New Rule: Bill Maher gets to eat in public unaccosted when babies do.

If you see Bill Maher consuming food in public, be sure to tell him that his horrible appearance deeply, personally offends you, and you think it’s totally disgusting that he would put food in his mouth in public. Eew. Also, remind him of the fascinating biological fact that people are mammals.

Yeah, Bill Maher is funny, but he’s a real ass when it comes to women. His latest tirade is against breast feeding, which he thinks is disgusting and compares to masturbation. But don’t get him wrong, he loves titties — as long as they’re attached to a thin female body, and as long as they’re there for his pleasure.

For all his complaining about conservative nutjobs attacking science and sex, he’s awfully willing to ignore the basic fact that human beings are mammals, and he’s awfully willing to shame women who don’t fit into his narrow ideal of human sexuality. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a TV talk show host) to figure out that the purity-obsessed anti-choice anti-sex misogynists aren’t coming from such a different place than the Girls Gone Wild woman-objectifying misogynists. In both viewpoints, women exist for men’s pleasure, and women’s bodies are public property. Women’s reproductive choices are up for legal and social regulation. The female body is dirty, and that dirtiness should be generally repressed — except in dude-approved settings.

I’m with Louise Marie Roth:

Given that it’s so good for their babies and themselves, why don’t more mothers breastfeed? One reason is that there is inadequate maternity leave for most women, making it hard for women who want or need to work outside the home to establish breastfeeding. Another reason is that many employed women don’t have enough privacy at work to pump milk. But we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of people like Bill Maher who are squeamish about the fact that humans are mammals. Coworkers who don’t want women leaving icky breast milk in the office refrigerator because it grosses them out. Those who can’t handle the idea that babies should also get to eat when the family is at Applebees, even if they are having something healthier than what’s on the menu. So Bill Maher says that breastfeeding mother’s are too lazy to plan ahead, presumably because they can arrange it so that their babies don’t need to eat while they’re out. Obviously he has never had to manage life within small windows of opportunity between feedings or he would know that timing a baby’s hunger is just not possible. Perhaps he would prefer that breastfeeding mothers never leave the house — another recipe for reducing breastfeeding rates. Sometimes people, especially those without children, seem to forget that mothers are people too — we need to have friends, social lives, and activities beyond the confinement of our living rooms.

Bill Maher obviously doesn’t understand the benefits of breastfeeding to public health, since he claims that breastfeeding is not worthy of activism. He says that it’s “petty and parochial.” Apparently he also doesn’t understand that supporting breastfeeding is not only good for public health, it’s also part of reproductive justice — along with the availability of contraception, the legality of abortion, the right to informed consent or refusal of medical procedures when giving birth — all rights that many women currently do not have. When he claims that women’s reproductive activities are yucky and should go underground, he is colluding with the people who want to control reproduction and sexuality — not normally the folks he counts among his friends (with the possible exception of Ann Coulter). He may be in favor of the kind of sex he wants to have with the kind of bodies he wants to have it with, but his attitudes toward women are stuck in the Dark Ages.

And did you know that “narcissistic” activists like the breast-feeding “lactivists” are the reason why the Iraq war is continuing? Crazy.

He also argues that women shouldn’t get “special privileges” just because they had a baby — which is so easy, even a dog can do it.* Who knew that feeding your kid was a special privilege? Or that eating in public (babies are people too, you know) is reserved for a particular class?

*Of course, if it’s so easy I’d like to see him try it.

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47 comments for “New Rule: Bill Maher gets to eat in public unaccosted when babies do.

  1. Kat
    September 19, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Oh my goodness. I’m speechless.

    So, let me get this straight… those crazy narcissistic breastfeeders, who are only just trying to get an attention fix and could arrange to feed their babies before going to dinner, are representative of the self-absorbed culture that has led us to the mess that is in Iraq?

    (Because I thought Bush and his cronies were to blame for the the mess in Iraq, and they don’t seem to support women and breastfeeding…. )

    And…. Applebee’s, despite its family-friendly marketing, is not an appropriate venue for a breastfeeding baby, but Hooters is? So can we bring babies to strip clubs then? Because exposed boobies are the norm there, too?

    I think that was the most ignorant thing I’ve watched in a long time–from the Britney-is-fat rhetoric (complete with laughter from less-than-lean male panelists) to the WTC-as-erectile-dysfunction to the breastfeeding-leads-to-cultural-breakdown crap. Wow.

  2. zuzu
    September 19, 2007 at 9:36 am

    But don’t get him wrong, he loves titties — as long as they’re attached to a thin female body

    A YOUNG thin female body. I seem to recall he had less than glowing things to say about Janet Jackson’s 40-year-old breasts.

  3. Thealogian
    September 19, 2007 at 9:54 am

    I know several women who were involved in the “nurse-in” this weekend–women from my church’s “Mom’s Group” and our minister was interviewed regarding the subject (I’m in Kentucky, and the woman who was originally harassed at Applebees was in Kentucky). I’m proud to know these women.

    There’s about a 1000 things wrong with Maher’s commentary, but one I’d like to point out is his assertion that our causes have become parochial (shallow in a sense). This could be launched at anyone’s cause that does not directly impact Maher on a daily basis. For example, you know where we got the term “Tree Hugger?” It was from literal tree-hugging protests in India in the 1970’s in which corporations were clear-cutting in forests that villagers depended on for survival and to help protect the top-soil from washing away. I’ve read some of the accounts of those protests in which men, women, and children risked their lives before bulldozers and chainsaws by hugging trees–they are awe inspiring.

    Now, of course, today to be called a “Tree Hugger” is supposed to represent a great insult because you’re not an even-minded environmentalist who expresses his/her concern from a rational perspective, but rather “a tree hugger” someone who is acting irrationally, someone who perhaps is putting trees before people. The fact that the trees in the actual case of the tree-huggers provided for the people, that it was only a few who would profit in a limited, one-time clear cut and who would not have to live in the area with the real and damaging results of such a clear cut has been hidden–deliberately obfuscated–from the cultural imagination is a crime.

    For Maher, something like the reality of the Tree Huggers of India is so removed that I could easily imagine him dismissing their concerns as “parochial” or “silly” because he is limited in his ability to think beyond his own experiences. Breast feeding is vital to mother and to child–and the mechanics of breast feeding often make it difficult and uncomfortable to try to do so when “covering up”–how would you like to eat under a smothering blanket?

  4. ekf
    September 19, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Maher’s bullshit about breastfeeding activism pissed me off so much that I wrote a 1600 word op-ed about it (since I don’t have a blog, though, I was at the mercy of some publications, who ignored it…oh well). My points are much the same as those here, but there are two that I’d make in addition to the above:

    1. Bill Maher acts like men don’t masturbate in public, when they sure as shit do. That he’d use masturbation as a joking reference just goes to show how long it’s been since he’s ridden public transportation in a major city. Those men may be the exceptions to most men (although the hollaback sites suggest they’re not insignificant in number), but then there are the regular guys who just urinate in public when they need to, or play some harmless pocket pinball or do some overzealous “adjusting” or just a “quick scratch.” Point being, cock modesty is nonexistent, but breast modesty, particularly when it’s something that a man wants to characterize as “intimate” (but in a way that excludes him – waaa! give him a breast!), is supposed to be mandatory — and enforceable by authority figures? What a load of crap.

    2. Where Maher would point to so-called “parochial” issues as being a problem that gets in the way of “important” issues (which he gets the right to define for all women everywhere, natch), I think the breastfeeding debate shows how not facing one’s discomfort is a much bigger problem. Why isn’t global warming taken seriously? Because average people blot out the myriad ways in which our rotting environment actually affects their daily lives, and because facing the grotesqueries of our consumer culture and our complicity in its environmental degradation can make people uncomfortable. So people cover it up, go to a concert and absolve themselves of our environmental sins and think that they’ve done what they can. Why isn’t more being done about our military and political debacles in the Middle East? Because people can’t deal with our memories of the vast majority of the population having supported the war in the first place, of having been duped by President Bush, and so that makes people uncomfortable, and the resulting cowardice and shame makes them turn away from the horrors left in the wake of our shared culpability. So talking heads like Maher excoriate Bush, talk about what a horrible President he is, and wait out the problem until we can elect another one, instead of insisting that things change NOW –- because facing how desperate the situation really is might require facing how culpable the war supporters (i.e., the vast majority of the people here in the U.S.) were in creating the disgrace.

    The breastfeeding issue is the same — people can’t deal with their own hang-ups and their own desires to dominate the female form sexually in our culture, and so they just get themselves a case of the wiggins and blame the woman for making other people uncomfortable. The woman’s just trying to feed her child — it’s the Bill Mahers of the world who are making themselves uncomfortable, and maybe facing that discomfort would be a much more productive thing than blaming women for not only that discomfort, but for all the problems in the world!

  5. SarahMC
    September 19, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Oh this really pisses me off. Breasts are for ogling, not feeding! I’m sure he’d have had no complaints if the woman was simply eating her own dinner while wearing a low-cut top. But a breast with a baby attached?! EW! That selfish baby is blocking Bill’s view!
    THAT is what this is all about. Men’s entitlement to women’s bodies and their assumption that they get to dictate when and how we use them for their biological purpose.
    And no, Bill, breastfeeding in public is nothing like pissing or shitting in public. Breastmilk is not excrement. Breasts have never hurt anyone.
    Those who oppose public breastfeeding need to think REAL HARD about what, exactly, is so offensive about it. Our society’s fucked-up views re: sexuality and women’s bodies is at fault. But you’ve got to acknowledge that and attempt to change how you treat breastfeeding women, and ALL women for that matter.
    Breasts don’t wage war or commit violence. They’re not used as weapons against other people like some other (male) body parts. Save the outrage for something that really causes harm in the world.

  6. curiousgyrl
    September 19, 2007 at 11:36 am

    The worst thing about that clip was that i clicked on it expecting a particular joke that comes in teh middle, I think about Iraq; instead i got a blatant misogyny sandwich. The part about how women 8 years older than 18 (I’m 26) are to old fat and ugly to fuck was pretty nasty, especially when you aren’t expecting it. The clip should have been titled “I hate women” or something so I would have known what i was getting into.

  7. curiousgyrl
    September 19, 2007 at 11:37 am

    oh that was it right– I was looking forward to something making fun of 9/11 conspiracy theories.

  8. September 19, 2007 at 11:52 am

    It’s kinda creepy how much damn time Maher spends whining about breastfeeding – by far the biggest segment of “New Rules.” And doesn’t his rant here directly contradict his apparent point about activism? The problem isn’t supposedly “parochial” issues (whatever the hell that means), it’s that people are dismissive of just about any kind of activism at all. Seriously, it sure seems like Maher himself is the one both parochializing breastfeeding, and then acting like it’s someone else’s problem.

    And I think this post is spot on about linking the anxiety over breastfeeding to the idea of women’s bodies as public property. I mean, what’s next? Banning women’s restrooms because some men are squicked out? You know what they do in there…

  9. mandi
    September 19, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Not to mention that Maher ignores the fact that in the Applebees case, the woman’s *legal right* to breastfeed was violated. But I suppose his love of boobs (when they love him back) is above the law.

  10. SunlessNick
    September 19, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Breasts have never hurt anyone. – SarahMC

    Silly Sarah, every MRA knows that breasts cause hormonal imbalances in men that can only corrected with a period of intense ogling and concentration; otherwise risks madness, cancer, and probably communism.

  11. September 19, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    You got blinded by the insensitive jokes and missed the point. His main point was about narcissistic activism, not breast feeding. He might be wrong about the breast feeding, but he’s right on the substance of why activism doesn’t work these days.

  12. September 19, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    You got blinded by the insensitive jokes and missed the point. His main point was about narcissistic activism, not breast feeding. He might be wrong about the breast feeding, but he’s right on the substance of why activism doesn’t work these days.

    Well, if that was his point, he did a pretty crappy job of illustrating it. And the breastfeeding thing wasn’t just a sidenote to his main point; it was the main part of the segment. So please don’t say that we “got blinded by the insensitive jokes.” Give me a fucking break.

    Also? The “narcissistic activism” point was crap to begin with.

  13. Henry
    September 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    This is awesome. I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that Bill Maher is an asshole for years. Creepy old bastard. Can I get an Amen?

  14. Thealogian
    September 19, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    You got blinded by the insensitive jokes and missed the point. His main point was about narcissistic activism, not breast feeding. He might be wrong about the breast feeding, but he’s right on the substance of why activism doesn’t work these days

    Breast-Feeding is NOT politically insignificant.

  15. ekf
    September 19, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    He might be wrong about the breast feeding, but he’s right on the substance of why activism doesn’t work these days

    I couldn’t disagree more. His rant, to the extent it talked about “parochial” activism, was dead wrong. Women who are activists about breastfeeding are likely to be activists on a LOT of other subjects, including those subjects Bill Maher deigns to believe are important. If a woman is a breastfeeding activist because she’s motivated by concern for her children and want them to have good nutrition, then she’s likely to be an environmental activist (wants a clean world for her kids), an activist for well-regulated trade (wants to avoid imports from China that include harmful substances), and an anti-war activist (wants a more peaceful world), at a minimum. If a woman’s breastfeeding activism stems from a more feminist/civil rights point of view, then all of the prior list could also be included (perhaps with slightly different motivations, but with similar outcomes), and could have added to it race relations, women’s bodily integrity rights, etc.

    The problem with activism is not that activists have their time taken up with other forms of activism, it’s that the rest of the people who would blow off issues like breastfeeding would be equally likely to blow off other issues and remain uninformed and apathetic about the war, the environment, and other “really important” causes.

  16. Brian
    September 19, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    First of all, let me apologize for Bill’s chauvinistic view of this topic. I almost always agree with him about things except for religion and now this. Comparing a woman out in public breast-feeding to a guy masterbating in public is not only outrageous, I find it very ignorant of someone who I thought was more open-minded than this. He can’t even bring himself to believe people actually have faith in religion so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Breast-feeding is the most natural thing a woman can do for her baby and I really wish men would grow up and get over the fact this it’s a part of life.

    One aspect of this is the “intent” and the devil is in the details because men masturbate for pleasure. Women breast-feed because its a part of procreation and humanity so comparing the two is like comparing apples to broccholi and makes Bill’s argument completely irrational. Luckily we live in a society of laws that knows the difference because you can get arrested for public indecency for masturbating in public. If this were to happen to a woman breast-feeding, there would be an outrage unlike anyone’s seen.

    I can understand why women are outraged about this topic because living in a patriarchal society has given way to opinions about what women can do with their bodies and their lives has been going on for so long. I’ve never known any relatives, friends, neighbors or acquaintances that are women who have had a baby who were able to plan a breast-feeding “schedule” in their lives because that’s just impossible. Ekf makes a good point that Bill can critize President Bush about this and that, but in matters of importance in regards to women, his chauvinism gets in the way of his ideology. He needs to debate ideas about his concern for breast-feeding in public instead of just spouting off nonsense and realize breasts have a purpose in life, not just a sexual purpose as eye-candy for men.

  17. Anatolia
    September 19, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    His new post over at HuffPo is berating Angelina Jolie for having the audacity to hold her children. I have to wonder how someone supposedly so involved in animal rights missed the Harry Harlow experiments.

  18. Brian
    September 19, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Sirkowski, stop trying to take people’s eyes off the ball because this has nothing to do at all with narcissitic activism. Don’t you see the simple truth by Bill just bringing up the Applebee’s incident in the middle of his whole rant shows that he is completely against breast-feeding in public? He makes it pretty evident where he stands so don’t confuse his satire by the set-up of the joke with the underlying point he’s making, breast-feeding doesn’t belong out in the open.

  19. roses
    September 19, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve often seen feminism dismissed on the same grounds – that’s it’s selfish to fight for things like equal pay when there are SO MANY MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES out there. It’s always asked why aren’t you doing more, more more? But ekf is absolutely right, the problem is not that the small amount of people who are activists aren’t doing enough, the problem is the vast majority of people aren’t doing anything at all.

  20. AD
    September 19, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    babies are people too, you know

    I’m afraid I have to disagree there. They’re people in training, proto-people, who may one day become people. But everything else is spot-on.

  21. September 19, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Well, certainly we can agree that they have a right to eat, no?

  22. SarahMC
    September 19, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    She’s not talking about fetuses, AD. Breastfeeding babies are indeed people, whether or not you think they have personalities or whatever. Come on.

  23. AD
    September 19, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Oh, absolutely they have a right to eat, and in publlc.

    SarahMC: obviously she’s not talking about fetuses. It’s awfully hard for a fetus to breast feed. “People” doesn’t mean quite the same thing as, say, “humans”.

  24. Anatolia
    September 19, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    New Rule: Mr. Politically Incorrect doesn’t get to appeal to offending the delicate sensibilities of the pucker-faced prudes amongst us as a platform from which to rant.

  25. September 19, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    I have to say that ekf is spot on. The same thing that make myself and many other women fight for breastfeeding also fuels us on other issues.

    The problem with activism is not that activists have their time taken up with other forms of activism, it’s that the rest of the people who would blow off issues like breastfeeding would be equally likely to blow off other issues and remain uninformed and apathetic about the war, the environment, and other “really important” causes.


  26. September 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I think he’s hilarious, and talented, and awesome… And then he comes out with something like this – and it makes him look like the people that he has spent most of his career deriding. Pssssh.

  27. tinfoil hattie
    September 19, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    He’s a misogynist asshole, and a narcissist, and nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is. He’s a big f-in whiner with a microphone.

    And AD? Babies are people. You, however? I’m wondering.

  28. September 19, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Jill Says:
    Well, if that was his point, he did a pretty crappy job of illustrating it.

    He’s a stand up comic, not a political scientist. Not sure what you were expecting.

    Brian Says:
    Don’t you see the simple truth by Bill just bringing up the Applebee’s incident in the middle of his whole rant shows that he is completely against breast-feeding in public?

    It’s not because I don’t care that it means I don’t see. You really think Bill Maher is a anti-public breast feeding activist? He’s says he doesn’t like it, but he’s not going to start lobbying for a government ban. I don’t agree with him either, but big deal, it’s the opinion of a stand-up comic. He was making an offensive joke, and obviously succeeded.

    You think he didn’t know he was gonna piss you off?

  29. Peter H.
    September 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    He also argues that women shouldn’t get “special privileges” just because they had a baby — which is so easy, even a dog can do it.* Who knew that feeding your kid was a special privilege?

    Ignoring all the other (far more important) reasons Maher has this wrong – y’all are doing just fine covering those – since when is letting a woman expose her chest (to whatever, doubtless very tiny degree) in public a “special privilege”? Maybe not Applebees, but men get to take their shirts off just about anywhere they want, for far less worthwhile reasons.


  30. September 19, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    I am just so SICK of the STUPIDITY! Of Men.

    And YES, Babies are People. IF you are unsure, try murdering one….you’ll get sent away for a long time. Will that convince you?

    (I can just imagine Mahr taking the exact OPPOSITE approach: screaming babies are an anethema; look lady, pull out a breast and cram it in the infant’s mouth already!)

  31. Gayle
    September 19, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for blogging this. I inadvertently tuned into Real Time (I should know better by now) and landed right on this segment. As soon as he trotted out the “more important things” cliche, my eyes started glazing over.

    Yes, women are sooo “narcissitic” for insisting they should be allowed to feed their babies in public. Sure they are!

    I concur with all those above who are saying the real problem is that too many people aren’t getting involved in activism. Very true.

  32. Gayle
    September 19, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Yikes, I meant to write “too few people are getting involved.” I’ll try to make better use of Preview in the future!

  33. StotheL
    September 19, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    What a jerk. Misogynist, narcissistic, the whole 9 yards. Equating breastfeeding to masturbating (or peeing, or pooping, as I’ve heard others do) just because both are natural is absurd. Women don’t want to be able to breastfeed in public because it’s ‘natural,’ we want to so that we can feed our babies when they are hungry. Period.

    AD, I see your point. Babies don’t have agency, they can’t care for themselves or think or communicate clearly. But they are people, just like elderly folks and people with disabilities.

  34. Elizabeth
    September 19, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve hated that man since he straight up admitted to sleeping with Ann Coulter (although I don’t mind James Carville and look who he’s married to…)

    Then I saw one of his standup bits about the “feminization” of society – and that just cemented it for me. My whole family LOVES him but there’s a million things to do on a Friday night besides watch this asshole.

  35. kali
    September 19, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    How the hell is breastfeeding activism narcissistic? Making it easier for women to breastfeed has a direct impact on the health of future generations. Why does this moron think that child health is an unimportant, narcissistic concern?

  36. Torri
    September 20, 2007 at 11:18 am

    yuck, and I thought his bit a while ago about some foreign celebrity not beaming with joy when she got off the plane to America was bad…
    I used to like the little snippets I saw of these segments but now… ick
    Heck I can be a bit of an a-hole about babies in restaurants and cinema’s, I tend to eye-roll and mutter grumpily to myself once the inevitable wailing starts… and it’s things like this that make me wake up a bit.

  37. Confused
    September 20, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve got nothing against breast feeding in public.

    But then again, I’ve also got nothing against urinating or having sex in public. I don’t know why so many people are against these perfectly natural things being done in public.

  38. WishyWashy
    September 20, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I have a confession to make: up until this spiel by Maher, I was very leery of breastfeeding activism and nurse-ins specifically. As a soon-to-be first-time mom, I have read an awful lot of messageboards where women who were unsuccessful at breastfeeding were exhorted with various comments ranging from simply persistent to outright confrontational, that they were basically being horrible mothers if they couldn’t breastfeed. I wondered what their opinions would be of my friends who adopted and *had* to formula-feed. Or their opinions of my friend who, since returning to work, simply cannot get enough milk and must supplement with formula. I still think many parenting experts and medical communities are biased too strongly towards the mother being able to be home for a year and available 24-7, when this is simply not an option for most. Granted, maybe these critical board commenters were conservo-bot breastfeeding moms, of whom there are as many as liberal moms. But as someone who had never experienced this (yet), and acknowledging that unfortunately in our society, women’s breasts are considered more sexual than functional (thanks a lot Puritan assholes – makes me long for my days at Spanish public swimming pools sans top and completely unmolested), I figured the only thing to do to go about your life in peace was to comply or at least wear the drape. I still think it’s a valid choice to wear a drape IF the baby takes to it alright and doesn’t find it too hot.

    I wondered about the effectiveness of showing up en masse and demonstrating. I’ve never really been an on-the-scenes activist type, more of a letter-writing type. I do not enjoy making people (even people I disagree with) uncomfortable and will usually think of ways to *avoid* making them uncomfortable. Sometimes I think activism and protesting lost their effectiveness after the 60’s.

    But then the gears started turning.

    If a breastfeeding mom shouldn’t be in public, where does she belong?

    at home.

    LIke (I think) most new moms who don’t have the desire or heck even the *financial ability* to pull an “opt-out” lifestyle, I’ll be going back to work after three months. The piffle from the Right about losing all of your second income simply isn’t true. Not in New York City anyway. Granted I’ll be having to pump most of the time (and my company isn’t particularly nursing-mother friendly but they have made arrangements because they know the law), but sometimes I’ll be out in public. With my son. And he’ll be hungry, and I will strongly prefer not to have to shlep additional bags and containers with me so I can bottle-feed him expressed breastmilk when I am right there, for crying out loud.

    The circumstances of my life dictate that I need to be back at work, both as a human being and as a vital co-provider for my family. Doctors, nurses and other mothers tell me I should breastfeed my son exclusively until 6 months of age and try to breastfeed until a year (I cannot imagine how this will happen, frankly.) Society tells me I’d better not whip out my boob in public.

    I guess I’m a little shamed that I don’t have, and probably won’t acquire, the chutzpah to really get confrontational about this in a public way. But I acknowledge that I’m a hypocrite – because breastfeeding-shaming is just another way of forcing women, especially mothers, back into the hidden sphere of the home, behind its closed doors. Not that there’s anything wrong with the home, but we belong in public too. We have as much right to be in public as anyone else. And if the AAP is now telling us it’s vital to at least attempt to breastfeed….we are backed into a corner. Are we Bad Mommy, or Bad Woman? Can’t win either way.

  39. ekf
    September 20, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Are we Bad Mommy, or Bad Woman? Can’t win either way.

    Dingdingding! Yep. Exactly the way the patriarchy likes it!

    I think I need to design a drape that’s got a really exploitative-looking pair of bikini-covered breasts on it. The phrase “My breasts — re-sexualized for your pleasure” could be across the front/above the breasts. Wonder if assholes like Maher would like that better.

  40. WishyWashy
    September 20, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    ekf, that would be pretty damn funny. I’d buy one of those. I can be confrontational if humor and wit are involved.

  41. hp
    September 20, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Doctors, nurses and other mothers tell me I should breastfeed my son exclusively until 6 months of age and try to breastfeed until a year (I cannot imagine how this will happen, frankly.)

    If you’re willing to answer, I guess the question is: why do you have difficulty imagining that this will happen?

    I’m not trying to be confrontational, but I’m coming from the other side (back at work at 3 months, sent expressed breast milk until switching over to cow’s milk at 13 months, still happily nursing outside of working hours at 15 months). I HATED HATED HATED cleaning the daycare bottles daily (and I wasn’t even good enough to be sterilizing them the way a lot of moms do and the state says I should have), and never gave a bottle to the kid myself because nursing him was just so much easier.

    I think that’s why the “being lazy” insult is often thrown at mothers who nurse in public–it is far lazier than having to plan out how many ounces you’re going to need for your trip, how you’re going to keep the EBM (or even formula) at the right temp during the trip, and then cleaning up at the end. I couldn’t see any reason to be doing all that work.

  42. September 21, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Wishy washy, I exclusively nursed while working full time. It can be done and it doesn’t even have to be that difficult. It just requires a little bit of know-how.

    I’ve started a post on my blog to solicit tips for nursing while working.

  43. WishyWashy
    September 21, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Gaia – thanks, I’ll check it out. When you say you nursed exclusively, do you mean you actually nursed your baby directly on break time? Did you have on-site daycare?

    Our situation is that we can’t afford the daycare places in the neighborhoods where either of us work (midtown Manhattan). So we are looking into daycares and, more likely, a nanny-share with another couple in our home neighborhood. So I figure I’ll have to be pumping. I felt like the breastfeeding class I took through my hospital’s childbirth education center was a little too brief on the subject of pumping but I do have other moms to whom I can turn.

    hp – the reason I can’t imagine it is I am trying to imagine my life after my son’s birth staying as closely on course to how it was before as possible. Post-birth I may decide this was lunacy, but at present, it’s important for me to imagine myself still being exactly who I am, and adding motherhood rather than having it replace other things about me. My job to me is not a career, it is a rent job, but it is necessary to pay the bills. Part-time (when hired), I’m a professional performing artist. I understand that motherhood will limit the degree to which I can travel for gigs, but I was hoping it would not obliterate it entirely. So I am trying to weigh out carefully how to spend the next year…how much time lost off my resume will be the nail in the coffin lid of my performing, etc. Granted, many arts companies are becoming more mom-friendly and I could bring baby with me. I could do my best to stay local, though here in NYC it’s the Big Stuff (I almost cannot get these auditions) or stuff that pays utter crap or does not pay at all, it simply may get you a newspaper review and you have to be grateful for the “opportunity.” I’m overwhelmed thinking about day job PLUS motherhood PLUS attempting not to fall off the face of the planet in terms of my “real” career track. If I sound selfish, or like I don’t have a proper understanding of what it will be like to actually have a child, it’s just that – I *don’t* know. So to me, breastfeeding for a year sounds mighty scary. That’s all. I’m going to do my best to commit myself to the 6 months (that would mean 3 months of at-work pumping), and beyond that, if I find it easy, well I’ll keep going then.

  44. hp
    September 21, 2007 at 11:33 am

    It’s sad that most breastfeeding classes don’t cover the informaton about pumping–because for many working mothers, after 3 months, pumping becomes the hardest part of breastfeeding.

    The basic facts about pumping are:

    (1) It’s different from breastfeeding, so to get the best results you really have to divest yourself of the need for the “emotional” aspect of nursing when you do it. (Women who treat breastfeeding as simply “a way to feed the babe” rather than “the best, most magical mother-babe bonding behavior on the face of the planet” tend to pump better.)

    (2) It’s less efficient than nursing from the tap. At the least, you probably have to pump for each bottle the babe consumes. If you need to pump more than that–YOU’RE NOT FAILING. You’re normal. (There are a lot of solutions there: some lactation supportive herbs and medications that can be used to generate a slight oversupply to account for the pump being less effective at emptying the breast; then there are things like pumping 1 breast while the baby nurses at the other to take advantage of the letdowns the babe will probably far more easily “generate” than the pump.)

    (3) Hands-free pumping bra and electric dual pump (Medela or Ameda). You need both of those. The Medela and Ameda pumps are the worthwhile ones on the market (if you have health insurance, see if they’ll cover a pump if your doctor writes a prescription–our insurance covered $225 of the $250 for mine).

    The hands-free bra: first, it’s damned uncomfortable to hold those stupid horns up to the boobs for 20 minutes. Second, holding them tends to focus your full attention on how successful the pumping session is from moment-to-moment, which can hinder it. Third, with it, you can read a book, surf the Internet, snooze, do whatever it takes to distract you from the fact the pump isn’t your babe (see (1)).

    Okay, onto your other concerns: I will say ouch. The job+the gigs are going to be more problematic than just a job. The advice I have here is: first, nurse whenever you’re with the babe–no bottles if you can nurse. Don’t worry yourself if you think that the babe is using nursing just as a pacifer or for comfort–that’s good and normal. Don’t worry yourself about nursing in public either. Most of the angry Internet trolls wouldn’t dare come up to a nursing mother in real life–the worse I’ve gotten are angry glares and stares and stage whispers about how disgusting I am (usually from other mothers with children). But do know your state laws in regard to public breastfeeding.

    Second, pump every 3 hours when away from babe, if possible. Third, you may want to figure out how to add a pumping session early (4-5 weeks pp) to start building a freezer stash to help carry you as far as you want to go.

    The final advice (as other pro-bfing moms come to beat on me), especially if you make it to 6 months with no or very little supplement, your body *can* adjust to what you want it to do. If that’s some formula at daycare during the weekdays and nursing when you’re available to the babe, your breasts can adjust to that schedule as long as you don’t mistrust their ability to do so. I believe that is the biggest reason so many women fail at breastfeeding–we don’t trust our bodies. And there’s very little support out there to support us to trust in ourselves. The medical industry in the US treats the normal growth patterns of breastfed babes as adnormal, society tells us “hide those damn things, that’s gross,” formula advertising tells us that formula is almost just as good as breast milk.

    Okay, that’s my info dump :)

  45. September 21, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I did pump and there were bottles. I nursed during lunch hours (and some breaks because dh was a SAHD). Mostly he would “reverse-cycle” and nurse when I was home and go for longer stretches when I was away.

    I 2nd everything HP said. I sucked as a pumper, unless I was pumping while nursing. But the idea was just to relieve engorgement, since I could pump enough while he was nursing.

    And yes, your body will adjust to giving some bottles of formula, as long as you don’t give up when the baby is going through a growth spurt and wants to nurse ALL the time. That doesn’t mean that your milk is drying up, it’s just a natural response. Towards the end of our nursing relationship (which was mumble, mumble 28 months long mumble) we only nursed morning and night and I had more than enough milk at those times.

  46. September 21, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    He’s -such- an asshole.

  47. JessA
    September 24, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Ugh. I switched off my iPod the instant this rant started (I subscribe to the Real Time podcast because I think Maher is usually a funny grade-A asshole, and his panel guests are frequently smarter and funnier than he is). But in addition to being painfully unfunny, the anti-public breastfeeding rhetoric is just so freaking *tired*.

    As far as exclusive breastfeeding while working full time in NYC goes – it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it IS possible. If you don’t have an office with a door, talk to your HR department before you return to work about reserving a private room to pump (at least twice a day). If they give you a hard time, point them gently towards the Expressing At Work bill that was passed over the summer:

    For online support, has a lot of good information.

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