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The post in which I am revealed as a humor-challenged hag, but…

Does anyone else see a really glaring contradiction between the effort by lactivists/lactofanatics to portray breastfeeding as the biological norm, and the phrase I keep seeing on messageboard blinkies and shirts (such as the tank top below)?

I appreciate there are quite a few women who encounter severe difficulties initiating and persevering at breastfeeding and are quite proud they managed it anyway, but it can’t be much of a superpower if it’s a normal, natural part of human physiology, can it?

Y’know, I just went to the dentist today after not having been for 18 months (administering slap on my own wrist). Not only did he give me a clean bill of health cavity-wise, he also said not to bother with the hygienist this time as I have no plaque worth mentioning. I was going to put this good news down to good genes/tooth brushing technique/dumb luck, but do you think I can claim my lack of dental findings as a superpower, too? “I have naturally squeaky-clean teeth. What’s your superpower”? Bit much to fit on a blinkie, I know…

Heck, along with the breastfeeding bit, that would make me a veritable Wonder Woman ;) .

Incidentally, if you want to know what your superpower should be, you can always try this quiz.

In case you were wondering, mine’s mind reading.

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9 Responses

  1. lol, I had never thought of the discrepancy there. I think that out of all of the breastfeeding blinkies I’ve seen, that one is my favorite. :-) I can’t imagine wearing a t-shirt that said it, though.

    Congrats on the clean teeth! I went without a cavity until I was 14, then I had a couple. They were a result of poor brushing while I had braces.

    My superpower would be manipulating electricity.

  2. That superpower crap drives me crazy. I’ve seen a variation on it where the t-shirt reads, “Making babies is my superpower.” You may as well wear a t-shirt that says, “Digesting food is my superpower.”

    You know, I love my kid. I love being a mom. But I’m not proud I got pregnant and gave birth. Any 14-year-old can do it. I’m proud that my son is a happy and secure little spud. I’m proud that my husband and I have a happy marriage that we work hard to maintain. And I’m also damned proud that I’m finishing my first novel despite having to juggle a job and household responsibilities. Women should be proud of their actual accomplishments, not their physiological functions.

  3. Have you ever read the article that the ‘breastfeeding is the norm and formula is inferior’ way of putting things originates from? There’s one that you or I should write a blog post on some time, pointing out the author’s utter lack of knowledge of even basic psychology… (Hey, what we should do is get T-shirts saying “I debunk guilt-inducing propaganda. What’s your superpower?” Whaddya think?)

    As for the “I make milk…” phrase, I confess to liking that one. Not that I’d ever put it on a T-shirt – way too insensitive towards people who couldn’t breastfeed, and also way too indicative of the wearer’s own insecurities. But it’s a saying that’s inspired me through a fair few dull pumping sessions. Hell, I think most of the body’s powers *are* pretty amazing, and more rather than less so for being so everyday. Nice to remind ourselves of that occasionally. ;-)

  4. Estherar: I am missing the part where you were accused of being a humorless hag. And thus confused by the rest of the post. I don’t think your body making milk is a super power.

  5. Ah I though of another slogan “I make milk, therefore I am.” I know it is stealing Descartes “I think, therefore I am.” Maybe if they don’t make milk, they they don’t exist?

  6. Have you read The Onion article, yet Women Now Empowered By Everything a Woman Does? Here’s the URL:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/women_now_empowered_by_everything

    That explains everything.

  7. Lisa – thanks. I had 2 cavities in my early 30s, but otherwise have been incredibly fortunate.

    Li – a novel?! Not a superpower, but still pretty damn impressive and something I wish I could do (in case you haven’t noticed, dialogue is not my forte).

    SarahV- are you referring to Watch Your Language? I’m not sure I question the author’s knowledge of psychology so much as her sense of reality and ethics, but I’d love to hear your take on it.

    Incidentally, us Jews have a prayer (said every morning and on emerging from the bathroom!) thanking God for everything being in working order. It’s not something we take for granted, but I see “superpower” as referring to something above nature, not the natural order of things. After all, even women who aren’t planning to breastfeed initially “make milk”, unless they have glandular issues or take suppressive medications (which I don’t give, BTW. Seeing one woman go temporarily psychotic from them as a resident was quite enough, TYVM).

    Pinky – I was just warding off the inevitable “lighten up, you have no sense of humor, it’s just a blinkie/T-shirt”. And I wonder if there aren’t some women for whom “I make milk, therefore I am” is entirely true…spinoff on the “birth junkie” perhaps?

    Angela – have seen and laughed myself silly over that Onion piece. You remind me that I’ve been meaning to write a post about the E word as well.

  8. YEs, the onion article does explain a lot. In the 80′s women’s fashion magazines encouraged women my age to have 3 children, a Masters degree and have a high powered CEO job. They never told us how this was to be accomplished and each job done correctly. So perhaps this is the other end of the pendulum. Hear yee women. Feel empowered by taking a nice crap each morning. It means you are not irregular!

    I did get a kick out of the onion piece. So now I can sit home and get fat and wear obscene T-shirts and this makes me an empowered feminist.???? Who Knew?

  9. Ah, yes – that’s the one. I remembered most of its content, but not the title or author.

    Far too long for me to go through all of it, and somewhere in there I think she actually does make some good points. But she believes that women will be more motivated to nurse if the choice between breastfeeding and formula-feeding is presented in terms of avoiding the negatives of formula-feeding, rather than in terms of getting the positives of breastfeeding. Anyone who has done even basic psychology knows that the complete reverse is true – it’s well established that humans are more motivated by trying to achieve positive consequences than by trying to avoid negative consequences. That’s why you see adverts talking about how great their product is, not about how inferior everyone else’s product is.

    From my own personal experience of struggling to keep breastfeeding in the face of difficulties, I can tell you that between an attitude that I was just about achieving a minimum acceptable standard of normality (not even that, according to her criteria, since I was pumping some of the milk I gave my son) and an attitude that I was doing something really wonderful for him by going to all that effort, I would have been far more motivated by the latter.

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