…I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about how we’ve come to hear this term so much. The term I’m speaking about is “nazi”, specifically directed at breastfeeding women. It’s at various times Breastfeeding Nazi, Teat Nazi, Nipple Nazi. It’s been in the press, it’s been on the blogs, and most recently a mother- writer called herself “probably” one. I did a post about it here: Seriously Ms. Sanders, A Challenge
Now, in the many comments on my blog I said that it was time for us to stop using the term, period. And I still think, yes, stop using the term. But, and please bear with me, I must use the term while I finish some thoughts. I promise no name-calling. And oh, I have about 3, okay maybe 10 comics coming called The Rise of the Nipple Nazi. So please forgive me, it’s a mission I’m on to explain the term and try and get people to stop using it. The mission just requires I use it a few more times. Then I’ll stop, promise.
Here’s why Nipple Nazi has risen in popular, contemporary culture. As I see it.
Firstly there was the “Soup Nazi”, and some other various characters who got the ‘nazi’ tag thrown at them. Mostly for career choices. I believe it wasn’t until the term started being used toward breastfeeding women that it was used for an entire group of people, based on something that they ‘are’, instead of something that they ‘do’. (If anyone knows of another group of people who are currently being called ‘nazis’ because of something that is inherent or essential to their lives-meaning something that they can’t change, breastfeeding mothers are feeding their children, it is essential work – Please tell me about it in the comments below…)
These three groups are responsible for the Rise of the Nipple Nazi term:
The Community at Large The term was embraced, adapted, and disseminated by a culture that reveres detachment parenting and the people who profit by the furthering of formula feeding. The press, loving a provocative term, said A-OK! The trouble is, the women that the term ‘nazi’ describes is non-existent. No one can really name a breastfeeding mother who acts like a nazi, or even acts like the fabled ‘Soup Nazi’. The Nipple Nazi is a phantom, a woman who corners people and shoves breastfeeding pamphlets into their face while screaming at them. Someone who forces women to breastfeed through coercion and brutality. But, the label is the perfect scapegoat, just as breastfeeding rates begin to climb, the evil Nipple Nazi rears her made-up head and everyone can go back to business as usual.
Formula Feeding Mothers The term became perfect cover for the mother who attempted to breastfeed and it didn’t work, or chose to formula feed right from the start. The nipple nazi, this non-existent, but brutally insistent breastfeeding bully, became the perfect reason why anyone would not want to breastfeed. Many times it was the Nipple Nazi’s desire to convince the new mother that she can breastfeed that became the very reason why the woman could not breastfeed, as in: “Breastfeeding just wasn’t working right and “insert name here’ just kept telling me to try this or that. I was right, breastfeeding didn’t work. Man, she was a nipple nazi.” The term became wildly popular, and became synonymous with breastfeeders of all types.
Breastfeeding Supporters Once the term became part of the culture, even breastfeeding supporters started using it as a way to separate themselves from the non-existent ‘brutally bullying breastfeeders’. It made the perfect straw-man argument, but was and is a total cop-out. Instead of standing up and saying, “whoa, no one here is a nazi, never has been and never was.” They instead said, “Okay, maybe some of us are nazis, like that one woman I know, but not all of us.” And started trying to define what makes a lactivist a nazi or not. Forgetting that no one really wants a list of things that make someone nazi, or not, they just need a scapegoat. So the culture just smiled and said, “Thank you for confirming their existence, you Nipple Nazi.” Then it was just a race to the bottom, any breastfeeder is now, of course, a nazi.
So, hey, that’s everyone.
And unless we do something quick, this term is going to be here to stay.
Without saying clearly and loudly, NO MORE, this is going to continue to be a word that is used to define us.
We can start by pointing out that the person it’s describing doesn’t exist.
We can finish by refusing to use it to define ourselves and each other.