Thursday, August 22, 2013

Equality at the Expense of Sanity: A Case Study

"Equality at the Expense of Sanity" has been one of our post tags here at A Shepherd's Voice for quite a while now. Here's a classic example, from a column by Karla A. Erickson who is an associate professor of sociology at Grinnell College. We first encountered it in a post by Laura Wood, at The Thinking Housewife, who was referencing Simcha Fischer reply to Erickson at the National Catholic Register.

Mrs. Erickson's column is called "Explaining why, next time I won't breastfeed"  It's so bizarre it seems like a hoax, but it must be read in its entirety. She writes:

"Every time I got to breast feed him I was holding my son, singing, whispering, touching, and loving on my sweet little boy.

If I had not breastfed I would have missed all those beautiful quiet times with my son. Fewer people would have seen my breasts, which would have been nice. I would have felt less like a cow, which also would have been nice. But I wouldn’t give up breastfeeding for those minor humiliations. The time with my son was too important. I had never known what it was like to be that close to another human.

Sounds good, no? But read the next sentence:

If we really want to address and redress the ongoing inequalities around the work of making life — the work of raising the next generation — then we have to look at breastfeeding. It’s one thing our bodies do that reinforces the social differences between men and women, moms and dads, and boys and girls...."

"If we really want to address and redress the ongoing inequalities around the work of making life..." Who wants to? Who says inequality is so bad? Bad enough to override a mother's bonding with her child? Erickson is obviously confusing inequality with injustice.

"Next time I won’t breastfeed because it sets up a gendered division of who does what early into parenting. It provides an infrastructure for an unequal distribution of the work (and rewards) of parenting."

See why I said it reads like a hoax? There's more:

Over the years, my husband and I will work to unwind this preliminary advantage, but we could have avoided solidifying it if we had decided to use formula, or to pump and bottle feed our son....

Sometimes we have to do a runaround our bodies to ensure equity....

You can call me a bad woman, bad mother, and you can say that it’s easy to speak in future tense. Perhaps there is something deeply selfish in me or incurably cruel...

Not bad or cruel, just stupid and ideological. "Ideology" is the logic of an idea. Erickson starts by positing inequality as the summum malum, and logically is forced to reject the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding, because the male half of humanity can't do it.

No comments: