Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Anne Shirley's womanly bosom

So, recently I've been thinking quite a lot about breastfeeding. And also quite a lot about Anne of Green Gables, although the two didn't really come together for me until this morning on the bus. The Linda McIver article plus Ramping it Up talking about the righteousness faced by mothers really made me think. And it's years since I breastfed anyone on the bus!

Anne, of course, had quite the parcel of children herself. Not in the first book, although she had spent her pre-Avonlea years caring for toddlers and whatnot. She probably had a reasonably good grasp of the issues of breastfeeding. Now, I don't know how the late 19th and early 20th century regarded women's breasts and the suckling of babies thereon, and I haven't decided yet whether I'm interested enough to find out. If there's a good book written in amusing and easily digested prose then I'd be keen.

But anyway, Anne must have known all about it, and so must Marilla. I'm not sure I'd trust Gilbert's opinion, though. I think he had a tendency to be blinded by science (although things worked out OK in Anne's House of Dreams for Lesley).

The various articles about breastfeeding, and the general sense that many women perceive disapproval of passers-by when feeding their babies in public areas, (plus one very odd article about Britney Spears's sister telling us that having an exposed breast while feeding you baby = a 'porn storm') made me think that attitudes to women and children are Very Odd Indeed. As if I didn't know this already, but sometimes it just hits the side of your head - whoomp - likely a particularly stupid pigeon in King George Square.

But what would Anne think?

Disclosure: while I fed my baby from my own womanly bosoms until he was fifteen months old I was myself a formula baby. I've decided to blame all my shortcomings on this, and sheet the guilt home to my mother. It's the modern way!

Plus I don't remember anyone disapproving of me feeding my son anywhere. Either I hang out in enlightened and sensitive places, or I am myself completely insensible to criticism. I'm betting on B.

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