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Always Swimming Against the Tide

January 8, 2009

Since Friday night, I feel like I’ve been having to gripe, complain, ponder, vote and feel frustration over many issues that are important to me and that are being attacked. Some of them are ongoing but some are newly arisen.

It started out with a segment on 20/20 called Extreme Parenting. There were four segments on the show, the first was about orgasmic birth, the second was about Reborns (very expensive and lifelike dolls, which some women collect and treat like real babies), the third was about extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning, and the final was home births. This show was upsetting in many ways.

The first segment wasn’t too bad. A little uncomfortable to watch, but it was refreshing to see labor and childbirth presented in the media as something other than one long scream fest.

The second was strange and rather insulting, because I don’t consider women who carry around like-like dolls and treat them as they would real children mothers. Why was this in a program purporting to be about parenting? How can one parent a doll?

The third segment made me angry. They portrayed women who nursed their children longer than a year or so as freaks, basically. Some of the women featured were nursing six and eight years olds, which is some what uncomfortable to watch and fathom, but the truth is that it isn’t unnatural or abnormal physiologically; it’s just uncommon here in the US, so it’s suspect to most people. They featured a woman who was tandem nursing 2 1/2 year old twins. Is it really that strange to be nursing a 2 1/2 year old? The interviewer asked demeaning questions about extended nursing being selfish on the part of the mother and perhaps damaging to a child. A psychologist worried that this wasn’t allowing a child to learn to self-soothe, which made me wonder how many parents allow their child to self-soothe anyway? Is using a pacifier self-soothing? How many parents placate their child with a bottle, cup of juice, candy, video game, TV show or even a hug? Those certainly aren’t self-soothing techniques. How many adults self-soothe? A child should turn to a parent for comfort and reassurance! I imagine that most mothers would be uncomfortable and tired of nursing a child past two or three and certainly at six or eight, but just because one is personally uncomfortable with it or wouldn’t do it, doesn’t make it wrong or damaging. On 20/20 message boards people were accusing mothers of nursing older children of child pornography and some mothers have been investigated by CPS. I find those accusations disgusting.

The final segment was also anger-inciting. 20/20 kept showing different home birth scenarios without clarifying that some were unassisted home births and some were midwife attended births. They compared it to birthing on the frontier. They accused mothers who chose to home birth as selfish. Yet, they didn’t present any actual facts. No figures on mother or infant mortality rates in our country (very high infant mortality rates) versus industrialized countries where home births are more common (much lower infant mortality rates) were included in this “report”. It was sensationalized editorial, not journalistic reporting.

I generally like John Stossel’s view because he is quite libertarian, but I was disappointed with this. I can’t think of him the same way again.

A few other issues I needed to address were through I voted in favor of these topics: legalize raw milk, stop the NAIS (National Animal Identification System), and save handmade toys from the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). Voting on these topics before January 15 will give them more votes and move them higher in rank. The top 10 topics will be presented to President-Elect Barak Obama at a National Press club event on January 16.

These issues are important to me because our family drinks raw milk. We believe that clean raw milk from pastured cows and goats is the best and healthiest milk that we can consume. Here in Oregon we can legally buy raw milk, but it has severe limitations. In other states it isn’t‘ so. Farmers can be prosecuted for selling this whole food! Consumers should be able to choose what foods they will and won’t buy. Whole food products shouldn’t be illegal to sell or purchase.

The NAIS is an identification system that will eventually require all animals in the US to be tagged and tracked, at a cost, of course. Besides being intrusive, this will be burdensome both in time and money for small farms and backyard farmers. Would many people still keep a small flock of chickens for their personal use if they had to register them and pay a yearly fee? These laws all seem to work in favor of large agribusiness.

The last topic I voted on is not only for handmade toys. It is really an issue that will affect all items sold for children. This includes books, toys and clothing. The issue is basically this: lots of big corporations have outsourced their manufacturing to plants overseas and many items are produced cheaply and now have safety issues. In response, Congress passed the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) in August. The problem with this act is that it is very broad and was passed quickly without much thought being given to the ramifications. It includes products that are being resold, so consignment and thrift stores that are reselling children’s clothing won’t be able to do that any longer. (We buy lots of our kids’ clothing second hand!) Moms and dads and small business that make handmade toys, diapers and children’s clothing and can’t afford to have all their products tested will be forced to sell illegally or shut down their business. Parent won’t be able to sell their children’s used clothing on Ebay or to consignments stores. It’s a nightmare. Large companies violated our trust and now everyone has to pay the price of testing or close up shop. It’s an unimaginable nightmare for stay-at-home moms who help make ends meet by sewing diapers or small toys and small businesses who do a lot their business in children’s resale. The Handmade Toy Alliance has a good website on the law, it’s details and how you can help fight it.

And the final issue that requires my attention is our city’s beekeeping and small animal keeping ordinance, which is being reviewed and likely revised. Receiving a letter in the mail today from rabid beekeeping opponents advising me that there was a very vocal and passionate contingent of people who think there’s nothing wrong with beekeeping in the city has reminded me of my obligation to write an letter to be entered as public testimony during a public hearing next week. Beekeeping should be allowed in the city, bees are vital to our food supply. I also need to gripe about the proposal to change the allowable number of chickens, rabbits, ducks and/or geese from 12 to 2. What can a flock of two of anything provide (besides companionship)? Two chickens can’t provide eggs for a family, two rabbits can’t provide meat for a family. In this faltering economy, I believe our vegetable gardens and and small animals are going to become more important for providing sustenance to our families.

I don’t know how many of you have made it this far in the rant. I am angry and tired because I keep having to raise my voice to be heard to defend basic things like access to healthy food and the ability to purchase second hand clothing for my children. I just needed to let some of it out and champion a few important issues. Not that these are the only important issues, there are still very big ones like getting our troops out of Iraq now, repealing the Patriot Act and restoring our civil liberties and alternative energy and reducing our environmental impact.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. april. permalink
    January 8, 2009 5:42 am

    thanks for this post, Lisa. I am equally angry. I aim to write letters to pertinent congressmen tomorrow.

  2. Teri permalink
    January 8, 2009 7:10 am

    Thanks for the reminder on these issues, Lisa! However, the 20/20 issue was a new one to me as I didn’t see the show. I pretty much stopped watching John Stassel when he did a segment on homeopathics, years ago, and acted like they were something that a witch doctor would use!! UGH!! I would’ve been fuming had I seen that show! Are you going to write a letter to them, too?? You should! What idiots.

    Thanks for sharing…. I hope you’re feeling better now. 🙂


  3. Evelyn permalink
    January 8, 2009 2:56 pm

    It may get tiring swimming against the tide, but it’s people who are willing to that gets things changed. Once again I applaud you. You have good reason to rant and rave about these issues.
    I get really tired of people thinking something is wrong to do just because they don’t agree with it. Don’t you think it is strange that alot of people are uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, but they will go to a movie theatre and watch R rated or X rated movies with a crowd?

    I could go on and on, but I think you have done well on your post so I won’t.

    Keep swimming against the tide and voicing it, I think it helps strengthen the rest of us to do the same.

  4. Tonia permalink
    January 8, 2009 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the kick in the pants about these issues. I don’t watch 20/20 but know women who have breast fed their kids for a year or more passed the “societally accepted” limit. I know they have suffered a lot of criticism and worse. I need to write some more letters it seems.
    Thanks! tonia

  5. Teri permalink
    January 8, 2009 4:36 pm

    I forgot to mention this last night, but the World Health Organization used to say that any weaning under a year was *pre-mature* weaning!! Why don’t they do more to educate the public???
    — sigh —


  6. adriana permalink
    January 8, 2009 5:32 pm

    20/20 is a schlockfest and should be ignored at all costs. Unfortunately, middle America watches it and then gets all kind of “burn the witch” ideas in their heads. Gah.

  7. Steve and Paula permalink
    January 8, 2009 8:32 pm

    Lisa, I think we are two peas in a pod!
    I am doing my best to fight for all the same things.

    I hope we do not have to fight for gun ownership in the near future.
    Thank goodness we both own compound bows, but if our government tries to take away my right to hunt for food, I will pitch a fit, right along with my hubby.

  8. Prairie Momma permalink
    January 8, 2009 11:37 pm

    That show was totally disgusting. Having nursed two of my babies past 18 months, I know exactly how society thinks about you – like you’re a leper (not everyone mind you, just the 20/20 producers). There are so many issues out there that are frustrating me besides the ones you mentioned (and Paula, buy the ammo when you buy the guns because our 2nd Ammendment isn’t safe yet). We have enjoyed our freedoms for too long without remaining vigilant, and we are now paying the consequences. We must remain firm in our beliefs and be willing to fight for them – no matter what the cost. Lisa, have you seen a follow up story on the folks at Manna Storehouse?? They are fighting back and plan on taking the government to court for their illegal assault on the family and their private property. We need to keep them in our prayers as their battle will be ours as well. Thank you for fighting for what you believe in. “Don’t give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.” Ludwig von Mises

  9. Lisa permalink
    January 9, 2009 12:16 am

    April-Shoot! I forgot to write those letters. Better add them to my to-do list so I don’t forget for good.

    Teri-I never saw that homeopathics episode. I was thinking about writing a letter, but when I went on the site, they make it very difficult to find information like that. It seems they would rather have electronic, public feedback, which requires registration and such.

    Thanks, Mom!

    Tonia-I’ve nursed my last two well past the societally accepted age and I have a great group of people that I surround myself with so I don’t get a lot of flack from them, but I don’t really nurse toddlers in public because of fear of backlash or rude comments. Sad, huh?

    Adriana-I do like some of Stossel’s opinions particularly regarding politics and economy (on this I know we disagree), which is why I watch 20/20, but some of it obviously is crazy inciting. Like this episode.

    Paula-I think you and I do have much in common. I don’t get to hunt for bear, though!

    Cathy-I did see that follow-up and I have great respect for the Manna Storehouse people. I pray they are successful and it sends a strong message that people like us aren’t going to let the government come in, guns blazing and confiscate our stuff because we think we have the right to eat real food!

  10. Steve and Paula permalink
    January 9, 2009 6:38 am

    Prairie Momma,
    I like to joke that we have a gun for every day of the week!
    We do need to stock up on ammo though.
    Problem is, the guns are registered, which means we cannot hide them if Nanny decides to take them away.
    I imagine some people might utilize them if they do outlaw them, if you know what I mean.

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