Showing posts with label Lactivism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lactivism. Show all posts

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Truckers, Romney, Breastfeeding, and "Chinese" Tattoos

Time for a semi-random assortment of links to material I think is interesting, but may not have time to discuss more deeply.

1. In her "Long Haul China Project" Rachel Katz hitchhiked over 8000 miles on long haul trucks. Katz explains why she chose this method to better understand China:
A personal lens. Long haul truckers in China are generally individuals from the countryside who have entered the highly volatile and increasingly competitive profession of long distance driving. Once in, most are stuck; they have virtually no opportunities to move up or away from their position. The instability and stuckness that characterize drivers’ lives represent similar conditions of a larger group of workers in China who run the country’s factories, construction crews, and restaurants. Getting to know truckers is a personal way to look at the lives of this large segment of China’s population.

A larger economic picture. Central China is in the midst of a development boom, partially as a result of new government policies aimed at curbing migration and the availability of cheap land and labor in the interior. As manufacturing and consumption in central China increase, the majority of the shipping burden falls on trucks, currently a chaotic and dirty transport alternative. China’s economic development and environmental wellbeing depend on the improvement of this industry.

A challenge in cross-cultural relationship building. As an American female, I am different from the trucking community in almost every way. Asking the favor of a ride and getting to know individuals in this group is a test of personal diplomacy.
You can find a slide show capturing some of what she observed here.

2. Previously, I shared a Taiwanese woman's perspective on an American political figure -- Michele Bachmann. In his blog, Evan Osnos of The New Yorker shares some of the perspectives from mainland China on the Republican Party presidential primaries in the U.S.:
Romney’s recurring silver-foot-in-the-mouth problem is perhaps the easiest for Chinese citizens to appreciate—their politicians make ours look like paupers—but they find the American love-hate relationship with Romney’s wealth to be confusing. “At least he got his fortune through proper means. Not much to explain. Can we say as much about Chinese leaders?” a commentator asked. As Roaring Shout put it, “Seems the way they do it is: get rich first, then become president. For us, the order is become a leader first, then….” Officialdom is less amused. With Romney using every campaign stop to reiterate his intention to declare China a currency manipulator, the Global Times pointed to an ostensible consensus that his “arrogant comments lack basic common sense.”
See the article for some brief viewpoints on Rick Santorum and Ron Paul as well.

3. In "Breast Feeding Rebels in China" on Danwei Sascha Mutuszak describes the amount of disinformation about breastfeeding in China on and the new advocacy groups forming there. Even with the increased efforts, many challenges remain in educating the public:
On December 4 2011, a new regulation was put forth by the Ministry of Health for public review. The regulation would prohibit formula companies from marketing in hospitals to parents of children less than six months of age. This regulation is one of the draft laws that could be approved during the current “Two Meetings” of China’s National People’s Congress. But whether the bill passes or not, enforcement, especially in smaller cities and rural areas, will be difficult to track.

“We love the ban, we support the ban,” said Dr. Robert Scherpbier, Chief of Health, Nutrition & WES UNICEF China, in an email interview. “But we would like to see the ban extended to children of two years of age, not just six months.”

However, resources for breastfeeding mothers are still scarce in a society dominated by infant formula and caesarean births. Even with the scandals that rocked the infant formula industry in 2005 and 2008, most Chinese mothers still regard formula as the best option — especially foreign formula.
4. Finally, examples of "Chinglish" can be very popular, particularly for native English speakers. However, there are also plenty of examples of non-Chinese using the Chinese language in "creative" forms as well. Victor Mair on the Language Log makes an earnest attempt to interpret what appears to be a Chinese tattoo gone awry:
I instantly recognized the first and last as two quite well-formed Chinese characters. After two or three seconds of puzzling, I realized that the third symbol is another Chinese character written upside down and backwards (how the tattoo artist achieved that is a bit of a mystery, especially since he / she got the first and fourth one in their correct orientation). The second character was more refractory.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More Than 3 Standard Deviations Above the Mean: Lactivism In Memory of Susan Eitelman Dean

Several days ago I found out that a friend of mine, Susan, had suffered a "major embolic stroke that occluded 2 major arteries in her brain". Much of my graduate work and some additional later research was in the area of cognitive neuropsychology -- I studied what brain damage could tell us about how the undamaged brain works. I knew, as a friend had written, that this was likely "bad, bad, bad".

A wonderful web site tracking her progress was quickly set up and her close friends provided regular updates. I first read that doctors were using medication to reduce the pressure in her brain. Then they decided surgery was neccessary. Then there were reports that the swelling continued and was potentially causing more damage. Her friends expressed that any recovery could take from months to years. I knew in cases like this, though, that "recovery" can truly mean "as recovered as possible".

But there will be no recovery of any length. Earlier today I read Susan had died.

Susan was married and in her early 30's. She had a 2 year old boy. She was very health conscious.

My heart goes out to her child, her husband, her parents, and everyone else who was close to her.

Reading the stories and comments others left on the web site and her Facebook page was both uplifting and sad. I think one of the comments on her Facebook page says so much:
I love you more than 3 standard deviations above the mean!!
Her friend wrote that just days before Susan's stroke. It highlights both the feelings many genuinly had for Susan and the dorkiness Susan proudly displayed.

I could go on and on about how years ago a work colleague and I recruited Susan fresh after she graduated from Carnegie Mellon and how she proved to be such a great work colleague and friend. Or how she was so helpful when I needed to make a long distance move. Or how she semi-randomly thanked me last month for the used knife set I gave her over 10 years ago -- it solved a minor but long unsolved mystery for me since I had forgotten giving it to her.

Instead, I will share one of the issues dear to Susan: breast feeding. She considered herself a lactivist -- someone who promotes breast feeding. This is not limited to simply encouraging women to nurse their children. In American society, some women are made to feel as if they are doing something wrong by simply feeding their child in public -- as if it is something that needs to be hidden away. That something so incredibly natural, healthy, wondrous, and loving as breastfeeding even needs advocates boggles my mind.

Just days before her stroke I shared with Susan a recent news report that caught my attention:
Nirvana Jennette, a mom of four from Camden County, Georgia says she was forced out of church for breastfeeding her baby. Church leaders asked her to breastfeed in the bathroom and implied they could have arrested her for “lewd behavior.” The most egregious statement? She told news station WSAV that her pastor compared her breastfeeding to a stripper performing.
How breast feeding is "lewd" or like a "stripper performing" is beyond me. Sometimes, the same people who can be charmed by watching puppies suckle can without hesitation criticize a woman for nursing her own child in public. Whatever the cause for such feelings, I have yet to hear a good reason for banning public breastfeeding. If you do not like to look at it, tough. I do not like to listen to people in the supposedly free U.S. whine about public breastfeeding. But I will be the first to protect your right do so.

Fortunately, in Georgia the law allows women to nurse anywhere they and their child have permission to be. Now, there is a movement to add an enforcement provision to the law. The article also mentions nurse-in protests in reaction to several other incidents.

In response to the article Susan commented:
Thanks for sharing this Brian! I love how some of my guy friends are becoming lactivists too!! Even from as far as China! I'd love to hear your thoughts on how breastfeeding is viewed over there... :)
I was hoping to more carefully consider the issue of breastfeeding in China when I had the chance and get back to Susan later. Sometimes, later does not work.

In the spirit of Susan's lactivism I want to pass on some relevant links Susan recently shared:

I must admit I had no plans to do a post on breastfeeding, but I share Susan's feelings on this topic. I am happy on this very sad day to help spread Susan's concerns about an issue that was particularly important to her.

Finally, just a few weeks ago Susan shared a post of this photo:

It is a collage of photos telling the story of a couple who married despite the bride being in the midst of a very difficult fight against cancer. She died 5 days after the wedding. Like me, Susan is careful about checking out such stories and included a link to Snopes indicating the story about the photos was indeed true.

And she left a brief comment on her post that seems so apt now:
Life is short, and delicate. Handle carefully.
Sometimes, it is much too short.

Susan and her son Andrew at a Kindermusik class last week (thanks to Holly Lesnick)