Wednesday, August 7, 2013

//Thoughts on Breastfeeding: By a Man//

One of the reasons I love my husband is because of the amazing conversations.  We both tend to get deep quickly and it's through these long talks in the car that we have both grown in our beliefs and vision.  Today, while driving to the store, our talk turned to the subject of world breastfeeding week and the idea of "modesty."  I read an amazing article on "The Leaky Boob" about what it means to be a Christian and deal with those pesky "modesty" complaints about breastfeeding in public.  It's one of the best articles I've read on the subject and I highly recommend it.  Stemming from this topic my husband began to say some really brilliant things and then I had the brilliant idea of having him guest post on my blog about his thoughts in honor of world breastfeeding week.  So, here you go.  I'd love for this to start a conversation, even among those who do not have kids, who do not breastfeed and those who highly support nursing in public.  <3

As World Breast Feeding Week is coming to a close today, I feel inspired to participate with some of the thoughts i've had. I think men should weigh in to this discussion just as much as the women so valiantly have. (I applaud you all!) Though there has been much discussion on the topic there remains some angles that continue to surface over and over again. Those being discussions on shaming women into doing what you want, i.e.; covering up, breast-feeding elsewhere and out of sight, staying quiet about the issue etc. Another being that of equal responsibility for men to control their own actions; that seeing a boob (or seeing a girl scantily clad) does not force a man to think and act lustfully (or that they are somehow the same issue at all). This particular one hits home for me because of the assumption that men cannot control themselves at all. The argument in itself is flawed because I am a man and I know many men who cannot control themselves at all. So in one way it is descriptive. However in quite another way it has been prescriptive which i utterly reject. If a man is taught how to control himself because it is good and right and it produces good life-giving fruit first for yourself and then for those around you, then I swear on my mother that he will be a man that controls himself and will not act out of compulsion or a weak will or a weak mind. This kind of man is not foreign or out dated and every man that is or has been weak minded, lacking self control desperately desires to be one. Our counseling centers and phycologist offices are full of them. As Thoreau discerned ""The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation."

With all that said however, I think these discussions and arguments are still only battling symptoms and not the cause. I think we're effectively sorting through rotten fruit and not getting at the tree. It seems to me that the issue has more to do with the Human Composition and holistic understanding of sexuality. Our greco-roman western mind have spoon fed us ideas that dismember a person, and where it hasn't it has left ample room to do so. When we discuss sexuality in media, boobs on every ad, the role of women, the role of men, etc. i believe we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are participating in a blame game that makes a disagreement on the opposing side a necessity. It's a yin and yang situation, no matter how much good you can spit, a vacuum is created allowing for equal ignorance to battle it. And the cycle continues. 

I believe the real discussion should center on the human composition of which sexuality is a part. But the largely unrecognized and certainly uncelebrated part (and we are a people of celebration are we not?) is that fact that sexuality is itself a whole that can be broken down into smaller parts. 
I'm not going to make a pie graph to show all the parts I only want to illustrate that there are in fact parts. 

One part, that seems to be the only lauded one, is the Erotic part. The erotic part is the part that is the Invitation. When we operate through this part we Invite another person into the whole of our sexuality. We do it through the door of erotic intimacy, we do it through non-erotic means as well, but I'll just go with the erotic part for the sake of the conversation. Media exploits this one aspect of a woman's sexuality. They make the whole of her sexuality one that Invites. Turn on the radio and you'll know what i mean. If they invite with no intention they are a tease. If they invite to aggressively they are a slut. So this illustrious balance is created out of thin air and women need to buy countless magazines to find out how to balance it properly and navigate the windy road towards a fulfilling life and great sex with people who won't leave you. We usually call this religion. Regardless though, it's a complete and utter dismemberment of the woman who has many other intertwined aspects to their sexuality. The flip side of her invitation is her Denial. We get a few songs about that but that aspect doesn't get nearly the attention and even if it did it's still part of Erotic sexuality. 

What about men? I don't know, now with the bachelor and the resurgence of celebrated playboys 
(i.e.: James Bond) you get some attention to a man's employment of erotic invitation and denial, but not nearly the same. But again the point isn't' equal airtime. It's that fact that in both situations a person is ripped into pieces that should remain together. Some are elevated. Some are ignored. 

Ignored parts include starting a family. Erotic sexuality leads to conception! What a concept! After the erotic action there is still a very sexual thing happening! A person is being made! As the baby is born they are born into a sexual environment, without a doubt. Passage through a vagina, into the bare breast of his or her mother AND father. (we all did skin-to-skin time right?) All of this is inherently sexual. It's not erotic at all. Femininity and masculinity are inherently sexual. They are worked out with care and humility. They are celebrated and nurtured. All sexual things. Therefore every time you see a mom and dad and kids in tow, that picture of a family is HYPER SEXUAL. (gasp!) Nudity too has been claimed for this delusion. I don't want to run around naked, I believe my body is sacred and to be handled carefully, however my naked body and yours is not inherently erotic. It can be used that way but certainly not the majority of the time you have it. Its a mystery and it a marvel which make it beautiful. Artists get it. Seeing a naked body does not make me want to have sex with it. Being close with someone and responding to their invitation or they to mine does. If this is taught clearly, there will be no confusion. 

Pulling this in now, we have to refuse to dismember these things. A breast can (and should if you have them) be utilized to its fullest as we express erotic sexuality. It has more purpose than something as practical as that. I'm preaching to the choir. Feeding another human is sexual and spiritual and not erotic. If i was taught this i would have never struggled with confusing the two. I understand now but i didn't always. Being bold in changing this flawed dismemberment is an obvious necessity, but so should our kindness and gentleness. We're preaching to people who DO confuse it. We need to be gentle and kind WHILE being bold and unapologetic. 

I support you all in normalizing breast feeding. It's beautiful and magical and I'm so glad I'm a dad and can understand it. I hope people who are not dads yet can be wooed by its mystery and beauty and I believe they will largely due to all the awesome moms out there who see it as a future reality and will see real change in this world because of their joy and celebration of it. 

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