If you think breastfeeding Nazis exist, you are a nincompoop.

There are no such thing as breastfeeding Nazis. At no point in history has there ever been women who breastfeed joining fascist parties for the sole purpose of committing the mass genocide of women who do not breastfeed.  Using the term “Nazi” to refer to anything but the actual Nazi government of Germany or any far-right fascist group makes you sound like an ahistorical buckethead with no understanding of genocide. 

Comparing women who are pro-breastfeeding (regardless of whether or not they are rude) is disgraceful. It makes a mockery of the murder of millions of innocent people. It’s an asinine hyperbole.

Am I pro-breasfeeding? Yup.

Do I have a problem with the government’s latest attempt to increase breastfeeding rates by offering new mothers up to £200 in shopping vouchers? Absolutely. 

It’s a ridiculous policy which does nothing to target the real reasons why women “fail” or chose not to breastfeed. It doesn’t target the phenomenal number of myths about breastfeeding peddled by formula manufacturers. It ignores the very practical realities which result in women choosing not to breastfeed [or the emotionally, abusive behaviour of partners which has resulted in a not insignificant number of women being unable to breastfeed]. It ignores the physiological reasons why women cannot breastfeed.

It ignores the chronic underfunding of NHS maternity services which have resulted in inadequate numbers of midwives available to support women. It ignores the lack of training midwives receive to support breastfeeding. It ignores the lack of qualified support workers to help women once they have left the hospital. It ignores the failure to diagnose tongue-tie which results in women being able to breastfeed. 

It ignores the myths propagated by the media that women’s breasts are only for sex and that breastfeeding ruins your body. Hell, it ignores media doctors like Christian Jessen who seem to actually believe that breastfeeding ruins your breast [here’s a hint: rapid weight gain in pregnancy fundamentally changes your body. It doesn’t “ruin” your body. It just changes your body].

This policy ignores the amount of advertising from formula manufacturers who are big fans of the “most women can’t breastfeed” myths because it increases their revenues. 

Increasing breastfeeding rates in this country requires the following:
  • a complete ban on formula advertising
  • more investment in midwives
  • more investment in breastfeeding support workers
  • prosecuting and fining formula companies for their aggressive [and frequently misleading] formula advertisements
  • it requires a fundamental cultural shift wherein breasts are no longer viewed as sex objects 
  • it requires a culture which understands the reasons why women chose not to or cannot breastfeed.
And, it requires women showing other women some kindness. We are all judged for the choices we make. It doesn’t matter if we breastfeed or formula feed, there will always be someone who judges us negatively for them. We need to learn to be more confident with the decisions we make. 

We also need to start understanding that analysing the conditions in which women make the “choice” to breastfeed or not is not a personal attack on an individual women but political analysis. A woman who “chooses” a different way isn’t doing so with the express purpose of hurting your feelings.

And, if someone is rude about the “choices” you have made, tell them so. Ask them if they meant to be that rude. Or, walk away. Using the behaviour or language of one person who is being rude to dismiss the “choices” of the entire group of people who made that “choice” is also ridiculous.

£200 worth of shopping vouchers won’t help anyone actually breastfeed. It won’t make up for poor maternity care, lack of support or an abusive partner who thinks breastfeeding is “gross”. We already know what will actually help women who choose to breastfeed to do so successfully without making women who choose not to feel like shit. How about we actually finance those programs?

And, if you do come across someone who is so pro-breastfeeding that they are rude to you, don’t call them the breastfeeding nazis or gestapo or mafia. That’s ahistorical nincompoopery.

4 thoughts on “If you think breastfeeding Nazis exist, you are a nincompoop.”

  1. I think you have completely missed the point in what the use of the word ‘Nazi’ is supposed to imply in this context. I’ll explain it to you.

    Nazis were famed for using tactics to coerce people into doing things they didn’t want to do or didn’t feel comfortable doing. Coerce as defined in the dictionary means: deploying tactics of force, pressure or intimidation against an individual or a group of people.

    The word ‘Nazi’ used in this context is to describe how the idividual felt when being pressured by an overzealous breastfeeding advocate.

    I really don’t see how you failed to distinguish between an actual Nazi and the context and implication of the use of the word ‘Nazi’ when used as a derogatory term.

    1. Gosh, Thank you for that patronising comment. The Nazis weren’t “famed” for using coercion. They were famed for killing 6 million Jewish people in concentration, slave labour and death camps. They were “famed” for gassing entire villages in Birkenau and tossing babies alive into fires. They were “famed” for the mass slaughter of 3 millions Soviet POWs. And, the mass slaughter of people with disabilities and those of Romani and Sinti heritage.

      The Nazis committed genocide. If you can’t think of a word to explain coercion without resorting to hyperbolic statements about genocide, the problem is with you.

      1. Yep, of all the things that spring to mind when the word ‘Nazi’ is mentioned, mass murder tends to pop up at the top of the list. Being a bit rude (or even *very* rude) in order to persuade people to do something (which is not only perfectly legal, but also morally unambigous & actually pretty beneficial on a health level), doesn’t even feature on my mental list of “things Nazis did”, I’m afraid! Trying to use Nazis as a analogy for over-zealous breastfeeding advocates suggests to me both a complete lack of imagination, and a total disregard for the suffering of millions of people who *did* have the misfortune to get on the “wrong side” of the *real. Nazis.

        Nincompoops indeed!

    2. Do you realize that this is a stunningly offensive way to describe the Nazi regime?

      I’ll explain it to you.

      The Nazis killed millions of people. Not ‘coerced them to death,’ killed them. How exactly do you imagine this is comparable to ‘being pressured by an overzealous breastfeeding advocate’?

      I suggest this may be of use to you: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/231159062310?limghlpsr=true&hlpv=2&ops=true&viphx=1&hlpht=true&lpid=108&device=c&adtype=pla&crdt=0&ff3=1&ff11=ICEP3.0.0&ff12=67&ff13=80&ff14=108

      Alternatively, I guess, you could read this book, which is a more grown-up take and which might explain to you why this comparison is particularly offensive in the context of feminism: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sexual-Violence-against-Jewish-Holocaust/dp/158465905X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398343324&sr=8-1&keywords=sexual+violence+holocaust

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