The essay is criminally stupid. It argues that breastfeeding is a tyranny that women need to fight by giving their kids formula. Her evidence is shaky, anecdotal, and in many cases treats published sources from the seventies as if they were current.
But the real awful part is that the woman is heir to a fortune made by the advertising firm that advertises formula for Nestle. She is a near-billionaire. From baby formula. You'd think that kind of obvious interest would be relevant to report.
It's disgraceful that Harpers--once a great magazine--would publish such horseshit.
Verdicts -- The Womanly Art of Arguing About Breastfeeding
Harper’s is trolling. And who can blame them? Nothing like a salvo in the “mommy wars” to boost your readership. The article title on the March cover certainly caught my eye: “The Tyranny of Breast-Feeding: New Mothers vs. La Leche League.” It’s an excerpt from Elisabeth Badinter’s forthcoming book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, and what bothers me about it isn’t the perspective. I expected to be at least a little sympathetic. No, what bothers me is the article’s sloppy argumentation—the way it tries to push buttons without bothering to build its case. (The official name for this, as I learned from the New Yorker, is “contrarian feminism.”)
Some necessary background, for those of you not up on the latest in high-stakes parenting debates: In the West right now, breastfeeding is officially in. It’s the doctor-recommended way to be a good mother. And exclusive breastfeeding (that is, no source of nourishment but mother’s milk) until the sixth month is the gold standard. Experts agree it’s best for baby to drink the milk specifically manufactured for that baby, but it’s not so easy to achieve, at least not if you, as a mother, intend to do anything else during those six months. I can say this with some authority because my seven-month-old son was one of those lucky “EBF” (exclusively breastfed) babies for the first six months of his life. He still nurses a lot more than he eats solid food, and I’m here to tell you that keeping him nourished and happy is wonderful and rewarding and exhausting and hard.
A generation or two ago, by contrast, breastfeeding was definitely not in. Babies drank from bottles, and the way you knew you were a good mother was by monitoring how many ounces they consumed. Nursing babies had become something only weirdos and hippies did. Enter La Leche League, a group formed in the mid-1950s by a group of women who wanted to nurse their babies and offer support to other like-minded moms. They’re the villains of Badinter’s essay.
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