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So why can't we just get along?

By January 5, 2009 - 1:21pm
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So I recently wrote a SHARE post about a breastfeeding study that I pegged as propaganda. As my colleague, Kelley, pointed out, it's probably better not to discuss politics, religion or breastfeeding.... Apparently, breastfeeding can ingite all kinds of passionate discussion. But what amazes me the most is how we women can, and do, judge each other so severely on issues like this. Why are we so judgmental??

What I've learned from the "breastfeeding propaganda" conversation thread, (that you can find and join in here:http://www.empowher.com/community/share/more-breastfeeding-propaganda) is that if I choose not to breastfeed my newborn infant, then I can expect to be slammed by other moms (and dads) as being an immoral, heartless wretch of a mom. Unless, that is, I have a pretty darned good excuse. Like say, a medical issue that prevents me from breastfeeding, or a premature infant who is unable to breastfeed. Then it's acceptable. But if I simply make the CHOICE not to breastfeed, for whatever reason, then I should be prepared to wear a scarlet F (for formula) on my chest.

Geez. So when are we going to come together as moms and be more supportive, or at the least, somewhat respectful, of each others' choices? Isn't that what we're all about, as 'empowhered' women? To have access to, and to be able to make, choices that are the very best for my health and the health of my family? Without fear of judgment or an extra layer of guilt?

If we can't come together as strong, empowhered women to extend empathy and compassion to each other without judgment, then I don't see how we're ever going to make progress in obtaining equality in medical care and treatment.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Coach Virginia makes such a valid point. Perhaps the more "heated" posts and subsequent messages makes for BETTER education and information dissemination, as people can gain both perspectives and weed out the information they disagree with.

Kristin, as you said "why can't we all get along", I agree with Coach Virginia (and I'm sure you do, too) that it would be a boring world! However, more to the gist of your point about respecting and not judging, since that's the real issue! There is a fine line between asserting our different opinions vs. judging/putting down others opinions and choices. If we look at the Cultural Competency literature, it helps to explain your point, Kristin, and I wrote a separate SHARE about it (you can read it here, so we can all join in on that discussion!

January 6, 2009 - 3:16pm

Kristin, I just got caught up with all the postings on the topic you brought uplast week...wow! it looks like I missed the fun! Here is what I think triggered this passionate discussion. I will be very honest with you if I may. From the start (notice how you titled your posting) it showed a personal bias on the article from the get-go by labeling it "propaganda". Here is what that word means:

"Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."

"Deliberate" and "manipulate" may be perceived negatively so it is understandable why we got the postings you are referring to here. Is it just possible that this ONE word (propaganda) may have caused readers to get defensive about their more conservative opinions on the subject?

I believe there is great value on sharing information on this site. EMPOWHER is committed to respecting everyone's opinions and no one should feel unsafe of sharing a more conservative or more liberal pespective on a particular issue. Women can agree to disagree and our goal is that. Let them be on their own "soapbox", you probably will not change the world. It would be too boring...but as women we can ensure our future generations are healthier, better-informed and safer so they can move humanity to a better place (I am including the whole world in this statement as I assume many of our readers are international or across cultural/religious backgrounds)and survive the many challenges ahead...There is NO one size fits all, but we can dialogue about the facts on health, wellness, ways to improve our lives, etc.

There are many issues that cause emotional reaction, the EMPOWHER family should be welcoming to all perspectives. The value of the information presented on the article you shared was kind of lost as the discussion shifted away from focusing on the findings of the study about the motion of sucking as it relates to greater lung capacity. And whether you agree or disagree with the study I think our readers gained a new perspective on breastfeeding as a whole, that alone will help many women make a more informed decision on whether to breastfeed or now, wouldn't you say?

January 5, 2009 - 9:34pm
HERWriter Guide

To be honest Kristin, when it comes to children, breastfeeding ignites no more passion in people than abortion, CIO techniques, circumcision, daycare versus staying at home, children and religion or even children and TV watching.

I've read discussions on circumcision (pro and against) that make breastfeeding conversations look like afternoon tea with grandma!

I think most people are so passionate about parenting, pregnancy and babies in general, that it brings out the best and worst in us but believe me, breastfeeding is up there in terms of hot topics but it has much company.

I'm sorry you felt like you were being labeled a "immoral, heartless wretch of a mom." but I don't really think anyone said that, or even meant it. I think breastfeeding is an extremely sensitive subject for you and conversations that question your decisions make you very defensive and upset.

Simply put - you breastfed some of your kids, and not others. The reasons why are nobody's business and your reasons do not make you a bad person. I breastfed all my children and I highly doubt that makes me a 'better mom' than you. Inasmuch as I am a firm believer that yes, breast is best, I was in a position where I could breastfeed my children. Not everyone is or was as lucky as me. I don't come from any place of judgment. But all opinions are 'judgments' really, in a way.

As to your question - why can't we all get along? Because there are six and half billion of us on earth and we are different cultures, colors, faiths, beliefs, languages and circumstances. Ergo, we'll never all get along. And it's ok to not all get along. (I'm going to morph into Rodney King if I say "get along" one more time!).

We can all have different opinions and differences and still have a modicum of respect for someone else's point of view -or at least respect their right to their opinion. Even when these disagreements are extreme. Sometimes we walk away, feeling maligned and disrespected, even if that was not the intention. Sometimes our inference was not the other person's implication.

Kristin, be happy with your choices and if someone disagrees with you (I totally disagree with you that formula can be as good as breastmilk - unless of course, the mother is on drugs or alcohol or the like) but so what? I disagree with my husband on things, and my friends. Sometimes it ticks me off that no-one sees things my way. How dare they! But in general, I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin and am ok that others think differently - even when it's a radical difference. C'est la vie.

Just remember that the whole breastfeeding subject is a trigger point for you and you are quite sensitive to it. For others it's daycare, or the death penalty or animal rights or marijuana laws. I know people who are passionate about gay rights, and others who firmly believe that it should be illegal to put young babies in daycare. We all have our pressure points.

Now go and hug your kids and bear in mind that you are doing (and did) what is best for them. You don't have to answer to anyone but yourself. (and them, I guess!)

January 5, 2009 - 1:48pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

Great comment, Susan. And, yes, I am very happy with my decisions regarding my kids, whether about breastfeeding or what school to send them to -- I learned long ago not to look back. It's not that the topic of breastfeeding per se makes me upset -- what makes me upset is how women are so quick to judge each other. That's what sends me over the edge. And I've seen it regarding many different topics, not just breastfeeding. I recently posted on a moms' web site about bringing home a boyfriend for a sleepover and when/if it's appropriate when you have kids. Wow -- talk about an emotionally charged topic. And the arguing that ensued as a result. My goodness. What fascinates me the most about the breastfeeding topic is that it's so black and white to people.

All I'm trying to express here is that if we can stop judging each other with regards to the health choices we make for ourselves and our families, then, and only then, will we be able to move forward and make positive changes in health care.

January 5, 2009 - 10:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Kristin Davis)

True but many breastfeeding women get real offended if anyone thinks they are rude and crude for feeding out in the open. They expect everyone to respect their opinions but they certain won't give the same respect in return. It is all about them and their baby when they engage in public activities.

February 12, 2009 - 8:49am
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