Sunday, March 01, 2009

Women Are Not Like Cows, Part II

Women are not like cows. That's true when we're talking about sex, and it's true when we're talking about breast-feeding.


Anonymous said...

Clearly you've never pumped.

(Clearly, I kid. But seriously, I do enjoy the cognitive dissonance of people being freaked out by bottles of expressed milk in the work refrigerator when those same people drink milk from a cow every day without thinking twice about it.)

PG said...


On my knees in my office,
leaning over the metal can
of waste, I squeeze my breasts
to express the milk that's accrued
in my graduate seminar on postmodern
poetry. Six hours since the last feed
and only eight weeks postpartum,
the pressure's enough to kill a cow.
Talking head reduced by hormones
to a pitiful creature on bended knee
weeping and milking her own hot tits.
It's thin and blue, this milk intended
for my daughter's mouth. Instead,
it's spurting coolly on my ink-stained hands,
dribbling in a painful start, then flowing
unencumbered on the paper detritus
of my chosen work -- the dean's agenda
for the faculty meeting, a debatable
policy on sexual harassment,
the first draft of some idiot's
poem on fraternity love: unprotected
rutting on a bed of crushed empties.
-- Life is so unutterably
weird, isn't it? Organizing my thoughts
on the cultural disjunctions of the end
of the century and how they break their way into
our literature and art, and how bizarre
is the era that finds me here
wastefully wringing the milk from my breasts
in the same office where I scheme to procure
permanent tenure.

-- Kate Daniels, from her collection four testimonies

I think the cognitive dissonance only comes up for people who are uncomfortable with the extent to which women are the life support system for fetuses/ babies. I'm betting the same guys who are freaked out by public breast-feeding also are bothered by the sight of a child being delivered; it's this view of the female body as belonging to sex and even pornography, but not to creation.

Anonymous said...

Generally agreed, with the quibble that birthing a baby is perhaps the single most physical, bodily thing you can do. There's blood and shit and sometimes vomit, in addition to a goop-covered little human being coming out of your vagina.

A lot of people in our culture, men and women, are put off by that much sheer physicality. (I think it's pretty amazing and cool, but I'm weird like that. I don't really blame people for being squicked.)

Nursing a baby is downright tame in comparison.

Thanks for the poem.

David Schraub said...

Some of us, it should be said, did not burst forth from the birth canal. Shout out for all my fellow Caesareans out there!

Anonymous said...

Well, I wouldn't blame anyone for getting squicked over goop-covered little human beings coming out of abdominal incisions, either. That ain't a bloodless business by any stretch of the imagination.