We all know that the working-class don’t breastfeed.
(To quote Katie Price, it’s a bit unnatural, innit.)
The big question is why.
And the answer is pretty simple: it’s because breastfeeding can give you orgasms.
There is nothing we working-class girls hate more than a female orgasm.
(It ain’t right, like.)
The fear is this: Once you start, you can’t stop. You’re breastfeeding everywhere, the bus stop, football matches, on the tube, in the car, milk flowing out of your breasts like cream. Soon, you’ll join La Leche League and start breastfeeding the dog. In the local swimming pool.
You’ll drown in your own breastmilk. Drown in the luxury of your own orgasm. It could get messy.
This is a true story.
Don’t ask me why, but we were living in a women’s refuge at the time, and there was a war going on between the Ostfrauen, the Poles against the Russians, and it was pretty ugly stuff: It all started coz one of the Polish women’s kids had been hitting one of the Russian women’s kids.
You could, theoretically, sit in the kitchen, and try to eat, if you wanted to, only it was kind of hard to swallow.
One day, I sit in the kitchen and the war has escalated. One of the Russian women has used one of the Polish women’s saucepans without asking permission, and now it is brown and she can’t get the stains out, even though she has been scrubbing really hard. With a metal sponge and everything.
“I know who it was,” she says, dark and bitter.
“I didn’t see a thing,” I say.
One of the Russian girls walks in.
“Did Isabella use my saucepan without asking?” She gets asked.
I have Pixie in his carrycot on the table and try to eat pasta with pesto. It is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. All around me skinny peroxided women with black lipstick on scream at each other and bang saucepans around.
My baby starts crying.
He won’t stop.
I put him in the high chair.
He still won’t stop.
Oh, damn it, I think, who needs to eat anyway? I throw my food away and start washing up.
“Your child’s hungry,” a German girl says to me. “He’s so thin, he’s too thin, you know. Did you see who used Isabella’s pan? Look, he’s really thin and hungry, you’d better give him some food.”
“Thanks,” I mumble, scoop him into my arms and rush upstairs.
It’s quiet in our shabby little room and the light is yellow. I put Pixie to the breast and feel calm swim all over me.
The thing is, I didn’t even realize I was having an orgasm at first:
It’s so quiet and still in our shabby, yellow room and I am totally calm, totally relaxed.
“I’m feeling very relaxed,” I tell myself, “because downstairs is so hectic and up here it’s so relaxing and – mellow.”
Then, like, suddenly, I notice I am feeling totally happy. Totally…happy.
(This one’s a bit harder to explain.)
“I’m feeling totally happy,” I tell myself, “because I’m pleased I applied for that apartment in the center of town today.”
Only, the thing is, I am totally, totally, TOTALLY happy.
And really, really, really, REALLY calm.
And kind of warm and soft and floppy
fuzzy and dizzy
and really happy and calm
What are you meant to do when orgasming with your nipple in your three months old son’s mouth?
I shut my eyes so I couldn’t see him, only then I felt like I was in a porno film, so I opened them and looked him straight in the face.
And started laughing. The only trouble was, Pixie started laughing, too. He’d have a little drink, and then a little break, and a little laugh, his little head banging back and forth. He laughed at me like we had some really funny private secret thing going on. I felt like we were having sex.
“I think you’ve had enough, Pixie,” I said, hastily, did up my bra, and carried him back downstairs, back into the kitchen, back into the firing line. We’d had enough fun for one day, as my mum used to say, if we wanted an ice-cream after swimming.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem