Disclaimer: I totally respect women’s abilities to make their own decisions about their bodies, and I’m not trying to argue that men taking an interest in these issues means that any man should have the final say on any woman’s decision.
With the very real chance of widespread power outages due to Hurricane Irene, a note on Facebook explaining the safety of refreezing breast milk was passed around. I posted it and within a few minutes, a woman asked why I as a man should be so concerned with breast milk.
Multiple reasons with the simplest first.
1. I’m a human being, and I like learning about everything… so that I can be a resource for people who don’t know.
2. Most of my friends are female. And I care about half of the human population.
3. I have a wife who travels a lot. So frozen breastmilk or breast milk sharing (yes, I am familiar, and a proponent) will eventually be a reality for me.
4. Most importantly, I believe every man should know about women’s bodies — form and function. It makes men better fathers, partners, lovers, and friends.
5. I believe that is God’s command, to be the best person you can be.
To get back to the question itself, “Why are you so concerned about breast milk?” I wasn’t surprised by the question. In some circles (Muslim ones included) there tends to be an emphasis on the separation between the sexes– not just space wise, but also ‘information’ wise. There are men’s spheres and women’s spheres. Men stay out of women’s business. Women stay out of the men’s business.
I was faced with this mentality head-on when getting to know an ex-fiance of mine. For example, when discussing our future wedding, she expressed disbelief and confusion that I had an opinion on what I wanted to wear and how I’d like the ceremony to be performed. Weddings were woman-stuff. Men just had to look half-way decent. While superficial, this was just the beginning of several discussions that hit this male-female barrier.
On another day the topic of childbirth came up when we were with a friend of hers who happened to be a physician’s assistant. I happened to express a critique of modern day obstetrics and specifically mentioned the controversy surrounding episiotimies after her friend claimed that ‘they do them all the time.’ I said that I would want my wife to consider a mid-wife. Needless to say, they stood aghast at the words coming out of my mouth. I learned very quickly that I was expected to stay out of every conversation that they classified as ‘the woman’s domain.’ It’s just one of the reasons that relationship ended. And one of the reasons I’m married to MrsHM. We merged our spheres into one, and everything is open to discussion.
All of the above are reasons for the [expanding] section on the bookshelf devoted to Marriage, Sex, And Children. Everything from pleasing your spouse (e.g. She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman) to having children (e.g. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) and raising them (e.g. Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: Raising Children Who are Responsible, Respectful, & Resourceful)– all of which I own and recommend.
(Photo, “An Unexpected Light” by YazNotJaz, except I like to call it, “Go Read A Book About Breastfeeding And Dog-ear All The Pages!”)