Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Communal Breastfeeding/Wet-Nursing

Salma Hayek Breastfeeds African Baby
I've never been a big Salma Hayek fan, but I'm not gonna pretend like this ain't hot.

But regardless of the celebrity hotness factor, communal breastfeeding also provides babies with the antibodies necessary to provide immunity to a broader range of diseases. It is still practiced in parts of the Philippines and other parts of the developing world. Interestingly, wet-nursing and communal breastfeeding are making a slight comeback in the Western world, as mentioned in this Time article.

Now if only Angelina, Katie, et aliae would follow Salma's example and demonstrate the benefits of communal breastfeeding in the developing world...

10 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Dudes. This breastfeeding rice mommy finds the hotness commentary not so appropriate given the context.

Jenny said...

Guys, she's feeding a baby. In Sierra Leone. Because the mother couldn't. Not about sex.

And I get the joke, but with the current issues about breastfeeding in public, ascribing sexuality to breastfeeding is just totally unhelpful...

Purple Tongue said...

Agreed its not sexual. However, guys are pervs and if a hot lady does such a thing what the hell do you expect from us? You had us thinking sexually at the point she unbutton her shirt.
http://purplemouth.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth said...

Umm... How about that you keep it to yourself? Because you're an adult and because a woman is not asking for sexual attention by opening her shirt in this context. The bloggers are writing as Rice DADDIES. Do you want this kind of stuff for your wives and daughters??

SoulSnax said...

Looks like I really need to spell things out for you people...

For the record, it always makes me happy to see a mother breastfeeding in public. If anything, I may nod and smile, thankful that her baby is fortunate enough to receive the nourishment she needs, when she needs it.

I think I speak for a lot of dads when I say that a breastfeeding mother is hot. But that's only because we lack the words to describe the certain je ne sais quoi that exists beyond the erotic, and much closer to that which is Divine. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I feel sorry for you.

That said, I really think that we Americans need to throw off the yoke of our Puritanical heritage in order to appreciate the beauty and benefits of breastfeeding, communal and otherwise. We need to realize that salvation lies not in denying our human nature, but in embracing our humanity with a sense of humor.

In some parts of the Philippines, and among other non-Western cultures to which I have been exposed, I am often taken aback at how openly humorous folks are about things I believed to be universally taboo (e.g.: the Philippine Barrel Man). And then I realize "duh, of course!" Where else in the world could people feel so comfortable breastfeeding in public? Where else in the world can people embrace the beauty and sanctity of communal breastfeeding? They're just being authentically human. They're not hung up on being classy.

The Western preoccupation with maintaining a classy image is more of a handicap than a virtue when it comes to caring for others. And that's why I admire Salma Hayek for doing what she did. She wasn't concerned about herself or her public image. She just did the most selfless, human thing that she could in that situation. And because our culture is so shallow that our habits are shaped by the actions of celebrities, I really do hope that other celebrity moms follow suit.

And yes, I will think it is hot. Deal with it.

Sadie said...

I have no problem praising Salma for her breastfeeding abilities and hotness, but there is a difference between enjoying the female body in all of the glory of what it was intended for and considering your own lustful interests to be the point.

It isn't Puritanical, but rather substantive to assert that you've lost it when you suggest we women of *lesser beauty and status* should look up to hot celeb moms as our shining beacon of hope and the example we should all follow in to communal nursing. What's the point? Should our goal as mothers be to be lusted after and objectified by the likes of you?

Elizabeth said...

SoulSnax. When men are commenting over and over online about this video “Me next” and “I’m next in line and I’ve got the whipped cream in my back pocket”, it doesn’t feel like it’s je ne sais quoi Divine they’re talking about. When I have men leering into my car when I’m breastfeeding in a parking lot or giving me nasty looks in the park it doesn’t feel Barrel Man-funny. I’m not saying that you or even most men think like that, but in a context where enough do that that public breastfeeding is even an issue, you must see how bringing sexuality into it (I’m sorry but how many people are going to read all that nuance into “hot”?) isn’t cool. And the "deal with it" doesn't really jibe with the spirit of this blog, which has always been about how we shouldn't HAVE to deal with perceptions that aren't cool.

JJ said...

SoulSnax, I understand what you're saying, but it seems that your RiceDaddies audience may just be too Westernized to appreciate your "hotness" commentary. We have a broad cultural audience here, you know.

Sadie, you may have missed the essence of SoulSnax's follow-up, due to its verbosity. But let me see if I can take a stab at this...

a.) He is using the word "hot" for the lack of a better term (je ne sais quoi). There is no mention of lust or objectification. It's more of a reverence for the "Divine," as he put it. I might have used the term "hot" also, but after reading the comments here, I know better.

b.) His reference to celebrity culture doesn't endorse the hierarchy of "beauty and status" that you allude to. I think what he's saying is that despite the shallow nature of (American?) culture, celebrity moms can highlight a new approach to nursing our young.

Anyway...

My wife, our neighbor, and my sister all share their breastmilk among our kids, but it involves the exchanging of bottles, not breasts. I'm not sure we could handle the direct sharing of breasts. :) But it seems to me that ever since we began sharing breastmilk, our kids have not had any major colds this winter (fingers crossed). Anyone else have similar experiences?

SoulSnax said...

Everyone,

Thank you for schooling me.

Apparently I live in some sort of social cocoon in which I believed my commentary was socially acceptable amongst a broader audience. I had actually lifted that Salma Hayek story off our friend Christine's Facebook page in which she commented, "Is this hot, or what?" Furthermore, my wife reads all my posts before they go live but failed to flag it for questionable content. Then again, my wife was crazy enough to marry and procreate with a lunatic like me. God bless her.

The details of my social reality/perspective are no excuse, however. You see, a good writer knows his audience and writes with sensitivity to their perspective. Elizabeth pointed out that the comments on the Huffington Post page reveal a sort of sexism/chauvinism that folks in my social circle are fortunate to be ignorant of. I have yet read the comments. Not sure that I want to.

The reality for most of you is that this type of sexism and chauvinism are very real. Real enough that it is safer for us to pay no mind to breastfeeding than to show any kind of appreciation, out of fear that they may be perceived to be giving unwanted sexual attention. Inject any hint of humor, and you're treading on thin ice.

So, my apologies for being insensitive in my commentary. I hope you will forgive me.

Keep the comments coming. I learn a lot from them. I do want to know more about JJ's and others' experience with alternative nursing practices.

Elaine at Lipstickdaily said...

Dude . . . hot? I was a little shocked too, but loved your response. Great blog.