Friday, June 1, 2012

Yes, Breast Feeding is Natural

The Post regularly runs these "Five Myths about X" columns that are supposed to debunk widely held but false beliefs about topics in the news. Today we get Five Myths about Breast Feeding. Myth Number one is:

Breast feeding is natural.

I kid you not.

Let me get this straight. We belong to an order of animals called Mammalia, from the Latin for breast, because we and all other mammals from bears to shrews breast feed our young, and somehow this is not natural?

I have read many absurd statements in my life, but this may actually be the dumbest I have ever seen. In defense of this odd notion the author, Orit Avishai, offers this:
True, breast milk is produced organically by the human body, and for most of human history, feeding infants at the breast was a fact of life. “Natural” also implies a process that is untainted by civilization and society, yet infant feeding practices have changed throughout history and vary by culture. When we think about breast-feeding, we imagine an infant at her mother’s breast. But in previous eras, mothers who could afford to do so hired other women (poor women, slaves, immigrants) to breast-feed their babies. This was the “natural” order of those cultures.
No, "natural" does not imply "untainted by civilization and society." Suppose you say it is natural for humans to eat, but I counter that no, it is not natural because our diets are determined by our cultures, not biology. You would think I was either mad or an asshole who just wanted to start an argument. And, you know, we have managed to get around a lots of other bits of our natural heritage using technology or servants, but cars are still not natural and walking still is.

Breast feeding is as natural as eating, sleeping, or breathing, and that is pretty much all there is to say about it.

1 comment:

Doug Dupin said...

hey John,
Your punishing yourself by reading and applying logic to the Washington Post! Keep up the good work at pointing out the obvious. -Doug