It’s “ethically inappropriate” for government and medical organizations to describe breastfeeding as “natural” because the term enforces rigid notions about gender roles, claims a new study in Pediatrics.
“Coupling nature with motherhood… can inadvertently support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family (for example, that women should be the primary caretaker,” the study says.
The study notes that in recent years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and several state departments of health have all promoted breastfeeding over bottle-feeding, using the term “natural.”
“Referencing the ‘natural’ in breastfeeding promotion… may inadvertently endorse a set of values about family life and gender roles, which would be ethically inappropriate,” the study says.
Unless such public-service announcements “make transparent the ‘values and beliefs that underlie them,’” they should quit describing breastfeeding as “natural.”
But the study’s authors, Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill, clearly have in mind an alternative set of “values and beliefs,” about which which they are not transparent.