Breastfeeding and work: babies need more than just (pumped) milk, they also need their mother’s bodies

Routledge Press

Routledge Press

One of the key issues concerning breastfeeding and work is women having the flexibility to feed while they are working. This calls for a radical transformation in the culture of work. While most women manage this combination through pumping, as maternal scholar Julie Stephens notes, this relationship superimposes neo-liberal work norms onto mothers, by separating maternal and infant (or toddler) bodies (2010). With pumping, it is the mother who adjusts to an individualist work culture rather than the other way around. Mothers remove their milk and remain separated at the bodily level from their babies – keeping up the “supply” of both milk and work – while maintaining a façade of the disembodied worker. This piece was written for the Routledge Press blog for World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, 2015.

Mothering and Psychoanalysis

 Nancy Chodorow and Petra Bueskens_Maynooth University_June2015

Dr Petra Bueskens, editor of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia and lecturer at the Australian College of Applied Psychology recently attended the Motherhood and Cultures conference at Maynooth University in Dublin, Ireland. The keynote speakers were Professor Nancy Chodorow and Professor Andrea O’Reilly – both leaders in the field of motherhood studies. Sessions focused on motherhood in contemporary art, literature, media and culture, including in psychology and psychotherapy research and practice. A short article in July 2015 PACFA eNews covered my recent attendance at this conference. You can read the piece on page 20 or read the excerpt here:

eNews-July-2015_excerpt

 

Book Review for Petra Bueskens (ed.) Mothering & Psychoanalysis. Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives

 

PACJA

PACJA

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia, vol. 3 was released in July this year and included an excellent nuanced review of my edited book Mothering and Psychoanalysis by Amanda de Clifford. You can read the review here.

 

Breastfeeding in Public: A Personal and Political Memoir

Mothers at the MarginsI have a chapter “Breastfeeding in Public: A Personal and Political Memoir” in Mothers at the Margins Stories of Challenge, Resistance and Love edited by Lisa Raith, Jenny Jones, Marie Porter and published with Cambridge Scholars Press. You can check out the book and order it here. I will have a copy of my chapter available on this site in the coming months.

‘Disempowered’ men still lead on economic power

White Ribbon pic

“Feminist” organisation White Ribbon came into disrepute last week after one of its ambassadors, psychiatrist and journalist Tanveer Ahmed, wrote an opinion piece in The Australian, suggesting men’s violence against women could be attributed to the historic decline of men’s power. This decline, felt acutely by working class and recently arrived immigrant men, has been exacerbated by the decline in secure unionised employment. Men have become “feminised” and are, as a consequence, “humiliated”. It is this, he argues, that is “increasingly the driver of family-based violence”. In this piece I tackle both the fallacies and truths in Ahmed’s piece, making the point that Ahmed both depends upon yet falsely dispenses with feminism. This article was published in The Conversation on February 13, 2015 and can be read here.

 

Latham got it wrong: feminists are critical of social structure not kids

Latham picIn November former Labour leader Mark Latham wrote an op-ed “Why left feminists don’t like kids” in which he took aim at journalist Lisa Pryor who had the previous week written an op-ed in which she answered the proverbial “How do you do it?” question levelled at women (though not men) who work or study with young children. Her candid answer was that she “did it” with a combination of caffeine and anti-depressants. Latham extrapolated from Pryor’s piece that “left wing feminists” have a problem with kids. I challenge this assertion by making two points: first that “left wing feminists” (and others too) are critical of social structure not kids and; second, that Latham joins a long line of disingenuous anti-feminist thinkers in pitting educated, professional women against other women and indeed society at large. You can read my piece here.

 

Studying Mothers In Mommy Wars. Where Do Maternal Studies Start?

infant pic on AllThingsMaternal blog

Blogs abound. This one by Helena Vissing addresses the complexities and nuances of the maternal subject with reference to psychoanalytic feminism, including my book.

“Bueskens (2014), in her introduction to Mothering and Psychoanalysis, argues that if we recognize the mother or “the maternal” as a valuable subject from which to generate knowledge, it may not only free women from the constraint of the institution of motherhood, but also shift our “epistemological, political, social and psychic horizons” (p. 4). How is that for a promising statement?” You can read the whole post, which is short but potent here.

Breastfeeding ‘in public': A personal and political memoir

Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

 

Karen Armstrong Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

Karen Armstrong
Feed in protest at the Hepburn Bathhouse, November 28, 2013.

 

In this article I offer a reflective autobiographical account of being asked not to breastfeed my then 13 month old at the Hepburn Bathhouse ostensibly for “hygiene” reasons and ultimately―for the organization changed their story―for “safety” reasons.  I explore the scholarly literature on breasts and breastfeeding especially as it relates to the public/private distinction on which the controversy implicitly rests making the case that it is our collective inability to symbolically place breasts―are they sexy or are they maternal? Are they natural or are they medicinal?―that renders “public” breastfeeding so challenging.  I make two further arguments: first, that breastfeeding controversies are increasingly defined by what the sociologists Michael Bittman and Judith Pixley call “pseudomutuality” (1997, p. 81), or, by a pretence of mutuality, such that discriminatory individuals and organisations routinely claim to be “pro-breastfeeding” and; second, claiming our right to feed in public is part of a broader maternal politics of embodied citizenship shifting extant norms premised on the ideal of the unencumbered, autonomous subject. Reconfiguring the image of the ideal-typical citizen as one who may also be pregnant with, birthing and/or nurturing another is part of this politics. In this view, breastfeeding “in public” is literally a transformative “coming out” redefining public space.

This chapter will be published in J. Jones, M. Porter and L. Raith. Mothers at the Margins. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015.  (Please note: This link is to the table of contents and introduction. I will upload a copy of this paper soon).

 

I will be presenting the chapter in modified form at two conferences:

1. MIRCI “Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood From Ancient Greece to Contemporary Times” Conference, May 23rd-24th, 2014, Hellenic Education and Research Center in Athens, Greece. http://www.motherhoodinitiative.org/GreeceCFP.pdf

2. Australian Breastfeeding Association Conference “Liquid Gold”, Melbourne, 1-3 August, 2014.

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/system/files/Call%20for%20Abstracts%20Liquid%20Gold.pdf

 

Breastfeeding in public – panel discussion

WIW poster D1_CP1

I am hosting a panel discussion on breastfeeding in public at the Words in Winter Festival in Daylesford on Sunday August 3rd, 1pm at The Rex. Joining the panel will be noted academic and writer Dr Fiona Giles author of Freshmilk: The Secret Life of Breasts, Anna Kaplan documentary film maker and producer of The Booby Trap, Susan Reddrop and myself.  You can see the program here. Hope to see you there!

Demeter Press author interview

Demeter Press interviewed me in relation to the publication of Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives. They asked what the topic brings to the literature, about “therapy as a form of paid mothering” and what my favourite feminist book on motherhood is.  This interview can also be accessed here.

Demeter press interview with Petra Bueskens

Demeter press interview with Petra Bueskens

 

Petra Bueskens | Mother, scholar, psychotherapist | Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Melbourne Daylesford