Friday, November 4, 2011

Mass Media: The Great Manipulators

Noam Chomsky has stated, "Propaganda is to democracy as the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."  We are witnessing the use of mass media to restrict dialogue on issues in order to promote the interests of corporations and government.  What is public relations and when is it propaganda?  How do we make a judgment on the sites we visit on the internet?  Has public relations become more and more a propaganda game?  And how does that impact society?

I suspect that much of what we now call PR is a manipulation of the public to accept the corporate state and its views on everything from the acceptability of war to infant formula.  Politics is about power.   The way in which we feed our babies is political.  Who wields that power, and who controls the media.  Ultimately control of the media rests with those who have the most bucks.  The Virtual is an open door to media manipulators to create certain illusions. 
There are techniques used in propaganda that are well-known by people who have analysed successful propaganda.  The following techniques are used:  name calling, glittering generalities, transfer, testimonial, plain folks, card stacking, band wagon. For further information see:

In reading some of Fearless Formula Feeders blog, I am amazed by her statements.  She considers women who formula feed the underdog.  Statistically speaking, breastfeeding is the underdog.  Few women exclusively breastfeed, most woman are weaning their infants within the first 4 months to formula: yet we are to believe that the real underdog is formula feeders.  While breastfeeding initiation rates have increased over the years, duration rates are very low.  So in reality many more women are experiencing formula feeding than breastfeeding.  Women who bottlefeed in public are not kicked out of public places, but breastfeeding mothers face that reality.  Who is the underdog?  What Fearless Formula Feeder's blog uses is "glittering generalities,"  a propaganda technique.  We identify with the "underdog."  Certainly, she may have felt in her social circle like the underdog for bottlefeeding but formula feeding is the reality for a majority of women in the USA.

Fearless Formula Feeder's blog presents "tips for drying up breastmilk (without the attitude)."  Her suggestions regarding drying up milk are not what I would suggest.  I think binding breasts and suddenly stopping production can risk mastitis and/or breast abscesses.  I have always recommended pumping to relieve pressure  (just enough to release some milk but not increase production) and alternating ice packs and warm showers to relieve pain)  I think binding the breasts is asking for a lot of pain that can be circumvented by a gradual process.  I also believe that binding the breasts can increase a mother's risk of mastitis and breast abscess.   

The irony of the need for tips on drying up breastmilk is that we believe that nowadays we have "choice" regarding our biology.  Our mammary glands do not recognize "choice" and make milk anywayMothers have to actively suppress lactation in order to choose infant formula.  Drugs, particularly bromocriptine, have been the answer until it was found that these drugs caused stroke, deaths.  

I think mothers need to evaluate information they are given, often this is difficult and time consuming and horribly confusing.   So many times mothers told me that everyone they had seen regarding breastfeeding had told them something different and that they were feeling very confused.  Who to believe?
I feel the same about medical research and the contradictory and confusing conclusions that we often see.  A key point in evaluating medical research is to understand who is funding the research.  Who do the researchers work for?  The same can be said about websites and blogs.  Who funds that website or blog?  

I was questioned by Suzanne of Fearless Formula Feeder blog about my lack of advertising.  I don't accept advertising.  My blog is free (at least for now).  I am no longer an IBCLC because of their stance on the WHO Code.  I was a La Leche League Leader for 10 years, a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Coordinator for 4 years, I had a private practice for a number of years and could not make enough money to keep it open.  I now own and operate a environmental-friendly cleaning service and work part-time in a historic hotel doing housekeeping and turn-down service.  So my occupations in no way impact my blog or my views.  They do keep me afloat financially in an area that is mostly a tourist destination.  The county I live in is one of the poorer counties.  I was one of the few IBCLCs without a medical background, who got a position at a local hospital within their midwifery department.  Due to politics:  the midwifery program was shut down within a short time because the midwife allowed a mother to stand during 2nd stage of her delivery--a hospital birth.  I was told I would not be allowed to see any clients, particularly the mother who stood during 2nd stage.  I quit.  I quit the WIC Program because of many reasons, mostly because of the difficulty of working within a bureaucracy.  I did ask for the WIC job back, a year or so later, because I needed more work to pay my bills.  They offered half of what I made previously.  I thought the economics in my area was bad then, but they have gotten far worse.  I have cleaned beside a woman who had masters degree and taught college level classes, and local public school teachers who could not make ends met on their salaries.  I am happy to have a job because I see others losing homes and in the streets.  Am I happy about my career change?  No, of course not.  But this is the wonder world that our political and corporate leaders (our wall street wonder boys) have created due to corruption.  Of course I don't blame them totally...I have made the decisions that impacted my family for good and bad.  I can live with it because I have to live with it.  My blog is the result of not having the time to write a book about the patenting of human milk components.  The blog is also the result of certain people in our breastfeeding organizations who have given me and my writings the silent treatment.  Although those same people have wanted the information I have researched, but they didn't want my opinions on that research.  Thus my blog was born. 
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain

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