Man Milk: Realizing a Dad’s Breastfeeding Potential

As the photo below indicates, Man:MILK is a collar shirt for men with two breast pockets that unbutton and fold down to expose a man’s nipples for breastfeeding access. The shirt isn’t for sale; it’s just a prototype at this point.

It is an artistic political statement masked as a design project. It’s
masked so well that it was nominated for a design award by INDEX, a
nonprofit based in Copenhagen that focuses on design as a way of
improving everyday life.

Man:MILK photo of a man with an unbuttoned nipple hole in his shirt who is also holding a baby.

Is it time for a new men’s liberation movement?

The shirt’s Swedish creator, Ronnie Österberg, states in his competition submission: "The breastfeeding shirt provides easy and masculine breastfeeding for men. The shirt can also be worn more like a statement, equality between the sexes, if the man choose not to breastfeed his child. […] I have put the male breastfeeding on the agenda. The Man:MILK products ask questions about queer, feministic, social, medical and the fathers/male role. The products ask way more questions then I have answers on in, even if I have tried, in so many different professions."

Of course, the idea isn’t entirely crazy. An often-cited claim states that men have mammary glands just like women, so they too should be able to produce breast milk. Such situations are apparently rare, while a more common situation that induces lactation is when men receive a sufficient dose of estrogen as a medical treatment.

A few sources:

  1. Milk Men video (6 minute spoof by Australian director Peter Templeman)
  2. Male lactation Wikipedia entry
  3. Strange but true: males can lactate; Unless you are an Indonesian fruit bat, though, it probably won’t happen naturally. (Scientific American, 2007)
  4. Father’s milk – male mammals’ potential for lactation (Discover Magazine, 1995)
  5. Widower learns to breastfeed (2002 news article about a 38-year-old Sri Lankan father)
  6. Milkmen: fathers who breastfeed (UnassistedChildbirth.com). This article claims a father began lactating using the power of his mind.
  7. The Nursing Father (UnhinderedLiving.com) This article cites Biblical references. That’s right, God wants dads to breastfeed.
  8. Why do men have nipples? (StraightDope.com) Short answer: no one knows, but Darwin isn’t concerned.

OK, but why should men lactate?

  1. Boob bonding. At last, dads will know the psychological intimacy of bonding with their baby in a way that moms have selfishly squandered throughout the ages.
  2. Sensitive nipples. I’m not talking about sore nipples. You’re an adult. You can figure this one out.
  3. Let-down cascade. You hear a baby cry and your nipples start leaking. This let-down reflex is, ummm, a bit messy, but I infer from my wife citing this as a perk that there must be some sentimentality attached to such incidents.
  4. Can you think of any more reasons?

[Man:MILK link via Bebés y más (English translation)]

Comments

9 Responses to “Man Milk: Realizing a Dad’s Breastfeeding Potential”

  1. Randa Clay says:

    This post made me laugh out loud! Too funny. Hey – can I make a suggestion? I’ve been a regular reader for a long time, and finally decided to subscribe to your feed and had a really hard time finding it. I have a site at http://freestuff4kids.net and when I moved the feed subscription link to the top of the site my subscriptions jumped immediately and my site is more “sticky” as a result. Anywhere near the top of your site with the standard RSS icon is guaranteed to increase your subscribers. Hope you don’t mind the suggestion- just trying to give you some “user feedback” :)

    April 10th, 2007 at 8:52 am

  2. AJ says:

    Randa, thanks for the suggestion. Most RSS readers should pick up the subscription if you only give them a blog’s main URL, but it never hurts to be more direct.

    Now that I think about it, men should have a much easier time than women breastfeeding because the male nipple is accepted more than a female’s in public places.

    April 10th, 2007 at 10:38 am

  3. Randa Clay says:

    The RSS readers would pick up the subscription easily, that’s true, but many people (myself included) actually subscribe directly from sites, rather than going to my reader and adding the subscription from there.

    The idea of men breastfeeding gives me the willies!

    April 10th, 2007 at 5:17 pm

  4. STLMom says:

    I think the expression on the baby’s face says it all.

    April 10th, 2007 at 8:22 pm

  5. julie says:

    This is the most stupid thing I have ever seen. What kinds of jackasses think this stuff up?

    April 18th, 2007 at 2:40 pm

  6. Frank Hain says:

    Ich finde es schön, wenn darüber berichtet wird.Ich bin ein Mann und fände es wunderschön, wenn meine Brüste mit Milch gefüllt wären und ich ein kleines Baby ernähren könnte. Das wäre super!!!!!!!!!

    August 14th, 2007 at 1:21 pm

  7. Summer says:

    Yeah, that kid REALLY looks like he wants to snack on that dude’s nipple.
    This website is good for nothing except a good laugh. Hmm, the same can be said of men’s nipples!!

    August 20th, 2007 at 8:39 am

  8. Seeker says:

    It is naturaly possiable for males to breastfeed there are males out there breastfeeding today naturaly. Being able to breastfeed is soley possiable if you have mammoery glands the two hormones oxytocin and prolactin and of course nipples. Males have all of that. We should be spreading this news to everyone. Breastfeeding should be an equal partnership between males and females as inteded. If it were’nt natural for males to breastfeed they would’nt be able to naturaly yet they can. For educational purposes look up male breastfeeding. SEEK and find the TRUTH.

    May 3rd, 2008 at 4:35 pm

  9. Hassan says:

    The future of world is horrible.

    May 19th, 2008 at 10:31 am

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