Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's Not The Feeding That's Bothering You

My god, The Atlantic sucks. There is an article up that purports to study the breast feeding issue. Do we or don't we? People who know themselves and know what they want can answer the question fairly easily. If you want to take the time to breast feed and can afford to do so, you breast feed. If you don't want to because you don't have the time or money or patience, you don't breast feed. It doesn't have to be complicated. But if you don't know what you want, or if your idea of who you should be conflicts with who you are or are trying to be, the complications can be endless.

Hanna Rosin's article opens with the following introduction:

In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s
a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet
the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner
than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every
family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that
mostly just keeps women down?

Three indecisive pages of babble can be broken down to these parts:

Being stuck at home breast-feeding as [her husband] walked out the door for work
just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else....So I was left
feeling trapped, like many women before me, in the middle-class mother’s
prison of vague discontent: surly but too privileged for pity, breast-feeding with one hand while answering the cell phone with the other, and barking at my older kids to get their own organic, 100 percent juice—the modern, multitasking mother’s version of Friedan’s “problem that has no name.”
Risen can't just say that she wants and needs to work, that she doesn't care what choices her friends make, she'll just do what she wants. She obviously feels tremendous pressure to fit in with her breast-feeding friends and authorities but also wants to fit in with the business world, which is more personally and immediately rewarding. She does what so many people do--try to gain happiness through belonging to an ideological group and try to gain power through money instead of finding out what she wants to do and then doing it.

We make many decisions in this life that have serious trade-offs. Sometimes we are forced into these decisions by circumstances and sometimes we choose them, but either way we must live with the consequences. These decisions are a choice that we deliberately make; even refusing to make a decision is a choice. Marrying, having children, working, breast-feeding--these are all choices. Nobody forces us to do them. Risen made the decision to have children, and by having three children she admits she has greatly lessened her chance to resume her career in a meaningful way. Therefore her husband will have all the power in the relationship; all the money, all the time, all the freedom, at least for quite a few years. It's a very difficult thing to do but becomes much easier if you admit that the situation exists, it must be endured, and after all it's only temporary.

But Risen couldn't admit this to herself. She didn't want to give up the money and power and she didn't want to give up her image of an earth mother. So she ends up unhappy all around, and vents her ire on something that has nothing to do with her real problem.


clever pseudonym said...

I think what she means in regards to her "overachieving circles" is that she *feels* like breast feeding is not a choice. She may personally experience pressure to conform to the habits of those around her. She may have such a desire to fit in and be like everybody else that she's too afraid to think for herself and behave accordingly. That does not, in any way, take away the fact that breast feeding is a choice. You can choose not to bow to the expectations of others and do as you please. The choice is not having the guts to stray from the flock. Heaven forbid.

Susan of Texas said...

It's hard to give up power, and painful. But when you're honest you can sit with your husband and plan how to do it. If you insist you're happy trying to run a business and take care of three children but you get angry every time you have to give up something, it's horrible.

Parmenides said...

Every single article they have about what could be considered a "women's issue" is entirely about the small subset of women with the economic possibility of whining about things that everyone else doesn't have the energy or time to worry about.

Note all of the articles by Caitlin Flanagan. Her article how to treat the help or whatever was the most amazingly excruciating whine about privilege I've ever seen.

Ken Houghton said...

"Or is [breast-feeding] this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?"

I believe at that point you can safely stop reading.

The conflation of "breast-feeding" with "stuck at home" is the final clue: the piece clearly was written by an Amish woman, who would then have an excuse never to have heard of a breast pump or on-site day care.

Susan of Texas said...

Even if she didn't work she could have skipped the breast feeding. A lot of woman don't want to do it because it's very painful the first few days. But she can't say no, to herself or others. No wonder so many people feel like there's no control in their lives.