Why is The Alpha Parent happiest when kicking other women?

Beautiful Angry Young Woman In Suit Kicking

As is often the case on The Skeptical OB, a single post becomes a multi-day meditation on a topic. I started the week asking if natural childbirth and lactivism cause postpartum depression, progressed to discussing the lactivist War on Formula as a rather poorly disguised war on women, and then shared a new campaign to support mothers (#sogladtheytoldme) and my gratitude for the women in my life who supported me through motherhood.

And, as so often happens, a natural childbirth advocate or lactivist obligingly provides me with an outstanding example of what I have just been criticizing.

In this case, The Alpha Parent (Allison Dixley) has returned from a two month hiatus, just as hateful as ever, this time with bonus victim blaming.

Which raises the question: Why is The Alpha Parent happiest when kicking other women?

I understand why the lactivist industry grossly exaggerates the benefits of breastfeeding, and grossly inflates the purported “risks” of formula feeding. I understand why the lactivist industry attempts to shame and humiliate women who don’t breastfeed; they profit from monetizing that shame and guilt. But why would an individual woman spend so much time excoriating women who don’t breastfeed when the infant feeding decision is deeply personal and affects no one else? It’s the age old tactic of trying to feel better about yourself by tearing other people down.

The Alpha Parent wants you to know that she is better than you, hence her moniker and her blog. She likes to terrorize other women, finds shaming and humiliating other women to be deliciously satisfying, and merely uses breastfeeding as the rhetorical excuse to stomp on other women.

But The Alpha Parent has a problem. As campaigns like #sogladtheytoldme demonstrate, shaming other mothers is going out of style. The intended victims of the shaming are no longer passive. They point out the harms of idealized images of birth and breastfeeding; they support other women in their mothering journeys; and they take aim at the whole idea of attempting to induce guilt in other mothers.

What’s a woman who feels happiest when kicking other women to do?

Berate those women for their own guilt! How?

1. Women should be strong enough to take what ever Allison Dixley enjoys dishing out.

…“Stop being judgemental, I should not be made to feel guilty” is their mating call.

Yet contrary to what some mothers and stand-up comedians may claim, women are not fragile simpering wallflowers at the mercy of iron-tongued tormentors. They are not passive pawns pushed around by the force of others’ words. The image of the female as a boiling pot of feelings, a puppet to her emotions, easily triggered and unable to control herself is a misogynistic invention of a culture that’s still riding on patriarchal coattails. Sadly, many women continue to lap up this rhetoric, and when they become mothers, it becomes enshrined in their self-entitled, self-serving psyche…

2. It’s their own fault that they feel guilty, not Dixley’s fault for heaping abuse (complete with annoying GIFs) on them.

… By its very nature, guilt assumes a wrong doing that one has committed. So in order to feel guilt, two components must be present: 1. A wrongdoing. 2. Personal blame. Now let’s apply this to an obvious example: failure to breastfeed. If the mother believed that breast milk and formula were equivalent, #1 would be absent in her view. Thus, she wouldn’t feel guilty for not breastfeeding. If on the other hand, #1 is present but #2 is not, the result is merely shame not guilt.

3. They’re doing something wrong.

If you’re feeling guilty right now (heck, you’re a parent), look at your guilt with the idea that you are, or might be, responsible …

To that end, Dixley misinterprets a quote often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

The quote does NOT mean that if someone’s abuse makes you feel bad, it must be true. The quote stands for the proposition that you can and should fight against attempts to demean you.

When in 1939 African American contralto Marian Anderson, one of the most celebrated opera singers of her generation, was denied permission by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to use its Constitution Hall for a concert, Mrs. Roosevelt did not tell Ms. Anderson that if she felt bad that the DAR viewed African American women as inferior, it was because she believed herself to be inferior. She did not say, “no one can make you feel ashamed of your race unless you really are ashamed of it.”

What did Roosevelt do?

First, she resigned from the DAR to signal her disgust with their behavior.

Second, she arranged for Marian Anderson to give an open air concert at the Lincoln Memorial, attended by 75,000 people.

When the DAR figuratively kicked Marian Anderson to the curb, Eleanor Roosevelt KICKED BACK.

As Eleanor Roosevelt showed us, when you encounter someone attempting to shame and humiliate another human being, you don’t laugh it off as harmless; you don’t blame the victim for being upset by abusive treatment; you don’t tolerate that behavior but instead condemn it in word and deed.

Which is what I am trying to do.

I don’t have the power to arrange a public tribute to bottle feeding mothers at a national monument, but I do have the power to publicly reassure them that Allison Dixley speaks from hate, not from science. And I have the power to express my personal disgust that for Allison Dixley, it isn’t enough to stomp on women when they are down; she has to crown her efforts by blaming women for her heel prints on their foreheads.

Allison Dixley’s behavior is nothing more than self-serving viciousness.