If breastfeeding is so important, why not research it properly?

Typically when a woman experiences difficulty with breastfeeding she’s told to keep working at it because she’s probably just doing it wrong. After all, it’s what her body is meant to do. But our bodies are meant to do a lot of things—like produce insulin, eat peanuts, or get pregnant—that they sometimes can’t…In a piece for Time that questions whether the medical community is failing breastfeeding mothers, writer Lisa Selin Davis points out that “lactation is probably the only bodily function for which modern medicine has almost no training, protocol or knowledge.”

More here. And yes, the article probably is too dismissive of lactation consultants. But it is certainly true that *in addition to* lactation consultants, some science would be helpful. And very definitely right that “but it’s natural” is totally insufficient as a response to problems. (Thanks, L!)

Gerda Lerner, 1920-2013

Historian, feminist, and author of The Creation of Patriarchy Gerda Lerner died Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in Madison, Wisconsin.  She was 92.

Most American scholars reading this post do not remember a time when women’s history was not at least a possible area of study.  This is thanks in part to Lerner’s efforts, as she contributed to the creation of the first graduate program in women’s history in the USA.  Before I read feminist philosophy, I read Creation of Patriarchy. Yet despite the tremendous impression that work made on me, I’m disposed to quote the passage from her more enjoyable read, Fireweed: A Political Autobiography, cited by the NYT in the obituary linked above: “My perfectionism, insistence on anti-fascist commitment in word and deed, and general ‘heaviness’ as a person set me apart from others.”

She certainly was a distinctive presence.

Feminist philosophy and weight loss

There’s a great new post on feminist philosophy and weight loss over at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty. Blogger Sam B sings the praises of philosopher Ann Cahill’s account of her experiences with weight loss in “Getting to My Fighting Weight” published in the Musings section of Hypatia (25 (2):485-492, 2010).

Cahill is a beautiful writer and I love her language when she talks about reconciling her decision to lose weight with her feminist values:

“I realized that maximizing my ability to move, quickly, effectively, strongly, was entirely conducive to my feminist aspirations and activities. I wasn’t aspiring to skinniness or frailty, just the opposite: I wanted to bring strength and vigor to whatever struggle I chose. I wanted to get to my fighting weight.”

It’s great to see the very fraught business of weight loss receiving philosophical attention. As a feminist who lost a good chunk of weight when I started running, I struggled with the experience. There are things about weight loss that I really enjoyed, but every time someone said “You look great!” I felt like a bad feminist. “It’s for health reasons, not aesthetic reasons,” I would sputter (even though I secretly, guiltily, enjoyed some of the aesthetic side-effects).

Here’s the link.


January 8 addendum: Alas, I’ve had to close comments on this thread following a series of unkind comments, which we have removed.

This is a group blog and each of the bloggers parses the blog’s policies a bit differently. (And, in general, the OP moderates the thread.) I lean to the more laissez-faire end of things. Although I support the blog’s approach of sometimes unapproving comments that lower the tone or make the blog feel less safe for contributors, I’ve never before tonight actually removed any comment myself. I’ve been wrestling with this thread from the start, though. I thought that one interlocutor’s initial comment was merely sarcastic. It made me sad to see it, but I decided, rightly or wrongly, to leave it up. Then, when that comment ended up leading to what seemed to me a thoughtful, interesting thread, I was glad I had. True, that thread included a couple of oblique jabs between some of the commenters, but these occurred within comments that were overall well worth reading. And then a comment appeared which engaged in name-calling against the interlocutor whose initial sarcasm had vexed me. Again, I struggled. I actually asked one or two colleagues whether to leave it up or take it down because I didn’t trust my own judgment. No one thought I should take it down. It was name-calling. It was uncharitable. On the other hand, I didn’t think that it was any worse that the initial sarcastic comment. Maybe I felt that way because I’d been on the receiving end of the first one.  In any event, the sniping has continued; so I’ve closed comments. It’s very saddening. What can I say? I hope that I’ll be a better moderator someday. It’s hard.

Romola Garai is awesome

Garai [star of The Hour] described herself as a “bra-burning, building-burning feminist” but said she felt under pressure to conform.
She told Radio Times: “It’s difficult because if I refuse to do any magazines at all, my work, I think, would suffer in a very immediate way. But when I appear in these magazines, I know I’m being ‘trimmed’. I’m being airbrushed a lot.
“And I know that people are accepting those images and are under the impression that that is really how my body looks, that I’m hairless and sexless and weigh 90 lbs. That really worries me. And I really don’t know what to do except talk about it.”

For more, go here.

Some days, I just can’t.

I do not know how to describe how disturbed, how heartbroken, how frustrated, and most of all, how angry I am at the moment.   (Trigger warning for the full story, and especially the video itself. )

A chilling video leaked by an Anonymous cell this week has added a new twist to a sordid tale of alleged rape that has shattered the peace of a close-knit Ohio football town.

The disturbing 12-minute video, posted online Tuesday by the hacktivist group “Knight Sec,” shows teens making jokes about the events that reportedly transpired on Aug. 22.

One teen appears to be refer to the victim as “deader than” Trayvon Martin, and adds, “she is so raped her p**s is about as dry as the sun right now.”

I am horrified by what happened in India. I am also horrified that being charged with rape apparently isn’t much of a detraction from one’s political candidacy there. I am absolutely sick and tired of how rape is treated like a joke, again, and again. I am so far beyond over the way our reverence for athletes and loyalty to our favorite teams enables silencing, suffering, and double standards again, and again, and again. I am tired of victim blaming. I don’t even know where to start on American politicians talking about rape. I am incensed that there was controversy at all about the Violence Against Women Act, and even more so that it wasn’t reauthorized.

I simply don’t have the right words at the moment.