Racks and Ruin

Now, my sisters in Christ, I probably don’t need to tell you that womanhood is in a state of crisis. The sexual revolution has led us down a path of utilitarian nonsense into loneliness, disease and death. Instead of liberating “the fairer sex” as it promised, it enslaved them to men’s appetites and degraded motherhood and feminine dignity. And those who participated willingly have either come up short–or have bravely tried to acclimate. One who has embraced this revolution is Kathryn Blundell, who explains why she didn’t nurse her baby in a startling commentary titled, “I Formula Fed, So What.”

I wanted my body back. (And some wine)… I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around my stomach…They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.

This is not just Mary Jane on the street giving a random opinion, but an editor at one of Australia’s leading parenting magazines, Mother and Baby. Despite the shock to readers–presumably mostly young mothers–she reveals a very twisted view of the human body, which can only have come about with a firm understanding that intimacy is only marginally related to commitment or procreation. My intuitive guess is that she is not alone.

This is igniting among readers the usual debate about bottle-vs-breast feeding for infants, but that is not the most important point. Women usually choose one or the other based on a host of factors–work schedules, success with nursing, health issues and often just plain stamina–but her frank refusal is different.

But even the convenience and supposed health benefits of breast milk couldn’t induce me to stick my nipple in a bawling baby’s mouth.

This is a refusal to give the gift of self because of a gradually shifting paradigm, which leads her to consider breast-feeding babies as just plain bizarre. I was familiar with the earlier phase of this attitude from my youth in a very WASPish environment. Nursing in the ’70’s was a matter of culture–and the bulk of those who did it were certain ethnic groups, hippies and Catholics. Not all Catholics, of course, but those who hadn’t jettisoned Humanae Vitae outright. Refined women from the suburbs didn’t breast-feed–witness Donna Reed, June Cleaver and Lucy Ricardo (and yes, I know that Lucy was in the city). They “nursed” us via television to value starched collars, trim waistlines and antiseptic rubber nipples–which in turn allowed daddy, mother-in-law and the pony-tailed baby-sitter from next door to share in the job of bringing up baby. How communal was that!

Eventually sterile sex and sterile bottles became so intertwined that a large portion of the female population lost touch with the entire fleshy understanding of their motherhood. While I can understand the shock that many readers received upon delving into Ms. Blundell’s piece, her honesty is a blunt and brazen bellwether that we should bear in mind when taking on the modern world.

We must be aware that not only do many editors share her disdain, but so do many teachers, legislators and medical professionals; and inherent in the newer approach to bottle-vs-breast is the sensuality factor. Whereas the earlier disdain was based on ethnicity and sophistication, her base-line view of the woman’s body reveals the essential further shift–believing it to be created primarily for sexual pleasure, and this view has gained ascendency in the youngest members of the next generation.

For all the buzz about “back to nature” in different areas of our life–food, clothing and herbal remedies–simply looking at the body and its construction is studiously ignored. Advertising campaigns, school curricula and the entertainment industry have converged on the one driving idea: the body was created chiefly for sexual gratification, and that means breasts must be shapely, soft and reserved for the lover-du-jour. Poor babies, poor mothers, and poor society crumbling for a fundamental loss of identity.

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