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Saturday, January 05, 2008Regulars here know it's nothing new for someone from the Lactivist movement to come in and call me mean or harsh. I knew what I wrote on Thursday wouldn't be popular, but I strongly felt it needed to be said.
I just finished writing a response in the comments of the original post that further clarified my line of thinking and I realized it probably needed to be it's own post.
breastfeedingmominlubbock wrote in the comments
I'm a little surprised by your harsh criticism to be honest. Some of the other options you mentioned sounded like great ideas, but to call nursing mothers "pouting" because an "apology" was given does not make sense to me, and is offensive.
I appreciate the suggestions for other actions. I just don't feel it's appropriate to call names when people in Lubbock are finally standing up for something as important as the right to breastfeed in public. Let's help each other out with suggestions, not call each other names!
Here's my response.
I completely stand by my statement that to have a "protest" of something that has already been "remedied" is pouting.
I realize that those who attended in Lubbock are very happy with the outcome. I think that's fantastic.
But I also look at these issues on a broader scale. A victory in Lubbock that makes it harder to win a victory somewhere else does NOT advance the movement as a whole. Until women start looking at these issues on a national and even international level, we're going to have a hard time building a cohesive movement that really incites change.
See, while the women who were involved in Lubbock were glad to go, those outside the area are going to see the news of this and say "wait, why were they protesting something that was already remedied? sounds like a bunch of women who just want to raise a ruckus.
That hurts the movement as a whole and contributes to the stereotype of lactivists as "shrieking harpies with too much time on their hands."
(I have no doubt those who attended are glad they went. It's a great experience and provides a nice feeling of empowerment. I won't doubt that at all...but feeling good and causing change are not the same thing.
To note, once it was planned and started to spread, I have no problem with women gathering together to nurse, despite the fact that the city already apologized.
We had this happen last year on the east coast when a woman was told she couldn't nurse in a shop selling party supplies. Some women jumped the gun and planned a nurse-in before the woman had a chance to work her way through management. By the time the nurse-in was due to take place, management had apologized and taken action to put new policies and training in place.
A nurse-in there would have been much like the one that took place in Lubbock. A protest after things had been resolved.
Thankfully, the women at that nurse-in reversed course. They called the management to see if they could change focus to a "nursing rally" that was a celebration of the management's positive changes. In other words, instead of a protest, it became a "we're happy to do business with you because you are willing to change your ways for something better."
They issued new press releases, management came on site for the event, a big party was had and the press was quite positive on all sides. It was a fantastic way to salvage what could have been another eye-roller to those outside the movement.
I would have fully supported something like this in Lubbock. It would have been a great way to accomplish the benefits of yesterday's nurse-in (drawing attention, sparking debate, showing power in numbers and mobilizing nursing moms) without also bringing on the negatives (making the movement look like people who can not be pleased no matter what.)
Beyond that, the "press release" that was issued via Mothering was appalling. I know that sounds harsh, but I'm sorry, it's true. I didn't make it more than a paragraph in before I was shaking my head in sadness.
The content was all over the board, it was completely unprofessional, it had no focus. It basically looked like a giant rant from a random person on a message board.
As a marketing professional AND professional blogger (not this site, my day job) it killed me.
We can spend all day talking about the passion and sincerity with which this event was planned, but passion and sincerity do not win over the general populace. There's a reason marketing and PR professionals exist. It's because they know how to frame a message to appeal to the most people.
There are quite a few of us in this movement with the experience and knowledge to put those types of releases together. (In fact, the media kit that was put together entirely by volunteers for the Delta nurse-in was VERY impressive.)
Had someone simply asked, I would have been happy to call on my contacts to help put together a press release. I have no doubt that dozens of other lactivist moms with marketing and PR backgrounds would have done the same.
This movement has GOT to get beyond the idea that any action is good action. It's not. The wrong type of action can hurt the movement as a whole. It's fantastic to see women getting motivated and wanting to do something. I love that, I encourage that. But we've also got to encourage a more organized, logical approach to these things.