Stanford Journal Symposium on Parenting, and the Giant Iconic Bottle

parentingandthelawThose who’ve been following some of my recent discussions about breastfeeding and civil liberties might be interested to note this symposium poster. Parenting, Gender, and the Law is a symposium sponsored by the Stanford Journal for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The poster icons are a feeding bottle, a gavel, balance scales (of justice, presumably), and several groups of people – some picketing, a group of two and a single person talking to someone behind a counter (a judge?), two children on a seesaw, a ?family group with two coded-feminine adults and two children, a seated parent welcoming a child into their arms. The only human-free icons are the gavel and the scales (representing law), and the bottle (representing parenting).

But where is infant feeding on the programming? Nowhere, unless it’s in the fine print. Yet, an Iconic Bottle is used as the symbol for the “New Reproductive Technologies & The Law” segment of the programme. Since that segment says nothing about examining infant feeding, I’m guessing this is just yet another slapdash and thought-free “OMG how can we symbolise parenting? Bottles!” job.

Breastfeeding in public is not the only legal and ethical issue that might have made it to a programme like this. There are multiple issues of the right to breastfeed in hospitals both postpartum and with any later admissions; the ethics of intervening to stop or regulate breastfeeding when a mother is suspected to have an infectious disease or drug addiction; legal issues around doctors’ or pharmacists’ recommendations to cease of breastfeeding for medical treatments when that cessation is not medically required by the best evidence available; issues around breastmilk donation and milk banking; the breastfeeding of adopted and foster children; the right to breastfeed or express milk in the workplace’ the right to travel while breastfeeding; the patenting of human milk components collected from women who thought they were donating milk to sick babies – the list goes on and on.

– Does a lesbian non-bio mother have the right to breastfeed in the workplace if supposedly progressive policies stipulate that “mothers” have this right? How about a transgender dad?

– Can a woman bring action against a hospital for feeding breastmilk substitutes to her infant without her knowledge or consent, even against her explicitly expressed wishes?

– What rights does a lactating woman have when the TSA officer takes her breastpump away just before a long-haul flight?

– Is existing breastfeeding-in-public law being appropriately enforced across the spectrum, in different neighbourhoods? Have poorer women, women of colour, women with disabilities, lesbian woman been harassed or illegally evicted disproportionately, does feeding prejudice affect their lives in different ways?

– What rights do convicted criminals or undocumented immigrants who are breastfeeding have when they are detained? What rights do their children have?

– Can a woman who is only suspected of taking drugs, perhaps without a positive test (or pending a test), have her baby forcibly separated from her to stop her from breastfeeding?

– What law reform might be needed to protect the civil liberties of parents and children?

[Add your own in comments.]

All apparently ignored, and the organisers are happy to let us know that they haven’t so much as thought about it by their use of the Giant Iconic Bottle.

[via Feminist Law Profs]

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order, work and family

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I think we should petition Microsoft to take bottle graphics off of clip art. Maybe then people would have some incentive to come up with a different representative image of parenthood. I wonder if Bill Gates is a lactivist…

  2. On the plus side, I guess the bottle graphic doesn’t actually dominate the entire poster.
    The problem is at least partly to do with the choice to use silhouette graphics in the first place – it’s hard to do a silhouette of breastfeeding. But particularly since what they’ve chosen to plaster over the bottle is text regarding reproductive technologies, why not put a microscope in that slot?

  3. I’m sure I’ve seen a breastfeeding Mamma icon drawing in a very similar style to those on the poster. If they’re not already available then they should be designed in a multitude of styles- pronto!
    The bottle is one of those insidious images that permeates our sense of normal. I remember as a clucky pre-Mum I used to swoon at the old fashioned glass bottles they sold at the chemist. Just that was enough to set me off! When it came to actually being a Mum I very quickly realised that when breastfeeding there can be no need for bottles at all. My two kids have both fed till they weaned themselves and I have never bought a bottle. I’m expressing myself clumsily but I guess I’m saying that iconography has so much power- even over a determined future breastfeeder.

  4. The problem is at least partly to do with the choice to use silhouette graphics in the first place – it’s hard to do a silhouette of breastfeeding.

    Turns out I’ve posted on this recently, in this post. held a competition for an international breastfeeding icon, and here is the winner – a very simple and clear icon. Scroll down for other entries.

  5. @ Lauredhel:
    I thought I remembered you doing so, but couldn’t find the post. That certainly is a very simple, clear icon.

  6. Sister Suffragette said: “I’m expressing myself clumsily” which made me laugh since I exclusively pumped for 9 months!

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