Perhaps I’m being presumptuous, but I don’t think the founders of the breastfeeding advocacy group La Leche League (LLL) ever imagined their organization would be cowed into championing men who want to nurse babies. No, I’m not talking about women who feel that they’re men, I’m talking about XY chromosome-having biological men who want to breastfeed. Apparently there’s nothing a woman can do that a man can’t do better.
The past couple of years have been open season on womanhood, with men demanding access to our bathrooms, our homeless shelters, our fitting rooms, our prison cells, and even the words we use to describe our bodies. I’m not a feminist, but I can’t help but see these developments as an attempt to conquer and colonize everything that is distinctly female. Why else would men—who are in no way prevented from using their own bathrooms and other intimate spaces—be campaigning so aggressively to use mine?
It’s a political movement motivated by rationalization, and women’s spaces and bodies are the spoils. Women’s organizations, with their focus on the shared experiences and specific needs of the female sex, put this phenomenon into sharp relief when they allow themselves to be hijacked by gender ideology.
Everything You Can Do Men Can Do Better?
Pressured into supporting “chestfeeding” by a Canadian woman who calls herself a “transman” back in 2012, LLL soon found itself philosophically unprepared to defend their women-focused mission. By 2014 they had opened up leadership positions to men, “as long as they had breastfed for at least 9 months.” They clearly intended that requirement to mean “transmen,” but the slope got slippery.
This past Father’s Day, LLL actually tweeted that “some men CAN lactate, and not only transmen. New information is challenging our old beliefs.” This from the breastfeeding advocacy group responsible for “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” Men may be teased for having worthless nipples, but LLL is progressive enough to see beyond the limitations otherwise known as our bodies.
Some men CAN lactate, and not only transmen. New information is challenging our old beliefs.
— La Leche League USA (@LaLecheLeagueUS) June 17, 2017
According to a document on the official Canadian LLL website, “some trans women have induced lactation with impressive results, providing nearly a full supply to their babies.” There are, of course, no citations in the document with evidence of this actually happening, but in the corners of the Internet there is anecdotal evidence that some men are now attempting to breastfeed.
Let’s All Repeat Reality Now: Men Don’t Really Lactate
Lactation is women’s work: we have the breasts, the mammary glands, the hormones, and the unique ability to bear and birth children—all of which contribute to our ability to produce milk postpartum. Although it’s true that men have “breasts” and a very small number of mammary glands, it’s also true that, except in cases of pituitary tumors, starvation, and literary legend, men simply don’t lactate.
In fact, the only male mammal known to spontaneously lactate is the incredibly rare Dayak fruit bat of Southeast Asia, who probably doesn’t know that the phytoestrogen-high plants he’s eating are to blame. Male lactation doesn’t even exist in human medical terminology, but that hasn’t stopped LLL from pursuing medical solutions to this “problem.”
LLL suggests that men who “identify on the feminine side of the gender spectrum” follow the Newman-Goldfarb protocol to induce lactation, which was designed to help non-gestational mothers mimic the hormonal secretions present in a woman’s body during and after pregnancy. The Newman-Goldfarb protocol involves ingesting birth control pills and domperidone for six months, followed by breast pumping and breast massage that must be done every three hours for two weeks. Not an easy procedure to follow, the protocol was developed for women who adopt and, unsurprisingly, doesn’t mention male lactation. But if “transwomen are women,” what’s to prevent these men from gaining admittance to the club via pharmaceutical means?
I’m Using a Baby to Sexually Stimulate Myself
Now that men are affirming their female “gender identities” through breastfeeding, it’s worth considering what this new frontier of infant feeding looks like. The queer edition of Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Stranger, recently printed a personal piece that celebrated male lactation as “freaky as hell.”
Bear with me as I attempt to describe this situation in this article: A biological male who identifies as a transgender woman naturally conceived a child with his biologically female wife. Under the direction of a “queer lactation consultant,” the father began a regimen of synthetic hormones and breast pumping that eventually brought about a very small amount of milk. This man goes on to describe his physical experience of “breastfeeding” by encouraging the reader to “imagine the most electric thing a partner has ever done to you, then multiply it by 10….(And yeah, I kind of got off on it. Don’t judge.)”
Okay, let’s pause and reflect, shall we? This story is appalling for a number of reasons, but it’s particularly horrifying to think that a man can muse—in print—about the sexual gratification he received through “nursing” his baby. Where is the outrage at this abuse from LLL? How is this not pedophilic? Does this sound like the way women describe breastfeeding? What was the concentration of hormones in that milk? Too many questions are begging for an answer here.
Returning to the article, we discover that Mr. Mom never was able to build up a milk supply and that his wife wasn’t able to successfully breastfeed either (probably due to his repeated interruptions). In experiments like these, everybody loses: mother, father, and worst of all, baby.
Breastfeeding Is Hard Enough for People With Real Boobs
LLL should also be concerned that the baby’s mother had her chance to breastfeed sabotaged. With her husband attempting to derive affirmation of his female “gender identity” through chemically induced lactation, she stood little chance of successfully establishing a milk supply of her own. A new mother needs to put her baby frequently to the breast to stimulate milk production.
Further, to face the challenges inherent in establishing a breastfeeding relationship, it’s critical that a new mother be armed with an abundance of confidence in her unique female biology. I breastfed seven children and even with all my experience, I honestly dreaded the postpartum breastfeeding phase more than the birth itself.
Mastitis, with its concomitant high fever and intense joint pain, plagued my nursing experience with my first two children. My friends endured ordeals like bleeding nipples, painful thrush infections, and months of pumping for their hospitalized preemies. LLL needs to focus their time and attention on helping women overcome these sorts of obstacles instead of nurturing the fetishist demands of men with breast-envy.
— La Leche League USA (@LaLecheLeagueUS) June 17, 2017
Considering the mental and physical strength needed to endure the initial challenges of nursing, it doesn’t surprise me that, at the time of LLL’s founding in 1956, only one in five women breastfed. It took decades of work for LLL to convince women that breastfeeding was best for their babies and that nursing created a unique relationship between mother and baby that no one else could replace. For that, LLL deserves the highest praise, but now that men are competing for LLL’s attention, the focus on a mother’s ability to make the perfect food for her infant is being threatened. Women’s ownership of the role of nursing mother is being scorched by the same fire that’s consuming the gender binary.
Manipulating Women Is Not Good For Anyone
It’s possible that LLL didn’t realize that by caving in to gender ideology they were opening the door to an activist feeding frenzy bent on devouring their woman-centric philosophy. Transgender ideology is built on the idea that our bodies are mere accidents enslaved to our “true gender” or, increasingly, “how we feel when we wake up.” Our identity, if it’s not anchored to any physical reality, has to be confirmed through contortions of language and behavioral demonstrations.
It follows that everyone will be required to participate and accept these demonstrations of identity as truth or the system will fail. In his essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” Vaclav Havel said, “Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety.”
When LLL allowed the term father and mother to become interchangeable, they built a house of cards vulnerable to any dissident utterance of truth. It’s this stifling environment that has caused many LLL leaders to leave over the past few years. Like Havel’s rebellious greengrocer who refused to hang propaganda in his shop window, these women making an exodus from LLL have “shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system.”
— La Leche League USA (@LaLecheLeagueUS) June 18, 2017
Our words are meant to convey the truth about the world around us to others. Made-up words like “chestfeeding” only distort reality and confuse. It’s the opposite of communicating; it’s manipulative and limiting. Adding the concept of breastfeeding fathers (or “chestfeeding” transmen) to our lexicon does not expand the category of nursing mothers into a trans-inclusive utopia, it instead nullifies the meaning of “nursing mother” altogether.
If everyone gets to be the nursing mother, then “nursing mother” doesn’t mean anything anymore. What value would the Coca-Cola brand have if anyone could slap a Coca-Cola label on their bottle of generic soda? Language manufactured to describe breastfeeding as anything but a female pursuit denigrates the special role women have in nourishing their babies and should be seen as a cowardly surrender to ideologues.
Joseph Pieper was correct in his assessment that “public discourse, the moment it becomes basically neutralized with regard to a strict standard of truth, stands by its nature ready to serve as an instrument in the hands of any ruler to pursue all kinds of power schemes.” Unsurprisingly, the gender-neutral gestapo is laboring around the world to re-educate not only lactation consultants, but also obstetricians, gynecologists, and midwives, in an effort to end the use of female-centric terminology. Because somehow the proper names for women’s body parts are exclusionary and bigoted unless they’re repurposed by men.
Changing the terminology we use to describe ourselves and our bodies can’t transform our physical reality, but it can change the way we understand ourselves and others. Although LLL continues to state that their mission is “to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support,” it’s going to be awfully hard to carry out this mission now that they’ve hollowed out the meaning of the word “mother” to include men who pretend to be women. Perhaps radical feminists are onto something when they say transactivism is the new misogyny.