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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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80 Responses

  1. Stephanie - Green SAHM
    Stephanie - Green SAHM June 23, 2009 at 12:16 am |

    Moms are just an easy target. It’s easy to get people to agree that moms are doing something wrong.

    It kind of cracked me up the day I saw alcohol screening kits for breastfeeding moms, so that they would know when it was safe to nurse again.

    A bit of wine is not too likely to permanently damage a baby. Isn’t wine consumption pretty much an everyday thing in some countries? I can’t imagine that mothers stop completely in those places the entire time they breastfeed. If their babies are okay, I suspect the ones born in the United States will do just fine too if their moms drink occasionally.

  2. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz June 23, 2009 at 12:25 am |

    This article fails on so many different levels. First off, they talk about how the later women get in pregnancy, the less likely they are to drink. Which, fine, but it’s drinking *earlier* in pregnancy that’s more likely to cause problems.

    I also have to question exactly how good self-reported data is in these circumstances. The level of stigma associated with being pregnant and having any alcohol is absurdly high. The low rates sound lovely, but is the data reliable? (I’m genuinely struggling with the idea that only one in 8 women has any alcohol at all during pregnancy.)

    And I definitely can’t support those efforts when they conflate “use” with “abuse.”

    Especially since they’re talking about women who are going back to consuming 5 or more drinks in the span of a couple of hours after giving birth. The article manages to conflate that kind of behavior with having a glass of wine, which is beyond inane.

  3. Jadelyn
    Jadelyn June 23, 2009 at 1:26 am |

    Not to mention the horrifyingly condescending, patronizing tone. We need to do better in helping women understand…because gods know women aren’t fully functioning, independent beings, who make their own choices and may choose not to do as they’re told. It could only be that their silly little ladybrains haven’t gotten it yet! And this…Women just aren’t stopping the way we would hope.…just reeks of a frustrated “Why aren’t you obeying yet?”

  4. Murder verdict: Mum starved girl to death « Chasing My Own Tail

    [...] This post on Feministe certainly put my rage into a nice little sentence: [...]

  5. Chasy
    Chasy June 23, 2009 at 1:57 am |

    Kinda off topic, but ‘Bad Mummy’ seems to be a theme around the world, today. In Australia we have parents who starved a child to death, BOTH lived with her and both are responsible. Her father told the courts the mother had sole responsibility for the child, so he got a charge of manslaughter rather than murder, which the mother got.

    I think it is nothing short of pissing on the child’s grave to suggest that her father had no responsibility to her. It makes me sick that the Australian legal system has upheld the ‘Bad Mummy’ label and reinforced the idea that child rearing is ‘women’s business only’ for which the men have no knowledge of.

  6. girl
    girl June 23, 2009 at 3:24 am |

    I’m admittedly not an expert on this, and I certainly do not agree with demonizing women for drinking or doing drugs, but I assumed (they’re not clear on WHY they want to stop women from using “substances”) medical professionals want women to avoid drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and postpartum because substances travel from the mother’s bloodstream into her breastmilk, and into the baby.
    Educating mothers on what might happen to their children if they drink or do drugs while the baby is in utero seems to help reduce use, but I don’t think the information on breastfeeding is out there. As far as I remember, my Mom wasn’t told to avoid alcohol or drugs, or even spicy and garlicky foods; she just knew to avoid things like that most of the time because she noticed my younger siblings had trouble with her breastmilk after she ate or drank them.

  7. Ruth
    Ruth June 23, 2009 at 6:21 am |

    Oh Christ.

    As a friend of mine on a parenting board wrote (and I SO wish I could take credit for this awesome haiku)

    good parenting is
    perfecting the ratio
    of coffee to beer

    That article is bullshit.

  8. qvd
    qvd June 23, 2009 at 6:50 am |

    I used to have the same opinion as the OP about scare tactics and sexism. I mean, my mother drank very mildly when she was pregnant and I turned out fine.

    But then I learned about FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and met children whose lives will always be affected by it. I have a totally different opinion now. One of the saddest parts is that FASD drastically lowers impulse control, so that the probability of a child growing up and becoming an alcohol abuser is very high… thus also having FASD children.

    I don’t believe that the state has any business passing laws to punish women for drinking, but I’m fine with every other kind of informal pressure and awareness campaign, no matter politeness… a glass of beer or wine just isn’t worth it. FASD is much more severe and lasting than cocaine, heroin or meth exposure during pregnancy.

    There is probably some kind of safe window for a small amount of alcohol, depending heavily on genetics and exact day of development of the fetus. But that window just isn’t known scientifically yet. It actually is like gambling.

    The CDC also recommends that there should be no alcohol consumption at all during pregnancy: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fas/

  9. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 7:00 am |

    I’m really failing to see how a mother imbibing whatever differs from a father imbibing whatever once the kid’s out and either weaned or being bottle-fed. If only Delany were here to help me understand how controlling my infant-related behavior is so much more important than controlling the dad’s infant-related behavior.

  10. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 7:14 am |

    “I used to have the same opinion as the OP about scare tactics and sexism.”

    And then you concluded that post-partum substance use on the mother’s part could cause FAS?

    “I don’t believe that the state has any business passing laws to punish women for drinking, but I’m fine with every other kind of informal pressure and awareness campaign, no matter politeness…”

    Women, or pregnant women? Are we back to the pre-pregnant, abortion-is-not-an-option, you-are-a-walking-uterus thing?

  11. Sara
    Sara June 23, 2009 at 7:14 am |

    “There is probably some kind of safe window for a small amount of alcohol, depending heavily on genetics and exact day of development of the fetus. But that window just isn’t known scientifically yet. It actually is like gambling.”

    Actually, that’s pretty much bullshit. I had a class taught by one of the leading experts on prenatal development, and one of her main areas of research was drug and alcohol usage during early pregnancy. She told us, quite clearly, that at this point the research indicates that you can safely have ONE drink PER DAY the ENTIRE time you are pregnant and not increase your risk for FAE or FAS. I’ll try to find the studies she mentioned, but yah. We know the safe window, and most women fall inside of it. She also talked about how there’s so much BS scare tactics going around that women can’t figure out the really bad stuff from the not nearly so bad stuff when they are pregnant. I’m currently 14 weeks pregnant, had a few drinks at around 3 weeks before I realized I was pregnant, and I know this kid will be ABSOLUTELY NOT HARMED by mommy having a glass of wine while it was a blastocyst. And I thoroughly intend to have a drink or two when I feel like it during my 3rd trimester, and screw anyone that thinks they should have the right to get in my face about it. The CDC has to go into parental nanny state mode because they think that people (e.g. women) can’t differentiate between binge drinking and having a single glass of wine with dinner.

    Is FAE/FAS terrible? Absolutely! But what needs to happen is more and better screening of women (and men!) before they get pregnant for signs of alcohol and drug abuse, and education and treatment programs. Not harrassment of women who have a freaking beer every once in awhile. This creates a total culture of fear and misinformation, which does nothing to help promote maternal or child health. Which is supposed to be our concern, right, not making sure moms can never, ever have any fun again.

    How on earth do we expect women to breastfeed for 1-2 years (per WHO guidelines) if they aren’t allowed to touch a drop of alcohol? Seriously? I’m supposed to abstain for 3 years, essentially? And if you don’t, you’re framed as a bad mom??? Ech. As who is in the public health field, and who cares deeply about promoting health for women and babies…..these types of articles just make things more difficult.

  12. qvd
    qvd June 23, 2009 at 7:16 am |

    I actually misread the OP terribly and thought there were some sentences in there about drinking during pregnancy. I have to apologize. Drinking after pregnancy obviously doesn’t have much connection with FASD.

  13. Sara
    Sara June 23, 2009 at 7:20 am |

    “I’m really failing to see how a mother imbibing whatever differs from a father imbibing whatever once the kid’s out and either weaned or being bottle-fed. If only Delany were here to help me understand how controlling my infant-related behavior is so much more important than controlling the dad’s infant-related behavior.”

    Because mommies are soo much more important, don’t ya know, since they are of course the de facto caregiver, and daddy NEEDS that beer after work because he works so hard being the provider, of course ;)

  14. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl June 23, 2009 at 7:47 am |

    My first thought on reading this was “well–technically you should be careful about what you eat/drink/smoke while you’re breastfeeding” but then my bullshit detectors went off. A woman who is going to breastfeed after birth knows this already.

    I’ve known women who have drank and smoked through their pregnancy and I don’t judge them. I’m so damn sick of this popular narrative that once a woman becomes pregnant it’s like a magical fairy waves its wand and cures her of all desires and addictions. It’s not like they were happy about it, and they sure as hell didn’t need one more person piling on top of them telling them shit they already knew.

  15. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 23, 2009 at 8:00 am |

    Do we get to opt out of being somewhere on the pre-pregnant/pregnant/post-pregnant spectrum? Isn’t there a pill or something you can take?

  16. Zoe
    Zoe June 23, 2009 at 8:33 am |

    I understand wanting mothers to be good role models for their children but it really doesn’t sound like most of these women are actually abusing drugs or alcohol. And what about fathers? How many kids in the world grow up with drunk dads? Don’t put all the emphasis on mothers.

  17. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil June 23, 2009 at 8:44 am |

    I don’t know, Amanda, but if you find it, let me know.

  18. Niki
    Niki June 23, 2009 at 8:56 am |

    @ Sara: “There’s so much BS scare tactics going around that women can’t figure out the really bad stuff from the not nearly so bad stuff when they are pregnant. ”

    I actually just had a conversation about this this past weekend with two pregnant women, one who is giving up every little thing (she was scrutinously reading the ingredients on an iced green tea can to check it for caffeine) and one who has given up the booze and smoking but who is still religiously clutching at her morning coffee. And really, it got me thinking about this sort of thing; it’s illogical to freak out about everything.

    When I become pregnant, I perfectly intend on still drinking coffee, and yes, still having the occasional drink. I mean, fuck, pregnancy is hard, give me a break! And I’ll take that break with a lime on the rocks!

    And @Jadelyn: I also call bullshit on the condescending tone. Imagine how my poor widdle ladybrain even picked up on it!

  19. LN80
    LN80 June 23, 2009 at 9:06 am |

    If you want to get the facts on women, pregnancy, and substance use/abuse, please visit the National Advocates for Pregnant Women: http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/issues/pregnancy_and_drug_use_the_facts/

  20. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 9:10 am |

    “My first thought on reading this was “well–technically you should be careful about what you eat/drink/smoke while you’re breastfeeding” but then my bullshit detectors went off. A woman who is going to breastfeed after birth knows this already.”

    And if you can’t swing it, there’s formula, which is–get this–not actually baby-poison. It’s like formula just falls off the map when the usual suspects are presented with the option of pushing the social controls imposed on pregnant women past birth via breastfeeding.

    The really great thing about scolding breastfeeding women about what they can and can’t do is that practically nobody bothers to figure out what and how much of substance x makes its way into the milk from mom’s bloodstream. I got a breastfeeding friend a book someone on here recommended that lists popular meds and supplements and whatall they do to breastmilk content. She said she could have made a fortune renting it out to her LLL group buddies; the drug inserts all said “Consult your physician,” and their physicians all shrugged and said “Well, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t take it if I were you.”

  21. Ex-Republican
    Ex-Republican June 23, 2009 at 9:10 am |

    Sounds like a lot of the zero-tolerance police to me. Puritans of a different sort. In my case, I brought my wife a Guinness the day after she gave birth to our first child. She had been craving it for some time, and there is some evidence it jump starts lactation.

  22. William
    William June 23, 2009 at 9:25 am |

    I understand wanting mothers to be good role models for their children but it really doesn’t sound like most of these women are actually abusing drugs or alcohol.

    Seems you’re being rather charitable. This isn’t about good role modeling or parenting, really, it’s about a hard push that has existed in this country for quite some time to paint any abuse as devastating addiction and then to define abuse as any use. This ridiculous set of standards is then wielded like a hammer to beat down vulnerable groups from the marginalized edges of society inwards. It doesn’t sound like these women are abusing drugs or alcohol because, for the most part, they aren’t. Unless you consider any use abuse.

    This is just another instance of women (in this case women who have been rendered eternally second-place by their responsibilities as mothers) being used as political pawns.

  23. chingona
    chingona June 23, 2009 at 9:26 am |

    It kind of cracked me up the day I saw alcohol screening kits for breastfeeding moms, so that they would know when it was safe to nurse again.

    Those crack me up too. I remember the first time my son slept through the night. He was about four months old. I went out to dinner with my husband, had a margarita, came home, and nursed him. Someone call child protective services!!!!

    I started drinking again pretty much right away, but in very limited quantities because those early months of nursing made me incredibly thirsty and more than one – or sometimes not even one – made me feel dehydrated in a really unpleasant way. I’m always surprised how many women don’t drink at all while nursing. (I, too have heard that beer in general and Guiness in particular is good for milk supply.) I’m not sure exactly what the numbers are for women who breastfeed initially, but I think it’s around 70 percent, which means that 31 percent who drink at all in the first three months post-partum may well overlap significantly with women who aren’t even breastfeeding. So … I think women are getting the message already (even though I think that message is overkill).

  24. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 23, 2009 at 9:28 am |

    I don’t drink or smoke, but I find this article ridiculous. Women, like men, should quit smoking in the house if there is a child in the house, but the last time I checked, dad’s second-hand smoke stinks just as bad as mom’s, and either parent is quite capable of stepping outside for a smoke… I’ve never even heard of nicotine ending up in the breast milk. (Honestly, women, like men, should quit smoking, period, because it will kill them, but I’m pretty sure that every human being in America already knows that, so it’s not like a campaign of “Do it for the babieez!” is going to tell anyone anything they don’t already know.) As for drinking, an occasional beer doesn’t do anybody any harm; women in Europe drink a glass of wine with dinner on a regular basis and have no higher rates of FAS.

    Why do we not have public service campaigns aimed at dads to get them to quit their smoking (since second hand smoke is very bad for small children’s developing lungs, it is arguably nearly as bad for dad to smoke as it is for a pregnant mom)? Why don’t we have public service campaigns telling young men what not to do to avoid sperm damage? Half of all infertility is a problem in the man, yet we never hear what men should eat to keep up their sperm count. Don’t men want kids, and want them to be healthy?

  25. Alphanista
    Alphanista June 23, 2009 at 9:33 am |

    Americans has a whole have a problem with mothers. Call it MOTHER-ENVY.

    It’s destroying our families. Mothers are not getting the support or respect they need. So what if she drinks or smokes, as long as she gets help. Mothers are not perfect, so why are certain cultures the only ones who think so? Mothers are left alone to fend for their children, when in many cultures, raising children is a communal thing. There is support, relief, help in forms of hands and people. That’s all mothers need.

  26. fiets
    fiets June 23, 2009 at 9:51 am |

    As a pregnant women who is currently drinking the forbidden coffee and will likely have a beer tonight, the only thing that surprises me about these “recommendations” is that while infantilizing me, they haven’t also tried to sell me any special products.

    The norm for interactions with pregnant women seems to be: “Don’t do that, your baby will DIE! And buy this, or your baby will DIE!”

  27. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 10:08 am |

    “Her father told the courts the mother had sole responsibility for the child, so he got a charge of manslaughter rather than murder, which the mother got.”

    …you can do that? And here I thought courts tended to cast a jaundiced eye on that type of “I was dead at the time!” excuse. I wonder if the mother is kicking herself for not having thought of it first–”Well, your honor, I told him the girl was his responsibility and called no give-backs, so even though I was in the house the entire time with a seven-year-old weighing less than thirty pounds, it never occurred to me that I had any sort of obligation to do anything about it.” At that point you might as well claim that you were never aware you had a seven-year-old daughter living in the house with you at all, and you were under the impression that your wife had just lost a bunch of weight rather than having given birth.

  28. ACG
    ACG June 23, 2009 at 10:25 am |

    What really got me was the reference to “us[ing] alcohol.” Does anyone ever refer to a glass of wine in the evening as “alcohol use?” I’ve always just called it “enjoying a lovely chardonnay before dinner.” And I’ve certainly never hear a man accused of using alcohol; he always manages to get away with “having a beer.”

    But of course, when we’re talking about irresponsible women who care so little about their baybeez, we have to associate a glass of wine with a baggie of coke to emphasize how abusive it is to indulge in a harmless pleasure after giving up one’s life to serve as mother.

  29. ACG
    ACG June 23, 2009 at 10:31 am |

    And anecdotally – My dad is a family physician, and his prescription for teething pain is a shot of bourbon: Dip your finger in, rub it on the baby’s gums, and then do the shot yourself. And when my brother was colicky, my mom used to sit down to nurse with a daiquiri in hand to chill them both out. Abusive? Dunno. We both turned out fine (although “turned out fine” is certainly subjective). What I do know is that every child deserves parents who enjoy having children and don’t see them as the burdens that have taken their lives away.

  30. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead June 23, 2009 at 10:39 am |

    And not a single mention of prescription drug abuse. So, I guess none of this applies to my mom, who was straight out of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.

    Translation: If you are tense and/or have postpartum depression after giving birth, go get some Valium, hussy! We all know 10 mg of perfectly-legal Valium never hurt anybody!

    (((fumes)))

  31. akeeyu
    akeeyu June 23, 2009 at 10:45 am |

    ACG, that’s exactly what struck me, too.

    As if there’s no difference between a glass of wine with dinner, a couple of beers at the game, enjoying a lovely mixed drink at the bar, and CHUGGING AN ENTIRE FIFTH OF EVERCLEAR to drown your sorrows (although I speak from experience–that last one is pretty tempting after the 45th straight night without sleep with no end in sight).

    It also makes no difference between lactating and non-lactating mothers. We’re all supposed to be sacred vessels, eternal physical monuments to motherhood, madonnas without the virginity.

    Give me a break (and maybe a beer).

  32. octogalore
    octogalore June 23, 2009 at 10:46 am |

    Great point about men’s use or abuse of substances not being mentioned. In fact, male alcohol use can affect pregnancy outcome.

    http://www.healthgoods.com/Education/Health_Information/Pregnancy/alcohol_pregnancy.htm

  33. Katie
    Katie June 23, 2009 at 11:18 am |

    Way to go, USA Today, you’ve done a marvelous job on your “research”. The numbers looked pretty low to me concerning drinks/drugs during pregnancy, and even for postpartum–so what’s the big deal? And, in the “research”, why aren’t there stats for low to moderate versus crazy raging alcoholic drinking mothers? I, a breastfeeding mother do not fall into the same category as a mother slamming Jim Beam all day long. I (it’s hard to believe, I know) have a mind of my own and with that also competency to know how much and when I can drink without hurting my kids. We don’t need these docs holding our hands through eternal sobriety to keep us from the deep dark trenches of drug/alcohol abuse! This issue and we are just not that simple.

    And, SERIOUSLY, I think that the Dads have just as much to do with good parenting as women do. With this logic, we should just ban alcohol all together!

  34. William
    William June 23, 2009 at 11:24 am |

    What really got me was the reference to “us[ing] alcohol.” Does anyone ever refer to a glass of wine in the evening as “alcohol use?”

    Thats actually an increasingly common trend amongst public health types and people who work in health care. Two years ago I took a class called “Substance Abuse and Recovery,” it was a PhD level course designed to train clinicians to identify and treat substance abuse issues. In this class, taught by a licensed clinical psychologist who held a PhD and who had been certified as an alcohol and drug abuse specialist, I was told that the idea of there being a functional difference between use and abuse was a fallacy. I was also taught that no one uses alcohol (she never said drank, only used, in order to “underscore the reality that alcohol is as much a drug as cocaine or marijuana”) for any reason other than to seek intoxication, that any other explanation is just justification and rationalization. See, no one drinks because they enjoy the taste, apparently they only drink for the alcohol. Any other reason is nothing other than excuse for use, which is really abuse. Or something.

  35. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 11:57 am |

    “Thats actually an increasingly common trend amongst public health types and people who work in health care.”

    Absolutism is much easier to package for mass-distribution and -consumption than the less-crazypants diagnostic tools such as “are you suffering negative consequences wrt health, social or professional life, personal relationships, or legal issues?” interviews or questionnaires. It also really, really appeals to the enemies of fun. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty useless for treating actual substance abuse, since odds are if you can convince someone that they need to give up booze (or whatever) based on a neotemperance browbeating, they’re not even within spitting distance of being an addict.

  36. Gwrthryfel
    Gwrthryfel June 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm |

    It is interesting, though, that for all the focus on telling women to never ever drink or smoke or use drugs ever because of the babies, there’s no similar admonishment made of men.

    It’s the woman’s job to raise the children – remember? She’s a slave to her husband and family, duh. She can’t be like, ya know, everybody else. Drinking and smoking makes you a bad person – as long as you’re a mother. But as for Dad – he did all that strenuous work when they were making the baby, that he really just needs to relax. I mean, give that man a beer!

  37. Marle
    Marle June 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm |

    Was anyone else just as bothered by some of the articles on the side? “More parents share workload when mom learns to let go” ” New daditude: Today’s fathers are hands-on, pressure off” – yes, fathers do just as much as mothers, and when they don’t, it’s mothers’ fault. Whatever.

  38. Katie
    Katie June 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm |

    HERE IS A GREAT POINT: With all this concern about the health of the mother and child, these doctors need to look at the safety of these labor and birth procedures they use! They’ll give the mother everything short of heroine during labor, but having a glass of wine is nonsense? And if the drugs aren’t enough for them, they go straight to surgery to get the baby out. How is all of this good for a baby?

  39. uccellina
    uccellina June 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm |

    We are living in the age of the intervention. I was yelled at by an eighty year old woman at a party because I was nursing one of my twins while drinking a glass of wine. I reassured her that it was fine, that the alcohol content of my breastmilk was not going to get high enough to harm the baby. “When I was nursing, the doctor said not to drink AT ALL,” she huffed. I pointed out that when she was pregnant, doctors were still telling women to smoke cigarettes so their babies would come out smaller.

    The details of the shaming vary with social trends, but pregnant women and mothers will pretty much never be able to do anything right for anyone.

  40. kaninchen
    kaninchen June 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm |

    I was also taught that no one uses alcohol (she never said drank, only used, in order to “underscore the reality that alcohol is as much a drug as cocaine or marijuana”) for any reason other than to seek intoxication, that any other explanation is just justification and rationalization.

    This right here being one of my major difficulties with Alcoholics Anonymous. They claim both that any drinking is abuse and indicative of addiction. Have you ever drank to help you relax? Then you are probably an alcoholic. And the only effective treatment for alcoholism is AA. No, that’s totally awesome logic there. Also not circular in the least.

    I’m not happy with the insistence that only GOD (and they tend to mean the Christian God though they try to fuzz that out) can get you to stop drinking.

    I was depressed for a really long time and drank to help me cope with that. When I dealt with the things that were making me depressed, lo I stopped drinking heavily. Imagine that — heavy substance use might be a symptom rather than a cause.

    Also, I concur that alcohol is just as much a drug as cocaine or cannabis, but what I take away from that is that we should treat cocaine and cannabis the way we do alcohol, not to treat alcohol the way we do cocaine and cannabis now.

    When you throw all this in with the ZOMG UR KILIN UR BABBY shit it makes a dandy big stick to beat up on women with. Which is like phew! ’cause we weren’t getting enough of that.

  41. Yawgmoth
    Yawgmoth June 23, 2009 at 1:44 pm |

    What a load. For a lot of human history, mothers have had to drink alcohol during pregnancy and nursing – because the water wasn’t safe, and nothing harmful can live in beer.

  42. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead June 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm |

    kaninchen: This right here being one of my major difficulties with Alcoholics Anonymous. They claim both that any drinking is abuse and indicative of addiction. Have you ever drank to help you relax? Then you are probably an alcoholic. And the only effective treatment for alcoholism is AA. No, that’s totally awesome logic there. Also not circular in the least.

    1) Not true. In fact, what AA claims is that ‘only the person themselves’ can make that judgment. It might be one drink for one person, 80 drinks for another.

    FTR, I no longer subscribe to that idea either, but that’s the riff, and I was in AA for over 25 years, so I think I can truthfully attest to this.

    2) The popularity of “interventions” came about when #1 was challenged during the late 80s: if you are a mess, other people will witness to it. (Conversely, if they can’t, you probably aren’t.)

    This goes against the “you are the only one who knows for sure” concept.

    Sorry to (sorta) derail, just wanted to clarify.

    I smoked cigarettes during my pregnancy (1983) and it wasn’t regarded as any big deal. I am kinda stunned now at all the hoopla when a pregnant woman smokes. (I mean, you don’t know if that’s the only smoke she’s had all day, or if she’s on her second pack)

    I am always amazed at the constant effort to control women, calling it all kinds of fancy names, giving all manner of highfalutin “good reasons”. Motherhood and sexuality tend to make us especially vulnerable, so that’s where they tend to concentrate those efforts.

  43. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm |

    “I am kinda stunned now at all the hoopla when a pregnant woman smokes.”

    The fetus-worship currently engaged in is both louder and more wide-spread. I mean, back in ’83, would you have given it any credit if someone had told you that there would be a national movement dedicated to reclassifying the pill as abortion?

  44. kaninchen
    kaninchen June 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm |

    1) Not true. In fact, what AA claims is that ‘only the person themselves’ can make that judgment. It might be one drink for one person, 80 drinks for another.

    FTR, I no longer subscribe to that idea either, but that’s the riff, and I was in AA for over 25 years, so I think I can truthfully attest to this.

    It’s what I recall from mandatory substance abuse evaluations back when I was not doing so hot emotionally. Of course I drank to relax. They found that I had substance abuse problems and when I was in psych hospitals, I was required to attend AA meetings where I was told that my resentment at having to be there was yet another sign that I was an addict. My atheism was dismissed as ignorance and bad attitude.

    No one wanted to address the big issue I kept trying to get help with (my gender). They gave me Xanax to make me sleep, SSRIs to elevate mood, lithium to deal with the manic effects from the SSRIs, Risperdal for the intrusive thoughts, and sent me to AA meetings because I drank. When I transitioned, I mostly stopped drinking, mostly stopped damaging myself, and I mostly don’t get bothered so much by my brain telling me in graphic detail how the oncoming traffic is going to leave me paralyzed and incommunicative but in agonizing pain. So it worked out no thanks to psych hospitals or AA. I’m sure it’s helped a lot of people. But my experience with AA was a long way from positive.

  45. Cynthia
    Cynthia June 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm |

    When I was nursing my daughter (1983-1984), my DOCTOR told me to drink one bottle of dark beer every evening for relaxation, increased lactation, and the B vitamins, which I proceeded to do. It worked fine and as far as I can tell had no deleterious effects on my daughter.

  46. Ashley
    Ashley June 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm |

    “but I’m fine with every other kind of informal pressure and awareness campaign, no matter politeness…”

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m 41 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and I feel compelled to rant.

    There is an unbelievable amount of pressure put on pregnant women to limit their consumption to what is socially acceptable, submit to various procedures or avoid other ones, depending on what’s popularly believed to be right. Of course, this has NOTHING to do with science.

    Mild drinking has never been shown to cause problems. Epidural anesthesia and pitocin cause fetal distress, amongst other significant maternal issues. Something like 80% of women will use pitocin or anesthesia (often due to the hospital’s harassment) but won’t cook with wine?

    Then there’s the increasing pressure to induce (pitocin) if you’re past your due date, which was determined by a casual observation in the 1800s and isn’t based on research. The average gestation of a first time caucasian mother is 41w3d (other races are a few days shy of that); I’m literally 2 days post that and have been getting harassed by no less than 15 people in the past 2 weeks to put my health and hte health of my child at risk and go for a babyectomy. I’m fine, baby’s fine, there’s no reason whatsoever to think otherwise, and I’m oddly enough not too uncomfortable. The ONLY source of significant stress I have right now is the fact that I get called and emailed 3+ times a day asking when I’ve had the baby, when I’m getting induced, etc.

    Leave the pregnant women alone; we’re subject to more harassment than you can imagine.

  47. donna james
    donna james June 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm |

    “Actually, that’s pretty much bullshit. I had a class taught by one of the leading experts on prenatal development, and one of her main areas of research was drug and alcohol usage during early pregnancy. She told us, quite clearly, that at this point the research indicates that you can safely have ONE drink PER DAY the ENTIRE time you are pregnant and not increase your risk for FAE or FAS.”

    Actually I’m calling your expert bullshit. Please cite the name of your “expert” so I can pull up her name on Pubmed and see how much much real resarch she has done into this topic. I have a PhD in toxicology, and the amount of “safe” alcohol has never been established in pregnancy, precilsely because doing the studies required to answer this question would shock the conscience.

  48. Ashley
    Ashley June 23, 2009 at 4:21 pm |

    Donna, they’re never going to establish “safe” for anything for pregnant women because of ethical concerns. However, there are studies that show things like “x amount has never been shown to cause problems.”

    Breathing air isn’t “safe” for pregnant women. Walking isn’t “safe.” NOTHING is “safe.”

  49. bongobunny
    bongobunny June 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm |

    ThankyouthankyouTHANKYOU everyone for making me feel like I am not horrible. One of my good friends was pregnant last year and I could not BELIEVE the things she was old to avoid. The no-coffee rule was the kicker for me. I had a couple of friendly discussions with her about it…she really wasn’t that bothered by “the rules” so I wasn’t going to tell her what was right or wrong for her, but I just couldn’t help thinking: “So why aren’t all of us born before 1985 severely messed-up by our mothers’ “substance abuse?” “Why aren’t all French babies born with developmental problems?” (Yes, I’m generalizing, I know not all French women drink.)

    Other women I’ve talked to that are my age (mid-thirties) have looked at me like I was a criminal for even suggesting that women can safely a glass of wine or beer Christmas when they’re pregnant.

  50. aWorldQuiteMad
    aWorldQuiteMad June 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm |

    You do realize that before the modern era, people drank ale and wine all the time because the water wasn’t safe. It didn’t screw anyone up too badly. And in Europe, everyone drinks wine, and it’s not taboo there. I bet pregnant women have wine with dinner and their kids aren’t screwed up. Bloody puritans. This is what happens when you found a country with Puritans. You get a bunch of wackos who think everything is bad, and that fun and sex must be evil.

    Now mind you, I’m not saying that people should abuse anything… well except maybe caffeine because I’m guilty of that, but seriously.

  51. bongobunny
    bongobunny June 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm |

    I meant to say on Christmas, which I was just using as an example of a time when a woman might have a drink.

  52. umami
    umami June 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm |

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read that the concentration of alcohol in breastmilk is about the same as the concentration of alcohol in blood. So you’d have to get raging blind drunk to make the slightest difference to the alcohol content of your breastmilk.
    Other substances are passed on at different levels of concentration, but from what I’ve read alcohol while breastfeeding is basically completely safe. I can’t cite a source so I may well be wrong, does anyone here have better info?

  53. piny
    piny June 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm |

    The other problem with the FAS/FAE shibboleth–and it is one, at least in terms of the “one drink will kill your baby!” commenter–is that it obscures another threat to healthy babies: maternal food insecurity during and after pregnancy.

  54. piny
    piny June 23, 2009 at 7:26 pm |

    Actually I’m calling your expert bullshit. Please cite the name of your “expert” so I can pull up her name on Pubmed and see how much much real resarch she has done into this topic. I have a PhD in toxicology, and the amount of “safe” alcohol has never been established in pregnancy, precilsely because doing the studies required to answer this question would shock the conscience.

    What Ashley said. If you have a PhD in toxicology, you hopefully know that very little of the research on what does and does not injure developing fetuses has involved dosing mothers with iffy substances until they miscarry or deliver babies with severe birth defects. Moderate alcohol use–and abstinence, these days–is widespread during pregnancy in different places.

  55. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz June 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm |

    Ashley, as someone who’s at 40 weeks and 4 days, I feel you. It’s getting OLD.

  56. shfree
    shfree June 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm |

    You know what else has a negative affect on a gestating fetus? Stress. I do note there isn’t a huge hue and cry about how pregnant women are too stressed, nor is there a campaign emphasizing the importance of relaxation and massages. Heaven forbid that women actually enjoy their pregnancies, after all.

  57. bleh
    bleh June 23, 2009 at 8:18 pm |

    Never been pregnant, never will partially due to just this abuse (yes, abuse) of pregnant women. Smoke and drink all damn day if you like. I find myself cheering when I see pregnant women smoking or eating soft cheeses. It’s their right as a human to eat, drink, ingest what they please. By all means, think about the fetus in those decisions IF YOU WANT, but we’ve gone nuts in our attempts to control women through pregnancy scares et al.

  58. Julie
    Julie June 23, 2009 at 8:47 pm |

    bongobunny, different people have different levels of comfort- I too skipped a lot of the forbidden things when I was pregnant, but I had a child who was born with severe birth defects and no one could tell me the cause so I really was scared shitless to drink even a glass of champagne. I wouldn’t even take tylenol until we had made it through the 18 wk ultrasound. Just because you know intellectually something is probably not going to hurt the fetus it’s hard to get over your fear. I would never judge someone else, but it is really hard to let go of the fear sometimes.
    The people writing this article must think I’m a horrible mom though. I quit smoking during my pregnancies, but I started back up after my first two. I did finally manage to kick the habit after my third, but I occasionally have a cigarette if I’m at the bar. Also, I do go out for drinks with my friends sometimes. I’ve been known to climb into bed at 2 after a night out with my friends and get up at 6 to make breakfast for the kids. I think it makes me a better mom, honestly. I love spending time with my kids and playing with them, but I still have my adult time.

  59. Julie
    Julie June 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm |

    I’m totally with you shfree- the list of shit that women are told to avoid is stress inducing, along with the freaking comments that go along with it but very rarely do you hear anything about stress and the importance of relaxation. This is why I love my doctor- I gained 11 pounds one month and was freaking out b/c I am overweight to begin with and she was like “Hey- don’t worry about it. Take care of you, eat when you’re hungry, move as often as comfortable and the baby will be fine Last thing you need to do is stress about weight gain”. She also encouraged lots of naps and took me out of work when I needed. Love her. She’s also my pediatrician now for the same reason- she takes everything as it comes and doesn’t freak out over little things. (Case in point- my two year old apparently is “obese” according to his BMI. Nurse was freaking out- doctor came in and laughed. Really hard. Asked if I had concerns about his eating or activity level. I said no- he’s active and eats well. That was the end of it)

  60. Jessica
    Jessica June 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm |

    Um, anyone here born during the 60s or 70s? My mom, now a self-proclaimed “old hippie,” certainly enjoyed something from time-to-time while pregnant with both my brother and me – and we’re both fine. I mean, come on, if an occasional drink or smoke were really THAT bad, all of us between 35 and 45 would have two heads. And along those lines, doesn’t anyone think it’s odd that ADD, Autism, Oppositional Defiance, et al are at skyrocketing rates when supposedly pregnant women imbibe much less frequently than 30 years ago? Sure, maybe it’s just more recognizable now (your “funny” Uncle Louie might have had an Austism Spectrum Disorder), but….

    No one mentions the men because the men aren’t having the babies. You can BET that if men were the ones having the children, it would be fine to drink beer, smoke cigars, and have lots of pain medicine during pregnancy and labor.

  61. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl June 24, 2009 at 7:45 am |

    Never been pregnant, never will partially due to just this abuse (yes, abuse) of pregnant women.

    Yep. While I’ve never really budged from the “holy shit don’t want kids” camp, the needle has fluctuated a little bit down there, and no matter how charmed I am by 20 minutes of non-screaming behavior by the friend’s kid, the flood of remembering how pregnant friends and co-workers were treated by “well-meaning” people quickly pushes me firmly back into the extreme end of “fuck no” territory.

  62. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 24, 2009 at 10:31 am |

    “Just because you know intellectually something is probably not going to hurt the fetus it’s hard to get over your fear. I would never judge someone else, but it is really hard to let go of the fear sometimes.”

    Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything a pregnant woman can do to inoculate herself against (self-)recrimination in the event of a problem with her pregnancy. It’s a moving goalpost scenario.

    You gave up all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat or drink? Well, maybe it’s the stress of having given all that up that did it. And if you didn’t, naturally it’s because you didn’t. Depending on who you’re listening to, moderate exercise is either verboten or a really good idea. Too much weight gain is either preferable to too little or zomg your gonna pop out an obese neonate who’s doomed–doomed!–to, uh, something or other. (The write-ups of that study just presented fat babies as a self-evidently negative outcome.) Maternal stress is bad, but jacuzzis are the pennyroyal tea of the modern age. Did you startle a rabbit during your second trimester? Well, that’s why your infant has a harelip. There is almost no negative outcome in which you can’t find some prefabricated and scientific-ish (with studies!) reason that it was the pregnant woman’s fault and could have been avoided.

    I think a lot of it goes back to the human urge to reject the idea that there are really big things in our lives that we just can’t do a damn thing about. It leads to superstitious behavior, and the sort of person most strongly inclined to that sort of thing always seems the most willing to project it at others. If you know something’s mostly kabuki theater but do it because you personally derive some comfort from it, it’s a different thing than believing that it’s actually highly effective and ergo a prescription that everyone should follow.

  63. amandaw
    amandaw June 24, 2009 at 10:41 am |

    There really is a disturbing movement to reclassify use as abuse — of ANY substance — in the medical community (and its outgrowths, including the upper class white social-antiseptic communities). I have been marked for substance abuse because I use pain medications for my chronic pain condition. I recently had a doctor verbally assault me the second she saw Vicodin on my chart, without bothering to actually read any of the rest of the chart, threaten to send me to rehab, and scream at me in general about how DANGEROUS it all was.

    And I’m not even pregnant. All the medications I take — I will have to quit before I ever try to become pregnant. Most of them are theoretically safe, but of course you just don’t *know.* So I will have to go without. This makes pregnancy a MUCH bigger deal for me, much scarier and much harder on my body and my psyche.

    But I am sure someone will bear down on me for the occasional Tylenol.

    And of course, imagine if I were to become pregnant and not know it, despite being very careful with my birth control, and keep taking my medications. Imagine if my child were to develop a disability (like hir mother has!). And imagine all the shame and blame I would deal with at that point. Then I would face the prospect of 1) stepping down off my medications and possibly harming baby, or 2) quitting them cold turkey and going through wracking withdrawal symptoms, which for a couple can be very severe psychological episodes with suicidal episodes.

    The intense pressure on pregnant women and mothers is one of the biggest reasons I am actually scared to take it on. Even though I want children, want a family with my husband. But there’s just so much weight in all of it, pulling me down whenever I think on it. It honestly just makes me sad.

  64. Milbourne
    Milbourne June 24, 2009 at 10:51 am |

    Before (if ever) during(if ever) and post (if ever) pregnancy a woman can do whatever she wants with her body. If she wanted to smoke a pack a day, get drunk daily, smoke form time to time, or drink a glass of wine on special occassions why pressur eher.

    Give people the information they need to know, we all know the effects of alcohol, cigarettes, and other drug substances on ourselves and n some cases fetuses but no one berates any adult for doing it why berate a pregnant woman?

  65. AnotherJenn
    AnotherJenn June 24, 2009 at 11:12 am |

    I’m disappointed to see women question other women’s choices to use pain medications during labor on a thread that’s about how people need to back the fuck off already about what choices a mother makes.

    As far as talking about stress during pregnancy, I did hear it a lot, but it was yet again in a blaming way. “Don’t worry too much about the ultrasound where your doctor said the baby might have trisomy 18. Too much stress will hurt the baby.” “Don’t worry about your continued bleeding. Stress hurts the baby.” “Don’t talk too much about your sciatic nerve pain. Getting yourself upset will hurt the baby.”
    I hear lots of women get admonished that they should just magically stop caring about very real fears because they might hurt the baby, but very little about anyone helping a woman reduce maternal stress or even encouraging her to take some time FOR HERSELF because it might be nice FOR HERSELF.

  66. chocolatepie
    chocolatepie June 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm |

    This is yet another bob and weave that zooms in on a tiny, statistically insignificant problem (a strawman, if you will) and ignores a much bigger, more important one: Fathers and alcohol abuse. My dad’s been an alcoholic for decades, and won’t get help. It’s been a hugely negative influence on my life, and he isn’t even a violent drunk. Children, by and large, need to be protected from real, abusing men in their lives, not imaginary keg-party-attending evil whore mothers.

  67. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead June 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm |

    kaninchen on AA: My atheism was dismissed as ignorance and bad attitude.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, kaninchen–but I did see it happen to lots of people… consequently, I would approach the atheists after AA meetings and apologize, just as I have apologized to you… and so I ended up sponsoring, like, about a half-dozen atheists! (lol) And I’m not an atheist, so that was interesting!

    But I respect all approaches, which is probably why I am no longer in AA, too. Sad to say…

  68. Meg (the Grad Student)
    Meg (the Grad Student) June 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm |

    On a side note, (and I doubt this will make anyone feel better — particularly not the women over 40 weeks along) this “concern” over breast-feeding women drinking alcohol is at least 450 years old.

    In several works prior to the 1550s, drinking was a reason to fire your wet-nurse, as the “vice” could be passed to the baby in her breastmilk.

    We’ve come so far, yes?

  69. William
    William June 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm |

    And along those lines, doesn’t anyone think it’s odd that ADD, Autism, Oppositional Defiance, et al are at skyrocketing rates

    Not to get off topic, but this is crap. Autism isn’t skyrocketing, its just actually being diagnosed. ADD is overdiagnosed and is so incredibly socially bound as to be practically useless. ODD has the same problems as ADD, but is more commonly used for kids (usually of color) who talk back and don’t show the proper deference their teachers. It’s so bad that if a client comes to me with an ADD or ODD diagnosis I assume its bad an reevaluate.

  70. kaninchen
    kaninchen June 24, 2009 at 3:33 pm |

    DaisyDeadhead, thanks. And I apologize for my anger at AA (and other groups, like the fucking trans support group I was run out of for speaking up for being an atheist) that splashed onto you; you didn’t deserve any of it.

  71. amandaw
    amandaw June 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm |

    Oh Lord, do I want to know what that actually stands for? Don’t tell me it’s Obedience Deficit Disorder, or I will throw something.

  72. kaninchen
    kaninchen June 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Maybe it’s just my resentment at the failures of the mental health professions to help me* when I needed it most talking here, but it sounds like “My child is all unruly. Is she just crazy or is she going to be an axe murderer?” I’m reminded of another diagnosis given to those the authorities had trouble with: drapetomania.

    * Credit where it’s due: Without the help of two amazing women counselors, I would not be the person I am today and might well be dead from suicide. There is definitely value in the mental health disciplines, but there’s much abuse of them by the privileged as well.

  73. Julie
    Julie June 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm |

    Amandaw, it’s actually Oppositional Defiant (Defiance?) Disorder.

    preying mantis, that is absolutely true. When I was pregnant after the child I lost, I had been ridiculously and probably overly careful but I had made it through the 18 wk ultrasound, the baby was perfect, all looked good, my weight gain was good- I hadn’t slept well one night and was tired so I drank a 12 oz can of pepsi to wake myself up for a long and boring meeting and got lectured by one of my co-workers. I was floored. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, there’s always something someone (including yourself!) can find.

  74. estraven
    estraven June 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm |

    European here. I have had two pregnancies and three kids (twins happen), and no doctor ever told me to avoid wine or beer. I was told to avoid hard liquor and to be careful to not get drunk, nor even tipsy – in particular, not to drink on an empty stomach.
    I also didn’t drink any coffee for the first three months, not because the doctor said anything but because it made me puke.
    When full nursing I didn’t drink any alcohol – I had enough problems keeping awake. When I started sleeping the night I started drinking wine and beer again.

    The “there is no safe amount” of alcohol during pregnancy is so much bullshit. Is there a safe amount of meat? Butter? Sex?

  75. A.W.
    A.W. June 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm |

    …you’re close, it’s ‘oppositional defiant disorder’. Nevermind that it’s generally the enviroment that tends t’bring on behavior, oh no. Then they’d have to fix that instead of the kid, too difficult, so they aim for the person. Then again, the list of ‘what is it’ is suspicious as hell. I mean, have you seen some of these?

    1. Often loses temper
    2. often argues with adults
    3. often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
    4. often deliberately annoys people
    5. often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

    S’like they’ve never seen a kid before. I didn’t do much of that when I was a kid and I got labelled ‘inadequate social development’. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  76. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm |

    Meantime, no worries about the amount of environmental toxins we’re breathing, drinking, eating and otherwise wallowing in, right? Because it’s hard to blame that stuff on a mere woman—indicting multinational capitalist oligarchy for the “cost-saving” measure of toxin-dumping is gauche or somethin’…….

  77. Sara
    Sara June 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm |

    Donna-

    Feel free– her name is Jane DiPietro- and she has something like 40+ published studies I found on PubMed. Her research interests were slightly different than I recalled- the class was team taught so I had several guest lecturers, and one of them focused on alcohol’s effect on prenatal development, but I definitely recall Dr. DiPietro’s insistence that there was no scientific backing for telling women they MUST NOT EVER DRINK during pregnancy. It seems pretty obvious that, in the absence of the kinds of studies needed to “prove” that moderate alcohol usage is completely safe for pregnant women, we can still look around and realize that since many women prior to the current generation drank during pregnancy, and yet FAS and FAE aren’t exactly rampant plagues among older generations– alcohol used moderately is pretty damn safe.

    I actually had herself repeat herself several times about the 1 drink per day comment so I could write it down because I was so blown away– it actually was brought up as a question by one of the numerous pregnant women in the class. If it really matters, I can try to find my box of papers from that course and get my notes again. But I don’t think it really matters to you, in reality, does it?? We can’t say for certain what is safe for pregnant women because it’s considered unethical to do even minimal research, so we lump nearly every drug into that magical “Class C” category, tell women they can’t drink ever because it most definitely, probably, possible could cause FAS, and if you dared to risk it you’re a terrible, eviiiiil mom. And ya, what Ashley said.

  78. Femmostroppo Reader - June 25, 2009 — Hoyden About Town

    [...] Bad Mommy [...]

  79. Jeremy Hulley
    Jeremy Hulley June 25, 2009 at 10:59 am |

    De-lurking here…I just searched for Jane Pietro on Pupmed and did not find anything so links would be helpful.

    Please read up on FASD. http://www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/educationTraining/fasdBasics.cfm

    I’m not sure that most doc are up to date with the current research.

    Here’s another good link

    http://www.nofas.org/default.aspx

    Best
    Jeremy

  80. William
    William June 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm |

    Jeremy: Perhaps that would be because “Jane Pietro” and “Jane DiPietro” are likely not the same person. Searching PubMed for “Jane DiPietro” I found 0 results, but searching for “DiPietro, J” returned 94 results, most including a “DiPietro, JA.” This is significant because it is quite common in some scholarly circles, psychology being one, for researchers to list only their first and middle initials along with their full last name. Someone familiar with research would have known this. Most of the results with “DiPietro, JA” as an author were for studies involving pregnancy. In this case, “JA DiPietro” turned out to be one “Janet DiPietro,” a “developmental psychologist” at the “Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics” at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public Health. She seems rather prolific, given her faculty page which can be found here:
    http://faculty.jhsph.edu/Default.cfm?faculty_id=177

    Google is your friend.

    Also, before you de-lurk in the future, please consider the possibility that perhaps the other people in the discussion are not idiots. I know, the urge to get in a nice “gotcha!” can be high, but it can also fail spectacularily. You might even go so far as to not order people to read up on something you feel is important. Suggesting is fine but “Please read up on” sounds like you’re giving out a reading assignment.

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