As the screen shot from just a few minutes ago shows, the discussion is neverending. Too often it goes like this: someone posts a disdainful tweet about a mom breastfeeding in public, lactivists reply in an effort to educate and retweet in an effort to create awareness of the preponderance of negativism regarding breastfeeding, tweetwars ensue. Retractions, apologies, learning? Well, sometimes.
Then I read this post over at momotics and all the posts she linked to (most of which are discussed below) and I got to thinking about tactics. And goals.The post at momotics was written in response to a post on stir wherein a mom blogs about her pride in her decision to formula feed and then calls breastfeeders who responded "mean." Those 2 posts reminded me of this from phdinparenting.
Recently Paige at Paigeworthy posted a tweet when she saw a mom breastfeeding at a Starbucks in Chicago. Fatal flaw? She used the hashtag #gross. She talks about the experience here. Claire responds here on her blog, Life in Chicago.
As the MinnPost shows here, the establishments themselves sometimes get into the mix. In this instance Brian Franklin, owner of The Doubleshot Coffee Co. in Tulsa OK tweeted this:
A few hours later the "policy" was rescinded.
So what's the take-away?
When someone tweets something about breastfeeding that's either offensive (i.e. calling it #gross, telling women they should use the bathroom, implying that it's in some way sexual etc.) or just plain wrong (imposing arbitrary age limits, downplaying the risks of formula, equating nursing in public with public exposure etc.) I feel a responsibility to correct wrong information. I feel a responsibility to call people out for not supporting breastfeeding moms. I feel a resonsibility to make business owners aware of breastfeeding mom's legal protections.
But, when I certified as a lactation counselor we learned that it's not our job to convince anyone to breastfeed. From reading the comments on Annie's post about how proud she is to be formula feeding I can tell you lactivists will not change anybody's mind if they've already made their decision.
So does searching out the haters do any good. I think it depends on our goals in doing so. What exactly is the goal? My goal is mainly to correct misinformation so it doesn't linger in the internet ether for some unsuspecting person to find and believe.
Tactically speaking, no one is going to learn anything if they feel like they are being attacked. I think we lactivists have got to validate formula feeding moms somehow.
Reconcillitory statements like "some moms may need or choose to formula feed" or "the decision to use formula can be hard" need to become a part of the conversation. Calling formula feeding mothers "selfish", "lazy", "ignorant" or any other derisive term doesn't make them feel any better than calling breastfeeding mothers "immodest", "hippies" or "nipple-nazis" makes them feel. Formula is "the lowest ranked method for infant feeding", "inferior to breastmilk" and "risky". But at least in the developed world, where we can be reasonably sure the water supply is safe and that minimum manufacturing and storage conditions have been met formula is not "poison."
I guess what it boils down to is: No Name-calling! And "Just the FACTS, ma'am!"