Friday, November 25, 2011
It is what it ain't
I still hear that little voice inside my brain, "it is what it is." I am working on negating this slogan of our times. Think about the words. Yeah, I am thinking hard, my brain is burning. In the current state of economic crisis and the blatant corruption at Wall Street; this slogan is hypnotic. The words lull me into a stupor of acceptance. Nothing will change, because it is what it is. How comforting this simple slogan. There is nothing we can do because it is what it is. Over and over again we hear the words. I am not influenced by repetition of stupid thoughts. Or so I think I am not influenced? Repetition is one of many techniques used by propagandists and advertisement industry. They use it because it works. Hitler wrote about it and changed history with it. Advertisers use repetition to sell products. We often think we are too smart to be bamboozled by advertisements. Yet subliminal messages impact our brain in some ways. see Propaganda
I suppose that is why I was fascinated by breastfeeding and infant formula blog sites that use a web design of specific words. It is a propaganda technique; the use of "loaded" words that "arouse a strong emotional response." Does it mean that I believe the sites are connected in some way? No. The only connection is the site owner's understanding of the power of words to create an emotional response.
Words are important. The use of breastfeeding and breast milk as interchangeable words creates a fiction. They are not interchangeable concepts. They are vitally different. While "breastfeeding is free," breast milk is not free. Why? Because in most cases our current culture dictates the use of pump technology to separate the milk from the mammary gland. It requires the use of bottles and bottle nipples (few mothers are willing to use a cup which is far simpler to clean). All this equipment must be bought. Storage of breast milk requires refrigeration/freezers, which means a mother is dependent on some form of energy (be it electric or gas). Which translates to higher electric or gas bills.
I find it fascinating that breastfeeding advocacy organizations are saying that breastfeeding is not free. But the infant formula industry says that breast milk is not free. They know the difference. Why don't we? Woman who donate their breast milk give far more than a product that is life saving. They are giving their time and money invested in equipment to help babies. It is why I feel that mom's who donate to milk banks should get an honest accounting of where their donor milk goes. How much of donor milk goes for research/researchers in the infant formula industry, how much to the NICU? I never could get this question answered by HMBANA.
I see breastfeeding advocacy organizations drifting into policies that don't make sense to me. Baby Milk Action states at their website that they are not "anti-baby milk." and "Our work protects all mothers and infants from irresponsible marketing."
This sounds so good and proper. Yet I am troubled by these statements. Promoting breastfeeding is protecting all mothers and infants. One cannot protect formula feeding mothers as well as breastfeeding mothers. How can an organization serve well the needs of both groups without hurting one side or the other? And the question is what information are breastfeeding organizations basing this subtle shift of thinking? Do breastfeeding organizations believe that the formula feeding blogs are an accurate reflection of mother's who formula feed?
I read a paper at one of the infant formula industry website called, "Women's perceptions of their healthcare experience when they choose not to breastfeed." This article was from Women Birth (2011) At the bottom of the page in a stand-out grey box, the website which represents the infant formula industry states, "Please cite this article in press as Wirhana LA, Barnard A. Women's perceptions of their healthcare experience when they choose not to breastfeed. Women Birth (2011), doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2011.08.005"
Rather interesting to me that the infant formula industry is very aware of why women "choose" not to breastfeed. That understanding leads to better and better and better advertisements. And better and better blogs are created with that knowledge. If you know someone's fears about birth, about breastfeeding, one can capitalize on those fears. One can also persuade breastfeeding advocates that there are large numbers of women angry at them for advocating for breastfeeding.
In the drive to change the culture of cigarette smoking, because of its risk to health, the tobacco industry used its enormous profits to create a number of illusions. Likewise, the infant formula industry will present its illusions to the public. Unlike years ago, the infant formula industry has the whole playground of the internet to persuade people. Believing PR campaigns by industry creates dangerous misconceptions about reality. The anti-smoking campaigners/advocates did not feel the need to protect smokers from reality. Advocacy is not for the faint-hearted or those who wish everyone to feel good about their choices. As the Bible says, you cannot serve two masters.
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain