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Thursday, March 22, 2007This is one of those issues that I hesitate to weigh in on, but I'm starting to see it pop up in more places, so I figured I'd best share my thoughts before the email starts pouring in. (Because wow, you guys don't let me miss anything these days...)
The "Lady Bucks" is made up of the wives, family members and employees of the NBA Milwaukee Bucks players. Their latest fundraiser is "Formula FastBreak." To let the Lady Bucks press release explain it:
The event will take place in Lobbies A, B, C and D at the Bradley Center. Donation barrels and cash collection tables will be located in each of the four lobbies. Fans are encouraged to donate any infant/baby formula product (powder or liquid), or cash that will be used to purchase formula. Donations will be accepted from the time the doors open at 1:30 p.m. through the conclusion of Sunday’s game, which begins at 2:30 p.m.
“We all know how expensive and valuable infant formula is,” said Sherrie Tussler, Hunger Task Force executive director. “Thanks to the dedication of the Milwaukee Bucks, Piggly Wiggly, and concerned Bucks fans throughout Milwaukee, mothers will be able to sleep soundly knowing their newborn children will receive the formula they need to be healthy.”
Now I don't know about you, but when I read this announcement, my first thought was "hey, helping single mothers is nice." My second thought was to read "formula they need to be healthy" and to think "I bet that's going to bug some people."
The thought that never crossed my mind was to be absolutely, 100% outraged by the very idea that a group of women would have the GALL to do a fundraiser that DARES mention formula because as we know, ALL women MUST breastfeed and ANY mention of formula that isn't preceded by "the mother had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, and can't afford donor milk so she uses..." is cause for FREAKING OUT.
Apparently, that IS the thought that crossed many people's minds.
This perplexes me.
Breast milk is the absolute best food for babies and young children. There's no doubt about that. We need to increase breastfeeding support for new moms and make sure that there's protection in place for moms that need to return to work. We need to help educate people about the fact that breast milk doesn't lose it's value once a baby reaches six months.
What we don't need to do is to live in a fantasy world that refuses to acknowledge that some people can, and do use formula either by choice or by necessity.
Because really now...how does that help our cause?
I've read a wide range of criticisms about this program. Some are understandable and lament the fact that the group isn't raising money to help supplement lactation consultant fees or promoting milk banks ALONG WITH running the formula drive. Some simply claim that the group should raise funds or food products or school supplies for these families. Those don't really bother me.
What bothers me is the posts I'm running across that claim the only thing that is being accomplished by this drive is that the big bad formula companies (and yes, I do think they are big and bad) are getting free advertising and that the Lady Bucks are contributing to the down-fall of society by helping mothers get free or low-cost formula. They claim that instead of providing formula, the group should provide education and lactation consultants so that these moms can breast feed.
Ok, that's great...but what about the fact that there ARE women out there that are already giving their children formula (for whatever reason) and struggle to afford it? Shall we simply let their children starve and say "well, that will teach you...maybe you'll breastfeed your next child."
Think I'm nuts and totally coming at this from the wrong angle?
Ok, let me paint an analogy for you.
You know those "save the children" commercials that you see now and then? All those poor children living in the middle of nowhere with no food, no education, no job prospects, no medical care?
Let's stop sending them money. After all, by sending them money, we're helping them to eek out enough of a living that they can grow up and make MORE children that they won't be able to afford to feed. Maybe if we let them die out, they'd stop having babies that they can't afford to feed the people that were left would have enough food to go around.
Sound like a good idea?
Because honestly, I see the two lines of thinking as being pretty much the same.
Come on people. This is NOT how we're going to move the lactivist cause ahead. The greatest majority of moms in this country will formula feed at some point in time. In fact, that number stands at more than 85%. We are not going to win support by telling 85% of the moms in the world that they've damaged their children by giving them formula. We're going to win support by educating people with compassion and understanding. Yes we need to stand up for our rights, but standing up for our rights doesn't mean stomping all over other people's feeding choices.
As with the Super Nanny incident, I just don't see how pitching fits and writing letters about this one advances our cause. Let's save the righteous indignation for the times when a mom is tossed from a mall for daring to feed her child or when a day care center says "we won't accept your child" because that child is breastfed.
Let's leave the well-intentioned folks that are simply trying to help people out alone.