Monday, February 05, 2007

Gay Fathers Should Breastfeed

Men can breastfeed. Manual stimulation, especially with a breast pump, can stimulate lactation. Men's milk is pretty much as good as women's milk. Breastfeeding builds a bond between mother and child – I think it should have a similar effect for father and child, in the absence of a mother.

Anyone see a downside?

17 comments:

Alan said...

Gay men can't have kids. You've already made that clear. And calling them "fathers" is obviously a complete redefinition of the meaning of that word. ;)

BTW, this just in: straight men in Washington without kids won't be able to stay married, if this law passes:

http://www.kndo.com/Global/story.asp?S=6026820&nav=menu484_4

What's good for the goose.... ;)

Stuart Gordon said...

Downside? How about those stains on your Pinpoint Oxford shirts? Come to think about it, how about no "nursing shirts" in the Land's End catalogue?

Gruntled said...

I once toured the quite gay Dupont Circle YMCA in Washington DC, carrying a baby. I got many a dirty look. Perhaps this new trend could be the cure.

Mary Jo Tewes said...

why not straight fathers as well?

Seems to me like the answer to this 'why not?' is in the way we've defined fatherhood and masculinity and conceptualized what men's bodies 'should' do and look like. The intimacy and close contact and physical changed involved in breastfeeding doesn't fit that definition. And changing societal definitions like this takes a long long time.

Some men, gay and straight, might want to challenge this notion through doing something like breastfeeding; most probably would not.

Tanner said...

wait are you joking.. i think you should be joking

Gruntled said...

As to the Washington State initiative to require all marriages to have kids; an institution can embody a social norm without requiring that each individual within that institution embody the norm. This is why everyone should study sociology. :-)

Anonymous said...

If men were meant to breast feed, don't you think we'd find it in some culture around the world? Or wouldn't men have larger breasts to faciliate this?

However, that's not to disagree with Gruntled. I think his proposal is quite interesting, and probably not a bad idea.

Gruntled said...

Well, Mary Jo, if some het dads want to breast feed, it is a free country. And I suppose if mom couldn't, that might be a sensible, if weird solution. Still, mother's milk is somewhat better and much easier to come by than father's milk -- especially if mom is going to be producing it, anyway. Maybe parents of triplets might press dad into service?

Kerri said...

is this REALLY possible?

i'm all for it, and just feel like i've been missing something in not knowing that it possible sooner.

Gruntled said...

According to Jared Diamond, in Why is Sex Fun?, it is possible. Most men who lactate do so with hormonal help, but in principle stimulation should be enough to get the ball rolling.

He also reports that, in traditional societies, one good way to stimulate women into lactation was to use puppies.

LMR said...

While I don't have any real opinion on the issue of breastfeeding men, I would like to point out that not all women breastfeed. It is not necessary for bonding with a child.

Gruntled said...

Agreed. This does open an option that is not often considered, though.

Mark Smith said...

Thanks for pointing out the ridiculous Washington State proposal. I've already blogged on it, and written the organization asking if they are out of their minds.

This shows that at least some gay rights supporters can't do math. The gay population is small enough (let's be generous and include bisexual folks with strong homosexual tendencies and say 20% of the population) that it needs the support of straight folks in order to change laws.

Pissing off straight supporters isn't the way to do it. This proposal directly attacks ME.

Alex said...

Here is a downside. Many adoptive mothers want to breastfeed. But most adoptions are not "planned events" (you don't know exactly when the child will arrive; you don't know exactly how old the child will be at arrival). So you can pump and pump for months and maybe the child will not latch on because he is too old; you often cannot provide all the necessary nutrition thise way, it is usually just supplemental to formula/bottle feeding. So I see the same practical downside for many fathers in gay couple -- often adoptive parents themselves. I bonded with my (adopted) children without breastfeeding.

Gruntled said...

Yes, the practical problems may be overwhelming.

Alex said...

The practical problems are overwhelming, Gruntled. But it is more than that... the downside is this very argument that there is one way to raise children/parent children. I hesitate to add "breastfeeding" to the Essential Tenets on Parenting.

Gruntled said...

I am for a limited set of Essential Tenets, but the broad diversity of ok practices needs to honor the essential center.