What breastfeeding and sex have in common

Breastfeeding and sex share something in common and it isn’t just breasts. It’s the apparently irresistible urge of some people to force their personal beliefs on other people.

The stated desire of lactivists, like those promoting the Latch On NYC breastfeeding program, to “protect” breastfeeding bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the stated desire of religious fundamentalists to “protect” virginity from the “dangers” of premarital sex, or to “protect” marriage from the unspecified “dangers” posed by gay people who deeply believe in the institution of marriage and wish to participate in it.

All three efforts share many things in common:

1. All three, breastfeeding, virginity or marriage, are in not in need of protecting by anyone.

2. All three are the business of the participants and no one else.

3. “Protecting” in this context is merely a cover for the real issue, which is forcing the personal beliefs of one group on another group who believes differently.

4. All three grossly overstate the purported benefits of protection or fabricate new “benefits” from whole cloth.

5. All three grossly overstate the purported risks of not “protecting” these practices or fabricate new “risks” from whole cloth.

6. All involve efforts to “educate” anyone who disagrees.

7. All involve shaming anyone who disagrees, often under the guise of “educating” them.

8. The people doing the “protecting” consider themselves morally superior to anyone who disagrees.

9. All three utterly ignore the opinion of those whom they are supposedly protecting. It is curious fact that efforts to “protect” breastfeeding ignore the views of those who bottle feed; efforts to “protect” virginity ignore the views of those who engage in premarital sex, and efforts to “protect” marriage ignore the views of gay people.

10. Those who wish to do the protecting face absolutely no danger from the very people from whom they are protecting themselves. Lactivists face no danger from mothers who bottlefeed; people who believe that sex should be reserved for marriage face no danger from those who engage in premarital sex; and religious fundamentalists face no threat from married gay people to their own ability to get married, stay married or enjoy marriage.

The bottom line is that all three efforts, to “protect” breastfeeding, to “protect” virginity and to “protect” marriage, aren’t really about protection at all. They are nothing more than the efforts of one group to force its views on those who disagree. Oh, and there’s one more thing they share in common:

All three should be resisted by anyone who values personal freedom and the right to decide for yourself how to live your own life.

Amy Tuteur is an obstetrician-gynecologist who blogs at The Skeptical OB.

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