"You are so stupid that I almost feel bad being so harsh on you."
"Get your head out of your ass and have a little sensitivity to those of us who are doing what is best for our kids. BREAST IS BEST."
In my last column, I argued that the passion and preoccupation in Western society with breast-feeding and the stigmatizing of bottle-feeding needed to be explained. The benefits, I believe, do not justify the passion.
I expected angry mail, and I received it. Within three days of the column's publication, I received over 300 e-mails, most from women, and most angry.
That did not surprise me. What was surprising was the content of some of the recurring arguments and the many women who thanked me for saying what almost no one says in public.
First, two recurring arguments. One was that the primary, even sole, purpose of the female breast is to provide milk to a baby. The number of women who cited this argument suggests that an additional reason for the breast-feeding passion is a desire to desexualize the female breast. The motivation may be understandable, but the argument is not sustainable. If the sole purpose of the breast was to feed infants, women, like all mammals, would only have breasts when nursing their young. But the female human always has breasts.
Many women also wrote that Jesus was breast-fed, and if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for their children. The desire to emulate Jesus morally is a noble one, but when carried beyond morality, it is foolish. Jesus was circumcised. He never married. He had no children. He wasn't vaccinated. Should Christians therefore have their children circumcised, never marry, not have children and refuse to vaccinate their children?
As for the many women who wrote to thank me, I wish a column were long enough to print all of these letters. Here are excerpts from a small fraction of them:
"I have breast-fed five kids. My oldest is now 17 and my youngest, 10. Of the five, two have food and outdoor allergies, one has asthma, two had chronic ear infections (no day care -- I am a stay-at-home mom), and two were extremely colicky. Both my husband and I are allergy-free (both were bottle-fed), neither of us had colic, and neither of us have any kind of health problem." -- Lori D., Minnesota