Team #FeedBabies: Breast-feeding & Formula Thread

July 9, 2018: A twitter thread With minor edits to fix typos or phrasing that 280 characters made unclear.
(2022 note: I use moms, women, and breastfeeding in this piece because the majority of existing legislation and proposed legislation is based on biological determinism and does not recognize non-binary and trans parents who have given birth. I see you, I recognize you, you are valuable.)

Trigger Warning: A thread on the commodification and conscription of women’s bodies. You’ve been warned. Exploring relationships between childbearing, work, coercive control, breast feeding, formula, gig economies, capitalist exploitation, colonialism and colonialist paternalism…

In this week’s culture war, the Leche Paratroopers have attacked the Working Parents Brigade. I’m making my stand: I’m Team #FeedBabies I will not cede ground to either side. I posit that both sides are oppressive. Formula is an undeniable good for economic and social justice.

Personal experience: I’d be dead without formula. Smother was a shitty parent, way too young, had a massive staph infection (or something) at my birth. (She’s been known to exaggerate.) My gran and my great-gran were my primary caretakers.

Both were well into menopause (thanks, routine hysterectomies)
There were no wetnurses in 1970s Indiana — thank gods & angels. May that vile form of human exploitation never return.
Formula existed. I got a healthy microbiome from fingers in my mouth & kisses & dirt & sharing biscuits with the dog.

(Pro tip: the tiny white Milkbones in the 70s small dog multicolored assortment tasted better than baby teething cookies from the same period & almost like animal crackers, but less sweet. I loved my teacup poodle brother. He socialized me.)

In fact, I perhaps have a healthier microbiome than my full siblings, who were both breastfed (and for whom Smother had fewer conflicted feelings).
Both have Smother’s full devastating and significant digestive, reproductive & metabolic disorders; I have almost none of them. Maybe that was mitosis, maybe it was acquired. We can’t know.

I know Nestle was awful in the 70s. They’ve remained awful. They’re profiting off Flint’s lead water. You need not tell me they were evil and have been evil, despite being the only formula maker who complies with the WHO formula guideline.
Yet, I will still defend sending baby milk and water to Ethiopia and Eritrea in the early 80s. Starving moms don’t make milk.

Drought and heat devastated the locally produced food supply, then the fucking warlords stole the international food aid. There are people who will say it was more complex than that, but they’re not being honest.

A dehydrated mom can’t make milk. A grandmother caring for a baby after mom got kidnapped also can’t make milk. Breast is only best when Mom is a person with agency and nutrition and water and safety.

Formula offers a slim chance of survival for mom & baby when both are starving. And yes, Nestle did send water. That’s HOW Big Water went big.

You didn’t think bottled water manufactured itself for Yuppies, did you? While Perrier & Evian were legacies of 18th & 19th century water cures, most modern bottled spring and purified water started life as crisis water.

The technology to make the bottles was the big leap forward, and for that Dupont also deserves a giant Fuck You. But marketing crisis water was Nestle’s evil genius.

My big issue with the Leche Paratroopers is how paternalistic their Only Breast schtick is. Their insistence on Only Breast translates to, “Oh, those foolish brown women were totally taken in by that big nasty corporation & 40 years later those fools are still completely stupid & have learned nothing and must be protected from themselves.”

Read that back. Read how awful that sounds. It denies agency to every woman who makes rational economic decisions based on her knowledge and circumstances. And yes, they did have incomplete information coming from self-serving sources.

Guess what? I’m a reasonably wealthy white woman with a doctorate in the sciences & I make rational decisions with incomplete information from self-serving sources every single day.

That’s agency. It’s power. All people have a right to their own decisions. Especially poor brown ones.

Yes, Nestle exploited women and children for profit.

Let me introduce you to Facebook, two hundred thousand MLMs, the entire antivax movement, Wellness Mama, the avocado wolf guy, Baby Einstein, lead paint, and the leaded gasoline industry. Please meet Fast Food, Big Tobacco, and King Sugar. Have you met agribusiness, the cereal processing industry, or fast fashion?

There is not an industry in the world that doesn’t exploit for profit.

Note that the UN is not calling on Facebook to shut down the antivax ad revenue for the Mommy Blog Mafia even though that is objectively more harmful to the entire planet, and much easier to control.
Take out 80% of the delivery system — Facebook and the ad revenue — and antivax falls apart. (Or would have, in 2018. Now, with COVID? I don’t know if it can be broken.)

Apparently, agency is only fine when the agency belongs to women with internet connections telling lies, right? Sharing lies about pizza places and daycare centers performing rituals in their non-existent basements? Of course people are free to lie when it advantages them.

Speaking of exploitative relationships, let us not forget the hellish collaboration of the anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-suffrage religious right & breast-feeding advocacy. Catholic and Evangelical sources are founders & funders of breast-feeding self-help and advocacy organizations.

Most local breastfeeding advocacies rely on evangelical churches for space and volunteers, so they will not piss off the hand that feeds them. If their funding source opposes contraception, that advocacy will likely be anti-contraception. The more progressive ones (relative term) might advocate for white collar pumping rooms, but they will never advocate for comprehensive paid parental leave for all, or equality of access for pumping rooms.

They are never advocates for gay men or single fathers raising babies since making it extremely difficult to feed babies EXCEPT at breast means excluding gay men from adopting/having surrogate children. It’s why lactation advocacy has a strong overlap with trans-exclusionary radicals.

No, they never think about how badly fucked the widowers who lost their wives in childbirth will be. They don’t even consider that forcing breast-feeding as the only acceptable option will kill babies.

They absolutely do not ever consider the needs of people who need meds — HIV, TB, psych meds, insulin, Crohn’s, whatever — and how effectively people on meds will be discouraged from having children at all, since breastfeeding & meds are a bad idea.

This kind of breastfeeding advocacy discourages all women from working during their 20s & 30s. It incentivizes employers to not promote women, leaving them in dead-end careers. Hardcore breastfeeding advocacy is Kinder Kirche Kuchen, updated w/ some crunchy granola 1960s veneer.

Hi, Eugenics. Haven’t seen you in a while. That’s what Breast-only advocates. Eugenics — preventing or discouraging people who they deem unfit from having or raising children.
It says women should focus on babies, to the exclusion of their own ambitions or talents. It demands biological determinism. This worldview grudgingly allows those Assigned Female At Birth, if they keep their ovaries & don’t overdo T, but it treats transmasc like a costume. There is no allyship available in this worldview.

Not that making formula rare will stop ambitious, wealthy, powerful women. It never has. Forcing a Breast Only world only creates opportunities for exploitation.
In the US, it comes in the form of milk banks; breast milk’s an expensive commodity right now. There’s a ton of profit to be had.

You know who’s watching that profit accumulate? Nestle. Silicon Valley. Monsanto. Medical device manufacturers. Pharma. Plastics.

The new world of wetnursing probably won’t be rent a woman to live in your house. Though given how hard Christian Extremists are pushing to turn The Handmaid’s Tale into an instruction manual, being rented might be optimistic.

No, think… industrial dairy farm.

Except Uberized. Gig economy.

The podcast ad campaign almost writes itself: Sign up for your free pump! Fill 50 ounces a day, get a bonus. Buy your groceries through our company store* and pass our complimentary urine screen & go up a tier! Best Pay ONLY! (Some skin colors need not apply.)

* which monitors consumption and can be used to fat-shame or diet-shame, or cut people off.

The economics for the human cow would be terrible: get paid $50 a day, while the buyers spend an extra $10 per bottle for all vegan (uh, about that…), organic certified breast milk with guaranteed antibodies and no diseases. (Also, about that…)
Watch Blue Nipple rake in profit while Peter Thiel buys more blood slaves.

I swear on a stack of IUDs that I am not exaggerating how badly this can go.

When wetnurses were common, women who couldn’t afford to feed themselves had to let their babies starve. As a wetnurse, they were paid in room, board & pocket change to feed wealthy babies. So women whose babies died of diarrhea or diphtheria sold their milk while mourning their dead child.

Milk supply expands to fit needs, but not indefinitely, nor perfectly. A woman with a six month old hired to feed a two week old isn’t providing either kid with what they need. Is it better than nothing? Sure, but so is sugar water with vitamin supplements, fats and proteins.

The Marissa Mayers & Khloe Kardashians of the world don’t want a crying, grieving poor person in their house.
No, much better if the milk comes in anonymous, cute-kawaii!! insulated boxes, delivered by sexy young men in clean, new cars.
Blue Nipple. Promo code LECHE!

But… The woman with the pump who is supplying Blue Nipple for an extra $50 a day? Where is her baby? What is her baby eating? Is her baby thriving?
Those questions would not have good answers.

In the age of wetnurses, the aristocracy literally looked down on the peasantry. Aristocrats grew taller and stronger.
Malnutrition deprives a body of mass. And cognition. When we malnourish a baby, their rates of learning disabilities and conduct disorders skyrocket, because a starving child cannot learn self-care.

Hey, Brave New World readers: Presenting your Deltas & Epsilions. No cloning or decanting needed.

Am I talking about America? Sure. But also Singapore. Dubai. Buenos Aires. Beijing. Johannesburg. Riyadh. Sydney. Delhi. Moscow. Anywhere with an urban elite, where major income inequality allows for the exploitation of an underclass.

Make formula impossible and women lose the ability to self-determine their lives. Baby milk, contraception, running clean water and the washing machine are the foundations of women’s suffrage & liberation. Take any of them away and the cracks start to show.

I mentioned contraception. Yeah, hormonal contraception can interfere with milk production, requiring supplemental formula.

You know what else interferes with milk production?

Leche Paratroopers hate to admit it, but lactation is NOT contraception, except the way all babies are contraception. Ovulation may cease, but exhaustion stops ovulation, too. Which exclusive, on-demand breastfeeding causes. Plus, birth is injury. Everyone’s tired, half the partnership is sitting on ice packs, nobody’s having sex.

At best, the lack of ovulation lasts 6 months — 3 months of healing, 3 months of fatigue. Calling Lactational amenorrhea (LAM) contraception is functional bullshit, because it is unreliable, especially in the last month, when you may have ovulated but don’t know it yet.
And 2 kids in diapers SUCKS.

Please, permit me to introduce you to Mormon & Catholic families with eight kids in nine years of marriage. They used LAM, too.
Talk to dentists about what eight pregnancies do to a set of healthy teeth. Then think about her spine. Her ankles and knees. Pregnancy steals calcium from the parent’s body. It prompts the question: does a walking uterus actually need legs?

But if wealthier women —those whose household can live on one salary — can’t work anyway, or can only work in some magnanimous faux-egalitarian home business like party consulting or selling little bits of tat to other moms stuck at home…

Since they’re doing childcare anyway and have already blitzed their career, there’s nothing egalitarian left in the relationship anyway?

So why should the man respect a right to refuse sex when she says she’s too tired/sore? She was just hanging out at home. He’s supporting her. So what if she gets pregnant? Another kid doesn’t cost much more, since she already has the reusable diapers and outgrown clothes, and is already breastfeeding.

I’m not talking about the 18th century. I just described the 1950s in the US in the white suburbs. Rampant marital rape. No access to money. Financial coercive control and abuse. This is within living memory.
Pray for that washing machine. It’s the last holdout here.

If you aren’t sick to your stomach at the thought of being FORCED to give up your agency to breastfeed… okay, here’s the obverse:
if we make formula expensive and rare because we’ve killed global demand for it, we can force women to breastfeed.

Just not their own children. Remember, Blue Nipple needs producers. A lactating woman is a necessary resource for capitalism once formula ceases to exist. We know how to make people lactate. It’s not that hard. A few hormones and some stimulation. It’s easier if they’re already doing it, but we can force it.

The hot growth sector in private prisons today is women’s prisons. Most inmates are young women, childbearing age, 18-40. Their diets can be well controlled. It would not take much to incentivize working in the human dairy — simply earn good behavior time for meeting milk production.

Though eventually, it would become a requirement for prisoners, and that expensive incentive would go away.

Plus, it gives cops an incentive to arrest more young women between 18 & 40.
You know, the ones protesting for their right to work and determine their own health care with abortion and contraception!
Give ‘em a felony and five years as a milk machine. They’ll never work again. Problem fucking solved.
And it’s always good to remember that felons can’t vote in most states, so more incentives to arrest as many young women as possible.

Maybe, if you’re the right race, you could have an approved kid and get your felony is expunged, except you’ll never work again thanks to that long, extremely obvious, employment gap.
So might as well sell some leggings. Or makeup. Recruit your neighbors & facebook friends for bonuses.
Hey, have you heard about Blue Nipple’s free breast pump?

And if we’re okay with milking humans, why not let them serve their sentences as incubators? The adoption and trafficking market can’t survive on stolen Guatemalan kids forever. Lots of (white) abandoned, frozen embryos need to be plugged into a uterus before their cryro facility has a power cut.

It’s not like those girls in prison were doing anything with their uteruses anyway. It’s not like they care about their kids, or they wouldn’t be in prison.

What about kidney donors? Liver lobe donors — we’re gonna need a lot of those for this hepatitis we’re pretending isn’t COVID. Heart donors? We could even quit using that expensive machine dialysis & hook the male prisoners up to famous violinists and CEOs. Gender parity, after all.

This is a very steep slope made of ice and ICE and coconut oil and teflon ball bearings. It has NO friction. It’s so slippery that it’s already happening. The organ trade is all over refugee camps, and in prisons in China. (See: The Red Market, Scott Carney)

We already have an international trade in surrogate wombs – Indian women in Nepal & Bangladesh (Radiolab, Birthstory, Jun 7 2018).
We already have a baby trade in the US in international & regional adoptions. We have the public foster to private adoption agency pipeline for infants. We have people paying $50,000 to private agencies for infants to adopt. There’s the plasma market and milk banks.
And uncompensated prison labor for private profit.

The Religious Right already teams up with the aspirational motherhood lifestyle influencers to promote a vision that says women who can’t or can’t afford to breastfeed are failures. (See: Mormon Mommy Blogging as career.)

This is the embodiment of the idea that women’s only worth is in their uterus and their breast. That the idea of a career is a distant second to being mommy. That women don’t need to be educated. That women should be forever at home until our fathers choose for us. Covered. Hidden.

Making people into commodities starts with one act.
I can’t pay for passage to Virginia Colony (or Mars), but I can work it off. The captain sells my bill of indenture to a farmer. Who cheats me on my pay and time, but eventually, even as innumerate as I am, I get free. That’s indentured servitude.
Slavery for time.

My brother is captured in a local war. I’m traded for my brother and a cousin. I’m the new lord’s fourth wife. He rapes me until I fall pregnant, then my job is to feed the babies of the wives he likes. Only one of my children lives, and he trades away my daughter. It’s just politics. I die young, my bones depleted by two continuous decades of lactation. That’s human trafficking.

A girl is captured in a local war. The conquering warlord sells her to a third lord as booty. That’s life slavery. She has a baby in captivity. That baby is saleable, too. That’s chattel slavery. It’s that simple.

I can’t afford to feed my kids, but my pretty, eldest daughter is strong. A mercenary army needs cooks, nurses. Men deserve to fuck before they die in war. I can sell her for enough to feed the others. If she survives the war, she’ll have skills. If I don’t sell her, we all die anyway. That’s survival prostitution.

This is how slavery starts. With seeing a person as a product or merely a conduit for a product. When the Leche Paratroopers say breast is best, they are also saying the woman is less important than the child. That other people have a higher claim on an adult woman’s body, no matter her consent.

Don’t say having a baby is her choice. Pregnancy isn’t always voluntary. Avoiding pregnancy isn’t free and it requires medical help.

Circumstances at conception may favor being a breastfeeding, Stay At Home Mom, but forty weeks is a long time. Conditions change.

Children aren’t punishments for having sex or for being poor. Children are blessings, gifts. They should be intended and wanted and loved and they have a right to their own families. They are not possessions to be sold or traded, they are not a missionary field or souls in need of evangelism.

Now the obverse: formula also oppresses women and children. I said I’m not ceding ground to either side. I am Team Everybody Eats. Also team Everybody Gets Agency.

Formula is most oppressive in our specific form of fake gender-blind capitalism. When we offer no parental leave, we force poor women to either rely on social support, savings, and/or their partner after giving birth and during infancy, or they go back to work. Too soon. Baby goes to daycare.

Don’t get me wrong – daycare is the BEST thing there is for socializing small human beings. Kids should be in crèches for 4-6 hours a day from the time they can crawl. Humans are social animals and need to be around others at the same developmental level regularly.

Locking toddlers & one parent in the suburbs with no interaction except each other? Totally stunts children’s emotional development and isolates their parents. Who then get fucking squirrelly as all hell.

See above, antivax, aspirational lifestyle. Note that the US center of this bullshit — Utah — has the highest regular use of benzos, anxiolytics, antidepressants and women’s suicide attempts.

I LOVE Daycare. I want ALL kids in good daycare. I want all daycare workers rightly paid for their tough & demanding job. I want to see private nannies (who are one of the most exploited classes of workers) become a rarity. I want our society to realize that daycare and public school are necessary to prevent child abuse and neglect.

But that’s not what we’re doing. For too many families, the second income primarily pays for daycare, rather than improving the family’s quality of life. Right now, it costs more to put a kid in daycare where I live than out of state tuition at the top flight (public) University where I work.

And unlike your kid’s college, you can’t finance daycare with your and their future earnings. The bill comes due every month, usually when your career & budget don’t have much wiggle room.

I know (white, educated) nannies who make more than my grad students & I pay as well as I’m allowed. (I flatter myself that we have better hours and conditions; no poop, no vomit, tantrums limited to sun downing emeritus Freudians)
Hell, babysitting bought half of my Bachelors.

But the non-white nannies who don’t speak French or Mandarin? The ones with irregular work documents? They get exploited. Paid (if at all) under the table & less than the minimum wage, without having taxes taken, and without any form of Worker’s Compensation, or healthcare; their papers are often withheld so they can’t quit; they’re usually isolated from others who share their language and treated like they don’t understand words/tone of voice.

Yeah, if you haven’t figured it out, I am looking forward to the day when we eat the rich. Fried Green Tomatoes style. Secret’s in the sauce.

I live in a relatively wealthy place. Our Electronic Benefits and WIC are reasonable, our food banks do ok, we have functional healthcare for all children, despite the Feds; we have good public schools though underfunded (Thanks, TABOR.).
It’s possible to be poor here & make it. Barely. (Housing kills. Gods forbid your landlord decide he wants to AirBNB. And in the four years since I wrote this, it has gotten so much worse.) So there’s support if you need to work.
But working to pay for daycare fees…
But if you stop working, since you’re only working to pay for daycare anyway – and stay at home…

For women who choose to stay home with a child, you’ve got about a year before it starts to really hurt your career prospects. Your lifetime earnings as a mother who stayed home for one year with one child will take a 20% hit for four years. You’ll recover that income by the time your kid starts middle school, at twelve. You just can’t have another.

Stop working for two years? Your earnings will never recover. Your lifetime earnings take a permanent 10-20% hit. If you stay out of the workforce for five years? Up to 50% loss. You return to work at a lower salary & hours, despite inflation, and are often forced back into an entry level position, even if you were well past entry level at the time you took parental leave.
The economics of motherhood suck. Baby milk makes it barely doable to maintain a career for life.

And yes, misogyny is alive and well on this. A father with a bachelor’s who takes his child’s first two years as the stay-at-home parent recovers his full income before the child is 8 years old. He would have to sit out eight full years to lose as much as two years out hurts women in the workforce.

If that’s not structural sexism related to childbearing, I don’t know what is.

Some studies show men who take paternity leave get lower performance reviews, but it’s easier for them to move to another company at the same or better salary, even with a gap on their resume. This is especially true if they can fill that gap with anything, from ‘volunteer’ work like open-source coding/app dev or calling themselves independent contractors, even just handyman/shadetree mechanic/volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Women don’t get that benefit.

So. You’re a woman who wants a career and a baby. If you don’t go into labor with an extra year’s salary in the bank, if your marriage/partnership doesn’t survive the earthquake that is parenthood, if your employer doesn’t approve of the fact that you have a personal life?

There’s always federal law to protect you, right?
The FMLA – The Fuck My Life Act* says you get 12 unpaid weeks off for a qualifying event. Your employer must bring you back at the same salary with the same type of job.
Assuming you’re not a temp or 1099. If you’re self-employed? You’re fucked.
* Family Medical Leave Act

FMLA doesn’t require you get YOUR job back. Like, if you were tech support & climbed the ladder to the good tech support jobs (say for a specific client), your employer doesn’t have to put you back there. You can be put back in the pool, taking rando incoming.

You were a pastry specialist? You were gone. We hired a replacement. Now you’re a prep cook. Salary remains same, but the intangibles — the prestige, the recognition, slightly better or more interesting work, client & coworker relationships — aren’t compensation, and so aren’t regulated or compensated.

*Note: Many shrinks are considered contractors, not employees. No benefits in many practices. Self-employment taxes. No FMLA or protections. Don’t become a shrink it you think it’s a route to wealth, job security & happiness.

We don’t talk about it, but bad employers make new moms’ working conditions worse to force them to quit. Employers often feel betrayed that someone took time off. They resent that the law forced them to pay a temp. They believe women will invariably take more time off, when the kid gets sick or to have another baby. And these employers turn passive aggressive and take it out on the returning employee, who, as it happens, is probably in the midst of a hormone storm, sleep deprived, recovering from MAJOR injury/surgery and oh, right, taking care of a new human who has no words & no off switch. New parents aren’t at the top of their reading the asshole weather game twelve weeks post-partum.

An employer can get away with being a complete douchecanoe if they can manage to be even a little subtle. Employment law & labor boards are still mostly men, or women who have played the game and learned to identify with employers over employees. The chances are high that any authority will side with the employer over the hysterical shrill stressed lil woman cuz really, she just wants free money so she can go back to her baby and fulfill her destiny to be a Stay At Home Mom!!!

Merida, from Brave, banging her head on the table, in frustration.

That’s why I call it the Fuck My Life Act.

As Admiral Ackbar says, It’s a TRAP.

Star Wars, Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”

Baby milk is the secret sauce that makes the maternity leave is a shitstorm to daycare is killing our budget to take this job & shove it to kill your career cycle work. So if we just didn’t have formula?

No. Please go back to the top. Biological determinism, forced lactation, human tissue harvesting, Blue Nipple ads on podcasts.

That is the Bad Place that looks like The Good Place only when compared to the shitstorm. It’s the one with chowder fountains, not the one with giant flying shrimp. Still the Bad Place.

And this all assumes you’re in the wealthier half of the western world, even if you’re in the libertarian dystopia known as the United States. If you’re a woman in a developing country without any safety net, if your parents died of malaria, your aunties got killed years ago, your man got conscripted? You have to work or you will starve. There’s no alternative. Consider Bangladesh, in the garment factories. You’ll need baby milk.

Baby milk increases the risk your kid will die of diarrhea, but working increases the chance your kid will live long enough to go to school & you’ll both be financially stable by the time the kid reaches adolescence. It’s the same trap as women in the western world, and all of these women are gambling with their old age care.

In the US, the question is, do you retire? In developing countries, it’s Does your kid live long enough to take care of you? When I say that infant care is made of rational decisions, I mean hyper-rational & deeply difficult. Women in developing countries are the opposite of stupid. They’re just stuck with horrible circumstances and information.

There’s no win here, because both sides of this are based on


structural misogyny.

To make this work, get that shit out of the mix. We must stop punishing the people who sustain our species. Since it takes two to make a baby, both people have to take parental leave.

Yes, both. And not Zuckerberg’s fake “paternity leave” where the dude spent six weeks sitting on the couch & playing Fortnite after changing one diaper a day. (That calls for justifiable homicide as far as I’m concerned.) Here’s my ideal, assuming a two parent family:

Both parents are off for at least three weeks before due date, and for at least twelve weeks after. Let’s say 16 weeks guaranteed, required, fully paid leave. It takes a minimum of six weeks to heal after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and ten from a C-section.
Also, a visiting nurse should come round every 2-3 days.

Babies have fucked up sleep schedules until about 12 weeks old, with a especially bad patch around 9-11 weeks. (Shaking trauma SPIKES at 10 weeks because babies who were eating and sleeping just… stop. That software build is BUGGY as fuck! But it passes in the next patch.)

Both parents need some fucking sleep during that twelve weeks, which is why both parents are off. Right now, women get so sleep deprived after birth, plus the pain, and the lifestyle expectations, and all of the JustNoMIL stories and isolation? Is it any surprise that post-partum depression and anxiety keep rising?

As a PTSD researcher, I can tell you how to create PTSD: put someone in pain for an extended time frame, expose their private parts, don’t tell them what’s happening, deprive them of sleep for days/weeks/months, wake them up just when they hit REM… Why yes, PTSD & post-partum depression do look remarkably alike to me.

Caveat: this assumes healthy baby and parents. Disability can extend it, or transform it to disabled caretaker.
Also, no exceptions.
Jimmy Kimmel takes paternity leave & Mindy Kahling subs for him. The sandwich artist and the manicurist and the roofer all take leave & all get paid.

Around 12 weeks, babies start to get easier. Then both parents can go back to work a little. Parents need adult interaction & stimulation just as much as babies need to be around other babies. Each parent gets 12 work hours a week, 3 half days. Different half days. They need to escape EACH OTHER, too. Both still get paid leave.

This lasts until kid starts crawling, around 6-8 months. Kiddo spends 4-6 hours a day at the crèche, chillin’ with other babies. Both parents need adults, meaningful work, alone time. Both work 25 hours a week, divide as needed. At a year old, baby goes full time crèche.

Parents get their adult lives back. One wants to stay home? Kid still goes to crèche. A single adult cannot provide for a child’s appropriate social-emotional development. So the parent who stays home? Can volunteer. Have peer relationships with other adults. Shower. Be a human who isn’t a life support bot for a baby. Learn how not to base their entire value on parenting, for the kid’s sake.

Children belong to themselves first, and a parent who is over-invested in being My Kid’s Parent stops being an independent adult. They lose themselves, and that forces a very small child to be an adult’s entire source of validation and emotional satisfaction. I don’t think I need to explain how this ends up making deeply destructive relationships.

What about single parents? Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Visiting nurses, respite carers, retirees who like to hold babies but don’t have family nearby. We help people build support systems all the time. That’s social work & logistics. It’s just a data problem.

Remember, I love daycare. The crèche model makes better human beings who get along with others and expect their society to be about interdependence and the social community. Isolated babies become selfish adults because they never have to wait, share, or cooperate.

And no, siblings aren’t enough. Kids need developmental peers as well as those well above and behind. A toddler who only plays with older kids gets frustrated & tantrumy when they can’t do what the big kids do. One who only has little babies? They don’t develop new skills.

But THOSE PEOPLE* will exploit the system! No employer will ever have enough employees! THOSE women will have too many babies!

*a code phrase certain white people use to mean those slutty women with hair they don’t understand or tattoos or too much melanin

In fact? We’ve never tried full employment. What we call full employment is 4-12% of adults not working. 4% is those drawing Unemployment benefits. It doesn’t count those who have been unemployed longer than a year, who are taking care of children/elderly, who working two or more part time jobs or gigging it. Which means, dude, we’ve got so much excess capacity that we can send about 1% of the workforce home for 4 months & part-time for another 8 without even blinking.

(Also, dude, weren’t you just shitposting about a population crash, not enough workers for tax base? Don’t you want people having more babies?)

But we can’t afford —

No, seriously. Do you think there’s a giant ball of gold at Fort Knox?
And you think that’s a good idea?
Back to basics: gold isn’t edible, it’s a bad insulator, it’s very heavy. It’s just shiny. We stopped doing money that way and that’s been a REALLY good thing.
Go read Debt, the First 5000 years, by David Graeber; and Capital, by Thomas Piketty. And Political Order & Political Decay, by Francis Fukuyama. And The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. That’s your 101 start. Come back when you’v finished. Take notes, you will be graded!

Governments print money & it’s fine because they have the exclusive right to both the means of production of money (the mint/press) and the means of destruction of money (taxation).
Governments are not a private budget, the annual budget is NOT a credit card. Money’s entire value is that you believe in it and so does the issuing government. Gold coins are worthless in the middle of a burnt desert with no water or salt or food.
Also, no more Glenn Beck for you.

Really. Stop. It’s fine. We can totally pay for social support. Do you know what $3.25 Trillion buys? The US spends about that amount every year, plus or minus few billion. At those numbers, a billion for social support for new parents is not much.
Yes, we have a deficit. It’s no big deal.
When we don’t have one is when we’re fucked.

We can pay for social support, as Universal Basic Income or as parental leave supplementation, or however we want to structure it.

Look, you’ve been lied to. A lot. You need a ton of remedial reading and this isn’t that class. Bye, now!

But THOSE women —

You mean the white women who keep calling cops on little kids being little kids?
Or the ones saying it’s fine to put little kids in cages?
Or the white women who won’t get their kids their vaccinations, so other vulnerable babies die?
Yeah, okay, sure. No parental leave for them.

No, THOSE women —

Oh, you mean you’re being racist. Got it.
(How old are you again? Over 50? Yeah, I’m gonna outlive you by 20, 30 years. I don’t actually care what you think. 🖕)

… You’ve made it abundantly clear that your parents didn’t have daycare available.

North America’s whiteness is the result of vile bad fortune & evil intentions. It’s only been so for a geologically insignificant moment of time. Nature is resetting the proper balance as is appropriate.
Race and colorism is 100% learned behavior anyway, taught by ignorant people.

Or more simply, there’s no such thing as THOSE women. There’s just women who happen to live here.

BTW: if your last name is Irish, Polish, Italian, German, Slavic, Jewish, Spanish, Portuguese, some variants of Norwegian or Swedish… you weren’t white until recently anyway. Being White meant being England English (& not the filthy York part that’s practically Scotland). And Protestant, but only a few Dissenter sects. Mostly Anglican.
So probably not you. Be glad – the food & music is much better when you’re not stuck with only English Country Dancing and boiled turnips.

Bye. Now.

(Anyway, moving on, and we’re in the downslope now… Thanks for sticking with me! )

Neither the breastfeeding side nor formula side exist outside of structural misogyny. They reinforce each other to damage equity and equality by asserting biological determinism or libertarian capitalism. Ideally, we would never have this argument. It’s the “Let’s You and Him Fight” scam.

The people who push the Leche Paratroopers use activist energy to subordinate women’s interests below the child.
What child? Doesn’t matter. Nebulous. Just not poor women’s kids. Drive-thru woman can’t be allowed 20 minutes to go pump.
The intention is to make white Mom the Milk Bot and to pretend brown moms don’t exist.

This is an unholy alliance of libertarian capitalism and right-wing ideology. They use brown moms in places enduring colonialist exploitation because the breast campaign permits the delay of water provision, reduces food aid costs, and presents a tool to be used against women in wealthier or urban places who might want to own their bodies and labor.

While the Working Parent Brigade is fed at least some of its energy by a destructive late stage capitalist employer system that considers all people spare parts to be discarded if they are not perfectly serviceable all the time.

And the capitalist employer system doesn’t especially want to be paying those brown women, either in aid or salary, so they’re happy to see the Working Parents Brigade & the Leche Paratroopers kill each other in the trench. Capitalism watches the fight on Pay Per View.

Both of these are EVIL and will happily see every one of us die of thirst, malnutrition or overwork if it serves their narrow interest.

The root of international breastfeeding activism is the fact that Nestle sold formula to women in countries without reliable sources of clean water. That meant those babies were more likely to die of diarrhea. This happened 50 years ago and people were RIGHTLY outraged.

Without being a Nestle apologist*, Nestle did improve. They’re the only formula manufacturer to conform to WHO’s baby milk code.

*they’re the 1st battle group in the pending Water Wars & the baby milk battle ceded WAY too much Water War territory to them

Faint praise, though. It just shows everyone else gets to be full of crap while Nestle takes 50 year old heat for something they fixed.

But the women who chose baby milk didn’t pick wrong.
Formula lets anyone feed a baby.
Older siblings, grandparents, Dad. Friends.
Formula allows a village to raise a child, even if the parents aren’t alive.
Formula means the baby is comfortable while Mom is bathing or working or just being human for two minutes.

Formula is an instrument of egalitarian feminism, which posits that women are first and foremost human beings with agency over themselves. Formula’s invention permitted the idea that parenting is voluntary, and the love of a mother is not shackled. It is not forced. Mother’s milk is not a chain.

While the Breastfeeding Only side derives from biological determinist feminism, with a big dose of colonialist condescension. It says women’s agency endangers others & must be stopped.

Psst: biological determinism isn’t feminism. It’s patriarchy in drag. It hates women and children and anyone who isn’t already in power, because it seeks to preserve the power structure in place. Note where breastfeeding advocates push for pumping/feeding rooms — not in retail/service, only in wealthy, mostly white, white-collar workplaces.

You know what would have been a better punishment than 50 years of the Nestle boycott, which ceded to Nestle the biggest Big Water fort in the developed world?
Making them use their water purification & transport technology where they sold the formula that got mixed with bad water that killed the babies.

Imagine if, instead of bottling technology, Nestle had been ordered to put their money into wells and solar stills and battery tech for point of use purification.
Imagine if they were forced to rehab the cocoa plantations they fucked up?
What if we required Nestle to provide the actual AGENCY they sold instead of a poison illusion?

You know how you make a multinational behave?
Well, the International Human Rights Court at The Hague is the start. Call it genocide or mass human rights abuse & PROSECUTE THE C SUITE. From all divisions. Arrest them when they cross into a signatory country. Use passport control. That’s what it’s there for.

They can bail out. They just have to booked and printed and show up for court. Often. With press watching.

A corporation can’t skip every country. Well, they could confine themselves to countries that haven’t signed human rights accords, but North Korea isn’t very lovely this time of year.

I am not actually suggesting anything too difficult. It just takes courage and the willingness to piss off people who need markets full of wealthy consumers more than the wealthy consumers need them.
We buy their shit, which keeps them in business.
Not other way around.
Unless we think of human beings as products to be sold and consumed.

And thus, Blue Nipple. The choice is that simple:
Do we support a world where anyone can be commodified?
one where our commodities & those who sell them work for us?
Like money, corporations exist by our will.
They can be dismantled. Surprisingly easily. (Hi, MySpace!)
Let’s fight the real war, not the fake news battle.