc, but it doesn’t make ME more likely to get raped. But if we exclude men from being a full parenting partner with statements like “Is there anything that gives comfort like a mother’s body? ” (barf!) then we as women get screwed. Baby crying in the middle of the night? Tough luck sister, you’ll be the one getting up to comfort it!

        • stacey

          It is not about MEN. It is a direct response to NCB claims about WOMENS body parts.

          I know you mean well. I just get really tired when men that want the focus be put on their issues, when a womans issue is the actual topic of the convo.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            It is not about MEN.

            Yes, it is about MEN, TOO. Biological essentialism harms all of us, Stacey. Men. Women. Adoptive parents. ALL OF US parents are harmed by it. It’s not a women’s issue, it is a parenting issue.

          • stacey

            You are missing my point completely.

            I never said it wasn’t a valid concern, just like prison rape is a very valid topic to discuss. OF COURSE biological essentialism hurts everyone. But the post wasn’t directed towards everyone, it was written about a womans experience, in regards to a movement that is all about womens bodies.

            I do not expect you to get it. And I am not going to keep on talking about it because that totally defeats the purpose of my bringing it up in the first place!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Again, it’s seems really bizarre to me that your approach to fighting the problem of biological essentialism is to exclude men from the discussion.

            You’re right, I don’t get it.

          • prolifefeminist

            Men are welcome to discuss. They just don’t need to make everything about them too.

          • Wren

            But how is asking to be included in parenting, when the topic is whether parenting is more than the breasts, uterus and vagina, making everything about men?

          • KarenJJ

            I don’t get it either. We need to make issues of government, business and finance more about women and issues of child-rearing and caring more about men. Bofa was right to make the point.

          • PJ

            This is so spot on. Minimising men’s role as parents not only hurts men, but it hurts women as well. We can’t fix wider women’s issues without looking at how we regard the role of men in parenting too.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I agree with you here. I’m glad that Bofa jumped in and for selfish reasons only. I don’t give a crap if Bofa or any other man feels marginalized etc. What I care about is that this stupid idea that “Nobody can replace Mommy” gets abolished. Mommy Worship has got to go.

          • prolifefeminist

            Sorry if I was unclear. I was referring to Bofa taking issue with Dr. Amy for writing this piece from a female perspective. I think it was very persuasive the way she wrote it from her perspective, and I think complaining that she should have broadened her perspective to include men is a little off-base. Broadening the perspective to include men is certainly valuable, but it doesn’t discount that THIS particular blog post as it was written is great and probably hit home to a lot of people.

            My hope when I read posts like this is that NCB followers will also ead it, be able to relate, and start rethinking their positions. As most NCB followers are women, I think it was a smart choice to write from that point of view.

          • Amy H

            I had a moment of clarity or confusion (y’all decide) while sitting by the crib around 2:30 this morning.

            I can see BoS’s perspective to a certain point. Suggesting that the arguments against NCB/extreme AP need to include their negative effects on men is fine.

            But suggesting that this particular post needed to be more inclusive would dismiss the particular point(s) it was making. NCB/AP fixates on certain “achievements” that only women can do – vaginal birth, drug-free birth, and breastfeeding primarily. The deal is, these carry a certain risk that disproportionately affects women – death (for starters), damage to or destruction of the pelvic floor, mastitis, extreme pain… I mean these are physical requirements for NCB, with physical effects. I think that it is mistaken to insist on lumping them together with the results that can affect both partners equally (bereavement, sense of failure, etc.), or to equate them with being marginalized as a dad during toddlerhood. Not to belittle emotional effects, but they are not identical. Not sure if I explained myself well either.

            (BTW, as I was thinking through this, my husband was in bed asleep, because Baby won’t go to sleep for him and descends into convulsive giggles if he suggests anything so hilarious as lying down and sleeping. As a general rule, some stuff (like sleep deprivation) tends to affect moms more during the first few months and years.)

          • stacey

            No one is excluding anyone from the conversation, I never said that, nor did I insinuate it.

            What I said was that by making the charge of “What about the men?” you make a discussion about women into one about men. It is a common tactic used to marginalize womens concerns. Most people do not even realize they are doing it, it is so common.

            I guess it might be like a post about prostate cancer, and how it effects mens ability to get erections, but a woman comes in and says “But what about women? What about their suffering when they can’t be satisfied by their men?” But instead of just one example, it happens in every conversation, everywhere, everyday.

          • Charlotte

            No, you are trying to exclude men from the conversation. You’ve made that very clear. You’ve said men shouldn’t be allowed to speak on certain subjects that apply to them *equally* unless a woman gives permission for them to speak, because of the false idea that parenting, domestic violence, and rape are women’s issues and that women must be the controllers and the gatekeepers of conversations on those topics. If you sideline men as mere “allies” as if they can’t be true victims, and insist they can’t speak on those topics without violating a woman’s “safe space” because you think it’s a women’s-only issue, you are trying to silence and exclude them. That is ethically wrong and disgustingly offensive.

            Your analogy would only make sense if men couldn’t be parents (or couldn’t be raped or victims of violence).

          • AllieFoyle

            I don’t think she said those things at all. Bofa started the whole thing by objecting to the fact that issues that pertain exclusively to women were being discussed. No one is “sidelining” Bofa; he’s trying to marginalize women’s concerns because they aren’t important to him personally.

          • Charlotte

            That’s a frustratingly common accusation – that someone must automatically be marginalizing someone else’s concerns if they bring up theirs. It’s not a teeter-totter where bringing up one side’s concerns forces the other’s down.

          • AllieFoyle

            No one objects to bringing up concerns; it’s the demand that all discussions now must be gender-neutral that is offensive. A woman’s gender-influenced experience is just as valid as any other aspect of parenting. Fathers and adoptive parents can be wonderful parents, of course, but it’s not necessary to diminish the magnitude of love and sacrifice that women provide when they go through pregnancy, childbirth, and (possibly) breastfeeding. Welcoming all types of parents to the table doesn’t require devaluing women’s experiences and perspectives. Bofa is free to present his own views, but he has no standing to demand that other people alter or silence theirs because he doesn’t find them personally relevant or interesting.

          • prolifefeminist

            Insisting that this blog post should have been gender neutral is like insisting that a blog post written by an adoptive parent discussing their particular experience of adoption also include the perspective of the biological parent, and is therefore a blog about parenting in general…not about the experience of being an adoptive parent, because that would somehow exclude bio parents.

          • Wren

            Wait a second. Because Bofa asked that one post on this blog that specifically discusses all of the ways mothering does not depend on uterus, vagina or breasts, in other words all of the things both mothers and fathers can do, include fathers he is somehow marginalising women’s concerns? I don’t see that. If this post had focused on the use of the uterus, vagina and breasts to mother, rather than the exact reverse, then I could see the objection. It does not.

          • AllieFoyle

            The point of the phrasing is that the experience of being a mother is more than just using those particular body parts. That’s relevant because women do have those parts, they are involved in some aspects of parenting, and certain groups of people would like us to believe that what we do with those parts is of the utmost importance in parenting. It would have been an altogether different (though still relevant and interesting) post if she had made it completely gender-neutral.

            Bofa was always welcome to participate in the discussion. I think people appreciate reading his perspective. He’s totally overreaching though in trying to minimize and devalue the exclusively-female parts of the process. No one is trying to convince him that he must use his breasts, uterus, or vagina in any particular way in order to be a good parent. He’ll never face the same physical and medical difficulties and risks or the social and personal pressures that women face to do the “right” thing, and of course that doesn’t make him less of a parent, but it also doesn’t give him the right to dictate how women talk about their experiences, or to determine that their experiences and perspectives are not valuable enough to discuss.

          • Wren

            “No one is trying to convince him that he must use his breasts, uterus, or vagina in any particular way in order to be a good parent.”
            I disagree. The whole NCB community essentially says that, then he is told that he doesn’t really count here either. If women need to use those parts in certain ways to bond, how can men bond?

          • AllieFoyle

            No one here has said at any point in this discussion that he doesn’t count here. He just doesn’t get to tell people what language to use. He also doesn’t get a special pass from me because he’s a man for saying that the gender-determined aspects of parenting are valueless.

            And if you look, you’ll notice also that no one claimed that women need to use specific body parts in order to bond. The entire point was that they don’t. And no, Bofa will never face the pressure to use those body parts or have to deal with all the implications of the related biological and social imperatives. Can he still be a good parent? Of course. Can he have an opinion and share it? Certainly. He can even choose to make a ridiculous and offensive analogy between ejaculation (momentary, pleasurable, with no medical risk or physical changes) and carrying a baby for nine months and giving birth. I’ll just call him out on it because it’s complete b*llsh*t.

          • Kalacirya

            I think your argument would hold more water if I we were speaking about a general context, but a general context is not the context of this blog and community as a whole. This blog exists specifically for the purpose of being skeptical of the natural child birth and child rearing community. That community is odious in large part because their ideology reduces women and their role as mothers to their body parts. Given that context, and the fact that Dr. Amy is a mother and writing from her perspective, I think it rings a little false that Bofa would seek to see himself represented and be then be disappointed that he was not. Also he’s clearly taken this very personally and his clear distress puts fractures in the appeals to logic he has attempted to make here.

            And yes, intentionally or unintentionally, it does marginalize someone’s concerns when they speak to a personal experience and your reply is at its core “But what about ME?”.

          • Wren

            The NCB community may reduce mothers to their body parts, but it essentially excludes fathers altogether. Why are we doing the same?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            That may be true, but they are not the same issue and I’m not sure why discussing one without discussing the other at the very same time is somehow wrong.

          • AmyP

            “But what about women? What about their suffering when they can’t be satisfied by their men?”

            Well, for the long-term, that is a real problem for both members of the couple.

          • Sue

            Bofa – I’ve commented elsewhere but I think you and Amy are essentially saying the same thing, but from different points of view.

            Amy, being a woman who DID give birth vaginally and breastfed, is saying that those are not the most important things in her parenting. Her point is well made, because she HAS done those biological things but they are not the most valued parts of her parenting.

            If YOU were writing the piece, you would express the same ideas, but from the POV of NOT having vaginally birthed or breast fed – which confirms Amy’s view: you don’t have to have done those things to be an absolutely wonderful and committed parent.

            Why is it wrong for Amy to write from her own POV? I imagine she could equally write that her husband (or you, or any man or woman who did not breast feed) was a brilliant and loving parent because they used their body and brain to provide love, security and nurturing.

          • Kalacirya

            Losing my rights to abortion is an issue that affects both men and women. But it is inarguable that it affects me more than it affects my partner. Any gender issue ultimately also affects men.

            Pressuring women into vaginal births, into refusing pain relief, into breastfeeding, affects entire families, communities. But indubitably it is primarily about women, the greatest absolute harm is done to the woman.

          • stacey

            I am not a good explainer, but this page can give you a little insight as to why it can be frustrating when men inject their issues into a discussion about a womans problem.

            http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/phmt-argument/

    • stacey

      Classic “What about teh menz?”

      *I know you didn’t mean it this way*.
      But people need to understand that there ARE times when people discuss something about women, and those times its not OK to make it about men (and the “what about teh menz does this, even if it is done unwittingly.). So I am gonna talk about it, briefly.

      More obvious examples would be talking about FGM and having someone say “But, what about male circ?” Or, when domestic violence or rape towards women is the topic, and someone butts in with “But, what about prison rape?” or “There are male victims of DV too you know!”.

      Sure, those are all valid points, and no one is trying to diminish them. However, women deserve to have their concerns taken seriously, and have space to discuss things referring to them, without having to always consider MEN. Look, we love men, but not every topic is about them, nor should be.

      Please, just let women have a conversation about their bodies/ concerns/etc without having to talk about men as well. This particular post has NOTHING to do with men, and nothing to do with parenting. It has everything to do with mothering, in response to the gender and biological essentialist views of NCB.

      I don’t think I am being clear, maybe someone else can explain it better.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Please, just let women have a conversation about their bodies/ concerns/etc without having to talk about men as well.

        I thought we were talking about PARENTING, and NOT women’s bodies?

        I hear complaining about how women are concerned about being relegated to biological determinism, and the response is to … focus on biology?

        Since when is parenting a “women’s concern”?

        • stacey

          It is not “focusing on” biology to be annoyed when someone comes in and goes all “WATM”. I wish you could see my POV. BTW, It is *so common* it has its own acronym….

          The common charge towards those of us that call attention to WATMing is: “YOU are focusing on biology, not me. Why aren’t you discussing this as how it relates to all humans, thats equality right?”

          Example:”but men get raped, rape isn’t about gender its about power”, or “circ hurts mens bodies too”. “Men are parents too, we nuture and love!”
          We know this. We care. But we CAN discuss topics directed at women (mothering is a womans issue) without referencing men, or everyone else possible.

          I think we are talking past each other. I posted a link that describes it better, and there is lots of info about it online. Other people are better communicators that I am, if you are interested you can read more. If not, NBD.

        • Amy H

          The blog specifically referred to “mothering,” not “parenting,” actually.

      • Amy H

        I think it’s quite clear to anyone reasonable to understand it. Thumbs up. 🙂

      • Karen in SC

        I get it, but I had to work at it. First heard the concept years ago in discussions of race and privilege. It’s a fine line and the allies (folks not included in the discussion, yet not against) need to tread carefully.

        • Wren

          I think that privilege in this area actually is a female/motherly privilege, especially in the NCB forums. There is an unspoken assumption that women are better parents, or at least are better at nurturing, loving and yes, bonding with their children. Viewing fathers as allies, rather than a part of the discussion of parenting, shows that quite clearly.

          • PJ

            Privilege–but with a knife edge. I don’t believe that we really value parenting as it should be, and that’s part of the reason why it’s a female and not a male “privilege.”

      • Charlotte

        I think your post is a perfect example of what he is talking about. Men are constantly being told issues that really do apply to them equally (50% of parents are men, 50% of domestic violence victims are men) are things they must remain silent on because of the very false idea that women must control these subjects. The entire reason they are beginning to speak up now is because they are tired of being told they don’t matter when it comes to parenting, rape, domestic violence, and other important issues. They are tired of being told women are the only ones who can have a say in these matters and that if they dare suggest men are affected by them too, they are accused of violating a “safe space” and told to shut up. Saying “‘Classic. What about teh men?'” speaks volumes about just how dismissive you are of men’s problems in these areas, IMO.

        • PJ

          “50% of domestic violence victims are men”

          I can’t not point out that this is a gross distortion of the reality of domestic violence. That people think men are equally affected by domestic violence really is a big (and to me, very offensive) problem. The misconception comes from certain surveys that fail to take into account the intent and impact of violence–for example, whether an act of violence is also an act of self-defence. A man who receives a blow in self-defence while inflicting severe injuries on his female partner is clearly NOT experiencing domestic violence in the same way she is, but that is how it sometimes gets measured, and people who lack the necessary expertise to understand the subject distort the facts (much like what happens in the NCB world, coincidentally).

          In terms of impact and severity, women are MUCH more affected by domestic violence than men.

          • Wren

            I’m not sure whether we actually know enough to make a definitive statement on how many men are affected given how much less likely men are to report it. I do think women are more likely to be victims of more severe violence though. Men are generally stronger and can inflict more injury. Even men who strike a blow in self-defence would be more likely to cause severe injury than women. Of course, that ignores domestic violence between homosexual partners.

            I would generally agree that women are more often victims of domestic violence, but its not all women either.

          • KarenJJ

            10 women die due to domestic violence every year in the state that I live in (population of 2 million). Compared to how many men? I’ve no idea but I suspect it is incredibly rare.

          • Amy M

            Does domestic violence only mean between partners, or does it include parent to child, or violence among any people sharing living arrangement? If 2 brothers who live together are fighting, does that count as domestic violence?

          • Charlotte

            Is that enough justification to ignore the men who are victimized though? You’re just going to assume it’s rare for a man to die from it and somehow that makes it okay to go back to thinking it’s just a women-only issue and that battered men don’t matter?

          • KarenJJ

            No.

          • AllieFoyle

            I just read this entire thread and I have no idea what you’re talking about. No one has said any of the things you’re trying to imply. Not even close. It’s obviously a passionate issue for you, but I’m scratching my head trying to understand why you are lurching at windmills like this unless you truly believe that discussing issues that affect women from female point of view is somehow oppressive to male domestic violence victims.

          • Charlotte

            Like I said, this isn’t a zero-sum game. Too many women seem to think that if they admit men can be victims of rape or domestic violence, then somehow women lose and edge like it’s some kind of competition. Acknowledging the fact that men can be victimized doesn’t mean that we’re going to go back to a time where it was okay to beat a woman. This isn’t , and has never been, a women-only issue and we can’t go on pretending that it is.

          • PJp

            No, Charlotte–the problem is that domestic violence against women is inseparable from the issue of gender. At the same time, there is currently a pervasive and concerted effort to remove the gender dimension from issues to do with domestic violence. It’s a real problem that is really undermining attempts to deal with this problem.

            Nobody is excusing violence toward men or minimising it. The problem is that claiming men are equally affected by domestic violence minimises the issues that face women and obscures the gender politics that are integral to them. That is not the same thing as saying violence doesn’t happen to men and that we shouldn’t take it seriously.

          • Charlotte

            Admitting that men can be greatly harmed by domestic violence does not mean women are going to be set back and unable to get the help they need. I don’t buy that lie for a second. You think it’s undermining attempts to help women? How about you take a step back and realize how harmful it is to men trying to seek help for domestic violence when he’s being actively put down by women such as yourself who are insisting his seeking help hurts women, because it undermines the lie that domestic violence is a woman-only issue? Do you even know how many men are hurt by their wives/girlfriends? Do you k ow any personally? Do you even care?

            Do you think men aren’t now sitting up and taking notice, and taking action? They, and the women who care about them, are sick to death of this. This lie that men can’t be victims, or that admitting they can be undermines women, is facing a huge backlash.

          • PJ

            You know, Charlotte, you don’t really give the argument that men are sidelined in the family violence much credibility when you go around inventing persecution that doesn’t exist. If you want to give people reason to think that advocates for male victims of domestic violence are just making a big deal out of nothing, you are actually doing a fine job.

            Nothing that you are saying here speaks to anything I’ve written. Anyone can see and read my posts and I don’t think I’ve been especially unclear, so I don’t see the point of trying to correct irrelevant nonsense.

          • Kalacirya

            It’s really rather simple. Male violence against women has many systemic causes, is ingrained in the very fabric of our society, and is more prevalent, female violence against men is in a whole other category. The individual loss and tragedy of a singular violence victim is equally sad, but the overall societal impact on female-on-male violence is but a sliver of that of male-on-female violence.

            The occasional race-based violent crime on a white person by a non-white pesron, again, is far less harmful on a societal level, than the alternative crime of white violence against non-whites.

            Individual men seeking domestic violence assistance aren’t hurting women seeking similar assistance, but folks like yourself pretending that the male problem is equal in magnitude and thus in absolute importance are a problem.

            You should consider stepping off your soapbox for a little while, your arguments are not proving compelling to anyone here, and it’s not because we all have our heads stuck up our behinds.

          • Charlotte

            Clearly it’s not, but I won’t go away. And neither will the quickly growing number of angry men who are sick to death of how women such as yourself insist men need to shut up and butt out of things like domestic violence, custody issues, women unilaterally choosing to abort their children, etc. You are a fool to ignore men’s issues. Time will prove it.

          • Kalacirya

            I don’t know why you have such issues with reading comprehension, you’re accusing me of the same thing you’ve wrongly accused others of here.

            It’s not that a man can not offer his perspective on most of those issues, exception to follow, but that this insistence that the male variant of the issue has equal weight and equal importance than the female is totally bogus. And that men have no place telling women speaking from their own perspectives, that they need to include men in the conversation if they didn’t intend or did not want to.

            But here’s the exception. I absolutely, staunchly, believe that men have zero business in whether or not I keep a pregnancy. That blastocyst, embryo, fetus is a product of my body, it may share genetic information with a man but that entity is hosted within my body completely and totally. And the decision, the right, as to whether to keep a pregnancy or terminate it is solely granted to the person possessing the uterus, not her husband, not her boyfriend, not her parents, not her rapist, not her legislator, not her priest, no one but herself.

            Your plaintiff cries of “What about the men?” fall really flat on me and I’m sure others. We’ve been focusing primarily on men’s issues for hundreds if not thousands of years. So keep on lamenting the oppression of men and their opinions, while you’re at it why don’t you throw in some other over privileged groups, perhaps the oppressed white people or the subjugated American Christians?

          • Charlotte

            I’m trying to figure out which one of you I pissed off enough to threaten me elsewhere. No matter how upset I made any of you, that crossed a very, very serious line.

          • auntbea

            I would be very surprised if your troll is a regular here. Most people here are cleverer than that.

          • kumquatwriter

            All right, *NOW* I’ll say it here – this is drama trolling. Note the added issues (custody, abortion) and, when that doesn’t work, the claim of stalking.

          • Charlotte

            No, it really happened. Whoever did it knows what it was. And yeah, it achieved it’s goal of angering and scaring me. I tried to delete the comment I wrote write after it happened and before I calmed down to avoid looking drama-y, but I guess it just converted it to “guest.” If you don’t know what it was, it must not have been you. But whoever did it, yeah, okay, you made your point.

          • PJ

            It ain’t me. I’m not upset or angry.

            I’m sorry if you have been threatened or intimidated though. That’s completely unacceptable in any circumstances.

          • KarenJJ

            No idea. Sounds bizarre. I’m not upset or angry either. Mostly baffled by this conversation and tried to bow out ages ago. Sorry somoene worried you.

          • KarenJJ

            Bizarre. To be honest this whole conversation ended up being bizarre.

          • kumquatwriter

            If it really happened, perhaps sharing more would be good, rather than further stirring up the pot with all this vagary.

          • prolifefeminist

            I’m not sure I even replied to you directly on here, but in any case, it wasn’t me either.

            I’m sorry to hear that someone is harassing you. That’s never acceptable.

          • AllieFoyle

            Not me either. I’m surprised that anyone would do that on the basis of this conversation, if for no other reason than that you seemed the most upset of anyone involved. It goes without saying though that that’s not behavior that I, or probably anyone here, would condone and I’m sorry it happened to you.

          • Kalacirya

            Well it wasn’t me, and I’m insulted by the suggestion. I have no idea how or why you got a threat, and I’ll be that it’s no one you’ve actually conversed with here. Those of us talking here aren’t the only people reading these pages.

          • Charlotte

            I just picked a random comment here knowing that whoever did it would see it, whether it was a commenter or a silent reader, because it was absolutely someone here.

          • Charlotte

            I just picked a random comment to reply to because whether it was a commenter or a silent reader, it was absolutely someone here.
            It’s not too terribly difficult to figure out who someone is on other sites and services, and they did. It looks like trying to delete the post I wrote write after it happened and was still a bit panicky just turned it to “guest.”
            I know there’s always a risk when you do anything online, but it doesn’t make it any less unnerving when it happens.

          • AllieFoyle

            She never said any of those things. No one did. Why is it so important to you to prove that men are just as victimized as women? Women are disproportionately victimized by domestic violence. So what? It’s wrong either way, and no one here has come close to saying otherwise.

          • Charlotte

            13 men died of domestic violence in my state last year. It is far from rare, and claiming it is or that their deaths don’t matter as much as women’s is an insult to the victims.

          • KarenJJ

            Not what I’m claiming and happy to be corrected on this. I was shocked by how many women died. No doubt I’d be shocked by the number of men too if I could find a number. Where I live there are a lot of remote areas with a relatively large indigenous population and my perception is that the women in this type of environment make up a disproportionate amount of the statistics.

          • PJ

            That statistic is meaningless on its own. Who were the offenders? Obviously I don’t know about your state, but in the homicide statistics I’m familiar with male victims of domestic violence are most likely to be killed by former partners of their current partner (ie other men). Violence by brothers against brothers, uncles etc. etc. can also be counted.

          • Charlotte

            Some were from other men, but many were from girlfriends. Why are you so determined to believe these deaths couldn’t possibly be what they are?

          • PJ

            I’m not determined to believe anything. I know what family violence homicide statistics are typically like, and I also know how they can mislead people. Your vague statement doesn’t do anything to convince me that yours are particularly different from the norm, though.

          • PJ

            Found data on 2012 family violence homicide victims in North Carolina. 6 men killed by female partners. Number of women killed by former or current male partners? 43.

            Kind of proves my point.

          • Wren

            Actually, it may show women are more likely to be killed by their male partner than men are by female partners, but it doesn’t say anything about the which gender faces more domestic violence, does it? Death is a rare result of domestic violence for either gender.

          • PJ

            No, it doesn’t say anything about prevalence, but it is one piece of evidence that confirms that the impact and severity of domestic violence against women is much higher than that experienced by men. There is NO evidence that suggests the contrary.

          • Wren

            Severity? Yes, I never questioned that. Impact? Uncertain.

          • PJ

            No, it’s not uncertain. It’s not even remotely uncertain. There is a lot of research and evidence that backs up what I’m saying.

          • PJ

            OK, there is one thing I have to know, because I just don’t get it. Given that men are responsible for just about every other form of violence in much higher numbers than women; that the severity of the violence that women experience is greater than that experienced by men; that women are much more likely to be economically dependent on men than the reverse; that women (especially single mothers, a group who are particularly vulnerable to violence) are impacted more by poverty than men; that there are growing populations of women from cultures where violence towards women is sanctioned and where women (not men) who attempt to leave a marriage face ostracism or violence; that every piece of evidence we have shows that women are more likely to be killed, injured or intimidated by partner violence–HOW in the world can it be plausible to anyone that the impact of domestic violence towards men equals that of women? How?

          • kumquatwriter

            *STANDING OVATION*

          • prolifefeminist

            Well said – thank you!

            At the risk of pointing out the obvious here…

            We’re talking about the impact of domestic violence on men and women on a population level. We’re not talking about the impact of DV on a personal level. If you know a man who’s experienced it, you know that it’s just as horrible a thing as if a woman experienced it. Then you have to factor in the stigma of being a male victim of female violence.

            I married young and was a victim of DV. I saw the writing on the wall and left him and struck out on my own when my son was a toddler – I knew it wouldn’t get better if I stayed. I have a number of female friends who’ve been victims of pretty severe DV, including one who was brutally murdered by her ex-husband. I also have one male friend who was a victim of longtime DV. One thing that really stands out to me is the reluctance of men to report DV. I mean, it is really, really tough for guys to speak up about it – there’s this perception out there that it’s wimpy to get beaten up by “a girl” (there’s misogyny for ya – this idea that nothing as weak and trivial as a girl could ever actually rough up a big strong guy). My guy friend said that when he confided in another male friend about it, he totally brushed it off and basically told him to quit whining and be a man. That stigma absolutely needs to change. And until it does, we can be pretty confident that the numbers of male DV victims is quite underreported.

            None of that means though that on a population level, DV impacts women equally as men. The issues PJ outlined above, especially economic dependence, do disproportionately affect women. One of the biggest barriers I’ve personally seen to women getting out of abusive relationships is economic. Economic independence is so critical.

          • Box of Salt

            Charlotte “13 men died” But are you in California (pop 38,041,430) or Wyoming (pop 576,412 both per Wikipedia June 2012)? Rate matters if you are claiming something is not “far from rare.”

          • Charlotte

            NC, population of about 10 million. If 10 women dying was important to Karen, why not 13 men? Why does a handful of women’s deaths count as a full blown tragedy worthy of national action, but men’s deaths are a “rare” occurrence that shouldn’t even be addressed? The fact that you and the others are so eager to find some reason, any reason, to explain away their murders is very telling. If someone tried to dismiss women’s domestic violence murders by saying, “oh, it must be rare,” or “it’s just 13 deaths among a large population,” wouldn’t you be infuriated? Wouldn’t you be up in arms? Do men’s deaths just not matter to you? Do you honestly think it’s going to somehow set women back to admit that men are hurt in domestic violence too?

          • PJ

            We can’t say how many individuals are affected by domestic violence definitively (and for that reason we can’t compare rates in different countries, for example), but we can say that it disproportionately affects women.

          • Charlotte

            No, it’s not a distortion. Domestic violence against men is real and your attempt to dismiss it is quite frankly offensive. It is not just men getting hit by women practicing self defence or from men who had some other ill intent. That’s victim blaming and it’s just as offensive as in the past when women were blamed for being hit. Did you know up to 1 in 9 men will be victims of domestic violence in their lives? 1 in 9! I know plenty of these men personally, and nothing makes me angrier than hearing that their voices don’t count just because they are men, or worse, have people even doubt that they could be victims at all. It absolutely infuriates me when people say my male cousin’s rape, my brother’s sexual assault, my husband’s beatings (not from me!), my father’s in law’s black eye and emotional abuse, and my uncle’s domestic violence abuse doesn’t count, is their fault, or that they can’t speak about it unless a women says it’s okay because they are “women’s issues.” They aren’t just women’s issues and claiming they are hurts men far more than most people want to admit. Men CAN be victims. Crimes against them ARE real crimes and they must not be marginalized any more. Silencing them because you think this is some kind of zero-sum game where men can’t be legitimate victims if women also are, or vice versa, or out of a sense of revenge for perceived past wrongs by men, is a terrible thing.

          • PJ

            Actually, I know the research VERY well. I tried to explain to you why the myth of gender symmetry exists, but you clearly did not understand (or chose not to understand) what I was saying. There is a vast difference between claiming on one hand that domestic violence affects men and women equally (it does NOT) and saying that genuine domestic violence toward men doesn’t happen (which I did NOT say).

            You claimed that 50% of domestic violence victims are men, implying that men are equally affected by domestic violence. You are wrong.

        • Antigonos CNM

          When I finally realized the way to survive the first months [it was with my third child, OK, I’m slow] was to inform DH that from the time he got home from work until midnight I SIMPLY DIDN’T EXIST and the bottle was in the fridge, etc., I expected howls of protest [“I’m tired after a day at work while you do nothing at home”] and pleas of being overwhelmed [“which side of the disposable diaper is next to the skin?”] with the complexity of taking care of a baby for 6 hours, while I had a bath, a nap, and a meal. Not at all! “Goody!” DH cried, “Now I can take care of her!!!” At that point I realized he was a secret Yiddishe Momma, for whom feeding is love.

      • Wren

        I get what you are saying Stacey, but I don’t agree that it applies here.
        The NCB claims that women have to use certain body parts in certain ways to properly bond with and love their children sucks. I think most of us here can agree on that.
        What also sucks is the way that men are basically side lined as parents altogether by many NCB claims. Women at least have the opportunity to bond with their babies, assuming they have the right birth and breastfeed and wear their babies and co-sleep, etc. Men, on the other hand, can never have that special bond, ever. Everything that is said about women who don’t follow the NCB rules applies even moreso to men.

    • Jennifer2

      I’m not going to scroll down the whole debate chain and will just respond to Bofa directly. There are multiple different facets of the discussion of biological essentialism and the NCB movement. One of those is that it pushes women to see a select few body parts (which only they possess) as of primary importance to how they care for their children. That issue is specific to women, and that is the issue Dr. Amy was addressing with this post. This post does not need to be broadened to respond to the second issue that Bofa raises, which is that biological essentialism and the NCB movement diminish the role of men as parents and the constant references to “mothering” instead of “parenting” in that movement and responses to it actually hinders gender equality because it continues to push caring for children into the category of “women’s work” which is code for “less valuable stuff that men are too important to deal with.” While this post does not address that issue and doesn’t need to (because not every writing on a topic needs to address all facets of that topic), it IS an important aspect of addressing the anti-feminist aspects of the NCB movement and really should receive more attention and discussion than it does.

    • Sue

      Bofa – there is no doubt that you are right about parenting, but, in some ways, your case illustrates what Amy is saying: you absolutely CAN be a superb parent without either having the baby exit your vagina or feeding it from your breasts.

      In my view, the message cuts both ways: you can be a great male parent without breast feeding or vaginally delivering, just as you can be a great female parent without vaginally delivering or breast feeding.

      Isn’t that the point of this post?

  • I don’t have a creative name

    Yes.

    Mothering is so much more than biology, unless you’re a lower life form. How “sad”, to borrow the sanctimommy term, that so many women feel like failures for simple biological matters.

    There’s definitely something special about a mom. I wish I had one. My children show me what a mom means, though, by their constant piling on me and need to be close. It is indeed my whole body, old and flabby though it is, that they look to for security and comfort.

  • auntbea

    I’ll take the pipe cleaners!

    • KarenJJ

      Not me. Ours have multiplied and they’re everywhere. They’re like termites. Once they’re in your house they never seem to leave.. And I’m forever finding them in odd places.

      • auntbea

        Corral them and make a 30-foot model of DNA to hang from the ceiling like a party banner. That’s what I do with mine. Obviously.

      • Kerlyssa

        Please, please, PLEASE never again mention ‘pipe cleaners’ and ‘odd places’ in the same sentence. This is the internet- imagine if you or a fellow human being accidentally googled that phrase. How could you live with yourself, after?

        TL:DR- ‘That’s what SHE said!’

        • KarenJJ

          LOL. It was pretty late when I wrote that one and my brain didn’t even connect the dots..

      • prolifefeminist

        Like Easter grass. I detest the stuff – I find strands of it in random places all year long!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I just wrote this on the other thread, but I think it is appropriate here. It’s about “parenting with your heart”

    Got a great reminder last night about the realities of parenting, and what that means.

    Backstory: My older guy started daycare when he was 14 mos old. After being home with just us for the first year, he was pretty shy and timid around the other kids at daycare, and they took advantage of his kindness (iow, they took a lot of toys from him). When he got into the 2 yo room, he met a new friend named Kaito, who was Japanese. Being new to the US, Kaito was also very timid and shy, and he and my guy hit it off very, very well. Those two became the absolute best friends, and while the other kids were growing rambunctious, they stuck together, playing quietly with each other. That was almost three years ago, and they have been absolutely the best of friends. Moreover, they have been good for each other, learning from each other’s ways.

    Well, Kaito is a little older than my guy, and turned 5 last spring. Therefore, he is planning to start kindergarten this fall. My guy knew that, and has been very sad knowing that his buddy will not be at daycare with him anymore, but we have tried to help him by telling him that we will invite Kaito to our house so they can play together on weekends and holidays. In order to facilitate this, we contacted Kaito’s parents to get information so that we can still be in contact after Kaito leaves daycare. Make know mistake, they feel the same way about the boys as we do, and they know how great they are together. Their stories of what Kaito has to say are exactly the same as what we hear from our guy.

    We did all this because tomorrow is Kaito’s last day at daycare, and since our guys don’t go on Tuesday, we knew that today was going to be the last day they would be there together. So we have been in communication with his parents. Unfortunately, getting together right now is difficult because we live an hour away, but we are moving to town later this fall, and when we do, it would be really easy for the guys to get together regularly.

    Well, last night, after the kids are in bed, we get a bombshell. Kaito’s parents have decided that he and his mom will move back to Japan, so he can go to school there. They will be leaving in October probably.

    We are devastated for our son. Here it is bad enough that his best friend will be leaving daycare, and he won’t be able to play with him every other day, but he’s going away pretty much for good. I keep thinking about how my guy went to bed last night not knowing that today was the last time he was ever going to see his best friend (we didn’t know it when he went to bed, either). It is absolutely killing us, and I can barely type it because it hurts so bad.

    You take all your trivial crap and shove it. THIS is what parenting is about. It’s about our kids and their lives. It’s about crying all night knowing what tomorrow is going to bring while your kids sleep safely and soundly in their beds, and trying to figure out how you can make it better for them while it is killing you.

    Our first response was to make sure they get together before we go, but we aren’t sure. All that will do is lead to questions of when we can do it again. Our decision is to get them to start writing letters to each other, even while they are still here. That way, nothing will change when they move to Japan, and we can keep writing letters. We could also think about skype, and are checking into that. I just hope we do the right thing.

    This is terrible for us. I realize that kids grow up and friends come and go, but Kaito is so special for us. Our guy’s first real friend, and still his very best. The idea that they will never play together again is just too much for me.

    • KarenJJ

      Lovely story. I replied on the other thread, but am about to go to bed and won’t dig it up and repost.

    • auntbea

      A friend of mine’s daughter’s best friend just died in a freak drowning accident. Figuring out how to navigate that…well, I just don’t know what they are going to do.

      • KarenJJ

        Breastfeed her for comfort? Offer her a placenta pill? Wear her? And sorry to be so facetious over such a tragedy to make my point, but there really comes a time when that stuff is completely meaningless to kids trying to deal with life’s problems.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Unfathomable.

        We had enough problems trying to figure out how to explain to our older guy that the dog had died, but at least he knew that the dog was sick.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          It’s very difficult. When my young brother was 10 his best friend since kindergarten was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was a great friend, but after his friends death he kind of fell apart for a little while. Any one who says kids don’t feel things/hurt just as deeply as adults make me want to throw something.

    • Amy M

      Oh, that is rough. I am sorry for them. I hope they remember each other though, when they grow up. That is a special friendship.

    • I am sorry this happened to you and your son. I am an expat and usually read stories about how expat families have to go somewhere else and leave their friends behind. I didn’t realize that it can be equally hard for the other side- and it’s actually a reason why locals usually don’t bond with expats (we’ll become friends with them and then they’ll leave and it will hurt). It must be hard for you, and especially for your child. Wish you all the best for your child, he seems such a sweet sensitive boy.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        and it’s actually a reason why locals usually don’t bond with expats (we’ll become friends with them and then they’ll leave and it will hurt)

        This is part of the beauty of their relationship. They didn’t care that one was from Japan and the other was not. They got together because of their similarities, and didn’t worry about their differences.

        We absolutely loved that.

        • Yes, I know what you mean. I’d also rather bond with somebody who is likely to leave rather than not bond at all!

    • OttawaAlison

      This is the type of stuff that makes my heart ache. I’m so sorry for your son and his friend.

    • Clarissa Darling

      I’m sorry to hear that. Growing up I lived in a college town where there were many international students whose parents only lived in the US while they were getting their degrees. It was always sad when one of
      my friends had to move back to their home country. I still think about my best friend from Columbia who moved back around second grade.
      I often wonder if we would still be in touch had there been some
      electronic means of communication back then …… I know it won’t be the same for your son not getting to see his friend in person every day but, I do hope it will help him to be able to keep in touch with letters and video chat.

  • KarenJJ

    My 2yo gives the best hugs. I got home from work today and he launched himself at me calling out ‘mummy!’ and then buried his face into my shoulder and rubbed his cheek into mine.

    A bond like no other 🙂

  • Mom of 2

    I loved this. My 3 year old generally refuses to hold my hand, but when we’re in the parking lot or crossing the street, I just say “what’s the rule” and he happily grabs my hand. I love it, even more than I loved breast feeding him. But he was c section born so I guess I’ll never know what real mother love is…;)

  • Neonpantsuit

    I absolutely love this.