Breaking News: We’re Not All The Same

It seems D-Day was but a skirmish compared with the Mummy Wars.

The little ladies are at it again, metaphorically mud-wrestling over the Holy Book of Breastfeeding. Bloody women. Always trying to scratch each other’s eyes out.

Except, none of this is true.

There’s no such thing as the Mummy Wars, a rulebook for breastfeeding, or women-who-hate-other-women. This is simply shit made up to sell magazines. And I’m not buying it.

The latest non-story surrounds Russian model Natalia Vodianova, who Instagrammed a beautiful breastfeeding photo.

One commentator described it as “appalling” because, “it’s sexualising breastfeeding” adding, “no mum looks like this”.

Aside from the obvious fact that, yes, some supermodels, DO look like this when they breastfeed, this one comment triggered the “Mummy Wars”.

So let me get this straight.

When a woman has a differing opinion she’s part of an invisible army, declaring war on other women.

But a male commentator is an individual expressing his point of view. Ever seen a headline about the Daddy Wars? No, I didn’t think so.

This is part of a rich vein of commentary, lumping women together like lemmings: politicians courting the “women’s vote”; TV executives programming for a “female demographic”; or advertisers targetting the “mummy market”.

Guess what? We’re not all the same.

We don’t sit in secret covens saying, “Ooh, I quite like Orange is the New Black. Let’s all watch it!”

Contrary to the opinion of several right-wing commentators, women of the left don’t “group think”.  Jane Caro, Clementine Ford and Jenna Price didn’t agree to wait (gasp!) 24 hours before criticising Clive Palmer for his sexist attack on the PM’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin.

They’re kinda busy doing their own thing.

“The problem with feminism is you girls are always fighting each other,” a talkback caller told me last year on Radio 2UE.

Just because we’re individuals, with our own ideas, doesn’t mean we’re all jelly wrestling.

Which brings me to breastfeeding.

I remember once being asked by a news director to find a breast cancer story because, “Blokes like seeing tits on the tele”.

This was writ large on the front page of The Sun newspaper in March, with a topless model announcing Check ‘Em Tuesday.

Before Vodianova, there was faux outrage over a shot of model Gisele Bundchen, surrounded by hair and make-up artists as she breastfed her baby.

As Carolyn Robertson writes on the Baby Center blog, “Gisele’s take on multi-tasking doesn’t quite mirror my own – she’d have to throw a pot of Kraft Dinner and a Spongebob marathon into the mix for it to be recognisable to me. But the fact that she’s a supermodel and a millionaire doesn’t make her any less of a mom. Just like the fact that I bottle-fed or work full-time shouldn’t strip me of my motherhood credentials”.

 

But one or two criticisms of her “elitist mindset” and suddenly it was – cue drum roll – the Mummy Wars.

While men apparently like to think about women fighting over their boobies, female editors of mass-market magazines are also complicit. Pitting women against each other is their raison d’etre: fat versus skinny; make-up versus fresh-face; young versus old.

The most popular stories in the mainstream media feed into our deepest fears, framed by the seven deadly sins.

Breastfeeding’s got it all: Will we be able to feed our children? Am I a bad mother? And why aren’t I in supermodel shape?

Natalia Vodianova said she posted the picture because, “it (breastfeeding) will remain a taboo if they continue to treat it as a secret art form, reserved for private rooms and hushed conversations”.

Hours later, actor Jaime King posted a similar image: “#JamesKnight is now 8 months old! These are the moments a mother lives for. Breastfeeding should not be taboo – and bottle feeding should not be judged – it’s ALL fun for the whole family:)”

Damn right. We should be feeding our babies as openly as possible, regardless of whether it’s considered “sexy”. (Personally, I preferred the tracksuit-and-ugg-boot look down at the local park. To each their own…)

For many women, being able to breastfeed is enough of a battle.

Let’s hope our boobs can achieve a ceasefire sometime soon.

Watch Jane Waterhouse discuss the issue with the Studio 10 panel: