From my FACEBOOK comment…. Continued here – and rather oddly placed in this blog, but the concept here is much farther reaching than its content alone.
Try this on – A society that in general, and as a whole, for as many years as is well documented, views women as inferior. Why? My guess is it all stems from the survival of the fittest instinct that runs rampant, especially in males, and women are in a position where they need the physical efforts of men, especially while pregnant. Could a society void of men survive? From purely a physical survival standpoint, minus reproduction, yes. Would it be more work for all women? Yes. My guess is after a few generations, the women would adapt and their bodies would be bigger, to support the physical demands of the absent male bodies.
Wet nurses were a necessity in the event that the mother died, was too ill to produce milk, or… absent.
Now the rest of it…
I heard an argument once that a woman was disgusted by the thought of having another woman’s breast feeding her baby. Science defeats this theory, given the woman tends to hygiene. She could eat terribly, but hydrate properly, and her body would still come up with something capable of nourishing and sustaining, maybe even benefiting the infant. You know what? In the south, women discovered something, their slaves made wonderful nannies. So wonderful that many women would force the slave to stop tending to their own babies so that they could nurse the master’s infants. Boy, it was good that formula had already been invented because in the rare event that a slave was solo and didn’t have another slave to nurse her baby, while she was off nursing the master’s baby, the slave’s baby would die. Perhaps preferable to many slaves, but as the slave’s status followed the mother, not favorable to the slaveholder.
“Make babies!” The slaves were ordered to.
“But nourish my baby!”
The slaveholder was busy being a society woman, with her many slaves to show off among other things… but tell me, with the horrible opinion and assumed inferiority of slaves, why did these female slave masters assume the milk that came out of those brown breasts was safe for their baby’s little white mouths? I suspect it was the same thing we know today, and instinct is what it is – breast milk is just that, and the baby needs it. If it comes out of a breast, it is liquid gold, and it is what new life needs.
So, that takes us into the previous century, when a new reason became apparent for substitute human milk. As Kate stated above – women joined the war effort. As equals? No. Not only were they not given the same recognition and compensation as the males who were exerting just as much effort as the females, but the females had an extra burden to carry, that of motherhood. While the men were off chasing their anger and proving their self righteousness, the women were obligated to support that game, tried to insist on equal recognition when it wasn’t automatically given, and managed to keep having and caring for the offspring that was continually created due to human nature running its course.
Were wet nurses in existence during the world wars of the early 20th century? Yes, especially where there were enough women not stuck in a factory to provide for such a luxury. But, with the advent of society and/or, in stark contrast, families that settled themselves on land in the west that was annexed for their use, wetnurses became much less common. Though some of those “settling” families saw fit to “employ” indigenous women to supply this crucial aspect of early life… much like the women in the south who turned to their slave’s breasts.
Enter mid-century, the silently tumultuous and oppressed 50’s, where, after centuries, women suddenly found their voices. Unfortunately for them, in the face of no equal respect for their contribution to humanity, yet in their need to demand appropriate recognition and compensation for their efforts and contributions, they went about forcing the issue the only way they could see how. They decided that to prove they were not inferior to a man, they had to behave like men – like the very 1/2 of society that had managed to collectively raise itself into a stupor of superiority – at least those that came from the European influence (other regions as well).
Well, if a woman has to behave like a man to be considered as superior as man, there are a few things that happen (and that don’t). First, she has to be capable of doing and managing the exact same situations that a man is capable of. Funny how the men throughout history, have never had to prove the same the opposite direction – though I see some indication that may happen in the near future.
Second, while women conducted themselves during the day in the same environment that the men were in, those environments were not conducive for their children. Women couldn’t assemble or type very well while holding a baby at the breast, or chasing a toddler. Men couldn’t assemble, type, or have adult conversations while chasing toddlers either. Women seem to have the conversation ability a bit better figured out… while chasing 10 toddlers. Sort of.
See, when we forget how valuable each of our unique contributions are, we have to compensate to survive. Instead of working together, which some societies still actually manage to succeed at (though few and rare), we tear each other apart. And in so doing, the most helpless of our society suffer the most.
My life is a bit of a paradox in that I spent my 20’s functioning in a career where I did manage and accomplish the exact same tasks and situations that my male co-workers did. And when I discovered I was being paid less than my lateral male associates, I caused the situation to be remedied.
I have always taken a stand for “equality”, but not until the recent years have my eyes been open. I no longer see women needing to demand equal consideration and recognition with most men, but they are now waging this battle among themselves. I also now see men being diminished systematically by the very women (and their daughters) that took the only route they could come up with to make a difference in how they were treated. Albeit a sad route.
We are such an intelligent creature, are we not.
Now, in my 30’s, as a mother who has to routinely stand up for myself because somehow the work I do raising my daughter is viewed as something less than a career worth recognizing (let alone, the most crucial in the continuance of the species), I am starting to see a bigger picture. Originally, it was men vs women, but now, more and more, I experience women vs women. And in the process, we have shrunken the men to the point where many of them won’t even lift a finger to help us because they know we’ll criticize and belittle them for doing so. This is not what was supposed to happen.
The fact is, that in order for a woman to work somewhere that doesn’t include her nursing child be with her continually, the child must take second chair. Whether this means with formula, bottles of breast milk that the mother regularly manages to pump, a wetnurse, daycare, or some other solution, a substitute for mom must be acquired, on all fronts, while mom is away being comparable to the men and other women.
I develop websites. I teach English to foreigners. I taught teens to drive for 6 years. I teach music – multiple instruments. I am a musician and artist. I am a teacher – and now I independently educate my daughter. I have been a nanny. I have been a manager of others. I have been a technician and responsible for lots of important (to those I worked with) stuff. I write. I speak publicly. Someday I may run for office. I am crunchy, advocate for animals, and try to protect our natural environment.
I am a wife, a soul mate that is a partner 100% and then some. I am a mother, who believed in the strength of her body, the abilities of her body to naturally function, and believes in respect and wholly loving her child.
We are all connected.
So, in my Utopian society, we respect our men for their strength, their ability to solve problems, their physical ability to lift things that would wreak havoc on my body if I did it. We would appreciate men for their sensitivities, their attentiveness, their protective and loyal qualities, and their ability to remain childlike while carrying the weight of a man with many children to feed, at the same time.
In my Utopian society, we would honor our women for their ability to nurture life, comfort the weak, teach compassion, organize insurmountable orchestrations of accomplishment (while nourishing life, sometimes), and heal wounded souls.
Further, we would value our children and the future so much that we, as adults, would never do anything to retract, degrade, diminish, harm, or hurt them. We would not even go so far as to settle for anything less than the most healthy, most positive, most productive, and most beneficial environments. This, my friends, is why I like Star Trek.
Hitting our children is not a productive and positive solution for a happy childhood and happy, non-harmful adults. We know this now. Neglect and surrogate care is not what the child needs. We know this now, thank you chimpanzees. Women are valuable and do not do well when beaten or oppressed. We know this now. Men are valuable and do not do well when not appreciated or diminished. We know this now.
Preserved meats are damaging and we all know it now. Chemically altered anything is potentially harmful. We know it and are learning more and more daily. Artificial anything has its consequences. We are learning quickly. Neglect and abuse of the environment is lunacy. Some of us are aware of this now.
Formula feeding is not as healthy as human milk and we all know it now. There are presumed safeties, and as many concerns for long term effects in using this artificial substance. I dare you to prove my statement wrong.
I have a friend who cannot breastfeed; she has no breasts. She is in her 30’s and has a baby. She knows well about the known dangers and drawbacks of human milk substitute, as well as the many questions and concerns that are not yet fully understood or proven. She has decided that her child is too valuable to settle for something artificial, so she has involved a couple of her friends and other acquaintances (now friends) in the task of providing her baby with human milk, until the baby itself no longer needs it (this may be a few years still).
One of the friends that supplies this woman human milk no longer nurses her own children – they have weaned themselves – but this woman still routinely pumps her milk and gives it to my friend’s family. It’s an annoying and time consuming task sometimes (especially to those of us like me who couldn’t get a pump to work for much of anything), but to these people (both the women and the men who are very much involved) it is the only option as they refuse to settle for artificial, even if it is convenient.