LACTIVISM by Courtney Jung


How Feminists and Fundamentalists, Hippies and Yuppies, and Physicians and Politicians Made Breastfeeding Big Business and Bad Policy
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The pros and cons of using breast milk instead of formula for your baby.

Jung (Political Science/Univ. of Toronto; The Moral Force of Indigenous Politics: Critical Liberalism and the Zapatistas, 2008, etc.) offers readers an inside look at the modern world of breast-feeding, which has undergone transformative changes since its revival in the United States in the 1970s. Prior to that time, women were encouraged to use formula, giving mothers the freedom to return to work shortly after giving birth. Then feminists took a political stance on breast-feeding, claiming that it was a woman’s right to choose how to feed her children. This revolution against corporations and the desire for individual choice has slowly morphed into a multifaceted, multibillion-dollar industry in which those who breast-feed are considered fashionable and intelligent and those who don’t are often frowned upon by others. Using solid evidence to back her statements, the author analyzes how the simple act of breast-feeding has shifted into a mechanical process through the use of breast pumps, with a salable commodity: the breast milk. In fact, the actual act of feeding the child sometimes takes a back seat to it all. Jung explores the questionable practice of encouraging mothers with HIV/AIDS to breast-feed since substantial scientific evidence shows that breast milk, a bodily fluid, can carry the virus. The author also explores the effects of the formula vs. breast-feeding debate on developing countries, particularly Africa, where the dangers of waterborne illnesses often outweigh the risk of contracting HIV. She discusses the history of La Leche League and other breast-feeding support groups and the difficulties women face when they return to the workplace and need to express milk but are given little or no support in their endeavors. Jung offers her own experiences breast-feeding her children as a side note to the political, social, health, and economic ramifications of this now-convoluted procedure.

A levelheaded, well-researched analysis of the many “trappings of contemporary breastfeeding culture.”

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-465-03969-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2015


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