Dr. Becky is a bully

Powers choose not to breastfeed

We are all anti-bullying now.

We recognize that bullying based on race is wrong; bullying based on religion is wrong; bullying based on gender is wrong; bullying based on sexual orientation is wrong. In fact, there’s only one group that it is still acceptable to bully: new mothers.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Dr. Becky: “All I can say is that if I am a breastfeeding bully I am proud of it.”[/pullquote]

Dr. Rebecca Powers is one such bully.

The same day I wrote about post about the bullying tactics of the United States Breastfeeding Committee, a lactation consultant alerted me to this post by Dr. Becky from Village Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Medicine in Tennessee:

The full post is here (cached version).

Here are some excerpts”

… 1) It is NOT my stated objective to make everyone happy… 2) This is my practice. It is just me. I don’t play well with others, so I quit and went where I could do things the way I wanted to without having to make what felt like soul withering compromises. I make the rules about where I spend my time and energy. If you don’t like my rules, I am not the pediatrician for you. I will tell you this as gently as I can, but I WILL tell you. And I will not apologize for it. 3) I do not kick people out of this practice because they cannot breastfeed… This practice is made up of women who breastfeed, women who gave it a real, honest try and women who would be breastfeeding if it were a real option for them. If you choose not to breastfeed your baby before you have even tried you don’t get my precious time and energy. Period.

If you choose to lie to yourself by coming into my office and believing I will somehow relax my policies for you and your child, you are wrong. And you will leave crying or disappointed. And this is America, you are welcome to spread your disappointment all over the internet. But, if you think it is going to hurt me, it isn’t. I do what I do and I do it well… I am not Mother Theresa(although I do strive to emulate some of her qualities). When I have chosen not to help you, it is because I firmly believe it is not going to be the best use of my time and resources. Am I going to feel bad about it? Nope (okay, well maybe a little. but I will go to sleep just fine.)

Don’t worry, Dr. Becky, no one is going to confuse you with Mother Theresa. I don’t know much about her but I doubt she set conditions on who was allowed to benefit from her “precious time and energy.”

When someone left a comment on her page about her inappropriate behavior, she wrote a post in response:

Bully proud of it highlighted

… All I can say is that if I am a breastfeeding bully I am proud of it…

Let’s leave aside for the minute the fact that breastfeeding is closely associated with race, class and education level, meaning that Dr. Becky’s bullying is disproportionately felt by women of color, poor women and women who don’t have college degrees. Bullying patients for their personal choices is unethical. First, the burden falls on the child, someone who had no say in the decision at all. Second, refusing to care for a child because his mother didn’t conform to your beliefs about how women should use their body parts is grossly inappropriate.

Refusing to care for children whose mothers choose to bottlefeed is as inappropriate as refusing to care for children whose mother had an abortion. Her baby, her body, her choice!

Dr. Becky is well aware that her behavior is indefensible.

Apparently she complained to Facebook and had them remove a post on The Skeptical OB Facebook page that discussed her behavior. That’s consciousness of guilt.

No doubt she thought that would be the end of it. She doesn’t know me very well, does she?

Instead, I’ve written about her here, a page that gets much more traffic and is beyond the reach of her whining.

I would be surprised if Dr. Becky’s policy is illegal, but, in my view, it is immoral.

Unfortunately, lactivism is a vehicle for socially sanctioned bullying. By gleefully refusing to care for the children of women who don’t breastfeed Dr. Becky demonstrates that she is a bully.

By trying to remove public mention of her bullying, she demonstrates that she wants to be free to continue her contemptuous behavior toward vulnerable women without being held to account.