I confess – before I reluctantly started this blog a few months ago, I didn't read too many blogs. I have a page of RSS feeds but they are mostly professional and academic blogs. But I am compulsive researcher and a news addict. So my e-mail in-box fills each day with Google Alerts and e-newsletters. Writing and speaking about mothering and the law – most often breastfeeding and the law – meant that I was led back to a few blogs where the topic was breastfeeding law and politics. The writers of these blogs became people I knew and corresponded with – Jennifer Laycock of the now apparently defunct The Lactivist (though I highly recommend scouring the archives while they are still up) and Angela White, a fellow lawyer, of Breastfeeding 1-2-3.
I talked a lot to both Jennifer and Angela about how and why they took all the criticism that rained down on them in blog comments. Why bother? You can help people in more anonymous ways, like I did. Or do satisfying speaking or teaching gigs – go home after the conference. Once I did some guest commentary for The Lactivist and the depth of the anger in comments was bizarre. Okay, I admit I took a little thrill out of giving my breastfeeding street cred to someone who assumed from my name that I was a man who couldn't possibly know what it was like to breastfeeding in public. Yeah, see that picture on my website home page of the women breastfeeding – the tiny baby head almost entirely obscured by the gigantic breast? My kid's tiny head. My gigantic breast.
I guess I didn't learn I would never want to be a blogger because here I am. Moral of The Lactivist blog commenters-gone-wild story may only be that I don't play well in Lubbock. And I can probably live with that.
My point is I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of blogging about my life. I don't want people having a view into my living room – it's messy, I'm private, I'm tragically insecure. I like to write about facts and about other people's experiences. But I have never thought twice about writing about my own breastfeeding. It doesn't feel particularly private. I did it everywhere and in front of everyone. I respect other people's right and desire to keep their own breastfeeding experience private. But while I have thought a lot about blogging at all – making myself a target of the judgments of other people because of my opinions or my writing style, and I think very seriously about what information I will reveal about my children, breastfeeding was too important a part of my life to not write about.
Backtalk at Blogher just did a video (is this a vlog? help me more experienced bloggers!) on blogging about breastfeeding. It was interesting to me because I got to see the faces and hear the voices of some more bloggers who write about breastfeeding and who I have been reading since becoming a blogger myself. A few I have come to know on Twitter (where I strongly encourage people come for a swim). Take a look at this. Not only does this show a diverse group of opinions on breastfeeding but on blogging on breastfeeding. Of course the personal is political. Of course the decision to write about breastfeeding is both personal and political. But I admit that I am baffled that it is such a big deal.
While all of the women here are interesting and intelligent, I want to mention that Queen of Spain is a long-time journalist who is very very funny to read (and now I see she is funny on video as well). Annie of PhD in Parenting works very hard at serious research blog posts and is very good natured when I point out legal errors (because from the Canadian perspective, U.S. law is counter-intuitive). And Elita at Blacktating brings sharp insight to this subject from a perspective largely ignored.