I received a few comments about my last post Choosing Not To Breastfeed Is Patriarchy that were essentially angry to be told they might be oppressed by patriarchy. Well, newsflash, we all are!
Anyone who has worn make up, especially at the gym or just to go to the supermarket is oppressed. The fact that most women wouldn’t dream of showing up to a job interview without make up on is oppression. I had lash extensions applied once (the 3 – 4 week type by a technician) and loved them. With the lashes, I felt the minimum-to-leave-the-house was down to just foundation. I don’t philosophically agree with it, but I live in this world too and am subject to these same patriarchal norms.
The pretty or cute, form fitting clothing we wear is oppression, and we start our girls on it younger and younger now. We teach women to be sexy when they are girls and then shame them when they act or dress sexy. We use breasts to sell everything under the sun and then act offended when women use them to feed babies. We may allow women to perform important jobs but when we interview them we ask them what they wear and how they slim down rather than something substantial. This is not their fault. Just as when I say your choice not to breast feed is oppression, is not your fault.
I know that my struggle with an extra twenty pounds, which I’ve had for most of my adult life is oppression. Its not just my choice, but informed by the world I live, the people I speak with everyday and the mother I grew up with who was always doing the same thing. I know this, but I am still plagued with self doubt everyday in part because I wish I could be slimmer. This struggle even existing is patriarchal oppression. In the same way, a women who is informed by media, never knew anyone who had breastfed a baby and whose mother is also against it would be fighting against a lot of oppression to succeed in breastfeeding, even just to want to. It’s not her fault, but it is the reason we need to talk about it so that more women have a fighting chance. When nurse-ins and breast feeding photos on Facebook become part of the fabric of society we create a counter weight to the other anti-breastfeeding experiences.
My journey toward body acceptance has begun, by the way, and I see the effects. Partly, in that I don’t have the motivation to diet for even a day, and partly in that my wish to be skinny resides mostly in the back of my head now rather than the prime motivation for daily life. So here’s to continuing that fight in every area of patriarchal oppression, in every woman!