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Those Aren’t My Brain Cells Leaking out of My Breasts

Mean Momma Bear or Nurturing Mother? The jury is still out! Photo by Ercan Ilbay

AKA – Bias Against Mothers; Work or Not, Breastfeeding or Not. So what does it take for a woman to get a little respect? Apparently we can’t be mothers, working, bottle-feeding or breastfeeding. Any combination of the above and we’re dumb, cold, aggressive, and oh yes; incompetent (I almost forgot that last part because, you know pregnancy brain and all).

It seems tragic and odd to me that no matter what choice a mother makes, there is a segment of society waiting to put her down for it– with “studies” and “research” to back them up.
Quotes like this:

Similarly, in one study investigating warmth and competence ratings of abuse victims, a “career woman” was rated lower in warmth but higher in competence than a “housewife,” which was associated with the career woman being rated as more likely to have elicited abuse from her husband (Capezza & Arriaga, 2008)

And this:

In three studies, results showed that mothers who breastfeed are subject to the opinion that breastfeeding mothers are incompetent.

It seems like a contradiction in terms but mothers are called kinder because we’re mothers, yet because we also nurture and feed our babies with our bodies we’re labeled as “aggressive” according to a study recently published in Psychological Science. How is that even possible?

No wonder breastfeeding moms are looked at as being “aggressive”; after all – we’re also perceived as disgusting and incompetent as well.

Studies like the ones cited above are probably the real reason we’re aggressive (I still don’t know why we’re considered incompetent maybe I’m not smart enough to figure that out). However studies that cite mothers in general as being incompetent, disgusting, or less desirable baffle me.

We already know you can’t have breasts and not have them seen as sexual objects as Facebook so biasedly proved. Let’s just point out that the Facebook nipple debacle did NOTHING to break the stigma of breastfeeding women and feeds into every stereotypical ideal that both men and other women perceive about mothers.

Those perceptions keep breastfeeding moms right where narrow-minded people want them; shamed and humiliated cowering in public restroom stalls or feeling “stuck at home” with a baby.

So if a woman tries to do right by her baby, instead of being applauded and acknowledged for taking the extra step, she’s harassed (See my public breastfeeding harassment story and response) often illegally, and made to feel like a pariah. And then, to top it all off, called aggressive. Because last time I checked, taking care of an infant was a cold and unfeeling job for the aggressive and cruel-hearted (insert sarcasm here).

Remember this condescension in the New York Times? Click the image to read my rebuttal.

Why does societal perception baffle me so much? Well for one, we’re smart. I mean, really, really smart — we are successful business owners (My rant after the New York Time’s published a patronizing article about work-from-home mothers). We juggle a LOT, including mis-perceptions of society, in addition to the heavy expectations we all lay on ourselves.

I’m tired of society finding a way to put a mother down no matter what her choices are!

Most of the mothers I know did not lose their brains when they used their uteruses. And whether they are staying at home with their children, working from home in amazing and creative ways, or have returned to the work force — we are all just trying to raise our children in whichever way is the best for our family and our particular situation. Whether we breastfeed or bottle feed – we deserve respect and support; not belittlement, negation and  harassment for our choices.

I am fortunate to have a supportive family. Not every mother is. So as a society we need to step with the stereotypes and step-up and help each other. Support each other! Encourage each other! We all have bad days. We all have moments where we wonder if we’ve done the right thing. No matter what our choices are, most of us are just trying to do right by our kids and ourselves and muddle through as best we can. And that deserves understanding and respect.

/end rant

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