Lactivists and natural childbirth advocates are agents of the patriarchy

One of the worst aspects of patriarchal societies is that women are often pressured to meet male desires by being told it will “empowering” them.

We see it, for example, in the health moralism around weight: Every woman is still expected to torture her body into the male ideal of thin, lithe and cellulite free, but now it is presented as “healthier” instead of the ugly truth that it is what appeals to men.

Sound familiar? It should because it’s also the tactic behind marketing natural mothering ideology.

The natural mothering standard is a traditional male standard, tens of thousands of years old: women immured in the home restricted to fulfillment through their use of their vaginas, uteri and breasts and barred from fulfillment through their intellect, talents and character. All the while, the industries that profit from these sexist philosophies — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — are promoting them as “empowering.”

Natural mothering ideology — natural childbirth, lactivism, attachment parenting — is all around us. It flows through natural childbirth and breastfeeding websites, parenting Facebook groups, Instagram photos and efforts to “normalize” unmedicated vaginal birth, exclusive breastfeeding, and baby wearing.

The patriarchal ideal of women barefoot, pregnant and in servitude to her children has been refashioned. Subjection to the patriarchy now means insisting that women are empowered by it. That way, every time someone critiques an unspoken requirement of mothers — unmedicated vaginal birth, exclusive breastfeeding, attachment parenting — you’re forced to frown upon something women have ostensibly chosen for themselves.

Simply put natural childbirth ideologues — like Ina May Gaskin, Sheena Byrom, Milli Hill, Lamaze International and Michel Odent — are agents of the patriarchy. Lactivists — like Prof. Amy Brown, Dr. Melissa Bartick, La Leche League and Dr. Jack Newman — are agents of the patriarchy.

“Celebrating” and “normalizing” natural childbirth and breastfeeding is just the up to the minute formula of age-old misogyny. It doesn’t make babies healthier, safer, smarter or better in any way. That’s because it’s not — and it never was — about babies.

It has always been about convincing women to subjugate themselves and calling it “empowerment”.