Excuse Me, What?
A friend forwarded me an article today regarding the new law that they have passed in the UAE requiring women to breastfeed for two years after giving birth. I don’t know where I would have stood ten years ago before I had my own children, but I have a pretty strong feeling that I would have decided not to have children of my own if that were the law in my country. My husband and I already believe strongly in adoption, so missing out on giving birth probably would have been far outweighed by the idea of following my country’s erroneous law for two years of my life!
Don’t get me wrong. I am totally in favor of breastfeeding. I believe women should have every right in the world to do it, when and where they want to…but them wanting to is the point! I breastfed my twins for an entire year, I believe that it was wonderful for them and they have been very healthy children. I do throw my sciatic out now, probably due to damage caused by sitting in breastfeeding position for a year of my life, but I am a mom, so I would happily sacrifice that for my kids any day. The point is that it was my well-educated choice, and no one was forcing me to do it. From what I understand, the way that this law has been written, men are able to sue their wives for not fulfilling the two-year commitment. What sort of progress can we possibly be making by turning women into virtual cattle? It, as far as I can see is nothing but sexist, barbaric, and insulting!
The whole reason that I breastfed my own children for so long is complex in itself. For one, they were small twins and I strongly believed that they needed the extra nutrition. For another, I was a stay at home mom. I did not have to deal with pumping or going to work. I made the choice to be a milk machine for my kids, but it was my choice. When my youngest daughter was five months old, I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Because I was going to be on painkillers for a few days we gave her a bottle as a substitution. The minute that kid got one suck of a bottle, she never had a single interest of nursing from the breast again. My daughter is a smart and independent kid, sort of like her mom, she preferred the nipple that gave up milk ten times easier. I have to say, that even though I would have planned to nurse her longer, it was kind of a relief when she stopped nursing. I had three kids under age two at the time! My life was crazy!
I don’t know how the specifics of this law were written, but I try to imagine how it would have affected me. My youngest daughter was born when my twins were a year and a half old. Would I have been required to breastfeed three babies for six months of my life? Would the government have given a crap if I myself died of malnutrition? Since there were laws, men have been making laws that dictate what women are allowed to do with our bodies. It is disgusting and unacceptable. I cannot believe that in this day and age it is getting even worse. As women we do have a collective responsibility to each other, and men who are feminists have a responsibility to defend us as well. The global response to this ridiculous law should be outrage, as it should be to so many other laws that limit women, and keep us down. That is the only motivation behind this sort of manipulative stupidity. Seriously…