Tag Archives: shame

Nestlé’s War on Breastfeeding Mothers Takes Shameful New Turn

Infant formula is a medical necessity for those who are unable to breastfeed their infants. There are a host of medically sound reasons why a mother, in conjunction with her physician would choose to utilize infant formula in lieu of breast milk. The regulated manufacturing of infant feeding products has come a long way in recent years, and has saved many lives. When viewed in this capacity, formula is a wonderful thing.

What is not so wonderful is the societal pressure on women to choose bottle feeding as an option of convenience. For years, women in industrialized nations were told that it was a more high tech, simpler solution than breastfeeding their infants. Bombarded with images of bottle feeding from childhood, our society has come to view it as the norm. Over the course of the last few decades,the “breast is best” mantra has been prevalently bestowed on new mothers, and fewer women are choosing elective formula feeding. Formula has been largely demonized by healthcare providers and better educated mothers, and is often viewed upon as downmarket.

The environmental toll of formula manufacturing is heavy: dairy production destroys land and pollutes air and water. The waste created by packaging, bottles and nipples is staggering. Artificial feeding means the use of more diapers, sanitary napkins and tampons. In developing nations, it increases the odds of an infant contracting food-bourne illness, and increases infant mortality rates. The multimillion dollar television ads that formula companies place during your prime-time viewing are always images of a cherubic caucasian baby, and a smiling mother – not of dying infants and destroyed agricultural property.

Shameful.

The increasing trend to return to breast feeding is not in the best interests of the large corporations who command vast profits from the production and sale of infant formula. Flagging sales and decreasing market segments require innovation and rebranding magic.

How do you create appeal for a product that is more and more becoming a virtual societal pariah?

You respin what has previously been spun successfully.

Meet Nestlé’s latest weapon in their war against breastfeeding:

 

That, dear friend, is NOT a Nespresso maker or Keurig.

Those are not pods of designer coffee.

It is a very costly formula making machine: BabyNes

Not only is it designed to appeal to the crowd who would already be buying similar products for themselves, but it bills itself as a revolutionary “comprehensive nutrition system.”

Comprehensive Nutrition System? Who are they trying to fool?

Apparently the wealthy and those caught up in gadgetry.

One of these units, which debuted  for the first time in Switzerland today, will run you approximately $287 USD. Single serving pods of formula will roughly double existing formula costs, as they will come in at $56 – $64 for a pack of 26.

Can you picture the inevitable launch in North America, complete with contests in parenting magazines and on the internet, give aways by  American OBGYNS and peds who finance their golf club memberships via the push of formula on otherwise healthy nursing pairs? Television commercials that appeal to mothers who cannot afford these things, but will spend their money on them anyway, because of the media’s emphasis on convenience, safety and hygiene?

Shame on you Nestlé. The real comprehensive nutrition system? A pair of lactating breasts.

 

 

Re: “Shame!”

I have an old stand-by joke for partisan political events that I happen upon or at which I end up.  How can you tell an NDP event?

The cries of “Shame! Shame!”

There are a few tropes we can pile together about political rallies.  Conservative ones seem to have hired goons at the door and only admitted the evangelical supporters, forceably ejecting (sometimes by means of the RCMP) anyone who doesn’t agree.  Liberal ones have people in suits, well-dressed, career type people, out for a day of cheering for whoever will get them a job in the Natural Governing Party.  And yet the NDP is the one that sometimes feels like a ‘born-again’ church ceremony, with the mutually expected choruses of “Shame!”

(I went to the NDP’s platform launch in Toronto: Jack Layton, energetic and Lenin-Lookalike as always, even taught us to yell it en Français: “Honteuse!” Also, I suppose: “Honteux!”)

Alex has recently written about the superhero narrative in popular fiction.  In her piece, she talks about the feelings of worthlessness that this narrative can instil, at how disempowering that it can be — unless you happen to be the superhero.  She instead suggests we need a different narrative, one of collective hope, collective action… perhaps a more democratic narrative.

So why is it that the NDP sticks to this “Shame!” trope?

There’s a specific narrative at use.  The other guys did something SHAMEFUL. (“Shame! Shame! Honteux!“) And the NDP won’t be as SHAMEFUL. (“Yay!”)

It’s an oddly patriarchal narrative, and the discourse dynamics of what does on is, in my mind, nerve-grinding.  The party sets up the scenario.  The party identifies the shameful situation. The party expects the faithful to yell “Shame! Shame!” and maybe “Honteux!

It’s basically a 3 step process: 1. Shameful situation is exposed. 2. “Shame! Honteux!” 3. The NDP will do the opposite.

One, the use of the word “shame!” really strikes me as outdated. It’s not what we’d say today.  Admittedly, they can’t yell out what I’d be thinking (“That’s fucked!” maybe “C’est fucké!“), but “shame!” strikes me as what my lovely grandmother would yell at the TV.  Actually, no, she’d be slightly more forceful.  The groupthink feeling is slightly creepy – when you’re at the event, you’re expected to cheer along.

And the discourse is disempowering.  The role of the public is to chant “shame!” when the politicians present the proper incentive.  Not much else.  Actually, I think it’s similar to Alex’s superhero narrative – here, the NDP is the superhero, the evil-doing has been presented, and the NDP will be off to fix the problem!

Other rallies – by all parties – have the same problem.  A political issue is presented that must be changed.  Who’s going to change it? The party and the politicians!  I was at an NDP rally about the HST in Vancouver, and the speakers said something along the lines of “You tell us what you think needs to be done, and we’re gonna do it for you!” Of course, there was ample amounts of “Shame!” built in.  The same thing just happened at the BC NDP convention when Adrian Dix won the leadership of the BC NDP – the BC Liberals are full of “Shame!” and the NDP are not.

There isn’t much discussion of why the NDP aren’t as shameful – just that the BC Liberals/Conservatives/Evil Reptilian Kitten Eaters from Another Planet are full of shame!

But what can be done?

We need to think of a different way of organizing ourselves politically.  Parties  – and the stupid political system (FPTP) that we’re currently stuck with, because of parties – are constructs that are designed to win mass and vague support from large amounts of people.  They’re supposed to channel political action through the parties, limiting the role of people – like you and me – to simply assigning our support to the party that is the least offensive, in the hopes of avoiding the most offensive from taking total control.

We need to work on this. A better world is needed. And I don’t think simply yelling “Shame! Honteux!” at the people whom we hope won’t be as bad is the best way we can do it.  We need a more democratic narrative, where we’re not reduced to yelling “shame!” at things we don’t like but actively working towards the things that we do like.  Like Alex says, we need a political reality and discourse where “[w]e can define our own lives and tell our own stories, because we don’t need no superheros.”

Or to simply shout “Shame!”

That we must, for now, is…

…a shame.

Worker Bashing 101

For those people on your Christmas list who think you’re full of hot air when you complain that there has been a concerted attack on workers in the last few decades, here are a few examples of demonizing rhetoric to introduce them to, courtesy of Adrian MacNair: We don’t need no stinkin’ unions | National Post

Dalton McGuinty’s current plan to freeze public sector wages has delivered to him the same experience of previous governments that tried to cut their deficits by freezing pay. The game is playing out in much the same way, too, with the unions threatening to use extortion in order to get their raises.

Notice how 1.5 centuries of worker-fought rights to collective bargaining, the right to withhold labour in the form of a strike, is now considered to be extortion, a criminal activity.

The simple fact of the matter is that public sector union workers in Ontario are grossly overpaid as it is. It isn’t as if the government is asking to lay people off, cut salaries, or axe positions permanently. No, they’re doing none of the things that private sector workers have suffered through during the recession. All they’re asking the union to do is to hold the line on salaries for two years.

Many public sector workers are paid what is considered to be a living wage, which is higher than the serf class abundant in service sectors. They aren’t overpaid, the serfs are miserably exploited.

The solution for the abuse of private sector workers is not to make public sector unionized workers suffer, but to improve the working lives of those under the thumb of oppressive employers.

Holding the line on salaries is a pay cut if there is inflation. So when MacNair claims the government isn’t cutting salaries, they actually are with a zero raise, unless of course inflation disappears: not likely.

How about we cut 2% of the public sector every single year? And we keep cutting it until we have a $19.3 billion surplus? I think that would send the right message to the unions. Public sector salaries eat up 55% of the province’s program spending. Which means that less than half of what you spend on services are actually services.

What a clever solution: eternal pay cuts! What message would that send to union members? That they are worth less than what they are paid now. Are they really?

The salaries of a highly trained lab technician, long-term care facility practical nurse, kindergarten teacher, teen crisis counsellor, water treatment centre technician, or cardiac stent purchaser may consume 55% of program spending, but if we fire them all, the service provided is not left for us on their workstation consuming the other 45% of service costs. It is foolish to imagine that what a person brings to a service is not actually part of the service.

I find it incomprehensible that the Ontario government, with the ability to draw upon an international labour pool, the high number of unemployed, and the clear deflation in private sector salaries, would even bother trying to please the unions. If they don’t like it, fire them all. If that’s against the law, change the laws in the legislature. If that’s politically impossible, run an election on the issue. There have to be enough people who are sick and tired of the whining and complaining of the gilded class.

Fire them all? When Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, he at least had trained military personnel to stick in place.

Honestly, I do not want to know who will replace all the fired Children’s Hospital oncologists. That is simply an absurd suggestion.

And if earning a living wage is considered to be membership in the gilded class, then the consequence of this view is that workers don’t really deserve a living wage.

Further, the message here is that those who think they ought to earn a living wage are whining.

So the next time you feel paranoid, or imposing or otherwise unjustified in expressing concern for people’s working lives, remember, you aren’t to blame.

Follow the money. The rich who are getting richer are trying to shame you out of a reasonable expectation for a decent work life and living wages.

That is sick and wrong and we must make it stop.