Fantasy Sexism, Never Wrong, But Pointless

In the wake of the baby formula shortage, former founding editor of Gawker, Elizabeth Spiers, after arguing against her feelings and needs being secondary to her baby’s, indulges in fantasy.

This is misogyny, no matter where it comes from. No one demands that fathers damage their bodies to demonstrate decent parenting.

If we could imagine a world where men had to breastfeed their babies — learning how to do it, enduring the frustration of the baby not latching on and the pain of chapped and inflamed breasts and figuring out how to continue to do it despite long hours at work, little support, nowhere to pump and not enough sleep — the formula shortage there would not be so dire. In that alternative reality, it’s hard to imagine that the industry in the United States would be dominated by just a few companies. Instead, I expect that we’d see a multitude of formula start-ups blossoming in Silicon Valley. Formula would not be stigmatized because it’s a choice men would want to have available to them.

Her initial angst was caused by calls to breastfeed if formula was unavailable, a remarkably unhelpful and ignorant answer for myriad reasons. But Spiers wasn’t satisfied with going after Bette Midler or the editor of a Catholic magazine. What about men?

This is a perpetual indulgence in argumentation, the comparison of things that can never be disproven with difficult realities. If women ruled everything, there would be no war, no  crime, no poverty, no hunger and we would all love each other. If men could get pregnant, abortions would be readily available, free and safe. If men gave birth, they would get paid parental leave for a year. Variations on this theme are “what would Jesus do”” or “what would Martin Luther King do.?”

But, of course, men cannot breastfeed because biology, for better or worse, has dictated otherwise. Maybe she’s right. Maybe not. But it will never be known because it’s impossible, and therefore can never be proven wrong. Nonetheless, that she’s a woman and rightfully disputes the argument renders it “misogyny, no matter where it comes from,” the latter qualification added because it often comes from other women. Apparently, women who disagree with Spiers are self-loathing misogynists, and Spiers sees nothing narcissistic about it.

Of course, “fathers,” by which she means men who don’t have to endure the vicissitudes of biology, have occasionally had their bodies damaged in war over the course of history. There is a fairly strong probability that this, too, was a product of biology, even if it didn’t inure to men’s advantage.

Despite Spier’s many rationalizations, one immutable fact remains, that females are capable of breastfeeding and men are not. The relative merits of breastfeeding are a fair subject of debate, about which there are reasonable arguments for and against. One argument against is that it impairs a woman’s ability to find fulfillment by enjoying her full role in social and economic life. If that’s her choice, so be it.

But choosing career over motherhood means something has to give. I don’t envy women their options, and I don’t judge their choice in this regard. It’s entirely reasonable to choose career over motherhood, even if it’s not the choice you would make and might conflict with our biological imperative to procreate to perpetuate the species.

And yet, this isn’t men’s fault, and it doesn’t become men’s fault because some women can’t get what they want at any given moment in time. Where were the calls for reduced regulation and tariffs on imports of baby formula before the shortage? If there were more manufacturers, how would they stay in business producing excess formula that wouldn’t be purchased because it was unnecessary?

It’s not until there’s a shortage that a problem exists, after which someone like Spiers indulges in her fantasy argument about how everything would be different if men had to suffer. It’s bad enough that someone of putative intelligence and credibility proffers such an insipid argument. It’s bad enough that a newspaper of some note publishes it. But it’s too much when the mere fact that women are affected because of biology, not any malevolent act of man, gives rise to the constant delusion of misogyny.

As a man, I’m sorry that I can’t breastfeed. I fed both my children with expressed milk and loved doing so. But biology is real, and it serves no one’s interest in denying that this is the way breasts work. Resorting to sexism by fantasy comparisons is a nonsensical argument. No, it can never be proven wrong. No, it fixes nothing.

21 thoughts on “Fantasy Sexism, Never Wrong, But Pointless

  1. Paleo

    Nature (or God, your choice) is misogynistic it seems. Spiers just needs to accept it and move on.

    Credibility? She made her name at Gawker. The fact that the Times has now published multiple pieces from a founder of the toilet that was Gawker is example 104,236 of how pathetic our MSM has become. I guess she ran out of gay men to out?

  2. Dan

    It’s simply another application of the cancer of Critical Theory we’ve seen raising its ugly head over the last couple of years. CRT teaches that literally everything is racist, and the question is how it is racist. Critical Gender Theory similarly teaches that everything is sexist, and the only question is the precise way in which it is sexist. And if men can’t get pregnant or breastfeed (though I’d wager that, in a different context, she’d say otherwise), the answer is pretty obvious.

    1. Paleo

      The “if men could get pregnant abortion would be treated differently” argument is a total canard. The overwhelming majority of people opposed to abortion do so because they see it as killing human beings. Agree or disagree, but that is their belief. If babies were carried by men instead of women, that belief would not change any at all. They wouldn’t be ok with men killing their babies either.

      The formula shortage was caused by a screw up at Abbott exacerbated a lot by ridiculous FDA policies. Apparently someone put up a recipe for homemade formula that a lot of people used in the 60s as a way to alleviate the shortage a little, but Facebook took it down as part of their ongoing effort to suppress speech.

      Serious journalists would be focusing on the actual problems and solutions. The NYT and Spiers prefer to distract everyone with this crap.

  3. Quinn Martindale

    Her argument is easily disproven by the similar concentration in the production of medications, which are also subject to strict regulations and market dynamics. We don’t have a huge number of formula startups for the same reason we don’t have a huge number of insulin startups – it costs too much to start up production with the required amount of safety/regulatory compliance.

      1. cthulhu

        We’re not worthy!

        (yeah, “no tummy rubs”, but sometimes one must applaud a master stroke)

  4. Guitardave

    When it comes to usefulness, her opinion and my tits rate about the same.
    But of course, I’m a man, and I’m old…and…

    1. B. McLeod

      For this one, somebody needs to record a song (probably Hip Hop or C&W genre) titled “Tough Titties”.

      If it hasn’t already been done.

        1. Guitardave

          If?… HA!
          You do know what happens when a mediocre (4th place at Pa State track and field, Jr year) high school weightlifter/shot putter stops lifting?….for 40yrs?…and likes to chill out with a doob now and then?…need I say more, bro?

          Here ya go B.

  5. phv3773

    I found the evaporated milk + water + Kayro syrup (or sugar but not honey) recipe with an easy search. The sterilization requirements are strict, and the baby should get a vitamin supplement.

    This may seem off topic, but it’s evidence that Spiers is whining about the temporary loss of a modern convenience. Motherhood was always hard, and remains hard. Is that misogyny?

  6. JMK

    I realize this is against the rules as I don’t have a Youtube dispensation and this is not music, but it seems entirely apropos to the post.

    [Ed. Note: Special dispensation granted.]

  7. Paleo

    Just noticed another totally moronic assertion she made. “No one demands that fathers damage their bodies to demonstrate food parenting”.

    Society expects and pressures fathers to work to support their children. And the majority of fathers don’t sit at desks making spreadsheets or writing progressive screeds, nor do they entertain people on YouTube. They do manual labor. Physically demanding sometimes backbreaking manual labor. Makes them physically old beyond their actual years.

    She’s so completely full of crap that I can’t believe this was published.

      1. cthulhu

        Ok, now it’s my turn to seek special dispensation…

        [Ed.Note: This is what I get for being such a swell fella?]

  8. DaveL

    It’s not as if men are exempt, for instance, from eating, and yet history gives us no shortage of famines engineered through the incompetence (or even malice) of governments. The fact men suffered for it along with women and children didn’t stop men from screwing up in the first place. Nor was the knowledge of past famines particularly effective at dissuading them from doing the same thing again.

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