Monday, January 26, 2015

Escaping MotherHood and joining the SisterHood

PATENT #8802650 "Methods of using human milk oligosaccharides for improving airway respiratory health."  filed in December 2011 owned by Abbott Laboratories. The patent states:

"The HMO [Human Milk Oligosaccharide] or HMOs may be isolated or enriched from milk(s) secreted by mammals including but not limited to human, bovine, ovine, porcine, or caprine species."  [also may be manufactured by microbial fermentation and/or chemical processes]

"Furthermore, the use of HMOs in nutritional compositions can reduce the growth of respiratory viruses (e.g. RSV, human parainfluenza virus type 2, and influenza A virus), and thus, reduce viral-induced upper respiratory infections.   As such, by utilizing HMOs, alone or in combination with other immune enhancing factors, in a nutritional product, such as an infant formula, it is now possible to provide infants with an alternative, or supplement, to breast milk that closely mimics the benefits thereof."  

Hm...should we ask Abbott Laboratories (manufacturer of Similac) how it is that Human Milk Oligosaccharides can be found in the milks of cows, chickens[correction sheep-ovine is sheep--sorry], pigs or monkeys?  Yes human milk oligosaccharides are found in human milk but how is human milk oligosaccharides produced by other mammals?  Genetic engineering?

This patent is almost as strange as the "Similac" Ad that some people are writing about and watching on you tube.  The ad is Abbott's promotion campaign called, "sisterhood of motherhood."  This is a you tube video to end the "Mommy Wars."  Ironic, if you believe as I do, that the Mommy Wars was a public relation campaign brought to you by Similac. 

As we watch the video, we find ourselves in the Hood, the realm of "mommies" and stay-at-home daddies.  The scene takes place at a playground.  We see mommies everywhere:  sitting on benches with their babies strapped to their bosoms, striding through the park pushing strollers like their are weapons of war, mothers bottlefeeding, mothers breastfeeding in their hooter hiders, lesbian mothers, working mothers, and stay-at-home fathers cooking hot dogs while taking care of their babies.  

We are in the Hood.  The music brings us back to the place we want to escape from--the Hood or is it MotherHood?  Like so many people stuck in the ghetto of lost desires, we subliminally accept this message.  We are at war with each other and ourselves.  Mothering has become a battleground in which we all struggle to escape. The battle fronts are clearly seen as mothers march through the park.  The first words spoken in this music video are from the formula feeding mothers, "Oh look the Breast Police have arrived."  We see the breastfeeding mothers pushing through the empty swings.  One breastfeeding mother angrily shakes her breast towards the formula feeding mothers.  One breastfeeding mom states that those who don't breastfeed are, "too lazy to breastfeed."  Who do we sympathize with in this video?  It appears to me that the breastfeeding moms are the bullies of this Hood.  Most women would hate to be perceived as bullies and most women are brought up to not be aggressive on our playground called life.  Will the audience sympathize with these breastfeeding moms?

The video ends with the name Similac against a black background and the slogan, "Sisterhood Unite."  Similac is a brand of formula, the company that manufactures this particular brand is Abbott Laboratories.  I have read comments by various moms who mix this up, believing that there is a Similac company who sells Similac formula.  After watching the video I understand why Abbott is doing this.  Using the brand name of the formula rather than the company name means that more product is sold.  The company name is not as important as the name of the product they are selling. Abbott Labs is a huge well-known pharmaceutical company with no need to keep their name in your brain. 

At the end of the video, the music becomes softer as everyone chases the baby in the runaway stroller.  They all save the baby, and they all start hugging each other.  What a creative and easy solution to the "supposed" mommy wars.  Life just isn't that simple.  Solutions to problems in real life take longer than a few minutes of running downhill.  The video ends with the mantra, "No matter what our beliefs, We are parents first."  What does this really mean?  I know a lot of religious parents who would say that their faith comes first, before their parenting.  Usually we start out with a set of beliefs about parenting prior to our first child and that is often refined and even changed once we actually parent.  The mantra Similac uses is really devoid of understanding of the complexity of human conflict.  Does parenting unite us?  Or, is it just as likely to divide us?

 I have begun to imagine a Father Similac, the parent figure to us all. He comes to our rescue, quoting scripture from the book of corporate values.  The price of going along with corporate values is to ignore some uncomfortable truths, to stay silent in order to keep the peace.  Peace at any price...where have I heard that before? 
Copyright 2015 Valerie W. McClain


  1. Thank you, Valerie.
    Personally, I've noticed that there is a lot of arguing being created by this ad. As a result of this ad there is less hood and more war.

  2. I appreciate your comment. Ultimately we have to ask ourselves what is the purpose of this ad? And we all know the answer to that question. It is simply to sell more infant formula.