Claiming #FedIsBest is divisive is like claiming feminism is divisive


Pediatrician Daniel Flanders doesn’t like the phenomenally successful Fed Is Best campaign. He made his feelings clear in a series of tweets.

After declaring:

#Fedisbest is an entirely unhelpful statement of the obvious. Beating heart is best. Functional brain is best. Breathing is best.”

He went on to claim:


it has evolved in a less helpful and more divisive direction. Lots of anti- breastfeeding rhetoric, “us vs. them” narratives, fear mongering.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When you’re accustomed to privilege, leveling the playing field feels “divisive.”[/pullquote]

At first I didn’t understand what he meant but then I realized what he was getting at. Fed Is Best is divisive in the exact same way that feminism is divisive. When you’re accustomed to privilege, leveling the playing field feels “divisive.”

For example, members of the misogynistic men’s rights movement are constantly whining that feminism discriminates against them.

Men’s rights activists have rejected feminist principles and focused on areas in which they believe men are disadvantaged, oppressed, or discriminated against. In the 1980s and 90s, men’s rights activists opposed societal changes sought by feminists and defended the traditional gender order in the family, schools and the workplace. Some men’s rights activists see men as an oppressed group.

I have no doubt that MRAs really believe that they are victims but that doesn’t make it so. Their self pity doesn’t erase eons of brutal discrimination against women and it doesn’t change the fact that women are still disadvantaged in most parts of the developing world and even in some spheres in the industrialized world. Pretending you are being discrimated against may be a satisfying rhetorical tactic, but it is has nothing to do with reality.

Similarly, lactivists like Dr. Flanders are now whining that Fed Is Best is “divisive” and — irony of ironies — is responsible for an “us vs. them” outlook and fear mongering about breastfeeding. Never mind that a central, deliberate tactic of lactivism has been to promote guilt and shame by claiming ever more fanciful “benefits” of breastfeeding and dividing women into “good” mothers who breastfeed and “bad” mothers who don’t

No doubt Dr. Flanders, like many other professional lactivists, is sincere. When you have been given free rein to bully new mothers into breastfeeding, being forced to stop feels divisive, but, as in the case of the MRAs, the claims are a way to mask anger over loss of privilege not a reflection of the facts.

Indeed, when I asked Dr. Flanders to explain how and to whom is Fed Is Best unhelpful, he responded with his Donald Trump impersonation:


tooooooter!!! Are you looking for more blog fodder” you don’t need me to push your agenda. Go on without me.

How articulate — NOT!

I guess he was hoping a childish insult would hide the fact that he couldn’t answer the question; it doesn’t.

Fed Is Best has been a game changer because it is both empirically true — fully fed with formula is undoubtedly better than underfed with breastmilk — and because it addresses the oppressive lactivist tactics that have been deployed over the past two decades. In an effort to bully women into breastfeeding, lactivists have grossly exaggerated its benefits, ignored its life threatening risks, taken agency over their own bodies away from women by banning formula supplementation and pacifiers in hospitals and closing well baby nurseries.

There could not possibly be anything more divisive than breast is best rhetoric, yet lactivists, rather than acknowledging their mistakes, and apologizing for their tactics insist that forcing them to stop practicing divisiveness is somehow divisive.

Lactivists have behaved badly; women and babies suffered as a result. It’s not divisive to point that out; it’s simply a matter of compassion and common sense.