Cultural Differences in Breastfeeding Talk

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By Tracy G. Cassels

Remember a year or so ago when the View decided to discuss breastfeeding, specifically the New York initiative of removing the free formula in hospitals?

Or when some of them decided that Beyonce breastfeeding in public was a bad call, that it was a “private” moment?

Or even when they decided to chime in the infamous TIME cover with Jamie Lynne Grumet on it?

Many of us heard these comments, shook our heads, and decided the comments were generally idiotic (a few exceptions) but that this was the view of society at large.  Not just US society, but Western society.  And how sad it is to see breastfeeding discussed in such a negative, sexual, or uneducated manner.

Then yesterday, Gisele Bundchen posted an Instagram picture of herself breastfeeding her 12-month-old daughter while prepping for a photo shoot.  The backlash ensued.  Some moms were pissed that she flaunted her multitasking work with breastfeeding when they had no support (though why they are mad at her and not their system is beyond me).  People around felt that this was not something to be shared publicly at all as a baby eating is a “private” moment.  And some of us expected that the first TV bits shared would be the View with the always controversial, often uneducated comments about breastfeeding.

But it wasn’t.  The first thing to come up, for me at least, was from the Canadian counterpart of the View, the Social.  Same gossipy format, and I expected, the same controversial views, reflecting that of Western society.

Here’s what they had to say:

Canada may not have perfect breastfeeding rates or support systems, but it’s incredible to see the very clear difference between the “popular” or public views in each country.  Of course there are pockets of people who feel differently (in each country, as yes, many Americans were horrified by comments on the View), but clearly this shows us there is something about the US views that are not based on being Western, modern, or anything else.  Perhaps the views here (yes, I’m Canadian) are different because we have a year’s maternity leave (though our breastfeeding rates aren’t that much higher than the US, but they are higher) or because we don’t sexualize everything in the same was as our Southern counterparts have a tendency to do (not all people, but sexualization is more prominent).  Regardless, it was a breath of fresh air to hear something so normal and sane about breastfeeding on a gossip show.

The View could take a few lessons.

[Image Credit:  Gisele’s Instagram photo and one of me and my daughter on the same day]

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  1. Camila says

    Oh my. I don’t even know what to say to such — (don’t even know an adjectif) comments made in The View videos.
    The last one made me more angry at the first 30 seconds, and I had to pause to finish watching…
    Anyway, just at the top of my head, after watching them, why do they think attachment parenting is literaly attaching to your kids and spending every waking moment with them? AND more, why do they think only stay at home parents can do it? I’m finishing college and have lots of friends who work and practice AP beautifully.
    Anyway, now I’ll watch The Social and hopefully i’ll feel better.

    And I’m truly amazed at Canada (I often am) for a year’s maternity leave. Sadly enough, Brazil copies lots of things from the US instead of turning its eyes to Canada. (At least we have a health system though). Here the maternity leave in private companies is 4 months. And sometimes public workers have 6 months. Dads only have 15 days, when they have it at all. It’s absurd. =/

  2. julie ann says

    omg, just watched the view… setting my previous humor aside… there is this unconscious undercurrent of conflict and aggression towards motherhood and mothers in this country. disturbing indeed.

  3. Lee Humphries says

    OOOOOH Canada! Let’s continue to change the culture of breastfeeding in Canada! WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6m -and for a minimum of 2y! Let’s raise those those shirts and raise those duration rates!
    Peachland Breastfeeding Cafe

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