Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk?


11:30 am - March 1st 2011

by Rowan Davies    


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If you don’t want to spend £15 on an ice cream made with human milk, that’s A-OK with me. I don’t want to spend £15 on that either. You may have concerns about the commodification of people; I can understand that. You may dislike political posturing; that’s fine.

But if you espouse any of the following points of view, I may well get my leaky friend to squirt you in the eye with some of her finest breast-juice. (It’s great for conjunctivitis!)

It’s just like snot! Or shit! Basically it’s like eating shit!

It’s really, really not like that at all. Breastmilk is specifically designed to be ingested by human beings. Unlike, you know… COWS’ MILK. And comparing breastmilk – one of the most extraordinary substances known to humankind – to shit makes you a woman-hating knob-end.

I don’t mind breastmilk, but it’s for babies. When adults eat it it’s disgusting
Well, it’s not just for babies. Many children aren’t fully weaned until they are seven or so; some continue to feed even after that. Many nursing mothers talk about using up expressed breastmilk in their coffee, or in puddings. There’s even the famous scene in The Grapes of Wrath in which a woman nurses a dying man.

Sure, the norm in developed countries is that breastmilk is consumed by babies. But there are plenty of things that children eat and adults don’t: fromage frais, Space Dust, Happy Meals, stuff that they find up their noses. You probably don’t convulse with horror when someone offers you a bag of chicken nuggets. So when you say that your revulsion is caused purely by the age factor, I think you’re lying. Probably to cover up your embarrassment at the stupidity of your own response.

It’s like eating shit!
It’s still not like eating shit. But you are evidently impervious to rational argument. And your mouth-breathing repetition of Ricky Gervais’s gag about the spunk sandwich isn’t impressing anyone.

Adult consumption of breastmilk is taboo, and taboos are there for a reason
You know, another word for ‘taboo’ is ‘superstition’. A longer phrase for ‘taboo’ is ‘thunderingly stupid stuff dreamed up before the Enlightenment’. You know other things that used to be taboos? Menstruating women. Men having sex with men. The taboo argument is pure bunkum, and is most often espoused by people who will demand five pieces of peer-reviewed evidence when you suggest that Nuts might not be good reading material for eight-year-olds.

There is – with deadening inevitability – a serious point to this. New mothers who choose to breastfeed are met at every turn with attitudes that make it likely that their breastfeeding will come to a premature end (by which I mean, before they and their babies are ready to stop). The pursed-lipped customer at the next table in the cafe; the TV doctor who says that they should ‘give their breasts back to their husbands’; the partner who says ‘you’ve done it for x weeks now, it’s time to move on to formula’.

These attitudes are of a piece with the don’t-touch-me-with-breastmilk-I-might-die comments that have been expressed since the Baby Gaga story came to light. We live in a culture that is terrified by the idea of breasts being used for their primary purpose. A little rational self-examination, in these circumstances, would go a long way.

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About the author
Rowan Davies is an occasional contributor. She is part of Mumsnet's campaigns team, and also works with international development organisations. She is Vice-Chair of the Fairer Votes in May (Yes to AV) campaign, and blogs at www.rowandavies.co.uk
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Equality ,Feminism

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Reader comments


“You probably don’t convulse with horror when someone offers you a bag of chicken nuggets”

You reckon?

Over egging the breast pudding isn’t the strongest way of making its case.

You actually convulse with horror at chicken nuggets? With the same level of repulsion and hair-tearing that the breastmilk ice-cream has provoked? If so, you may be excused.

3. the a&e charge nurse

“It’s great for conjunctivitis” – not if symptoms are caused by a virus or allergy (the triggers in most cases).
http://laico.org/v2020resource/files/Conjunctivitis/Conjunctivits.htm

Most bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by either staph or strep and there is some evidence that colostrum helps.
http://thetruthaboutbreastfeeding.com/category/research/conjunctivitis/

Weirdly, I don’t find the idea of breast milk ice-cream repulsive (except in terms of price), but I do find the idea of breast milk cheese (which apparently also exists) repulsive.

I think it’s because I view cow milk and cow cheese as two separate things, but I human milk doesn’t automatically have a cheese equivalent, so when I think of it I get a very clear mental image of curdled, off breast milk. And that does gross me out.

Is that wrong? Am I bad?

You probably are bad, yes.

Seriously – if the idea of curdled breastmilk makes you shudder where curdled cows’ milk wouldn’t, then it seems reasonable to say that you are having an emotional response to the idea of breastmilk? Which isn’t bad in itself (nobody should be blamed for their instinctive responses IMO, it’s what you do with them that counts), but it would be interesting I think if people could self-examine a bit and try to work out what it is about breastmilk that prompts an emotional, negative response.

Wouldn’t it be a rather boring world if we didn’t have very “human” reactions at times and go BLUGH at some things, even when there is no rational reason to do so.

Not all of us have the rational (aka, boring) Spock from Star Trek as our inspiration.

As to the bag of chicken nuggets – trust me, the smell alone makes me nearly vomit. Even when drunk I still have to cross the road to avoid the smell coming from “chicken in a cardboard box” shops.

*shudder*

@Ian – prob cross-posted with mine to Ellie; as I said, instinctive responses are fine. But when they’re translated into endless, thoughtless, spiteful attacks* on the very idea of breastmilk anywhere other than in a two-month-old’s mouth, IMO it contributes to a culture that simultaneously DEMANDS that mothers breastfeed, and expresses revulsion when they do.

*This post was prompted by a thread on Comment is Free… say no more

I agree with the OP, it is peculiar that we’re cool about stealing cow’s milk and using it in every possible way (cheese, cups of tea, scrambled eggs, cream, white russians) but when it comes to human’s milk we seem to regress into children and go “Ewww!”. Each to their own, I say. The real shocking and disgusting thing is that they’re charging £15 for a scoop of ice-cream! Daylight robbery, I tell thee.

Complete random speculation here, but, in trying to work out my irrational distaste at the thought of consuming breast milk as an adult, the only reason I could think of (other than societal conditioning) is that perhaps it’s an instinctive impulse which exists to ensure that adults don’t compete with newborns for breast milk. I agree with the OP though.

I walked past the ice-cream parlour in question last night (just by chance) and it was sold out.

I was rather disappointed. Although I wasn’t seeking it out I would have tried it. (I think.)

That’s a good thought, George W Potter. And relatedly, it captures the notion of a functional and unobjectionable taboo that (unlike many taboos) does pass the enlightenment test.

I’m trying to track down the source of my own, very mild, squeamishness at the thought of the ice cream thing. Partly it is the consumerisation, the trivialisation of something importantly uncommercial, but I have to say also that it does seem ever so slightly yuk. I would quail a little at the thought of letting my husband have any of my precious breastmilk, and I suppose that quailing (plus my lack of desire to taste my own wares) protects the baby from losing out to more powerful appetites, as you say.

So, at core, I don’t think the squeamishness reflects our anti-breastfeediong culture. Though I certainly agree with op that it is hugely magnified by that culture — and provides a pretext for a lot of hostile remarks about breastfeeding women.

I’m now pondering what it would have been like if I’d relished my own milk when my children were small. It was hard enough not scoffing all the Kinder chocs before they had a chance to get to them.

Well, if it’s deemed suitable for newborns to eat/drink it I can’t see the harm in adults also partaking of breast milk if they were so inclined. You’d hope that it’d actually be safer than cows milk if you’re encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies…

That is interesting, Mr Potter and Claire. Obviously, having adults fighting babies for scarce milk supplies would not be optimal, in the evolutionary sense.

I genuinely have no ‘yuk’ response to the idea of breastmilk at all, but I accept that I seem to be unusual in that.

Rowan

I agree with you about this repulsion stemming from taboo. I think that there are also taboos about cannibalism, and little children are very susceptible developing a negative reaction to a food because another child says ‘ugh’.

Without going into some socio-biological global explanation, it makes sense for humans to have evolved the capacity for ‘disgust’ because it helps individuals avoid potential dangers like poisonous foods or reservoirs of infection. In this instance, it might also act to ensure that the baby gets the nutrition instead of another marauding adult.

Taboos often exist/have existed for a reason. A lot of sex acts (or even sex outside of a monogamous relationship) have been associated with an awful lot of nasty diseases. Now they are relatively easily treatable or preventable, we can enjoy the taboo instead.

“I genuinely have no ‘yuk’ response to the idea of breastmilk at all, but I accept that I seem to be unusual in that.”

No ‘yuk’ response here either. I’ve tasted mine at various points while breastfeeding. Never tried using it as a drink or ingredient because, well, what would be the point? You have to invest calories to make milk. Trying to nourish yourself with your own product would be wasted effort, especially in the 21st century when you can just eat a Snickers instead.

(Although putting it that way, it could be a top weight-loss method… perhaps we should get some models and actresses on to it.)

“Many children aren’t fully weaned until they are seven or so; some continue to feed even after that.”

What kind of sick world do Mumsnetters occupy?

“Many nursing mothers talk about using up expressed breastmilk in their coffee, or in puddings.”

Jesus!

“There’s even the famous scene in The Grapes of Wrath in which a woman nurses a dying man.”

That’s a FILM. You know, the ones you’re always complaining about because they don’t portray reality.

The idea of a yuck factor protecting breastmilk for the babies makes less sense if you understand that milk is produced on a supply and demand principle; so women can (usually) produce the milk they need for one baby or for triplets.

Milk is produced in response to suckling; there isn’t a finite amount*, one baby/child/adult can’t ‘take’ the milk that another baby needs.

*though of course there will be cases where there are reasons this doesn’t happen as intended – but they’re exceptions, usually with environmental, medical, etc causes so wouldn’t factor into a natural instinctive yuck response

@ Anna: Yes, but it still wouldn’t be optimal in survival terms for her to have to increase supply to meet the needs of post-weaned people, so it makes sense that a taboo might develop post-weaning ( — which of course in many many cultures, as well as the “sick [sic] world of Mumsnetters” in blanco’s post, can be well past seven years old).

Great piece – kinda ironic theres a whopping great Aptamil ad not only under the piece but also under the comments!

I still remember the Mumsnetter who gave frozen breastmilk to the dog, because she couldn’t bear to waste it :-) If only she’d known! She could have been making a fortune.

TBH It’s a storm in a G-cup. Wd be great if people weren’t so squeamish about it, but there you go.

The commodification of humans is not a trivial concern though right? I mean, it’s ok for this to be a thing while a) it’s effectively a novelty product, b) we’re harvesting milk on a very limited basis from women who are comfortable (if not actually actively motivated) to be involved in the process c) selling it from upmarket delicatessens in Covent Garden?

Without trying to invoke any slippery-slope arguments, do people start to feel differently if any of the above factors change i.e. more industrial scale, possibility of women being compelled by financial factors etc? Of course, you can equally level the same argument against the selling of ones body to do unskilled manual work. Unskilled manual work is a viable recourse to make a living, but as a ubiquitous commodity, manual labour is most vulnerable to the degradations and abuses of big business.

Are there any rational, moral objections to women selling their breast milk if what is known about the brutalizing nature of market forces is taken out of the equation? Are moral comparisons with women who use their bodies in other ways to make a living (e.g. models or sex-workers, surrogates) apposite or objectionable? To be clear, I’m not trying to make any loaded value judgements, I’m interested to hear your opinions.

@blanco: it’s a book, actually. But nice try.

The £15 price tag is a winner, though. I’m a bit long in the tooth for milking these days, but may well get my sisters on it. I don’t want any myself, but if others do and are happy to shell out the best part of £20 for it – let’s get in.

whether that would be optimal in survival terms would surely depend on the circumstances and availability of other food products? (during the many years of evolution, rather than now)

Would you think that if it was an instinctive thing it would vary the way that tolerance to lactose does?

Ro

I think it’s more to do with the fact that cheese and milk are normal everyday foods, so I don’t imagine the process of milk rotting when I think of cheese because it’s just ‘there’ if you know what I mean.

With breast milk, there is no ‘breast cheese’ so the process of turning it from milk is in the forefront of my mind when I think of it. In other words, the idea of it curdling.

Maybe you’re right though – maybe I wouldn’t be as grossed out if it was just cows’ milk.

Having said that, I’d really like to try the ice-cream.

I’ve known quite a few people grossed out by cow’s milk too. It’s icky, it’s sickly, the cream is yucky, it separates, it goes off and makes them feel sick … possibly early trauma caused by those unrefrigerated 1/3-pint bottles of milk given out at school playtime?

@Dan – I agree with all of that, I think. I’m a pretty straight-down-the-line 1970s-style anti-objectification-and-commodification kind of feminist.

30. Mr S. Pill

@23

Well from a socialist pov the women involved clearly own and control the means of production, I don’t really see a problem with it if some women wish to sell their own breast milk (obviously as long as no-one is forcing them to, but I don’t see anything like that happening here?). Not my cup of tea, mind – I’ve tried it once & didn’t like the taste.

Zoe Williams fails for invoking the ‘as a mother’ fallacy!

I can’t help but imagine that the end outcome of this will be women strung up on a factory line with a tube attached to each breast in sweatshops in Sub-Sarahan Africa or East Asia. Once people develop a taste for it, they’re not going to pay £15 a scoop, right?

Then the Fairtrade Foundation will have to start labelling products where the community is paid a premium for the use of women’s breasts to produce milk for export, and everything will be ok again.

@Rowan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes_of_Wrath_%28film%29

It’s both.

If there’s nothing wrong with turning women into human cows and literally commodifying the milk from their bosoms, will you be down the local pub selling a pint of the white stuff?

34. Mr S. Pill

The ignorance & childishness of some commentators on this thread is hilarious.

@le chat – yes, the Zoe Williams piece was pricelessly annoying.

@blanco

As an interesting aside, it’s a seminal work cataloguing the effect of the unfettered free market (e.g. the Great Depression) on ordinary people. Mark Twain based his writings on what he actually saw and, if anything sanitised them.

I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make about the woman nursing a dying man as, though it is fiction, it is still a concept that has to be accepted culturally on some level otherwise people would have dismissed the ending of the book as a sick, twisted fantasy on the part of the author.

37. Mr S. Pill

@36

Surely Steinbeck?

As someone who has chosen to adopt a largely (though not exclusively) vegans lifestyle I have no great dislike of human breastmilk, nor do I feeling the sudden spasms of desire to go off and see what a strawberry flavoured breastmilk youghurt would taste like. I confess it doesn’t do very much for me, but there again I don’t like the white stuff anyway – whether it be cows, goats, sheep llamas, or even meerkats!

Logic says that if you are desperate to contaminate your tea then breastmilk is at least more natural – and there a re a host of ethical reasons why doing so causes less distress to animals.

The key here is probably more to do with male taboos and eccentricities. You know, the “hide the mum away whilst she’s feeding baby” routine. Come on guys – let’s break with our prejudices. It’s time we put away the chest wigs and joined the twenty-first century.

A couple of things amuse me here: about adults suckling…..well, we are prettymuch socialised to drink milk chilled, not at blood temperature, which might be part of why people aren’t all that keen on drinking breast milk straight from hte source.

But it’s this other point which does get me:

“We live in a culture that is terrified by the idea of breasts being used for their primary purpose.”

No, the primary purpose of breasts is as a method of sexual attraction.

The primary purpose of the milk glands, of the nipple itself, is indeed to produce and dispense milk.

But not of the breast. Do note that our ape and monkey cousins breast feed in exactly the same manner but do not have breasts while they obviously do have the milk glands and nipples.

Titties, bazongas, are there precisely to get adult males going “Wowee!” over them.

Well, so said that Desmon Morris although some seem to disagree.

There is a reason a large proportion of the world’s population are lactose intolerant. It is because we have no need for milk after the age of weaning (cheese is different btw – if matured correctly, there is usually little lactose in it. Same goes for yoghurt.). People who can tolerate lactose have a genetic mutation which is most prevalent in the west, and least prevalent in Asian and Native American communities.

I’d find it gross even if I could tolerate lactose, and stupidly overpriced.

Hmm… not sure if this really adds up.

Very plausibly, the main reason we’re not (as a culture) entirely comfortable with breasts being used for their primary purpose – feeding babies – is that we associate breasts so strongly with adult sexuality. We’ve come to see breasts primarily as something to be enjoyed by grown-ups.

So why should we think that promoting/accepting breast *milk* as something to be enjoyed by grown-ups is going to do anything to break down taboos about the breastfeeding of babies? (I suppose you could argue that this will help de-sexualize our image of breasts and hence help make us more comfortable with breastfeeding; but that doesn’t seem *obviously* true. You could equally well argue that this represents a further ‘adult-ization’ of breasts, and as such is a step in the wrong direction.)

A quick point on taboos – they do exist for a reason. The reason is obviously historical (since a taboo develops after the reason for it happens, or is at least conjectured). They are also often designed to promote particular social systems dominant at the time – for example, the prohibition on menustrating women in religious sites is clearly linked into the narrative whereby religious functions and powers were taken over exclusively by men (which also produced monotheism).

The taboo on breastfeeding in public is pretty complex, in that in most subsistence level societies there clearly is no such taboo (any study of anthropology will reveal this), but when you reach peasant level societies with stricter domestic and public spheres you get this sort of taboo more – it is less to do with any distaste (at least theoretically – taboo causes distaste in effect) and more to do with ensuring that a particularly female gendered role is performed in the domestic space not the public sphere. This seems to be part of the universal trend for societies to develop from shared space with distinct gender roles towards distinct and generally gendered spaces with actually less distinct gender roles.

All of which means that any such taboo is indeed ridiculous – since gender should not be a consideration. It might also explain why those who are so invested in gender roles (most religious types; certain reactionary types; presumably some feminists) are so agitated about something as inconsequential as using human milk in commercial food – because it challenges power structures they view as eitiher desirable or existing and oppresive. Not sure I would say this is an actual taboo though – a taboo is acknowledged to exist, whereas this would be something that just has not been done before.

G.O.

Surely the commercial availability of breast milk will break down a simplistic view as female breasts as all about sexuality?

44. Alisdair Cameron

Look, what I want to know is will breast-milk in ice-cream form do a damn thing thing to stop our little ‘un regurgitating the damn stuff.
(Oh, and the not being weaned until seven or older is, no matter what anyone else says such an outlier in terms of behaviour, it can be considered weird)

Whats the point, other than showing us how enlightened you are? I think your writing style is more suited to nuts magazine and to be honest I stopped reading at the second profanity.

Grow up

I don’t know that the “cow’s milk” argument necessarily works, tbh. I will happily eat milk from a cow too – from a human, not so much.

That said, it’s up to the consumer – if they want to eat it, go ahead – personal choice and all that.

Great article! Thank you! Sharing in Sunday Surf

Perhaps to fund the NHS we can have butchers at hospitals, selling amputated limbs, placentas and aborted fetuses (For those who want a veal alternative)

oh and just to trip the other commenters over, in Mongolia it is a very nice thing to put some breast milk aside for your guests, or for your family or husband to drink it… so far the theory about competing with a newborn.
SOme women make much more milk than their newborn can handle. don’t think nature intended us to throw that away

Dave,

Perhaps to fund the NHS we can have butchers at hospitals, selling amputated limbs, placentas and aborted fetuses (For those who want a veal alternative)

It’s not a viable business model – the supply is too irregular, and to be honest not of the best quality (gangrenous limbs probably won’t sell when you can get a fresh joint of lamb).

That said, people do eat placentas don’t they?

“That said, people do eat placentas don’t they?”

I think I’d be happier if I saw “some” floating around that sentence somewhere. And for best results, being used as a qualifier for “people” rather than “placentas”.

I have absolutely no problem with breastfeeding or breastmilk – when used for feeding infants and children – but I do object to this ice cream, mainly due to it being made up of milk from at least 15 different women – I would worry about the hygiene to be honest. I also think spare breast milk would be a lot better donated to a premature baby unit – would need it far more than a few over-indulgent foodies to be honest.

53. Mr S. Pill

@52

“I do object to this ice cream, mainly due to it being made up of milk from at least 15 different women”

Um, you do know that in a pint of milk it doesn’t all come from the same cow, right? Even in the most organic-ethically-trendy places it’s still from various different ones.

“I also think spare breast milk would be a lot better donated to a premature baby unit – would need it far more than a few over-indulgent foodies to be honest.”

Now THAT is a good point.

Maybe I should give it a try.
After all, I really DO like breasts. A lot.

Over egging the breast pudding isn’t the strongest way of making its case.

I think people are overegging breast milk products. They taste a lot better with the one yoke.

(Sorry.)

More seriously the notion of something so precious being so utterly commodified is a tad discomfiting. What stops this from being a major problem, naturally, is I don’t see this being a greater business success than baconnaise.

@50 – Some do for sure. Apparently placenta tastes like chicken, not that I would know as I’ve never had chicken before….

@50 – Some do for sure, apparently it tastes like chicken. Not that I’d know as I’ve never had chicken before….

@watchman – thanks (re. taboos), that’s interesting. I do think the herding of women (or female functions/activities) into purely domestic spaces is incredibly damaging.

@Alisdair – yes, of course seven is an outlier. There are plenty of children fed up to the ages of two or three, though – ie, a long way off being ‘babies’.

@Tim – all that evolutionary psychology stuff is very tenuous, surely? Any woman who has ever experienced lactation engorgement will tell you that it involves pretty much every part of the breast. To say that the feeding function of breasts is reserved for nipples and glands and that ‘everything else’ (ie adipose tissue – which as we all know varies hugely from woman to woman) is about the ‘primary purpose’ of sexual attraction seems nonsensical to me.

Is it just me or are comments disappearing? (If this disappears it will have been wholly redundant.)

I think LibCon’s servers are creaking under the weight of posts. I like to think it’s my contribution, but am willing to concede it might be Sunny’s scan of the Private Eye/Assange piece.

Well I suppose this is entertaining. It reminds me of the time I mistook frozen white stuff in one container for the stuff in the other one and made breast milk rice pud.

However, what has this to do with LC? It’s a response to some journo lifestyle drivel. Is this the beginning of the end?

I think this idea of eating ice cream with a politically correct flavour has a lot of mileage.

For a start, has anyone questioned why ice cream is always white? It is a fundamentally racist product.

What about having it flavoured and coloured with liquorice once in a while?

And of course the fact that it is frozen rather plays into the hands of the anti-climate change lobby. As a political statement, we should really eat it only once it has melted.

Also, it would clearly be anti-feminist to put a flake in it. The cone shape is bad enough.

Finally, to demonstrate solidarity with the gay lobby we could have it mixed with male ……..

Oh, maybe not.

63. Political_Animal

I seem to recall, mother’s tend to naturally produce more breast milk when they have just given birth.

So, if we are dealing with ice cream products when no birth was involved, I reckon there’s a monthly supply of a different flavour ice cream which the ladies could offer.

How’s the yuk response now?

Thought this might interest those following the story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12614673

Aren’t people generally yucked by food we didn’t grow up eating? Eg raw fish, insects, frogs, strong cheeses, in earlier decades, yoghurt. (There are of course many exceptions, and people who actively seek out new things to try, I am merely speaking of generalities here.) The reaction to breastmilk ice cream doesn’t strike me as unusual given history.

67. James from Durham

Pagar at 62 – I think blacking up is generally frowned on, although pistachio would make it more green.

Oh my Lord. When I read the headline “Can we stop talking nonsense about breastmilk” I thought, hurrah, we are going to get a sober assessment of the science to set against the somewhat fevered, and, dare I say, irrationaol commandment that All Women Must Breastfeed.

Instead we get a tablet from the Mumsnet Mountain.

From everything I read on the subject, mothers who choose NOT to breastfeed get it in the neck every bit as bad if not worse than mothers who choose to – and Mumsnet is the worst offender.

Please can we get sensible about this? 1. Of course, women should breastfeed if they wish and have public facilities/consideration so to do. 2. The jury is out on the medical benefits, though the pro-breastmilk lobby have a greater range of studies on their side. Sad, though that they should have such ill-informed commentators as the recent Today prog interviewee who said of the recent, sceptical, study “The scientists only said the evidence ‘suggests’ there’s no great advantage…” Go to the back of the class until you learn that all scientific reports only ever say evidence ‘suggests’ – that’s what makes them scientists and you a partisan flag waver for the cause… 3. It ought to be understood that some mothers either have physiological problems with breast-feeding their babies – which are often serious enough to prevent the baby ingesting sufficient calories. And some women’s need to work is another factor and one which I for one – call me a ghastly old feminist – should be cause for understanding not for guilt-tripping.

@68 What on earth are you talking about? Where in the post did I say that all women should breastfeed? Where did I attempt to guilt-trip women who don’t? I don’t give a fig if mothers choose not to breastfeed – good for them.

You seem to have written a response to an entirely different article.

@37 Oh dear, it is Steinbeck, not Mark Twain. I feel like an idiot – particularly as I’m normally very good at not mixing up authors.

taboos are more than just ‘pre-enlightenment nonsense’; they reflect an intensity of feeling that exists about a thing, something like a sense of a sacred, or the inverse of it; and often actually some ‘folk wisdom’ that holds true. there is something strange and mysterious about menstruation; it is to do with blood (frightening, elemental), and the power of moon (monthly cycles), and is demonstrably connected (i mean, even “primitive”, pre-enlightenment peoples knew this) by its absence during pregnancy, to the fact that women can and do give birth to new human beings. also PMT might have something to do with that particular taboo, don’t you think? also, in conditions of poor hygiene, sex during menstruation carries a greater risk of bacterial infection for the woman. medical fact.

leaving aside the other taboo you mentioned, the one about men having sex with men which is a lot to do with power and stuff, and probably a bit to do with shit:

there is also and there is something sacred about a mother’s milk; the amazing fact that mammals, us included, produce this superfood for our children, and i think actually this sense of the sacred is what produces its inverse, bleuch reaction, at the thought of its “secular” use in e.g., ice cream.

that said, i totally agree with the fact that this is an absurd, obsessively hypersexualised moment in our (declining) civilisation and the insane idea that breast feeding is somehow an aberrative, perverse condition is totally pathological, and indicative of that collective madness

p.s., i personally think that drinking cow’s milk is disgusting, unless it’s being drunk by baby cows. go vegan.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  2. James Harrison

    RT @libcon: Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  3. rowan davies

    I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  4. Sam the Drummer

    Interesting… RT @libcon: Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  5. Claire

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  6. Zoe Stavri

    The marvellous @rowandavies talks about breast milk ice cream http://is.gd/k3Nm0p

  7. Jenni Payne

    RT @libcon: Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  8. james harris

    RT @stavvers: The marvellous @rowandavies talks about breast milk ice cream http://is.gd/k3Nm0p

  9. Ms.Smith

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  10. Tameryn

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  11. Laura Jokl Sowter

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  12. Douglas Blane

    Mums who breastfeed meet attitudes that make them stop too soon. http://bit.ly/hcmFLL Good, hard-hitting stuff from @rowandavies

  13. sunny hundal

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  14. sunny hundal

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  15. Taryn Ozorio

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  16. twinbeazle

    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/DnXF6ze via @libcon

  17. Jem

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  18. Matthew Slowe

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  19. clairedavis45

    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/487Ueum via @libcon

  20. Gods & Monsters

    RT @rowandavies: I've made a mess on LibCon again. Rt @libcon
    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? http://bit.ly/hcmFLL

  21. melissakcase

    RT @blwdotcom: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/01/can-we-stop-talking-nonsense-about-breast-milk/ love this piece, clever… http:/ …

  22. Mars Lord

    Can we stop talking nonsense about breast-milk? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/RT7pwyb via @libcon

  23. Kyle Usher

    @_amandawoolley_ Posted this the other day. http://bit.ly/fAwAoI

  24. Amanda Woolley

    RT @kyle_usher: @_amandawoolley_ Posted this the other day. http://bit.ly/fAwAoI





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