Monday, November 23, 2009

Facebook Conversations Volume 1: Breastfeeding

Welcome to the first edition of what I am going to call Facebook Conversations. I have posted previously various conversations I have had on Facebook, but they have never been verbatim posts, more just recaps, often edited for grammar and spelling, sometimes phrasing.

What you can come to expect in these posts (more to come eventually) is a brief explanation of how the conversation came to be, the conversation verbatim (names changed to first initials for privacy), and after thoughts concerning the conversations. With that said, on with the show:

For those of who you don't know, I am a breastfeeding mother. I am fairly proactive in trying to make the act of breastfeeding the standard over formula feeding when and where possible. Most of the people I talk to about this are on Twitter, and long ago I connected my Twitter account to my Facebook account. The following conversation stems from the fact that a good portion of my posts on Facebook have to do with breastfeeding, as a good portion of my Twitter posts deal with breastfeeding.

Status:



I ♥ The Cow Goddess. http://www.thecowgoddess.com/ #breastfeeding #babywearing #rockinmomma


(BTW - Totally check out the link! She posts cool AP comics on a fairly regular basis.)

Responses:

T: seriously erin why are the majority of your posts about breast feeding? I honestly don't mean any offence but you know you are not the first girl to ever give birth or breast feed right? (i am of coarse infering that you breast feed)

Me: The majority of my posts are about breastfeeding because the majority of the people I talk to on Twitter talk about breastfeeding a good portion of the time. I'm trying to set up my page to where all my Twitter posts don't spill over to Facebook, but the apps I have are conflicting. I'm sorry if you find it offensive or annoying but until I can get things sorted out between my Twitter and Facebook accounts, you will likely continue to see posts having to do with breastfeeding. Does it really bother you that much?

T: no not offensive i have had a kid and the bitch breast fed, just seems excessive for something that has been around since the dawn of time, and women did it just fine before social networking sites

Me: What seems excessive to me is the amount of intolerance received by breastfeeding women. It's just fine and dandy to show your breasts in a low cut/revealing top or a bikini, but if I am to show as much flesh in public by feeding my child (and trust me, I don't show any more flesh feeding my child than I would wearing a bathing suit.) I get harassed for it. By talking openly about it, or at least as openly as some guys talk about the nice rack on some girl passing by, we are opening the doors to normalizing it again. Breasts are seen as purely sexual in modern society and breastfeeding, the entire reason behind having breasts, is seen as a dirty act that should only be performed (if at all) in the privacy of ones own home, in a dirty bathroom, or at best, under a blanket.

This is not the first time that I have received responses having to do with breastfeeding on Facebook. I would like to take the time right now to say that I have set up my Facebook and Twitter accounts to only coincide when I put #fb in my Twitter posts. I realize that this is probably not the best way to normalize breastfeeding in modern society, but for this moment, I am picking my battles. Earlier tonight I was called a "spermbag prostitute" by an ignorant troll of a woman for standing up for a friend who is breastfeeding a toddler. I don't particularly care to engage in that sort of commentary on Facebook as well as Twitter, so for now, my accounts will no longer coincide. I am not happy with this, but it's what I'm doing for now and depending on how I feel about it tomorrow, I may change it back. I was feeling somewhat passive aggressive at the time of my decision and posted this status in reference to it:



In order to appease the masses who are apparently annoyed/offended by my posts via Twitter about breastfeeding, I have suspended the connection btwn Twitter and Facebook. If you see a post ending in #fb it's a "selective twitter" post - a post coming from Twitter that I specifically posted to Facebook as well via Twitter. Censorship at its finest people.


As for how I feel about what was said...

First of all, he may not have meant for me to be offended, but I was. I am offended. Obviously, as I post frequently about it, breastfeeding is something that is important to me. It has been a HUGE part of the relationship I have with my daughter. It has had a HUGE impact on every aspect of my life, in all honesty. So to question why I post about something that I obviously care so much about, that to me is offensive. (Excuse me. "Offencive." Ugh.)

Second, of course I realize that I am not the first (or last!) girl to breastfeed or give birth! The whole point in posting about breastfeeding is, as stated numerous times above, to help normalize it so that hopefully more and more women will be comfortable trying it out, asking for help when needed, and sticking with it.
"no not offensive i have had a kid and the bitch breast fed"
If I EVER read "not offensive" and the term "bitch" in reference to a woman in the same sentence again, I might have to get violent.
"women did it just fine before social networking sites"
Women did it just fine when breastfeeding was the norm. When little girls grew up seeing their mothers feed their younger siblings by the breast and not the bottle, as their mothers had seen their grandmothers do for their siblings, yes, women did it just fine then. Currently women do not do it "just fine." According to the CDC*(1), in 2003 only 14.2% of mothers surveyed exclusively breastfed their 6 month old babies. It is recommended by the World Health Organization*(2) that all mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. Of course, I'm sure that's excluding those who have actual medical reasons for being unable to breastfeed (of which there aren't as many as are claimed.) That still puts us almost 85.8% lower than the recommendation. I wouldn't call that "just fine," would you?

*Sources:
1 http://www.kellymom.com/writings/bf-numbers.html
2 http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_health/topics/prevention_care/child/nutrition/breastfeeding/en/


I am more than disappointed in the conversation listed above. I am not surprised by it, but that in and of itself is also disappointing. I hope though, that by continuing to engage in these conversations that perhaps one day we will achieve the goal. In the meantime, I will continue to fight the good fight alongside my friends on Twitter. What an amazing support system they have been. Thanks to all of you who have been there for me.

A special thanks to Annie at PhDinParenting. Her blog was what set me off in my search for acceptance as a breastfeeding mother.

**Edit**

T. has responded to my status stating the severed connection between my Twitter and Facebook accounts. For now I am just posting the exchange, then heading to bed. Tomorrow I will post further thoughts.

Status:

In order to appease the masses who are apparently annoyed/offended by my posts via Twitter about breastfeeding, I have suspended the connection btwn Twitter and Facebook. If you see a post ending in #fb it's a "selective twitter" post - a post coming from Twitter that I specifically posted to Facebook as well via Twitter. Censorship at its finest people.

Responses:

T: wow really? Is attention that imortant to you and your twitter status Erin? Because I exercise my first amendment right and make an inquiry about your status updates/twitter posts you start another post demonizing my me? Come on if this is not the back bone of the feminist movement I don't know what is, ie. making a large deal out of a non-issue. No body give a shit whether you breast feed or not, except maybe for a few dense assholes, but that is not good enough for you. You need something to tweet about, so you chose an old, dilapitated subject. Compared to the real life issues weighing on our world today, the subject of bra burning feminist waving their tits to and fro for "equal rights" seems a bit shallow and pedantic. But hey if twisting my words and questions around help you get a few more fans to "make a difference" and boycott Nestle or some shit more power two you. Just remember freedom of speech is and always has been a double edged sword.
T: BTW, "appease the masses?" Savior complex much? ONE person made ONE comment, come on you are no rosa parks here, lets take a step away from the high horse

Me: Yes, really, T. And way to make it all about you as well, sir. No, it's not just about you. You're not the first to comment and I'm sure you wouldn't be the last either. I don't see how I "demonized" you, but if that's what you choose to think, more power to you. If you are bothered that much by what I post, then delete me. If you don't like what I have to say in regards to what you and other people say, don't read it. It is my First Amendment right to respond as I see fit.
Personally, I don't see how this is a non-issue. You bring up the Nestle boycott. Do you even KNOW why I'm boycotting? Are you aware that because of Nestle's immoral marketing in undeveloped countries, women who are perfectly capable of breastfeeding instead opt to use formula they often can't afford to buy (thus forcing them to thin it out, giving their infants less nutrients than they need, using unclean water). In the US alone (a developed country, as opposed to the above noted) infant mortality rates are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants. I don't know about you, but I don't see how that is a non-issue.
I am not trying to play the martyr. Sure, my comment may have been a little passive aggressive, but so is telling me, "Hey, no offense, but you're not the first to breastfeed or give birth." Like I said before, you're not the first to make this kind of comment. You couldn't possibly think that you're so original as to be the only person bothered by posts about breastfeeding, could you? I realize that it's not for everyone and that not everyone wants to read about it. That's why I changed my account connections. I have no intention of not saying what I have to say, but in order to choose my battles (an effort which apparently is a moot point now) I have changed the layout.
And in as far as attention is concerned, feel free to direct yours elsewhere. It's not wanted here.

12 comments:

Sarah said...

I seriously have no words, and this person is a FATHER?! I can not take a person seriously when they go on the defensive, start cussing, and somehow have an inability to spell properly (it's a computer, it has spellcheck in almost all browsers).

Of COURSE you are not the first/only person to breastfeed however society does not deem it "normal". It's shown as hippy, nazi, "good" for a month if that, etc. By sharing the links and information it could potentially get through to that pregnant mother who wasn't aware breastfeeding was as awesome as it is for her child.

I seriously would have unfriended that guy.

Erin said...

I have every intention of unfriending him tomorrow. I want him to see my latest comment before doing so.

And aside from being highly offended by his comments, I am more than moderately annoyed by his spelling as well. I admit to an occasional mistake in spelling and grammar, but I take pride in what I have to say/write. You can write the most eloquent, poignant essay known to man, but if it is not properly capitalized and spelled, it's going to lose all credibility.

Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

Wow...no words, except "unfriend".

That said, I do have two facebook accounts. One for IRL friends and one for twitter/blog/message board friends. It is both to preserve some privacy (I have personal details on my IRL facebook account that I don't share on the other one) and also so that I can rant as much as I want about certain topics without anyone getting their nose out of joint. I do still share some breastfeeding and other parenting advocacy stuff on my IRL account, but just not as much!

Carrie said...

It's situations like this one that has made me move away from Facebook and just use Twitter to connect with people. I have unfriended people in the past essentially because they sound like overblown know-it-alls who won't seriously debate an issue, just stick to the fact that whatever I am saying is wrong wrong wrong. It's frustrating because I used to think these people WERE friends I had connections with but it wasn't worth the stress.

BTW, thanks for mentioning the #fb hashtag in your post. FOR MONTHS I've been wondering what that one meant. I've asked about it but no one ever explained :)

kristibonney.wordpress.com said...

What is wrong with our world today? When did it become okay to call the mother of your child a "b*tch"? Unbelievable! I just find it so disturbing that some people can't engage in healthy debates without being disrespectful and condescending to the other person. It also baffles me that anyone would consider breastfeeding a non-issue. Mr. T is obviously self-centerred, close minded and lacking in the communication department.

AutumnJade said...

He really called his wife a "bitch"? What woman would do that?
And yeah the spelling and lack of grammar kills! I am so honored that I can breastfeed and many people get so mad at me because I openly do it. I live in Texas and it is my right. My DS hates to be covered while he eats.
I get into some interesting talks on FB as well, mostly about my politics.
This guy is a douche!
You keep on normalizing and be proud of the fact that you are not the first, but you are one of many who have the guts to go against popular beliefs to do so. Preach it sis!

Melodie said...

Wow. He has no credibility based on the fact he called the mother of his child a bitch. Or was he calling his child a bitch? I couldn't figure it out. Either way that's one friend/acquaintance I'd be saying adios to.

thevervepath said...

I am so sorry you have had to deal with this. I have dealt with something similar, although much less hateful. And on the other hand I have also been told by some folks that they visit my FB page often as THE resource to get the latest BF info. So it is doing good!! When this happened to me, here is the post I wrote in response. Thought you might like to read it. http://thevervepath.com/2009/05/06/to-facebook-with-love/

Stick with your passions! You will make a difference in the world with it!!

Summer said...

I cringed at "the bitch breastfed". Whom is the bitch, the mother or child. Ick. But then maybe I'm just a crazy bra-burning feminist. *rolls eyes*

Aliceann said...

It makes me sad that he has a kid.

Some people need to keep their chodes in their pants.

motheringkearah said...

Wow, sadly I have been in the same boat as you. I am sorry that you have these messages :(

theadventuresoflactatinggirl said...

I've had conflicts with friends on Facebook and breastfeeding also. http://theadventuresoflactatinggirl.com/2009/06/23/friendship-terminated/

What I ended up doing (not to appease the people on Facebook, but rather to not bombard my irl friends with tweets about breastfeeding to their cell phones) was create a second account. I have LactatingGirl which is my professional account (i.e. breastfeeding advocacy) and Crailezor which is my real life friends account that updates to Facebook. I still send tweets about breastfeeding on the Crailezor account (and quite frankly, would send the same tweets that upset that girl I discussed in my blog), but not as often.

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