Scottish MP Alison Thewlis, the Marie Antoinette of lactivism

Marie Antoinette

No child in an industrialized country should suffer from hunger. Period.

It is a scandal that millions of children suffer hunger nonetheless. That’s what makes the self-aggrandizing hypocrisy of lactivists like Scottish Member of Parliament Alison Thewlis both ugly and deadly.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Yet another privileged women wants to use her political power to promote breastfeeding, deriding women who choose formula as victims of the formula industry.[/pullquote]

Thewlis represents Scotland, a country with a high level of poverty, under- and un-employment and an “epidemic of hunger.”

According to Nourish Scotland:

“[W]e are still experiencing an epidemic of hunger in Scotland. Benefit delays and changes are still the primary reasons underpinning the increased number of referrals to foodbanks.

“What is more concerning, however, is that hunger is also clearly and consistently being driven by low income.

“A decrease in the cash in people’s pockets leads to an increase in the use of foodbanks.”

So there isn’t enough food for the children in Scotland but Thewlis thinks that a “cracking down” on infant formula is a good use of her time and political capital.

A Parliamentary lactivist group quotes Thewlis:

“The Bill I have published today is a major step forward in tackling the excessive and misleading marketing techniques deployed by formula milk companies.

“For too long, these enormously powerful multi-nationals have been pushing the boundaries and circumventing existing legislation to relentlessly promote their products to parents and families…

Thewlis insists that this is not about breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding:

“I absolutely understand and respect that some families will choose to use formula milk; this is absolutely not about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. I want to make sure parents are protected from misleading advertising and can access impartial, trusted information when making feeding decisions for their children.

Bullshit! That’s exactly what this is about. Yet another privileged women wants to use her political power to promote breastfeeding and she resorts to deriding women who choose formula as victims of the formula industry.

As sociologist Pam Lowe explains in Reproductive Health and Maternal Sacrifice:

The underlying assumption behind … breastfeeding campaigns, is that women who decline breastfeeding only do so through ignorance or as the dupes of formula marketing campaigns…

It seems not to have crossed Thewlis’ mind that women who are not of her socio-economic class are capable of independent thought. It also has not crossed her mind that a substantial number of women cannot successfully breastfeed, have work and family commitments that make it impossible to successfully breastfeed, or simply don’t want to use their breasts in the lactivist approved manner.

Implying that formula manufacturers are waging war against breastfeeding is like claiming birth control manufacturers are waging war against pregnancy. Women use formula for the same reason that women use birth control; it allows them to determine when and how they wish to use their reproductive organs. In other words, formula puts WOMEN in control of their own bodies. That’s a basic principle of feminism.

Thewlis seems to think that how an infant is fed is more important than IF it is fed. Her attitude evokes the apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette who saw crowds of people rioting for bread and declared “let them eat cake” as if cake were ever an option.

In a country like Scotland where children are going hungry and suffering from malnutrition, FEEDING children ought to be the highest priority. Unless and until all children are properly nourished, expending any effort trying to get poor women to emulate their “betters” by breastfeeding makes as much sense as proposing that rioters eat cake.

Thewlis’ efforts demonstrate an utter lack of understanding for the real circumstances of real women trying desperately to support and feed ALL their children, not just their infants.

Thewlis evinces an alarming lack of respect and compassion for struggling mothers, imagining that if they don’t emulate Thewlis and her privileged cohort they must be misled by formula marketing.

Thewlis betrays the feminist principle that ALL women, not just privileged women, have the right to control their own bodies.

“Cracking down” on formula advertising is a monumentally stupid waste of time and effort. Babies are not suffering by drinking formula; mothers are not suffering. The only ones suffering from the use of infant formula are lactivists who aren’t getting their self-esteem bolstered by having their own choices mirrored back to them.

Thewlis should concentrating on making sure that all children are fed, rather than worrying about whether other women’s infants are breastfed.