Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
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.
The shirt’s Swedish creator, Ronnie Ã–sterberg, 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. [â€¦] 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:
- Milk Men video (6 minute spoof by Australian director Peter Templeman)
- Male lactation Wikipedia entry
- Strange but true: males can lactate; Unless you are an Indonesian fruit bat, though, it probably won’t happen naturally. (Scientific American, 2007)
- Father’s milk – male mammals’ potential for lactation (Discover Magazine, 1995)
- Widower learns to breastfeed (2002 news article about a 38-year-old Sri Lankan father)
- Milkmen: fathers who breastfeed (UnassistedChildbirth.com). This article claims a father began lactating using the power of his mind.
- The Nursing Father (UnhinderedLiving.com) This article cites Biblical references. That’s right, God wants dads to breastfeed.
- Why do men have nipples? (StraightDope.com) Short answer: no one knows, but Darwin isn’t concerned.
OK, but why should men lactate?
- 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.
- Sensitive nipples. I’m not talking about sore nipples. You’re an adult. You can figure this one out.
- 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.
- Can you think of any more reasons?