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Our Bodies, Our Nature

Our Bodies, Our Nature

Breastfeeding, the Environment, and Feminism

(p.140) Chapter Five Our Bodies, Our Nature
Back To the Breast
Jessica L. Martucci
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the intersections between the breastfeeding movement, environmentalism, and second-wave feminism from the 1950s through the 1980s. Concern over environmental toxins was one of the first issues to draw breastfeeding supporters out of the domestic sphere and into the political realm as they advocated publicly and through their daily life-choices as consumers and household managers for a more “natural” life free from the destructive consequences of technological interventions upon the family. As this chapter also shows, however, the widening appeal of this natural ideology by the early 1970s not only helped expose more mothers to the breastfeeding movement, it also led to a polarization in the interests and political leanings of the community. As breastfeeding rates began to noticeably increase by the 1970s, the ideological connection between natural motherhood and breastfeeding became a point of contention as lower-income and working mothers increasingly sought the same kind of maternal experience as their wealthier, stay-at-home peers.

Keywords:   La Leche League, Boston Women's Health Book Collective, back-to-the-land movement, toxins, natural motherhood, working mothers, feminism

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